Planning as pain relief

Everything has always been connected to everything else. Whatever happens in one area eventually (and often unpredictably) affects others.

Up to now, we could cope with the complexity by ignoring it. Our plans were sufficiently robust, and the pace of change relatively slow such that we could fool ourselves into thinking we were in control.

The system has caught up with us. It feels rather a though someone has taken “change” out of the slow cooker and popped it into the microwave.

Nothing has changed really, other than our awareness of the things we did not pay attention in the past making their presence felt.

It means we need different metrics. The stuff we have measured ourselves by (GDP, Growth, Market Share) we now understand to be a very small part of what we need to measure.

The future is only frightening if we measure it the way we used to, not by what matters.

Plans need to share the stage with a broader understanding of where they fit into the scheme of things.

Beyond the SME Hype

There’s a great piece of research just released by NESTA. In essence, it has four messages:

  1. Most startups were not particularly special from an economic point of view.
  2. Many good companies go out of business.
  3. Existing businesses were by far the biggest contributors to economic growth.
  4. The British economy became significantly worse at allocating resources to the best businesses over the period.

This ties in with other data. Including the fact that the best “high growth” businesses are not start ups – they are, on average, 18 years old.

I think it suggests a message; if you’re going to start a business doing what is already done, it’s a high risk. In the end, scale wins. You may have a better offer, a better service, even be better looking – in the end though, the slower, more boring, uglier businesses at scale are likely to get you.

If you’re going to start a business, launch something new, then make it NEW. The attrition rates may still be high – but if that worries, you probably shouldn’t be reading this. Go NEW – you’ll learn more, meet more interesting people, and have more fun. The risk of failure is not to be feared – it’s part of the price of doing NEW stuff, a part of the process, and recognising it early – before it becomes a problem – is a key element of good business model design.

We all have something inside us we want to make real. There has never been a better time to do it.