Businesses need Grandparents.

My eldest grandson and me. Northumberland.

All successful business start with a conversation and an insight. I guess sometimes those conversations start out as “what business should we start”? but far more often I find they arise from a trusting relationship, a passing comment that takes residence, and a path to an idea. The key, the genesis of the business is a trusting conversation.

So I wonder why we let the business take over. Before we know it, our conversation are structured, agenda driven, outcome focused and time constrained. It’s easy to let the business become a martinet – it has so many people on its side. The bank, the customers, legislation, payroll. Before we know it, the joy of the original idea and the excitement it generated has shrivelled and gone quietly home.

One of the eternal joys of grandchildren is that your job as grandparent is to help them grow, not tell them how to grow. Neither do they come back and demand (Well, let’s leave Christmas aside….). The joy is in the conversation about what they see around them, why it exists, how it works. How do leaves learn to fly? Where does the light go when you turn off the switch? it puts us on our mettle, and stops us getting stale. I have not taken to doing quarterly reports on my grandchildrens progress, I just love supporting it.

In times like now, we need similar relationships with our businesses. They are asking questions of us.”Why do we have to work from the office”? Why does it matter if I want to take a break in the middle of the day, and work in the evening”? “Why are we doing this”? “Why are people here miserable”?

Those reading this who are grandparents, as well as those who have ever been grandchildren, know how it works. A space created by love that enables outrageous, provocative questions to be asked. Questions that point out the obvious, and the embarrasing.

We’re not talking the stuff of non execs – they’re more often like the clever uncles whom we have to dress up for before we meet.

Right now, when the world is confusing, and a bit scary, we need someone to talk to without fear of judgement.

Who can you tell about what you want your business to be when it grows up. What if it wants to be an artist, or a circus performer and not a lawyer?

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