When business leaders slow down and sense where they are, they can decide whether to advance, stay put or withdraw. If a business regularly senses how favorable and attractive conditions are becoming, decisions about future strategy and actions are much easier and usually more accurate. Encyclopedia Britannica is a classic example of a legacy business that lost touch with its marketplace. A thirty-two-volume set sold for $1500, at a time when rivals were selling the same information on CD-ROM for $200. Today Wikipedia offers one-hundred times more information for free. There is a rhythm a business needs to have to survive and thrive. This is a regular pattern of sensing the changing conditions that our business needs to act upon.
Yesterday, Ari, a 16-year-old friend of my son, asked if he could drive us, as he was learning. I said yes and Ari put his learner plates on the car. Ari was a confident driver and kept a safe distance from the traffic in front and beside us. I complemented Ari on his safe driving and he seemed pleased. After driving for a while on a long stretch of road, I asked Ari to tell me without looking in his mirrors, what traffic was behind him. He shared that he had no clue and never looked behind. We then talked about the sort of rhythms a driver needs to have to survive on the road and Ari also agreed that knowing what traffic was behind as well as in front and beside us made sense.
At fifty-something, I sense that my best health is now behind me. However, my expertise in many areas is better than ever. For example, with a combination of up to date knowledge of my metabolic pathways, hormone cycles, and circadian rhythms, I have begun to reverse both my physical and mental age. By fasting for 18 to 22 hours per day, reducing lectins and out of season foods in my diet, exercising with short bursts of high intensity or heavy weights two to three times per week, and daily meditation or yoga by the river or ocean, I am learning to better live in sync with the rhythms of life and the rhythms of my body. What sort of rhythms does a business need to honor to survive and thrive?
On a blank page, list the key success factors for your business – get a sense of the three to five most important things, that you must do well for business to thrive. Now sense your outer environment – the marketplace and industry in which you operate. Make a list of all the things that don’t seem to be changing. Examine this list more closely. Get a sense that if the things that are not changing were to change, what could this look, sound and feel like?
Now sense the overall rhythm that is needed here. How many times a year should you do this activity for your business? Once, twice, three or even four times per year can be a great rhythm to avoid becoming the next Encyclopaedia Britannica!