When Geoffrey Moore published Crossing the Chasm he gave us a window into what he called the Innovation Adoption Life Cycle. His well-known book is about adoption of disruptive technologies. I think we can use Mr. Moore’s model and apply it to the adoption of disruptive thinking by individuals/couples over 50 and the business leaders/professional advisors who provide goods and services to them.
To literally see and hear what I am talking about watch the first 1:37 minutes HERE . Whenever you hear the word “technology”, replace this with “important disruptive thinking/emerging wisdom After 50”. Then return to this blog and continue.
I’m looking for individuals/couples and business leaders/professional advisors who are Innovators and Early Adopters. These people know that incremental planning coupled with agility and adaptability will be essential. They know long term planning is no longer possible. These people are increasingly aware that the sooner they adopt new, informed approaches to their lives and their businesses, the greater the likelihood of their sustainable success and differentiation in the marketplace.
When was the last time you drove home from work or took the subway, realizing upon arrival that you don’t remember anything of what you saw along the way? Not the familiar off ramp or speed limit signs, not the subway station names in the tile walls, not the recurring intersections full of cars or people.
For many of us this is a regular experience. Our intentions and routes are so fixed in our minds and experience that we don’t have to give them much thought. We’re temporarily on some form of autopilot allowed by our ability to learn instrumentally (think tool). Once we’ve learned to use a fork or spoon, we don’t have to worry about where our mouths are. Once we’ve learned how to use a hammer, we only have to remember to keep our fingers out of the way. The limit of instrumental learning, however, begins at the point when a hammer becomes so familiar that everything starts to look like a nail.
And so it is with Retirement Planning. As recently as 10 years ago, we agreed on what retirement meant and what it would take to pay for it. Like autopilot learning, we knew the hammer and everything pretty much looked like a nail. We knew we could do long term planning and get investment advice accordingly. This was true for us as consumers. It was also true for financial, legal, health care, accounting, tax, and other advisors. We all still believed in and followed, on virtual automatic life pilot, the Four Stage Life Model:
- Work and Family
Some of us still talk and plan as if this is a valid model for most of us. Most businesses selling us After 50 goods and services do too. I think we’re on autopilot and alarmingly comfortable with a hammer when that isn’t the tool we need at all.
Bill and Lynne, 59 and 53, are new life planning clients of mine. We work together via Skype. Having read my new book, How Do I Get There From Here, Planning For Retirement When The Old Rules No Longer Apply, they suddenly gave themselves permission to stop feeling like sheep being squeezed through the same retirement-as-life-stage gate as all the other sheep around them. They were fed up with dinner conversations where people could hardly wait to not work anymore. They noticed health care and the names of medicines slowly becoming staple topics of friends’ conversations. Every financial advisor they approached began with “Where do you want to be in 20 years? We need a long term financial plan for you.” They especially noticed the growing number of people they knew who were admitting, based on financial resources or ambition, they might have to work at least part time for the rest of their lives.
Bill and Lynne realized that, given growing modern medicine and longevity, they could easily live an extra 10 years. This gave them the biggest shock of all: they needed to decide NOW if they want to add those 10 years to the end of their lives (extending their advanced senior period) or to the middle of their lives (extending mid life). Why NOW? Because autopilot and golden years of leisure weren’t for them. They needed to manage their monies but so much more, too. They needed to manage their incremental life plans. They needed to manage their agility, adaptability, employability, health, social networks, interests, and access to emerging trends that would affect them and their plans.
Bill and Lynne have turned out to be Innovators and Early Adopters. We’re doing really sophisticated and important life planning together. It’s almost the opposite of retirement planning. They are excited.
Does your life planning After 50 look more like Bill and Lynne’s work? How much does it resemble old style retirement planning based on the 4 Stage Life Model?
Are you a Professional Advisor who is in danger of advising clients into trouble because of old style planning and advice? Do you need to be an early adopter?
Does your business provide advice, goods, and services to clients After 50? Is there a possibility that your previously-successful approaches are rapidly becoming stale, dated or worse – potentially harmful long term to your customers? How important might early adoption be to your business future.
Please let me know how you are practicing innovation and early adoption by sending me your experiences and lessons. I’d like to share your wisdom with all my readers.