Putting the Past in the Past

I remember reading years ago that resumes would become a thing of the past. People's personal web sites or biographies or sizzle reels would take the place of the old staid resumes, and that would be a good thing.To be honest, I don't know how that shift is progressing in the workforce at large; I haven't updated my resume in years. But I am curious about the limitations of things like resumes.

Resumes conceivably help a potential employer decide whether the past--work experience and education, mostly--will inform the future. We try to make the prediction leap all the time: we expect a first-round draft pick to become a future Hall of Famer, we point to Ivy League degrees as indicators of future success, we imagine sharing a life with someone who fits the criteria we set for our dream mate. We see parallels from the past echo in our present, and we reach conclusions based on prior reality. And it's an odds game; very often, our predictions turn out to be correct, but we don't necessarily know whether that's due to the high standards we have set, or because so much effort and energy was focused on the subject of our scrutiny.

But, let's face it, we as a society celebrate the surprise. And, later on, reflecting on the surprise, we then treat the surprise as if it were pre-ordained, inevitable, and replicable. I used to listen to a daily tech podcast, and when Netflix went public, the show hosts all laughed and said Netflix was going to go under. Because just as the Netflix business model destroyed the Blockbuster store, Netflix would be undone by the studios, which had control over all of the content. In fact, Netflix has monumentally expanded its subscriber base, has hundreds of hours worth of original content, and finds the studios clamoring to do business with them. Amazon and Hulu and countless others imitate them. The instinct to expect that things go as they always have is understandable, but disruptions are not so predictable.

And when these disruptions occur, they are often brought about by people who are not "qualified." Venture capitalists often look at a startup's management team, but is anyone looking to see whether the founders of Netflix or Facebook or Google or Amazon have an MBA? Took an organizational management course? Worked their way up the ladder?

Great ideas are great; they need to be nurtured. Great execution of great ideas is even better, and nothing great can be executed greatly without a competent support team. But great execution of great ideas that come out of nowhere--coming from people who just yesterday were nobodies--THAT is the stuff of revolution.