“Success is not a firework” is the title of my last article, soon to appear at the next newsletter of Secret Key, our training partners in Athens and Bucharest.  During my 20 years as a retail expert and consultant with STIRIXIS Group, I have seen a number of companies rise and fall, all too fast.  So I know well, it is also about stamina and sustainability.  However, as it happens with Systems, we have to state our view point in order to truly define and agree the meaning of words.  Is sustainability within the limits of the company’s profitability?  Does it extend to society as a supersystem?

Manfred Max Neef
I recently stumbled upon one very interesting interview of Manfred Max Neef.  During these 20 minutes, the Chilean Economists clearly depicts how different viewpoints lead to different solutions and why Analytical thinking has come to be a real threat to the survival of our society as we know it.  I strongly urge you to see this and think about how your business is X-rated under the concepts that underlay his thinking.

Interview with Manfred Max Neef

Following this mental model, in Bucharest yesterday for our customer Topline, the leading professional cosmetics company in Romania, a salesperson asked me during the first minutes of my intro to Systems Thinking in Business: “Is this just theory?”  “Hell, no!”, I said and proceeded to explain in detail how Systems Thinking ensures Sustainability and the tools we have developed in STIRIXIS Group based on this approach. We strongly believe, and have built a strong case based on results, that any concept that is not design by the principles of Systems Thinking nowadays has a very limited life expectancy, getting shorter by the day.

So, if you planning on investing in a new concept, or thinking of relaunching / reposistioning an existing one, here are five questions you should ask yourself (or your team) before you give the green light:

  1. Is your concept dynamic?  If you have not integrated feedback mechanisms, KPI’s and algedonic alerts to get constant and real-time information about your current position and direction in the Market, your concept is already dead.  Perhaps you don’t know it yet, but it is!
  2. Is your concept valuable and to what sub- and super-systems?  Check the first two or three sub- and super-systems you can think of.  If you cannot find value in it for these systems (or you cannot redesign to “inject” it) your concept will not withstand the heat of the friction with these systems and will soon be history.
  3. Is your organization a truly learning organization?  Because answering yes to the first two questions is not enough.  Nope, if your concept can change and has value to produce, than your organization must have the stamina required to support is as it does so.  In other words,  your system must also be fine-tuned and determined to change according the feedback produced.
  4. Can you lead the race at any point?  Innovation is a trendy word.  However, it is nowadays never sustainable.  Whatever you “invent”, product, service, process or procedure, is copied, fine tuned and relaunched in a better way in no-time.  However, ask your self if you and your team can at any point lead the race.  Is your innovation and creativity lab strong enough to initiate change rather than follow and adapt to it?  If you are always a follower, chances are you will run out of fuel and the value your concept produces will diminish pretty fast.
  5. Are you in it for fun?  Well, I am sure this question blew you away…  Truth is that unless you are in it for fun and enjoy the ride without knowing the destination (if any), you will probably not withstand the pain of changing and the exhaustion of constant searching for the “Holy Grail”.  For there is no “Holy Grail”, only the hidden fun for the few who can see the fireworks created by the emergent values of a well-design, well-performed Systemic Concept.  And the profitability that is produced as a by-product of these emergent values.  After all, as the late Peter Drucker so successfully pointed out: “Profit is to companies what oxygen is to Humans, important for their survival but NOT the reason of their existence…”

In modern game console language: “Do you want to unlock the next level?”