I wrote recently about business life cycles and our unwillingness to accept them – in particular the death end of them. We get really attached to current success, or even just acceptability, and look to defend it. We resist ideas that might upset the balance, or indicate radical change as anomalies, when in reality they offer huge opportunity.
There is a great article just published by BCG. It argues, cogently, that there is no such thing as “Corporate DNA”. Businesses don’t just evolve naturally, they need confident action. They cite businesses like GE, Siemens and Apple who have forced change in their business, abandoning obsolescing business models before they became a liability. They anticipated (but had probably not identified) the likes of Lenovo, which in 30 years has gone from a $25,000 start up in a Guard House, to a $39 billion business operating in 60 countries in 30 years.The article emphasises the inevitability of increased volatility as technology continues to have it’s way, and the corresponding need for business (R)evolution if companies are to survive.
What it does not say, but I think is implicit, is what this does to the business / employee relationship. I suggest it makes it far more honest, even if far more challenging.
We have been used to employers as “guardians”, where we develop a tacit relationship where we bring our skills and perform, and they look after us. This has not been the case for many years (although the memory lingers, fostered by Job Ads and HR speak)
Today, it is simple, and honest. Employment is a relationship of convenience, forged by matching needs of skill and requirement, for as long as it lasts – which is getting ever shorter.
For those of us who sit in the wake of corporates, it is a real wake up call. As businesses, or individuals, we are as healthy as our ability to match emerging requirements makes us.
Success yesterday, and today, is comforting, but seducing. As the rate of change accelerates, we become obsolescent quickly unless we learn and develop on our own terms – not other people’s.
As individuals, we need to adopt different mindsets. Of curiosity, “constructive paranoia” and adaptability. We need to manage a paradox – to be great at what we do today, secure in the knowledge it will soon be redundant.
Our futures are a function of mindset, a business or career model that knows what to do next, without necessarily knowing where it will lead, and the motivation and purpose that will drive us through the challenges these changing conditions will give us.
The time for being a business or career tourist – going where others have already been, is past. It’s time to be an explorer.
We need to find out how to modify our business and career DNA.