This is scene one of ‘The Tragedy of Coriolanus’ by William Shakespeare. It says a lot to us. It’s easy to float when the sea is calm.
There was a time when the business environment was a sea more or less calm, or at least linear and predictable. Many people did well just by floating, and all the ship/companies looked alike. The sea is not calm anymore, there is a tempest out there, but still many people do not have the right skills. They think that floating is enough to keep them going.
Some business schools still teach floating. Some functions within corporations (Communications, HR?) are still floating. We hire people who can float, or have floated before, or show mastership in floating. I suppose they have an MIF, which is not Master in Finance but Master in Floating.
Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale, in their book Funky Business (1999) said “The ‘surplus society’ has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people, with similar educational backgrounds, working in similar jobs, coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar prices and similar quality.”
Depressing. Floating on a sea of sameness
The curious thing is that everybody would agree that there is a storm out there. Why does Learning and Development look out of the window and say: ‘Wow! What a storm, look at that sea! Anyway, as we were saying, this is lesson 23 on floating’.
OK, this is harsh. Maybe. The point is, we need desperately to find new navigation skills. The old toolkits (Organizational Development, Leadership Development, Management of Change, Learning and Development) don’t work anymore. Too many people spend too much time managing the inevitable and fostering the unremarkable. We need to reboot management.