unreasonable, understanding business and progress

telaffects the-unreasonable-man

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“Insanity is big business.

And vice versa.”

 

Robyn Hitchcock

 

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“Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula.”

 

 

Bill Bernbach

 

 

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“If you try to comprehend air before breathing it, you will die.”

 

 

Mark Nepo

 

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Business.

 

Let me be clear.

 

idea unreasonble nuts workBusiness is not insane.

 

 

Nor do you need to be insane to be successful in business. And, in fact, the insane … the greed blinded … the insanely stupidly oblivious … and even the narcissistic assholes … are in the minority within businesses and surely the minority within the successful in business <although it often does not feel this way>.

 

 

It may only appear that the less-than-competent and insane are successful because … well … being successful in business is difficult, tricky and often a random mixture of competency & luck … a mixture of reasonableness & unreasonableness.

 

That said.

 

It would be easy to suggest success in business is mostly about fighting your way thru needless grind, needless mediocrity and needless politics … so I will suggest the more difficult path … fighting your way through anticipointment <I did not make that word up>.

 

Anticipointment is the uncomfortable marriage of anticipation and disappointment.

 

In business this happens a shitload. And while the easiest explanation is the often absurd unrealistic expectations managers set when trying to convince the rest of an organization to do something I will instead suggest it has to do with the intense amount of thinking that typically burdens decisions.

 

 

Here is what I mean … because we have thought through every single angle and possibility the anticipation of success rises proportionately. And then, uh oh, some unintended consequence or some unforeseen variable occurs and … sigh … disappointment.

 

And therein lies the paradox in business anticipation.

 

 

The theory is if you prepare well, okay, over prepare … you have the right to assume some anticipated predictability. And most people then add on a layer of hopeful anticipation of surprise <or exceeding some intangible ‘expectation’> also tied to the thinking & preparation.

pleasure anticipation days

 

I called this odd double layer of anticipation <predictable and surprise> the paradox but it actually may the truest of true insanity in business.

 

 

It is insanity because success in business, more often than not, is all about doing things that you haven’t done.

Therefore, there is always an inherent thread of … well … fear of what comes next <and, yet, there remains the anticipation tied with the preparation>.

 

Sometimes we go to some fairly extraordinary lengths to mitigate this fear <make silly promises and try and manage expectations>.

 

Here is the crazy thing.

 

We all have this fear.

 

We all have it whether we overthink, over prepare or over anything. It may be slightly mitigated by all the “over”-ing but reality has taught most of us business folk that all that ‘over’ stuff increases your odds to something slightly higher than 50% for success and you are still almost as likely to run into the unintended and unforeseen and all the ‘over’ stuff is under all the shit you are now facing.

 

over thinking mess

Anybody who is worth half a shit in business lives with some fear of what comes next because … well … shit … you are exploring and exploring means something new. I won’t tell you something trite like ‘embrace the fear’ … but I will tell you to live searching for whatever business success & objective that you would like.

 

Because, in the end, that’s all that is gonna count.

 

 

Why do I say that?

 

 

A large percentage of our life in business, as parents, friends, partners, managers and whatevers is pretty routine.

 

 

That means most of us fall into a routine.

 

It’s pretty natural.

 

 

A business is often like orbiting. It rises; it sets, and predictably moves across the sky day after day.

 

This routine, if not nudged out of orbit, becomes complacency … or maybe just comfortable acceptance.

 

Or maybe it is just the reasonable thing to do – maintain the orbit.

 

 

Certainty the ‘reasonable’ hedges our bets.

 

 

Oddly that isn’t what business success is all about – being reasonable. We just seem to get convinced that whatever initial seemingly unreasonable, but successful, idea which created the business is no longer the path to ongoing success. In other words … it just isn’t reasonable to do anything that may generate any fear above the tamped down fear we are accustomed to through all the over preparing, over thinking and over whatevering.

 

 

Here is a silly thought.

 

Maybe an unreasonable thought. Progress is grounded in fear, anticipation, excitement and disappointment.

All of them.

 

 

To ask progress to be anything other than all of that is fraught with peril. In fact the safest, most reasonable path, is to simply pursue the path that is the extension of the difficult, tricky and often a random mixture of competency & luck which makes up business success.

 

I would say in my experience that the best ideas, the biggest potential positive change agents, get dragged down into the dismal depths of the “reasonable” decision making organization. These are the parts of businesses, and business people, who see ‘anticipointmnet’ as reality and, yet, constantly seek to avoid it <wrap your head around that thought>.

 

 

Look.

 

In general I have always liked logical thinking <no matter how random the logic may be> and I always love it when someone combines some unexpected logic.

 

But in today’s business world we seem to try and comprehend air before breathing … and in doing so … well … die.

 

 

Now.

 

 

Anticipointment more often than not gets driven by a business ‘long term purpose over think object hughstrategy’ <which is the business manager’s version of ‘managing fear and expectations’>.

 

Maybe I’ll just simply call it “the long view” so I don’t get all twisted around the differences between vision, purpose and strategy.

 

 

But the semantics in the vision, purpose & strategy is important.

 

Vision is your ultimate purpose. A vision, a purpose, should never change. It is your North Star.

Not only is it unreasonable to want to change it … it is stupid. Plus. If you can change it then it never really was the vision/purpose of your business.

 

 

Next.

 

 

Long-term strategies <let’s say 7 to 10 years> are simply not reasonable. They can certainly serve as a guideline & framework to follow at the beginning of the implementation process, but they should never stay static because they should be dynamic to ensure that the on-ground plan is aligned with the desired outcomes/objectives & what you are aiming to accomplish <and the vision>.

 

 

All that said leads me back to progress and unreasonable and anticipointment <and why business is not really insanity>.

 

Progress is dependent upon being dynamic within a relatively loose strategic framework.

 

Uh oh.

 

Dynamic becomes the chafing point between reasonable and unreasonable.

 

Dynamic plays upon anticipointment. Therefore in order to be a successful business and progress … well … you have to be unreasonable at times <and choosing the right times versus the wrong times is a Sisyphean task> and you have to not only accept all aspects of anticipointment – fear, anticipation, excitement and disappointment – but use all aspects to be … well … dynamic in your purpose.

 

Look.

 

 

There are a shitload of reasons why the business world is relatively stagnant. All the unreasonable stuff is being forced into the startup & incubator space <which often feels like going into a casino when visiting an incubator building> and all the reasonable stuff resides within the purview of the bigger businesses <and established small businesses>.

 

 

I will also tell you that in my eyes we are burdening business with undue overthinking, over preparing and over everything – even with good unreasonable ideas. I believe this happens because business is burdened with the concept of ‘reasonable before doing’ management.

 

Some people would call it mitigating risk.

 

I would call it encouraging mediocrity.

 

 

 

Here is what I know for sure.

 

Anticipointment is simply a part of being in business.

 

crazy one unreasonable hugh

Being unreasonable is the non-simple aspect of being successful in business.

 

And as for the insanity part of business?

Being reasonable is an insane way to approach progress.

 

 

And.

 

The biggest business truth of all <and should be up on every wall in every business office>:

 

“If you try to comprehend air before breathing it, you will die.”

 

I wrote a long time ago … business success is often all about the selectively unreasonable person.

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Written by Bruce