Recessions are for Winners, Mr Clarkson

I received an item in my Inbox today entitled "Recessions are for Winners". It was promoting a seminar run by a staffing and recruitment organisation.

I opened it expecting to find something about as credible as Clarkson's apology, but found two of their statements quite affirming. Clarkson's apology.

1. More... improvements are implemented in recessions than booms

2. More... competitive edge is created in recessions than booms

So this really is an opportunity?

An excess of money over the past few years has helped inefficiency creep into our every day lives. And perhaps into our information technology stacks too. We've had money to throw at problems, and sadly, that has at times been easier than working a little harder to seek out better ways.

Innovation can be painful as it involves struggle, often intellectual. The "good times" seem to entitle people to avoid pain. People seldom try to exceed expectations during boom periods, they focus on taking profits not investing in future possiblities - things are too good now, we've arrived! Me-too products can grab some market share and true leadership counts for less. Progress then pauses till strife returns. Perhaps the arrival of strife is a natural consequence of too much indulgence for too long.

It's not all bad. Just as competition is healthy for markets, times of scarcity are too. Make no mistake, I love the times of plenty as much as the next guy, but everything is cyclical. In the words of somebody wise, "this too will pass". When it does, what will we have gained both technologically and as a society?

We started Mimecast in a major IT recession 2002 / 2003 so we had to innovate to exist. The pain was great to craft something completely unique, that solved some big problems better. As we've grown we've tried never to lose the discipline that hard times bring. I think it helps us serve our clients better now.

How long this recession will last is anyone's guess. Perhaps that's the real message in Clarkson's recent rant. But until it's over (the recession that is), what improvements can we be making? Perhaps more energy efficient transport will come? Perhaps a greener, more politically correct Mr Clarkson? (Rain might fall from the Clouds of Computing before anyone lets that happen!)

Enjoy creating your competitive edge now. You never know when the next boom will distract us from our duty to innovate.