A quick flip through the index of Blending Leadership shows that Reshan and I devoted a small percentage of our text to the topic of obsolescence (pages 147 – 148, 151, and 154-157 to be precise) .
Here’s a good summary of why we thought this topic needed to be on the mind’s of leaders:
[Let’s] turn our attention to to tech integration’s unruly cousin: obsolescence. Though it is true that there are always new tools emerging, it is also true that some of the tools upon which we come to depend — habitually — change continually or even disappear completely. Blended leaders must be prepared to grapple with the effects of obsolescence on communities of practice; they must be prepared to think about and manage through the demise of those online applications and services that have gained a user base with their schools [or businesses]. Sometimes you spend a lot of time getting people online, into a space, only to have to move all of them off. (147)
I bring up obsolescence today, was prompted to bring it up, in fact, because of a story I noticed recently. Here’s how it was reported in Slate:
Adobe Flash went dark on Dec. 31. The software had been flickering out since 2017, when Adobe announced it would discontinue Flash with three and a half years’ warning.
Reminder statements, press attention, and pop-ups warning about Flash’s discontinuation all followed. But despite the ample time to prepare, multiple government and corporate systems across the world were still caught by surprise when the Flash plugin finally died.
The article goes on to discuss how planned and publicized obsolescence of Adobe Flash set off some rather nasty dominoes at places as established and varied as China Railway Shenyang, the South African Revenue Service, and The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Sometimes blending leadership “in the wild” is a positive or inspirational story, and sometimes it’s just a cautionary tale like the one(s) above.