Our aim is to introduce some fresh thinking into the world of business. I have always believed that people are the most important element in business – the best people and the right people, harnessing their energy in line with a shared purpose.
People before profit
Many business leaders focus primarily on profits and, while it is counter-intuitive to say so, I do not believe this is the way to achieve the best results. There is a book I read recently by John Kay called Obliquity that expounds this very theory. Fundamentally he says that in order to achieve the result you want you should focus on something else.
So, greater happiness comes from doing what you love or doing something for the world and happiness will follow as a result. Likewise, greater profitability comes when you do something really well and that you really enjoy, not when you are focusing on profits.
The energy created by a group of people who feel they are drawn together to do something great is the most important ingredient in any successful business – but it is particularly important for a design business.
Another book I would recommend to all those in the creative industries is Organising Genius – The Secrets of Creative Collaboration by Warren Bennis in which he explores how a number of different companies or creative agencies have operated.
My clearest memory of the book is when Bennis noted that, in most successful creative organisations, there is a creative genius and a partner who protects the space in which the genius works. I have always worked with a partner, Bernard Dooling, and we operated in this way – with me looking after the space in which Bernard could explore his creativity without interruption.
I used to think that this kind of partnership was something I needed and wanted – a personal requirement. However, the more I see of the world, the more I believe this works well for anyone in any situation.
Purpose and meaning
One of the big ideas in Bennis’ book is that where there used to be ‘The Great Man’ and now there is ‘The Great Group’, working in harmony towards a shared purpose and the fulfillment of a dream.
Fuelled by curiosity, Great Groups don’t simply solve problems, they are engaged in a process of discovery that is its own reward. The zeal with which people in Great Groups work is directly related to how effectively the leader articulates the vision that unites them.
Such leaders understand very basic truths about human beings. They know that we long for meaning. Without meaning, labour is time stolen from us. Great Groups need leaders who encourage and enable. The best thing a leader can do for a Great Group is allow its members to discover their own greatness.
Richard has 35 years experience as a retail strategist, brand strategy consultant and business innovation consultant. He co-founded strategic design consultancy 2020 in 1988 and is now non-executive chairman. He has developed a holistic theory of business and, having published a book on the subject (Holistic Business), now consults through Holistic Business Consultants (www.holisticbusiness.co).
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