transient assertions:

they are true today, but may not have been true yesterday or may not be true tomorrow


My weakness, professionally, is the lack of any specific ‘hard’ skill. To be clear. I am fairly sure my ‘soft skills’ are not a strength. Regardless. That hard skill weakness makes my biggest professional vulnerability, well, stability. What I mean by that is a specific hard skill gains importance the more replicable or consistent a context is. What I also means by that is in order to facilitate my own professional survival I had to embrace progress or some version of consistent contextual change <facilitate organizational/brand/business continuous improvement>. It also meant not only embracing ‘transient assertions’, but figure out how to articulate the value of transient assertions.

Now. This does not mean everything changes. I have also said, and still do, that the best organizations typically run on parallel, but interconnected, paths – consistency/replicable and emergent/improvement.

But if you don’t have a specific skill to hang your hat on you need (blue to emphasize) to move upstream in a business. If you do, and you are really worth a shit, you’ll find your thinking, whether purposeful or not, has scraps of the larger company identity/strategy/vision underpinnings in it no matter how downstream you go once up that stream. This has a mutual benefit of imbuing the more tactical with the more strategic <or mission oriented> and imbuing the vision with some more pragmatic aspects. You become more able in linking scraps of skills with scraps of vision slowly but surely positioning yourself as a tapestry maker, or, a transient assertionist (I made that term up). The truly interesting aspect of this professional thought is that if you are any good you find you not only start sneaking into other conversations and other departments, but you are even welcomed or asked to. In addition, you will also find that “non asked for business building ideas” are more about company things then any brand things (but brands would benefit).

So, regardless of your actual ‘skill’ you just become comfortable wandering into the business of doing business.

That said.

I do think it matters what someone has done from a practical experience when doing a job. I struggle to think of an industry, department or function I have not interacted with professionally. I have worked with retail, CPG, services, franchises, multi-unit, global with local needs, technology startups and almost any business configuration imaginable. But, maybe more importantly, I have used all those experiences as Edward de Bono suggested, through lateral thinking to transfer appropriate learnings from one to another to create successful, distinct initiatives, ideas and improvements <value creation>.

I do think it matters what someone has done from a practical experience when doing a job. I have either worked in or directly managed Direct Marketing, Media, Ad agency Account Management, Creative process, brand planning, brand strategy, strategic planning (business consulting), social media, organizational behavior, digital planning, behavioral dynamics, etc. and as a result am quite familiar with how to guide thinking to practical output to results.  Heck. I have taught and implemented strategic planning, managed an advertising agency and, in general, have been able to elevate a variety of businesses to new points of distinction in competitive environments.

*** note: Points of distinction. Let me be specific.  It would be easy for someone to suggest a supermarket is a supermarket, an enzyme is an enzyme, a motor oil is a motor oil, a bank is a bank or whatever you would like to add. I used those because I have direct experience on those, as well as a variety of commodity-like industries, and I do not agree. A person has to understand how to identify the underlying components that create the distinctness of any business, often the subtle little things, and bring them to life in a way that will resonate with people and, ultimately, create some connection. I imagine I am suggesting connection and distinction have a looped relationship and one cannot exist without the other if you seek create value.

All of what you have just read may seem, uhm, restless. Well. It is.

But despite all the restlessness I have just highlighted there is a core consistency – principled thinking and principled application. While I believe if a business, and initiative, is not moving it will not survive, I also believe “continuous movement” demands embedding strategy in every tactic and tactical thinking within a strategy and embedding the organizational vision into every strategy. Maybe better said, mastering transient assertions to the benefit of the long-term business.


Here is the one thing I am consistent on. I believe every business, every product, every service, every initiative, has something worth telling a story about. If you are in business and do not believe that you should be in a different career. I also believe if you can stand up and tell a story with your knowledge, or what you know, all your restlessness can create value. What I mean by that is I could stand in front of accounting, ops, sales, customer service, a board … and tell a story (usually in a cascading dialogue – here is situation, here is what someone says first, the response, what some thinks, what some says, etc.) and thru the dialogue story cemented some credibility, offered some solutions/words thru the story dialogue and made the strategic point.

Stories even some things out which is helpful because restlessness tends to create some unevenness or asymmetry. That last point is important because growth just by its natural properties creates imbalances AND the business world <as well as the world writ large> encourages us to believe things should be tidy. Unfortunately, people are inherently untidy irrational things, improvement is rarely tidy and stories tend to tidy some things up.


Restless consistency is valuable because I believe business, in general, is a constant tug of war between freedom and focus.

It’s a little bit easier to have this tug of war if you have established business/brand heuristics because then in the debate you can lean in on them to gain some flexibility elsewhere.


Large businesses worry so much about challengers (& are defensive rather than offensive) so they tend to conservatively hunker down on what they are afraid to lose rather than focus on what they could gain. It creates an inherent focus, but also stagnancy & lets others play in the “hey, I am interesting” zone.

Small businesses are scared about standing for nothing. They have had it pounded into their heads that the path to success is “stand for one thing.”  This creates a tightrope for any strategist in that they have to be able to articulate core focus as an incredibly solid lily pad while suggesting some freedom aspects and a “let’s follow what works” plan of action.

And new companies? Yikes. I just think new businesses have less margin for error and with business inherently attracted to ‘evenness’ & consistency (the list of reasons of why span from political to managing upwards to budgeting to articulation/looking smart) and, if you aren’t resilient and diligent, the arc of activity will always go to ‘one thing well’ not ‘restless consistency.’


Business itself is restless. Consistently restless.

Business itself is a transient assertion. Consistently transient.

I imagine my point is you have a couple of choices with regard to your career.

First. Hunker down and master a skill on the consistent part <and hope the transient part of business doesn’t kill that particular consistency>.

Second. Hunker down on restless learning and get good at applying that learning against the transient part.

I will not tell you which is better because, well, both offer value to a business and, yet, both do not offer any guarantee of business success. All I know is that in hunting and in business, a moving target is more difficult to hit so restless consistency may make your survival probabilities increase. Just think about it.

Written by Bruce