Are we meant to go where others have gone before?
We’ve long spoken of basic human needs, and Maslow’s hierarchy is most quoted, but the 1950’s psychiatrist, Murray Banks, narrowed it down to four: a need to survive, love and be loved, feel important and experience variety. To this list, fellow psychiatrist William Glasser added the need for freedom. The latter tow needs are significant for organisations to note: if people are built for variety and freedom, are we structured to accommodate and harness this?
Most organisations rely on financial results as a planning tool. This is logical…and historical. The assumption of incremental change is implied: “Add 10% to last year’s figures and call it risk.” Our world is not, however, static. Neither are established norms going unchallenged. In his book, “Shattering the Myths of Darwinism,” geologist and reporter Richard Milton questions the geological column, the basis of most evolutionary theory. He notes that it assumes a constant average rate of sedimentation globally of 0.2mm per year (over millions of years), yet that has yet to occur anywhere repeatedly, as far as he can ascertain. What if he is right, and Darwin wrong? Apple keeps redefining what is possible electronically (and attempting to control how users use their products), while others keep up or drop out. How is it in your playing field?
It is always helpful to compare notes with others – feedback – but measuring up to external factors is unhelpful. As a drummer, I cannot compare myself to Carter Beauford, drummer for Dave Matthews Band, and hope to measure up well: it is his lifelong pursuit, and my hobby. I can glean from Carter’s technique or showmanship and assimilate this into my context, with 30 minutes a day to practice. Who I am (my style and unique differentiator) lends itself to certain interpretations, which will hopefully please our audiences.
Likewise, your culture (your unique way of doing life) is a large part of your competitive advantage – reference Southwest Airlines, SAS Inc, Innocent Drinks or Virgin. These organisations may have competitors, but their clients are attracted to HOW they do business, not merely WHAT they do, for this is easily commoditised within 6 weeks.
Measure yourself against how authentically you are being true to your core, yet growing constantly. Then comparisons will offer interesting angles on your core, rather than disconcert you.