Precedented Times

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“Your work is both good and original.  Unfortunately, the good parts aren’t original and the original parts aren’t good.”

     –  Attributed to Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), English writer and critic

If ever there was a time that called for both good and original, we are in it.

(I wonder how Samuel would feel about me ending that sentence with a preposition?)

Too many phrases are getting thrown around like hot potatoes, without considering the context.  “An abundance of caution…”  “Normal,” or “new normal…”

The one that is making my skin crawl?  “Unprecedented times!”

Once we crossed the one-year threshold of the dramatic alteration of commerce caused by the variety of reactions to COVID-19, we entered precedented times.  In fact, all times are technically “precedented” since they were preceded by whatever came before.  The sooner we stop giving ourselves excuses, the quicker and more completely we’ll begin on a better path towards whatever lies ahead.  Toward the next precedented time.

This is not to say that we haven’t encountered disruption.

Some disruption has come from the fact that copycats no longer have a template from which to copy.  (Was that better, Ghost of Samuel?)  For too many companies, for too many executives in companies, copying the approach in the Book Of The Month Club feature on Leadership / Process / Hiring / Hybrid and Work-From-Home Rules was all it took to survive or, in some cases, continue to grow their business.

A rising tide really does lift all boats, after all.  But, the market has shifted.  Many markets have shifted.  Buyers have shifted.  Activist investors or impatient family ownership might be shifting.  Folks are squirrely and expecting something that makes them feel less squirrely.

That’s why, more than ever, we’re called to be both good and original.

There’s risk in that, however.

If we’re committed to being original, we run the risk of being wrong, and that’s why being good, too, is really, really important.  Being original in these times means we have to be extra good at a critical set of skills.  Communication, for example.  Expectation setting.  Selecting talent.  Developing talent.  Engaging our customers.  Transparency.  (Yes, that’s a skill…)  Nimbleness.  (Yes, that’s a word!)

We’re called to be both good and original because the people we’re tempted to copy might not be good anymore.

These are precedented times.  What have we learned that will help us go forward with both good and original as our beacons?

 

 

 


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