Is the only alternative to growing … being dead?
So much of the language around business is garden-y, that this feels worth asking. Seed money, flourishing, yield…
At the 2015 SME Assembly last week in Luxembourg, some impressive women entrepreneurs took their places on stage to tell their stories. Organised by Low Associates, the format had been carefully relaxed and enriched to encourage just that – stories. Think of an enormous coffee conversation. (I know, a coffee mention was inevitable; and there was enough for ‘000s of delegates from all over Europe.)
Because something rather interesting happened.
Rather than the usual and expected headlines of pumping achievement, paradigm shattering success, gravity defying advance (and all these women can talk of those had they wished) we heard of priorities and preoccupations that were much more nuanced and interesting.
We heard of looking to make connections between those with an idea, and those with the means to realise it. We heard of looking to make micro loans, of the smallest of small scale advances that literally transformed the quality of lives and communities. We heard of how ideas and resolve became suddenly clear when everything collapsed or had been destroyed. We heard how reluctance and chance were common components in so many stories of change. We were encouraged “If you cant get through the door or the window, go through the ventilator’. The word’ growth’ couldn’t describe or evaluate any of these ideas.
We really have to start thinking harder about new ways to measure or describe the sort of success we seek.
One of those entrepreneurs, the energetic, inspired and always questioning CEO of a loved microbrewery in Luxembourg (Betty Fontaine) described it in this way.
“I don’t want to be bigger, I just want to be better at what I do”.
So that’s the alternative to ‘growth’.