You don’t have to be a poet or a PR agency to appreciate the value of business done beautifully.
Think of your experience as a consumer when it comes to legendary, epic, deeply beautiful products. BMW engineering. The Vitamix. The MacBook Air. As a customer, when you hold these physical products in your hand, there is awe in the sense of wonder. How are they made? How does it all come together? How is it that this everyday object seems to transmit this utter magic?
In the process of doing business, too, this type of beauty matters, not only to the adventurous or idealistic but deeply to the human soul, to the entire product ecosystem, short-term, medium-term, and long-term, and the bottom line, which suffers or soars at each one of those time horizons in tandem. Doing business beautifully means infusing your product and process with creativity and resilience at every level of your operation. It means deepening your bench of engaged, contributing, creative, supported, empowered employees. It means operating in a way that’s sustainable, both for the world, employee retention, and the bottom line. It means getting inside of your customers’ hearts, minds, and bloodstreams, really EARNING that spot effortlessly, by doing it right all along. And it absolutely means not sacrificing on value or business need. Doing your business beautifully is NOT worse for the bottom line. Instead, it promotes consciously aligning with and supporting the needs of the business at every level, every quarter, every moment. With business done beautifully, no effort is wasted. And there’s no waste from your effort.
Consider the working environments you’ve worked in that WEREN’T operating beautifully. On face, when we think of doing business more beautifully, an easy first reaction is to contract, worrying – “well, it can’t be done.” It’s not in line with the needs and expectations of investors and the market. It’s not in line with the needs of consumers. And it’s certainly going to be more expensive.
But DO think back to a few times in your life you’ve observed business *not* being done beautifully. In tech, has it actually been because the business was “too efficient” and everything was operating at maximum effectiveness, rhythmically timed like one of Ford’s visionary epic machines?
Or when it’s faltered, was it more like Office Space, with employees putting in a gross maximum of 2-3 hours a day of real effort, managers devolving into detailed input management, employees exiting or grinding against the idea of coming to work an extra day? Was the system functioning with GREAT value and risk-benefit return, or did you tend to see more waste and selfish business-second bias in the attitudes of middle management, distrust and corrupted collaboration between frontline employees – perhaps themes of posturing and self-flaggelation (and endless reports), rather than perpetual refocusing on customer value? Were those environments *really* rigorous and thorough in experimenting and validating emerging business opportunities (or risks) in a research-oriented environment — practicing *true* data-driven design and management?
It’s awfully weird when our own experiences starkly oppose the market’s favorite axioms.
It is time for us to stop engaging the myth that business done beautifully is more expensive and bad for shareholders.
Value-Adding Operations, i.e. businesses that really exist and meet a customer need, should look good, feel good, and “act good” at every level. When they do, they produce better outcomes, more sustainable results, greater resilience at every level of the organization, and a chronic alignment with real value creation that shoots off thousands of new tiny possibilities at any moment, any one of which could become a next big product line, essential new strategy, or perfect solution to a problem arising on the horizon.
The gap we face today is not due to a lack of business model, but one of resolve. It’s not true that the talent is missing at the frontline or midline levels — this is one of the most competitive, talented and lubricated job markets in the history of the world.
The crisis we suffer from is a lack of visionaries and sufficient ambition in the values of our corporate leadership systems. Our C-level execs, SVPs, and board chairs too often lose faith in real value and default to the want for an “instant answer,” instead of trusting the creativity of their people and asking for results in a way that’s regenerative, and continually producing, instead of rote and ironclad.
The next generation of amazing companies will outpace the last by doing business beautifully, presenting consumers with compelling new options for when the titans of Web 2.0 industry fall due to the widespread values failures plaguing them across nearly every international market, and increasingly so in the US.
Doing (worthwhile) business beautifully will be the next big trend, speaking to customers and top talent in a way that will create new markets from fantastic new conversations that engaged, brilliantly coordinated, self-regulating teams and employees create in harmonious concert with the outside world.
It’s called Good.
And in today’s markets and legendarily flexible operating environments, any founders, leaders, or directors courageous and inspired enough to call for it and put in the work will find ready support from myself in making change happen, then defining and sculpting the transformational systems and platforms necessary to sustain, scale, and infinitely replicate internal success (and prove it’s working to investors, employees, and the public).
All you need do is ask.