There is much that we can learn from our universe, if only we look with open and untainted eyes. Almost everything in our universe from our solar system, to our planet, to our seasons, down to a single atom, all exist in cyclical motion in a delicate balance and eco-system.
Such is also true of our planet and the sun which depend on the delicate balance of gravity that has kept us in perfect orbit for thousands of years. However, beyond our galaxy, we have only in the last few decades begun to unfold some of mysteries of the universe and how solar systems and planets come into existence and why others go supernova.
Businesses are much the same. We exist in an eco-system and a delicate balance of internal and external forces. Where the internal forces within our companies are of greater magnitude than the external forces of competition, suppliers, market, customers etc. we grow and thrive. However, where the external forces acting on our businesses (similar to that of gravity on earth) are greater than the sum of our internal forces, this manifests in declining sales, profitability, cash flow issues, dis-engagement, mediocracy, high attrition and we slowly but surely head down a path of extinction.
With every extinction event, this gives birth to smaller more resourceful and resilient companies and sole entrepreneurs that then fill the gap that we once occupied.
Depending on the size of the company and magnitude of the extinction event, this destruction could also result in the creation of a blackhole which due to the forces of gravity, can swallow up many of its surrounding businesses and extend to surrounding economies. Evidence for this is becoming more apparent as we continue to transition towards an open economy. Our last major event being the Global Financial Crisis.
So, what should be we looking for as signs for Supernova and, why is it so hard to see?
The answer to this is as simple as a grain of sand yet as complicated as a single atom in that we do not fully understand even this smallest unit of matter, in its entirety.
What is evident however, is that to learn we must be receptive to our environment and approach this with continual curiosity to adapt and innovate. The way we perceive life and business, for most individuals and companies, is not reality! We see what we want to believe and not what is truly happening around us. That is because of the limitations of our sensory organs which try to make sense of things using reference points from our past experiences. I have worked with a host of leaders over the last two decades and have found that those who operate with humility, curiosity, openness and honesty of communication and a positive attitude are able to harness inclusiveness from diversity and positively influence the future of their companies.
Let us look at our own businesses as a starting point. What is our current distribution of customers, how long have they been with us and how has this base grown? How have these customers and suppliers performed over the years? What contributions do they add to our business and to the broader communities and markets in which they serve? What is the internal level of energy and engagement within these companies, and our own? What are some of the changes we have made to our own businesses and perspectives over the years that have improved our competitive advantage? What are the latest innovations in the marketplace and where are we on this spectrum of change, learning and growth? How would we describe our ability to outpace the market, adapt and take decisions that allow us to disrupt and be at the forefront of innovation within our segments? Are we witnessing a healthy growth in sales, margins, cashflow and profitability? How has our product portfolio changed? Is our decision to innovate dependant on exploiting other non-core revenue streams, such as fees and penalties? Is our growth reflective of how the industry and marketplace has performed or is it below average? Are we measuring the right things and are we taking decisions that move us closer or further away from our strategic goals? What is our future outlook of our business? Do we have clarity of purpose and determination of focus to meeting these goals? Are we effectively planning, measuring and celebrating successes that bring us closer to our goals or are we merely content with outcomes that reflect our ability to maintain status quo YOY with no real economic value generation? Is our culture aligned with our purpose and outcomes or is there internal chaos, conflict and individual agendas that stand in the way of performance? What investment have we made in our leaders and in areas of competency development or are we feeling frustrated that we seem to be working harder each year just to find ourselves barely able to meet our last year’s target.
These are all real questions, which for many can be daunting if answered honestly. It is often easier to visualise our results through tainted lenses of internal belief systems that provide us with solace that we are doing our best despite the circumstances and cards we are dealt with in terms of the external environment and challenging employees.
I was at the gym last week doing my 5km daily run and was interrupted by a lady next to me, who tapped me on the shoulder asking if I was a KIWI. I have been mistaken for many nationalities in the past, but this was the first time someone called me a KIWI. I politely said no, to which in surprise she responded, “I could have sworn you were from New Zealand.”
This is a simple example of how each of us hold representations of the world that are not a reflection of reality. To this lovely lady, I was KIWI, and she was willing to go through life holding this belief. We too, on a sub-conscious level, hold representations and beliefs about business, our industry, the general marketplace, our leadership team, what motivates people to perform, how we should treat our customers and suppliers etc. How many of these beliefs truly support us and our businesses in achieving what we desire?
If we are honest, there are many which don’t. If there is one learning that I can leave you with that will truly change your life, – that is to be curious with humility when taking decisions! Most companies fail to grow because of pre-conceived judgements about the world and how it works. We use these judgements to arrive at decisions which often does not bring us any closer to achieving fulfilment or our goals.
As leaders and entrepreneurs, we are in the driver’s seat and have a responsibility to our shareholders, a duty of care to the people we employ and their families, to be genuine in how serve our customers and the broader community which form our eco-system. As much as we would not drive under the influence of alcohol as this would influence our perspective of reality and impair our ability to react, so should we not be guided by the limitations of our beliefs, but rather approach what we do as seekers of knowledge, learning and growth.
At Talent Multipliers, we are advisors that seek out diverse perspectives to provide balanced and sustainable solutions so you can take informed decisions for your business keeping in mind the broader eco-system. We focus on generating internal energy within your business to drive engagement and build resourcefulness and agility so that you exploit opportunities that push outward on external forces – to deliver tangible and real growth.
If you liked this article, please share it with others. We would love to hear your views. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.tmultipliers.com.au to know more about how we can help support your business.
More about the Author
Dominic Nair, CEO of Talent Multipliers is a people and culture strategist who partners with CEOs and business leaders of SMEs to grow and transform their organisation’s human capital and deliver tangible business results.
After 25 years of experience and holding executive leadership positions across multiple industries in both private and public sector, Dominic knows what truly drives engagement and organisational performance. It is how well an organisation can harness individual potential and drive massive action needed to create desired outcomes.
Over his career, Dominic has developed and led successful people solutions and strategies across 50 organisations in international markets covering small, medium and large businesses. In addition to his extensive experience across HR, compensation and benefits, executive reward, leadership development and M&A, Dominic is also a trained business and executive leadership coach.