Some of us are old enough to remember the halcyon days of social media, when we genuinely believed it would be a force for good in the world. The early evidence was promising. There was the Arab Spring, in which citizens across the Middle East used Twitter and YouTube to organize mass demonstrations against oppressive regimes in their respective …
In 2001, John B. Fullerton decided to leave his high-paying, prestigious job on Wall Street. For almost 18 years, he had worked for the large American investment bank J.P. Morgan, including a long stint as Managing Director responsible for various aspects of the company’s global capital markets and derivatives businesses, and then ran the investment …
What will the future of business be like? One way of finding out is arguably to focus on future challenges in society at large. In 2017, Geoffrey Jones, professor in Business History at Harvard Business School, published Profits and Sustainability. In the opening lines, he wrote: “The degradation of the natural environment presents the greatest challenge faced …
What are the key lessons from business history that will still apply in the future? My most loyal readers will know that this is the question I’m currently trying to answer, as part of my project to describe the future of business.
So companies need to play the long game. They need to leave short-term focus behind. They need to be system builders. And they even need to be boring. But do companies need to be companies?
A dominating assumption these years is that time is moving faster. Which in turn makes it impossible to say anything meaningful about the future. Timeframes are supposedly getting shorter. And so is business strategy. It’s not 10 or 20 years strategies. It’s not even three years. It’s the next quarter.
So, one of the great lessons of business history is that you need to be a system builder. Like Henry Ford. Or Elon Musk. But how do you go about building a system? Is there a particular approach which has proven to be more successful than others?
Real moments of change in business and society are best identified by looking at developments in price. When the price goes down, mass adoption awaits. But what is the right business strategy if you want to win the market?
If the pauses between the industrial revolutions are as important as the industrial revolutions themselves, then what are the real moments of change? It’s an important question if we want to understand the future of business.
So, change is not accelerating. But change isn’t a constant either. In modern history, the most accurate graph to illustrate societal change consists of continuous or overlapping S-curves.