This is an article about businesses, but underneath that I present a theory on self—self as it relates to business. According to some postulates on a new law of time, true mastery is achieved by activities such as involution, reflection, meditation, and introspection. These elements are all connected to “self”. But wait—isn’t that selfish? Under common usage, the word selfish would imply self over others, or self-promotion to the detriment of others. What if we, instead, meant self as a state of “being your best self”? As you fill your cup, it overflows with provision for all—at work, at home, at your house of worship, and everywhere. Only through self-discovery can we learn who we truly are. Only through self-awareness can we choose behaviors according to a correlation with our values. And only through focused reflection can we understand our place in this world and create prosperous realities. A journey into self is always the path to higher knowledge. How do we then apply this principle to our distribution companies?
Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow is a Harvard Business Review classic. The author, Larry E. Greiner, takes us on an odyssey into the growing pains of businesses. We have shared this article numerous times, but now I ask my readers to take another look at it. Can we go back in time? Not exactly. As we evolve and grow, so then does our perspective. Therefore, let us start the process anew. Change is upon us, as usual, and adaptation is called for. Please note that Currie Success Principle #8 is Growth and Adaptability. Here is where we must apply this Principle, as the directions of our economy and marketplace are creating the need for advancing and changing in an intentional way.
Within the very first page of Greiner’s work, we see his lament that management erroneously “fixes its gaze outward…” In the following summary of the five key dimensions, is a reference to a significant problem: “Managerial problems and practices are rooted in time.” This represents the essence of my theory: advancement through change, revolution, evolution, and adaptation–all must occur through the process of involution. And we must look at time itself in a new way—non-linear.
What is the state of organizations in the developed world today? And what “stage” is your business in? Distribution of industrial equipment, especially, is a mature and robust industry, fueling all the critical areas of human existence: food development, transportation, warehousing and delivery, power generation, and more. Let us look back for a moment, before we look forward, in another example of the cyclical nature of time. The dealership, or distribution company, began with a vision. The factors that went into the manifestation of that vision were numerous, perhaps even infinite. Through generational sharing, the passing of knowledge, the wisdom of the founding values, and the processes that made distribution companies great, we enjoy continued growth and success. The vision is still with us and very little has been lost. But what about the unseen—the crisis points and the call for growth and adaptability? Evolution is a process which also begins with vision, much as the original distribution company was built. As our businesses evolve, then so must we. Confirmation for this can be found on page 6 of Evolution and Revolution, where Greiner states: “The critical task for management in each revolutionary period is to find a new set of organizational practices…” And that includes our thought processes as well as our physical processes. Radial geometry describes projection of form through brain phase. Preconscious, unconscious, superconscious, and subliminal conscious brain functions are the steps of creation from vision (invisible) into solid (visible) accomplishment: evolution through involution. On page 9 of Greiner’s article, he includes a section entitled Implications of History. Here is where hindsight is 20/20, as they say. We can most definitely learn from looking back, and we most definitely must work to correctly anticipate the next crisis–but how about adding involution as an additional, and overarching process? How we practice involution as a human is a complex journey, but we must also apply this theory to our distribution companies.
How do we begin to apply involution to ourselves and to our businesses? Patience, endurance, and courage are required. The first steps are described below, and this will be part of a continuing series to provide more information but for now call them what you will: evolution, crisis, involution, revolution–all these elements are addressed within the 12 Currie Success Principles. Let us begin:
Principle #1 Audacity
The pursuit of operational excellence drives dealer principals to continuously develop and fine-tune their strategies. It naturally follows that dealership executives also focus their efforts on the vigilant execution of the strategy. The business leader is the person who has the ultimate responsibility to provide the discipline needed for successful execution. The business leader in your organization will be well-suited to exercise the qualities of a highly skilled general. After all, business, to some, is warfare. Speaking of such, who better to learn from than some of the great military leaders of the world. They possessed audacious courage that most can only dream about. What did they have that was different? Where did the courage come from? How do we achieve it for ourselves and our businesses? But let us also learn from the great peacemakers of the past. They, also, demonstrated a commitment and a dedication to give it all. Audacity is therefore required for anyone who wishes to self-examine. And it is required for those who wish to implement great changes in their companies for a future beyond imagination.
The Myers-Briggs Type indicator, originally developed from the continued work of Carl Jung (1875-1961), a Swiss psychiatrist, assists in determining your personality preferences and predisposition to certain tendencies. For many it is an interesting exercise. But for others it is a bold foray into new territory. Either way, self-awareness is a critical first step in the longer process of self-discovery, or involution.
How we define the culture, or “personality” of your company is a similar undertaking and must be done with intention, and with an open mind. Our power, both individually and collectively, lies within the natural gifts that each of us have from the beginning. Learn them, define them, explore them, appreciate them, and grow.
Principle #2 Vision and the Big Picture
The Holy Bible may not be your holy book, but the story behind the building of the Ark of the Covenant is a perfect depiction of visions and of visionaries. In the Book of Exodus, God gave Moses very specific instructions about the construction of the Ark during the first of Moses’ experiences of theophany. After several long and ambiguous exchanges between God and Moses, and after the writing of the Covenant and the tablets, God sent Moses to ask for the offerings. And His directives continued for every sacred detail. In reading the numerous, meticulously ordered commands, we see God’s brilliant vision for the project: from the priests’ clothing to the placement of the very last gemstone. The consecration ceremony, the reverence with which people are to approach the holy structure—all these elements demonstrated an immensely profound combination of “Big Picture” as well as “detail-oriented” thought and creation, one that would set the tone for an entire civilization, from that moment and for all of time.
The totality of these lengthy imperatives seemed to be communicated directly to Moses. Yet, suddenly, in Exodus 31 we realize that God had also directly and intimately conscripted a man named Bezaleel, to execute the project in its entirety. God also commanded by name, the assistant (or partner) that Bezaleel would engage. In commanding this team, God equipped them with His own visionary power. This exquisite story is the essence of a visionary leader, rolling out His majestic vision to an exceedingly qualified, well prepared, and highly talented team. These were men who understood the vision and were able to manifest a project ordained directly from God. But let’s think about this project from a business perspective. Think about some great visionary leaders that have transformed businesses, communities, and even cultures. There are many that are quite famous, but who do we personally know, that can both understand and collaborate to create a lasting vision of growth and success for your company?
Look at vision, now, in a new way, and take the view from the top. Just see where it will take you and your business.
Finally, referring to the grey shaded areas on pages 8-9 in Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow, the author discloses that the business world is a growth phase in and of itself. We, as people and as businesses, are constantly evolving, we are always experiencing a crisis of some type, and we all strive for profitable growth. And then we do it all over again. Now we have come, once again, full circle.
The next piece I write for you will be a deeper study of time, and time management as it relates to effective management of a distribution organization. We will dive into some of the work of Einstein and his theories on time, the work of Bradford Skow (Objective Becoming), Newtonian physics as it relates to time, and theories of time as non-linear (Jose Arguelles). For now, here are some additional musings for you about involution:
- Philosophically, involution is the “turning in” of something.
- Mathematically, involution is a permutation within a set. It also represents an involuntary mathematical function: an unknown becomes its own inverse.
- Spiritually, we think of involution as a journey into self and into soul. On a personal note, I believe a commitment to embark into self-exploration, self-discovery, and self-awareness can only lead to good things!