When twisting a wet cloth, at first the water initially seeps out easefully.
Then the twisting gets harder, and the water flows less.
Eventually, no amount of twisting gets any purchase. The cloth is dry.
My view is that we are at the end of a long evolutionary cycle of business, a necessary cycle that brought much advancement. It has been a largely successful first chapter in the story of business.
I’m also of the view that the same cycle has run its course and that there are decreasingly less returns to be gained from staying in this cycle. It is complete.
The rules have changed across the board – society, technology, human understanding, resource availability – and business must now change its form in order to be relevant. Relevance is powerful as it suggests being in sync with the greater arc of the world. But to be irrelevant is a depleting, frustrating, vexing and problematic place to be. Like the dry cloth, there is little or nothing to be gained from continued efforting in this realm.
My invitation is to ‘make the turn’. A turn toward a more sensible, wise, vital direction that, as with all new cycles, offers new potential and possibilities.
Making this turn requires courage and boldness. Once the turn is made, the path ahead will open up in its own way, but that path is hidden unless that turn is made.
Broken down, for a CEO, that turn involves:
- Reassessing what matters to your business and unearthing what your collective heart most desires.
- Replotting a forward path – defined by Strategy – that takes heed of this new business cycle and adjusts to its new dynamics.
- Reconsiders old approaches (culture, talent, innovation, brand, customer), let some go and invent new approaches.
- Renew your own energy and spirit, creating a new and more profound story of yourself and of your life.
Anecdotally, a vast majority of most companies I observe are stuck in the old cycle of business. They are trying new things, but because the cycle they are housed within is essentially ‘dry’, few work.
Conversely, companies – one of which I worked with in the USA last week – have made that turn and the new and refreshed energy within that business is astonishing to experience. It’s like the entire business got a blood transfusion.
CEOs, please take this note to heart. It’s not a commonly talked about view, but I am deeply certain that this transitory stage of business is upon us. We are right in the ‘messy middle’ at the moment and you are being called to make a choice.
Toward depletion, distortion and toil.
Or toward renewal, vitality and relevance.
Make the turn.