Entrepreneur Richard Branson wrote in his end-of-year letter in 2011 “Screw business as usual”, doing things the same way simply because that’s how things were always done, and they always worked! Until one day, they stopped working. “Screw business as usual” is the title of his book, published in 2011, and his new mantra. According to the man himself, it is the mantra we should all follow, and one that should be adopted by the people in top management in companies and institutions, their executives and board members, as well as in senior positions in government, ministries and companies. I understand this is politically incorrect -that’s why we are posting this text under that category- but in order to be disruptive and deliver an emphatic message, sometimes you need to be politically incorrect. So I wanted to share and remember it. That way you’ll be as shocked as I was when I read it.
Several months after the book was published, Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times said that Branson appears in two different instances of gratuitous nudity that have nothing to do with the book itself: a picture of the fire in his house in the Virgin Islands, when he saved Kate Winslet from the flames, and another in a bathtub–the day, Branson himself explains, he was speaking to Nelson Mandela on the phone. Mandela was asking for support to help a gyms chain survive in South Africa.
In his book, Branson defends that corporate profits and philanthropy are not incompatible and can coexist nicely, that companies can do good. He calls this good-natured entrepreneurship “the new Capitalism 24902″, a figure that represents the Earth’s circumference, although he insists in calling the Earth “Planet”. For him, we are all responsible for taking care of the people that make up the Global Village in our Planet.
Companies can’t simply go on doing the same things: you can’t just keep on doing the same and expect to be in the picture. The rate of social, business, institutional, scientific and technological transformation is simply mind-boggling, so it is a matter of surviving these changes and adapting by doing things differently. The new way of connecting through social networks is here to stay: a technological whirlwind in the form of Digital Transformation and Big Data. It is a question of making our DNA resistant to changes and this implies being able to adapt and pay close attention to everything, while being keen to try, test, experiment with new solutions. In short, have new ideas and innovate constantly.
And I won’t stop repeating that we should live and work in a permanent beta-state. We should be always testing and rectifying and learning from mistakes. This is the path to continued improvement. In the business world, institutions, citizens, governments and a very demanding new society aware to be sustainable and supportive is a Darwinian ecosystem in which companies should evolve and its DNA should mutate to adjust, to adapt. It is as the species selective selection. That’s why things can’t remain the same. That is why it can’t be Business as usual BAU.
“Screw Business As Usual” — the title of my latest book and a mantra that should be adopted by people holding positions in company boardrooms and government cabinets the world over.
Ana María LLopis