“The flood of information, unprecedented transparency, increasing interconnectedness – and our global interdependence – are dramatically reshaping today’s world, the world of business, and our lives.
We are in the Era of Behavior and the rules of the game have fundamentally changed. It is no longer what you do that matters most and sets you apart from others, but how you do what you do. Whats are commodities, easily duplicated or reverse-engineered.
Sustainable advantage and enduring success for organizations and the people who work for them now lie in the realm of how, the new frontier of conduct.”
– Dov Seidman.
WHO IS DOV SEIDMAN?
He is a philosopher. He is the author of groundbreaking novel, “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything“. He is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of pioneering company, LRN. He is a contributing writer for Forbes. He is a graduate of UCLA, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School.
He is a driving force behind the transformation of corporate culture and one of the greatest critical thinkers of the last few decades.
A FUNDAMENTAL RESTRUCTURING OF THE WORLD.
Andrew Ross Sorkin’s novel “Too Big To Fail” impeccably describes a dogma that has pervaded management thinking over the last century. Specifically, that bigger = stronger = better. There is nothing prima facie faulty with the notion “too big to fail”, rather the resulting business model itself is often flawed. In business, bigger is not necessarily better. Bigger does not guarantee sustainable success. In fact, a steadfast focus on scaling profits, revenues, and market capitalization often cannibalizes a corporation’s energy away from embracing values that will lead to sustainability.
Business does not exist on the periphery of life, rather the two are interconnected. As such, the governing principles of life must, too, govern business. As Seidman writes, “…we need leaders, companies, and governments that are too sustainable to fail, too principled to fail, and too good to fail.”
21ST CENTURY = INNOVATIONS IN HOW.
The greatest success stories of this century are not solely about novel products nor concepts, but largely of companies pursuing innovations in how.
Today, new products and services can be rapidly imitated, stunting the success that can be achieved by product creation alone. “Customers instantly compare price, features, quality, and service, effectively rendering almost every ‘what’ a commodity.” – D. Seidman.
Companies able to embrace innovation in how emerge as leaders. The world is presently communicating with the sixth version of the Apple iPhone and eagerly awaiting version seven. Facebook’s user interface encompasses features never before imagined. Google’s search functionality continually improves. Uber is a new “how” of transportation. Snapchat is a new “how” of communication. The list endures.
A growing awareness and the advent of social media has resulted in an important outcome: the world is experiencing a plethora of improvements in alternative energy. Renewable energy – wind, solar, geothermal, fuel cells, biodiesel, hydroelectric power – these all represent innovations in how the world obtains its power.
The sole territory that remains free from commoditization is human behavior.
“The tapestry of human behavior is so diverse, so rich, and so global that it presents a rare opportunity, the opportunity to outbehave the competition and create enduring value.” – D. Seidman.
The Sustainable Investor has examined the topic of transparency in great detail, asserting that perhaps it is not that people do not care, but rather that they do not know. Companies are not mandated to internalize the negative externalities they put forth on this planet. Admirable efforts on behalf of the SASB, GRI, and IIRC to coerce sustainable reporting heighten the significance of transparency. Big data has established a certain interconnectedness between companies and their competitors, consumers, and investors. As the “how” becomes more visible, the “what” becomes inferior.
In 1994, Dov Seidman founded LRN, an organization seeking to utilize the principles of how to help corporations architect successful and sustainable cultures.
View the company website here.
LRN was originated subsequent to Seidman’s graduation from Harvard Law School. Indeed, the founding members of the company were among the brightest legal minds in the world. And in 1994, LRN embarked on its mission to help companies of all sizes mitigate various legal issues.
I soon realized, however, that the core of our efforts lay in helping our partners put out fires by responding to legal challenges that had already arisen. I began to believe that we could be of better service by helping them design and build fireproof enterprises, so to speak, to help them develop a new approach to getting their HOWS right and prevent these legal problems from arising in the first place. So we evolved into a company that helped organizations build sustainable cultures at every level, from the executive suite to the shop floor. – D. Seidman.
And for the past two decades, LRN has been the driving force behind the transformation, and sustainability, of over 700 companies in over 100 countries around the world.
THE NEXT FRONTIER.
The next frontier of efficacious business requires the world – importantly, business leaders – to embrace the principles of how. Companies must pursue innovations in how in order to stay in front of their competition.
In the words of Dov Seidman…
Sustainability is about more than changing light bulbs or fuel sources; rather, it is about changing mindsets and cultures. It is fundamentally about a mode of leadership and behavior that aims to create lasting value as opposed to piling up short-term transactional wins. It’s less about wind turbines or solar panels or green buildings than about the reason we want those things: so that our companies and our world will be better off tomorrow than they are today.
We, the global economy, will never be less exposed or less connected than we are today. We will only advance forward. Technology will only improve. Access to information will only grow.
As such, decisions will increasingly be based on how: how companies lead, govern, operate, invest, and consume.
We must outbehave our competition.
Featured Photograph by Inaki Bolumburu.