The mental models that many business leaders rely on to run their businesses is wrong. They believe that building or buying tangible assets and selling said assets to buyers is the way to build a sustainable business model. It used to be but no longer is relevant to the buyer preferences in the 21st century.
The industrial era was based on mass production, productivity, process efficiency as the means to optimizing profit. Business trained people to run machines, processes and other people at maximum efficiency as if “people” were merely cogs in the wheel of labor all aimed at maximizing productivity for profit. People were measured based on contributions to profit, productivity and compliance to processes designed to do the same. Our educational systems were designed to teach methods of repeating or improving upon these mental models so that American industry could fleck its mighty muscle around the world and we did. We were great and proud of our greatness then a new generation of Americans awoken to the folly of the past and said “we won’t climb that tree and because we won’t doesn’t mean we’re stupid“.
Then business began to change their mental models because people defined a new set of assets that mattered to them in the 21st century. But the change was slow but the peoples demands increased in speed.
The Assets That Matter Now
Seth Godin writes in “The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?” Successful organizations have realized that they are no longer in the business of coining slogans, running catchy ads, and optimizing their supply chains to cut costs. And freelancers and soloists have discovered that doing a good job for a fair price is no longer sufficient to guarantee success. Good work is easier to find than ever before. What matters now:
- Stories that spread
- Humanity: connection, compassion, and humility
And here’s the thing: All six of these are the result of successful work by artists. These assets aren’t generated by external strategies and MBAs and positioning memos. These are the results of internal trauma, of brave decisions and the willingness to live with dignity. They are about standing out, not fitting in, about inventing, not duplicating.
When the assets that matter change then everything that matters to a business changes. Some will get it and make the necessary change matter while others will fake it and they will not longer matter to people. You know, the ones that created your value, paid your bills and tried to tell you what needed to change.
But you were to busy believing you were smart and they simply didn’t know how to climb your tree..