THE BLOG
08/02/2013 10:33 am ET Updated Oct 02, 2013

Now You See It, Now You Don't

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Pop-up is the new word of the moment. Pop-up shops, pop-up restaurants, pop-up hotels even. Pop-up implies speed, novelty, excitement, exclusivity (only for those in the know), bleeding edge. Once the mass has cottoned on, the pop-up has vanished. Nothing left but a few bits of hipster trash.

Pop-up confronts the issue of obsolescence and consumer fickleness head-on, and makes a virtue of it.

It is a virtue to be made out of necessity in uncertain economic times. London (and any big city)'s restaurant scene is pop-up, whether labelled as such or no. In the still relatively fragmented foodservice industry exact data is hard to find, but the majority of restaurants fail in the first year, and of those that make it beyond that hurdle, 70 percent will fail in the next three to five years. Average CEO tenure has been falling, to a measly 4.3 years for external hires. The unfortunate Alan Fishman only had 17 days to sit in Washington Mutual's big chair in 2008. Why not be open and scout for a pop-up CEO, whose hand will only briefly stroke the tiller before going off into the sunset with a more reasonable set of stock options?

If a supposed pop-up turns out to be a robust commercial success, then it is allowed a reprieve: an extension, repetition, or even to be left in perpetuity.The Eiffel Tower was only meant to be a pop-up for the 1889 World's Fair. The future is uncertain, and we should be able to face different possibilities so we can plan for them. When they are looking to the future, businesses -- especially start-ups -- should stop insisting solely on the hubris of a long commercial life, and also ensure they have considered and mapped a successful pop-up destiny.