Four-i Weekly

The Seven Ages.

The Seven Ages

Twenty years ago, Robert Jones wrote a book titled: ‘The Big Idea’. I hated it because it was almost word for word what I’d been working on getting published.

Recently I picked it up again and having got over my jealousy found it to be as relevant today as two decades ago, (even if the case studies have dated).

In particular I was drawn to the chapter titled: The Seven Ages of a Big Idea and felt it might be helpful to summarise them as many of us are wrestling with how our businesses will look in the new normal.

1. The hyperactive child
The danger for fledging organisations is they get distracted and pursue too many things.

2. The awkward age
As a consequence of being single-minded, organisations that get through stage one often find they’re one-dimensional. They need to create new products and services.

3. Grown up, but the world has moved on
The business has been around a while and has moved from being a radical start up to mainstream. To progress it’s often a case of returning to core and reimagining it from the ground up.

4. Mid-life
It’s when a company needs to reenergise, to return to startup mindset, to strip away bureaucracy.

5. An over-familiar face
Any business that makes it this far has done incredibly well. However, because it’s been around for so long, it’s become boring. This is an age of new dimensions.

6. Against orthodoxy
The original big idea has become dogma, part of normal life. It’s time to get uncomfortable, to change the status quo (again).

7. Culture shock
These venerable organisations often have a culture that’s out of alignment and has become a negative drag on development.

At each stage, a business needs a Big Idea, (what I had called in my book draft, an FBI – Fantastic Big Idea) and in 2000 Robert Jones highlighted the 50 Big Ideas, some still resonate:

Amazon – completeness
Apple – usability
BBC – authoritative
Disney – fun
The Guardian – outsider
The National Trust – places for people for ever
Nike – winning

My question to you is what’s your FBI? And if you have one, (most companies don’t), is it still relevant for the new normal?


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