Which of these is your business? And which does it need to be?

I am writing this after hearing about the death in the last couple of days of Sir Ken Robinson. 

You might have heard of him.

He was born and brought up in Liverpool and is credited with delivering the most downloaded and watched TED talks of all time. (https://www.ted.com/)

Many business leaders, at all levels, worldwide have watched the talks and found them stimulating, funny, challenging and extremely useful. Which might initially strike you as a bit odd given that his talks are about children’s education.

Bear with me for a moment because what he has to say is profoundly relevant not just to businesses in general but specifically where they are right now in trying to set their strategy for the readjustment to a post Covid world and how to flourish in it –  and possibly through it.

His focus was always upon how to design educational systems to encourage, support and facilitate the natural curiosity of learners; to encourage them and the educational institutions which serve them to strengthen their natural powers of innovation and creativity.

And innovation, curiosity and creativity are exactly the organisational strengths and capabilities which those businesses who are seeking to grow and flourish in the new post Covid world are encouraging and developing within their organisations.

We have just taken part in a  recent Lancashire Business View on the importance of curiosity and learning for businesses in order that they can, perhaps, pivot their culture towards one with what the Harvard academic Carol Dwek would term a Growth Mindset.  Put simply, an individual with a Growth Mindset is more focussed upon their own personal development and learning than their status or the opinions of others and believes that every challenge and difficulty which they encounter is fertile ground for them to achieve further development and ‘growth’.  Change ‘individual’ for ‘organisation’ and that definition could apply to those businesses who will be best placed to thrive and grow in the new rold we find ourselves in.

Not everything will be different about this new world –  but not everything is going to remain the same.

What that means for Business Strategy and Planning is the most successful businesses will very likely be amongst the most nimble.  And to be so they will need, ironically, very great clarity over the ultimate goal but great organisational flexibility as to how to move towards it.

And that organisational flexibility, whilst it must be set from the top, has to permeate at all levels.  And how it does this is a matter of company culture.  The great American management guru Tom Peters apparently said that when it comes to business success  ‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’ .  The most long term sustainably and consistently successful businesses we have dealt with have resonated with this.

In one of his talks Sir Ken quotes Benjamin Franklin (who, incidentally, once stayed in my hometown of Preston before the American War of Independence) when he categorised people as either those who are immovable –  they are set in their ways and do not take account of changes in their environment or situation; those who are moveable –  they are open to considering the case for change; and those who actually move  – they adapt, they pivot, they learn, they develop and they grow.

Which of these is your business?  And which does it need to be?

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