Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sustainable competitiveness

I liked a great phrase used by Fast Company Editor John Byrne in his Letter from the Editor, May 2005. "The Case For Change"

John refers to "sustainable competitiveness". That's a potentially scary thought. You're actually acknowledging that you're entering a fray for which there is probably no clear victory. And there is plenty of defeat available. John Byrne defines the kind of victory available to most start ups and similar enterprises as simply, and sustainably, being able to continue on with the fray.

Gosh, there's an easy sell.

Actually that's JUST what you should want.

You're probably not going to start an enterprise that will dominate its niche so thoroughly that you will forever be lighting cigars with folding money. Rather, you're going to start an enterprise that will need to slip into the weirdly chaotic commercial flood and stay there. And prosper. If you're wise you'll even learn to love it.

I like Fast Company for a bunch of obvious reasons, but especially what John Byrne says about its mission, that the magazine is "... dedicated to the belief that change is at the core of human fulfillment and sustainable competitiveness." Fast Company says its mission is "teaching our readers how to make their work lives more meaningful and productive." Yep. These are directions we all, increasingly, need to explore.

My contribution, though I don't think it would make the magazine, would be that sustainable enterprisers need to learn to live with symptoms like messy, scary, exhilarating and frustrating. Also, slap you in the face rewarding and impossible to predict.

In this environment, you will need the ability to continuously go forward amid continuous challenge. As John B. calls it "sustainable competitiveness". This is rarely a journey to an end game. My recommendation is to learn to create and then love your own great journey.

Many people won't want this life. That's fine. It's not exactly an easy sell once you tell the truth about sustainable work. However, those folks are not who I'm talking to. I'm talking to the people emotionally nimble enough to dance on water and realistic enough to know that they have the skills and the will to change the world.

The rest is almost easy if you execute well.

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