I wrote this blog precisely a year ago. So much has changed, but so little has not.
After 300 years of the a capitalist approach to life, the dogma we have developed has become so entrenched we often don’t notice it.
Growth, efficiency, shareholder rights, returns. Life defined in financial terms.
This has become so embedded that the culture we have created now puts mental health at the top the agenda, and people getting stressed by the idea of taking holidays. Stockholm syndrome for the workplace. We have impoverished our spiritual selves in return for something of distinctly finite worth.
Before we got obsessed with scale and growth, other paradigms were present. A commitment to craft, the creation of beauty for its own sake, notions of discovery and philosophy as hallmarks of culture. Of course, those times carried with them a few downsides, from disease and poverty to war.
So going back is not an option, but do we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater?
We are entering / have entered a defining new epoch with artificial intelligence. the skills of efficiency we have worked hard to develop over the last hundred years, from processes and procedures, to knowledge gathering, seem destined to come largely for free and without anything like the same level of human involvement.
Growth in terms of of volumes has its natural limits. The planet has had enough of it.
So how might we think about growth?
What would a beautiful business look like? One that made money, but touched and enthused all those who came into contact with it. That reflected back to them their own worth, and was a platform for good, not just profit?
What if we looked at a business with the same wonder as I look at my Mac. knowing that even the bits I will never see have been designed to be beautiful, because it’s important to those who created it?
A craftsman is an artist and different to an industrialist. She has a concept of what she is trying to create, and does not compromise. there was no market in Picasso seconds.
They don’t create with the idea of something lasting an eternity, they craft to express something important in the moment.
A craftsman selects their tools with care, and spends a lifetime mastering them.
What if we thought about businesses in the same way?
How might we define a beautiful business?