Monday, March 17, 2008

Does your face fit? Business plans and the fitness landscape

The idea of the economy as a complex adaptive system (as popularised by The Origin of Wealth) can be, well, complex.
One of the key learnings, for me at least, is the idea that business plans more often than not fail before they even get to be tested for fitness by the place they are intended for: the market.

In a networked world, you can substitute the term community for market (at least a fully empowered co-creating community, you can).

If the economy is evolutionary then it finds the 'most fit' by a process of selecion, amplification and repetition.
In evolution this happens in the environment. In the economy the environment isn't the boardroom - it is the fitness landscape of the market/community.

It's just another important reason we should find ways to make the silo walls of the company permeable - particularly when it comes to your business plans. Yes, I think that does mean reaching out to the community the plan is meant to serve when it comes to creating it. And letting that community make the selections. You can help with the amplification and repetition.

Actors as business plans.
The adaptability of the plan is also critical. Imagine you're a jobbing actor going from audition to audition. The fitness landscape (the selection process) is the director and his honchos.
If you look right for the part, you get the gig, if you don't, you don't.
The more adaptable you are (the better an actor you are, I guess) the more often you will be able to change your performance to meet the needs of the role. You can shape how well you fit. You learn from the feedback you get, and do more of what got you the gig next time (or less, or try another strategy next time, if you failed).
Selection, amplification and repetition.

If you sit alone talking into the mirror and try to decide for yourself how good you are, all alone, it's unlikely you'll improve. And when you go to that audition the market is more likely to say no.

Has your boardroom got mirrors or open doors?

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?