Time to rethink the rebirth of your business
The theory of evolution is arguably the single most important concept underpinning our understanding, not just of the natural world, but of the ongoing processes of change that happen all around us, all the time.
It should come as no surprise then, that over the century and a half since Darwin first published his ideas, our concept of evolution itself has evolved quite dramatically, most notably in 1972. That was when Eldredge and Gould published their detailed study, looking right across the fossil record, reframing evolution not as a continuous process, but one of “punctuated equilibria” – long periods of relative stability, marked by short periods of dramatic change.
What they showed was that ecosystems evolve very slowly, right up until a dramatic event shakes the environment. Following the event, the whole system enters a period of rapid and radical change, as many species disappear, and others diversify into the wide variety of emerging new niches.
The two essential points here are these. The change is not instantaneous, it follows from, and ripples on, long after the event itself. And the world never, ever, goes back to the way it was before.
This global pandemic will do exactly the same for our whole business ecosystem.
Those who’ve innovated, invested and transformed during the last twelve months, will be in pole position as we come out of the curve. But the shake-up is far from over. In fact, it has only just got started.
The statistics don’t lie. The highest rates of business failure aren’t during recessions, they’re during recoveries. The dinosaurs weren’t instantly vapourised when that giant meteor smashed into the Gulf of Mexico. They died out over the decades and centuries that followed as their environment continued to rapidly change and other, more agile species, outcompeted them across the emerging landscape of new niches.
The fatal temptation for all business owners over the coming months, as trade floods back in, as bookings fill up and orders take off, will be to redirect all their resources to the front line in an attempt to keep up with demand, to capitalise on the short-term peak of recovery at the expense of continuing to change, evolve, and diversify.
It’s entirely understandable. After such a long, lean period, cash flow must be king.
But to succeed over the long haul, to seize the bigger prizes that will emerge through and from this coming period of rebirth, leaders have to double-down on innovation and accelerate their ongoing transformation. This is not an option that can be picked up later. Later is too late.
Since pre-history in the northern hemisphere, the festivals of Easter (Ostara, Pascha, and so on) around the Spring solstice, have marked the start of a new cycle of nature following its winter shutdown. And so, it’s enormously fitting that so much of that same geography is beginning to emerge from a year of lockdown at such an auspicious time.
The challenge for us all though, is to shift our mindset, right now. To consciously move our thoughts from one of recovering lost business in the short term, to one of business rebirth and renewal for the long term. Because unless we do, we will end up as just one more fossil in the record.