I threw away 20 years of business material.  I recognized it as irrelevant in a post-Covid world.  Two things happened to make me take this action. 

In late 2021 I undertook my Advisory Board Chair certification.  Part of our training included getting very precise about articulating our differentiated advisory expertise.  With all participants having 20+ years’ experience, the facilitator made a very pertinent, memorable statement.  She said, ‘Experience older than five years is irrelevant’. 

"Experience older than five years is irrelevant."

It was five years ago I switched to using big data and analytics.  It made perfect sense.  Before then, I’d built a team to do the same job.  It would be non-sensical for me to reference my experience of strategy development with outdated knowledge and methods. 

The second thing that led me to gleefully dump old material happened at the start of this year.  I had a speaking event coming up.  It had been a long time between speaking gigs, and I was conscious that markets, attitudes and behaviours of customers had radically changed.  I wanted to deliver new relevant material.  I did my normal thing, I conducted loads of internet searches and accessed market research reports.

I’ll admit, pre-Covid, I was only moderately conscious of publication dates.  The market, in the main, experienced incremental movement.  Fast forward to 2022. Market change is not incremental.  It has radically shifted.  Trends that were slowly gaining market momentum have now accelerated at a pace that might have otherwise taken 20 or more years to achieve. 

For my new speaking material, I found myself disregarding any search result or market research report older than 2019.  They are completely outdated and cannot inform the new future (notice how market research firms are desperately releasing new post-Covid reports).  Referencing outdated material, unless to demonstrate the radical shift between pre- and post-Covid, adds no value to your business navigating a post-Covid future.

"Referencing outdated material, unless to demonstrate the radical shift between pre- and post-Covid, adds no value to your business navigating a post-Covid future."

That is why I threw away all my old, irrelevant material.  Trust me, there was many trips to the basement rubbish bins!  My bookshelves had been lined with tomes of information from courses I’d attended over the years.  I valued each one at the time.  They enhanced my knowledge and helped advance my career.  I thought the information might come in handy one day.  Today, in 2022, they are most certainly irrelevant. 

A good friend of mine recently likened the post-Covid time as a period of renaissance.  I rather like this thinking.  It encourages us to take a fresh look, to not rely on past knowledge and methodologies, but to forge a new path with new opportunities that may have not been there before.

For me, it means taking a fresh look at my current business.  Are my products and services relevant to helping businesses know what their customer experience is in this new world?  What else is out there – what new technologies, new knowledge can I harness to create new value for partners and customers? What are the trends I can ride, or help others ride to ensure all our businesses are adapting and changing to market changes?

Taking out my pre-Covid rubbish was very cathartic.  I hope it has a cathartic effect on you too.