An important tool in VUCA’s time is the intuitive understanding of the maturity levels that all artifacts and individuals go through. Everything starts with an idea that grows and finally sees the light of day before it is in the world. There is also nothing that lasts forever – except for some ideas. Everything forfeits over time – be it the mechanical components, which deteriorate, or ideas, which become obsolete through revolutionary new ones. The stage of life provides the ideal metaphor for the maturity.
The stages of life that a person goes through can be divided in different ways, e.g. past life, sexual immaturity. sexual maturation and reproduction. For the applicability of this metaphor the actual classification is not crucial, but the fact that all life cycles can be divided into steps. The following framework extends from the cradle to the grave.
Right at the beginning, the question arises as to when the life cycle actually starts – at procreation, during pregnancy or at birth. The elements of the business (for example, a new business model or project) also sneak into their lifecycle. New products are developed for a long time in isolation, revised and publicized at some point. The pregnancy needs in business very different times. Projects are often preceded by a preliminary project, which is preceded by a pre-preliminary project, which is ….
The most important development starts with the birth, which is characterized by enormous creativity and very big development steps. Based on a wealth of impressions, the baby develops into a child – it learns to laugh, talk, walk and much more. In order to run smoothly, the child needs boundless curiosity and the joy of experimenting.
Also the early phase of a business consists of manifold learning – e.g. what happens, who is involved and what you can do by yourself. This stage requires great gentleness from the stakeholders, so that the business has a chance to try ourselves and mature. This early stage shapes the fundamental values that reverberate in each stage.
In different parts of the world, education starts sooner or later, more or less formal, with or without a curriculum. It all starts with the basics (reading, writing and arithmetic), which are later refined in certain areas that make up the personal area of expertise.
In business, too, initiatives work better if there is enough room to build the foundations from which the next USP will emerge. The Post-It is a good example – an adhesive that does not stick as a basis for a product that is nowadays used globally. Who would have provided sufficient resources for this project?
Vocational training, an apprenticeship or a study are focusing on individual subject areas – mathematics, natural sciences, languages, business administration, crafts, etc. At the end of this concentration you get experts with a clearly defined area of responsibility and learned approaches for finding solutions.
The business model and its components must also be developed and promoted by the management – for example, knowing the needs of the customer or finding opportunities for additional income. Especially, the workforce must have the opportunity to learn so that they can at all master the new tasks. The best business model is of no use without the specialized participation of the employees.
- Work life
On the first day of the working life, you have nothing but the theory and the experience you could make until then. For most, this is limited to theoretical training content that often does not fit the new job. The result is a long series of mistakes, mishaps and injuries, from which one (hopefully) learns.
The same applies to the elements of the business that are being constantly brought off the ground or are changing. It takes time for an altered routine to become established. By mastering the business, more and more comprehensive tasks can then be implemented, which in the end contribute to a VUCAneous working reality.
After the active working life is over, there are sometimes opportunities for employment – whether as a space cowboy or with an expanded hobby. In any case, the burden of everyday life goes down.
The same applies to the elements of the business. An IT system is replaced after years by a new one. The processes are changing due to new devices and user interfaces, changed processes and new fads.
This section is anxiously suppressed by many people as it goes hand in hand with the visible decline in performance. Sight and hearing diminish, the ability to react declines and in the best case one is still agile enough to master everyday life autonomously.
Business may also experience such degradation – the IT system, which is unpredictable; the processes that are too slow for the requirements; the machines for which there are no more spare parts available. Without the immediate replacement by a state-of-the-art solution, you put the business at risk.
The end of everything is its disappearance. What remains is the legacy that can linger for a long time.
This is also true in business life. For example, some data structures that were developed for technical reasons create sustainable beliefs that influence the business, even though they are no more needed.
Bottom line: The different phases of life, from childhood to old age, take place everywhere, but have obviously been sacrificed to the belief in infinite growth. For this reason, it is clever to remember and understand that everything and every one go for better or worse from cradle to the grave. In order to describe the life cycle, maturity levels are helpful. For this reason, the stage of life is the ideal metaphor for maturity.