Last week we saw that value is driven most fundamentally not by companies but by valuable economic information -- "business genes" -- that companies make themselves the best vehicles for. So what should executives do, to help their companies and their careers? Here are six simple action rules:
1. Use the best genes available
One is to create them from scratch -- invent a new product or service, as eBay did with online auctions. This is a rare event, and few of us have the requisite originality.
A second and easier way is to take and use successful business genes -- those that have already demonstrated their value. Various Eastern European entrepreneurs did this by copying eBay and gaining the largest share in online auctions in their own countries.
A third way is to take an already successful business gene and modify it -- as Anita Roddick did with The Body Shop.
2. Make yourself an excellent vehicle for successful business genes
To use successful genes, you must further their purpose and help them multiply. You must adapt them. Adaptation requires competition. Don't seek to insulate yourself from career competition -- if you do, you'll stop developing. Compete in major markets, not in backwaters. Don't work in corporate pyramids, which insulate executives, especially senior ones.
3. Use the best available vehicles and drive them
Become a user of economic information. Your value lies in the skills you have, including the skill to find and collaborate with successful business genes and with other vehicles for them -- individuals, teams, and organizations. Imagine yourself as the value-added. You are the driving force. You are the center of the world. The team or company you join, the other resources you commandeer, are just vehicles for you. The vehicles are there to advance your purpose, to provide protection, to incarnate your energy. Remember that the vehicles are just that, not an end in themselves, or something to serve. The only reason to work through a vehicle is if it is the best possible vehicle for your purposes. Ask yourself all the time - Am I driving or being driven? Am I driving the right vehicle? Is there anywhere I could add more value, or anywhere else that could add more value to me and magnifying my impact?
4. Career evolution requires variation
Maximum improvement flows from variation. What does this mean for a career? A series of new jobs. New ways of doing the existing job.
Start a project. Take on a new role. Change the furniture. Move somewhere else. Identify few ideas that can provide you with fresh direction.
5. Evolution requires continual experimentation and improvement
Experimentation and improvement require fresh combinations of business genes - new skills, new ideas, new ways of working. Your ability to add value -- your success -- require you to be a vehicle for excellent combinations of business genes, and to worth within or alongside other successful vehicles, so experiment all the time with new combinations of genes and vehicles.
6. Evolution requires failure, and failure leads to success
The greatest and certainly the most abundant freedom that the universe offers is the freedom to fail. For most organisms this means an early death, and it is the species that benefits. Most humans today are luckier, in life and careers. In careers, as long as we are alive, we always get a second chance. Yet constructive mutation in your character and skills requires failure, as well as the maturity to recognize and accept this. Don't let your ego deny the fact of failure. Failure is inevitable and wonderful and liberating. If you can accept failure, you can accept yourself, and nothing is more essential for living within your own skin, and for confidence. Denying failure is another form of competitive insulation, another reason not to fulfill your potential. Accepting failure and using bitter experience can free you to help other people in the most warm and wry way, so that you are both vulnerable and powerful because of knowing you are and who you are not. Failure is easier to accept, and to reverse, in the context of the business gene theory. It results from being a good vehicle for poor business genes -- by far the most prevalent -- or from being a poor vehicle for good business genes. Everyone on earth can be a good vehicle, if blessed with elementary understanding of what is worth doing. That is the rare ingredient, but the one you can find with an understanding of what good business genes are. They are the very few ideas that work brilliantly well. Put yourself in their service, and you will have a fulfilling life.