By Anne Skare Nielsen
Anne Skare Nielsen has made a video where she explains how business success in the future will not be measured in terms of quantity, not in terms of selling a lot of stuff, having a lot of employees, having a huge business etc. etc. In stead success will be measured in terms of originality, pride, craftsmanship, being happy about what it is that you do and in making the world a more prosperous, sustainable, healthy and happy place to live in.
"Hi, My name is Anna Skare Nielson. I’m a Danish futurist working for the company ‘Future Navigator’ and I’d like to introduce you to the success criteria for the future to inspire you in terms of product development but also in terms of what it is that you want with the stuff that you make.
We are right now in a paradigmatic shift in society where we are moving from more to better. It’s not a shift that started yesterday, I think it’s been on the way for maybe 30 years and it will probably last for the next 70 years so this is going to happen whether I say it or not. So this shift in more to better – you could also call it a shift away from the mechanic-oriented society to a more organic society. This means that success will not be measured in terms of quantity, not in terms of selling a lot of stuff, having a lot of employees, having a huge business, making a magazine so a lot of people are reading or buying or having an online community with many, many members. You can have that but that in itself is not a success. Success will be in terms of better. It will be in terms of originality, pride, craftsmanship, mastering something, being happy about what it is that you do, making the world a more prosperous, sustainable, healthy and happy place to live in.
So that’s the big challenge that we are facing right now is thinking not more, but thinking better. And I could talk a lot about that but for now I think if you just understand that the world is moving in terms of not more but better and everyday just try to challenge yourself and thinking “is this what I’m doing now? Is it more – just a bigger paté with more mushrooms on top or is this something that I do because I need to have butter on my bread?” Then stop doing it. Do something that will actually make you better, that will make the world a better place, that will have a positive, original impact on other people’s lives.
I’ll give you a concrete example. I went to Kolling Design School a couple of months ago and I went to the ladies room and there was a woman leaving without washing her hands and washing your hands is, I don’t know if you know it, it is actually a very good thing to do. In 1837 a crazy doctor called Semmelweis had this cooked up idea that he thought that people should wash their hands, doctors should wash their hands when they went from dissecting dead people to for instance delivering babies with pregnant moms. And what he observed was that a lot of people would die from this and then he had this totally crazy cooked up out of the box idea where he said to the doctors “I think maybe you should try using this new stuff called soap, washing your hands”. And their reply was “are you crazy? Me, wash my hands?” He could actually show people that you would see that not so many kids would die and fewer women would die if doctors washed their hands but from establishment they just said “you’re totally crazy. Don’t you know who I am? I’m a doctor, I’m almost God. It’s these impure women and their babies that are nasty, it’s not me, I’m a pure doctor”. So they had this whole worldview that they shouldn’t do that because they were kind of close to being doctors so things take time.
You have to be patient if you have something, an actual idea that will improve the lives of other people. I read recently it actually took 20 years for Semmelweis to have a success with his idea about people washing their hands, doctors washing their hands and I read recently that there’s a theory that we could cut the world’s diseases in the developing countries in half just by having people wash their hands. The point here being the world does not need more soap. We do not need more soap with coffee or lavender on top of these stupid little plastic boxes with aquarium of fish inside to make children go “wow mommy, buy that soap and not that soap”. We do not need people investing their ideas and their original and their crafts in making people buy more soap because the world does not need more soap. We already have all the soap that we need. We need distribution of soap. We need that people also in Kolling Design School and in welfare countries actually do wash their hands in a way that is sound and that will actually have a positive impact on the world.
So this is not rocket science. It doesn’t mean to have kind of like a halo on top of it. It means that we need to challenge ourselves in not making more crap that the world doesn’t need but making something we can actually grow with and be proud of and that we will look at and say “yes, I really want to send this on. I really want to pass this on”. Success is not more but better. Success is make it better and pass it on. Or you can say it in other terms. If you make crap that the world doesn’t need please take it to your grave with you. But success is make it better and pass it on.
And of course ‘better’ requires us to think about what we think is better. But I am sure that you are a smart, capable person with a lot of fantastic ideas and a fantastic network and I will look forward to see your ideas about how to make the world a better place, how to be original, how to be provocative, different, challenge the status quo, doing something that doesn’t necessarily have to turn into a huge material success but just kick the bucket off the grown up community because we really need it. We really need a good old kick in the butt for the status quo of society today and I’m looking forward to seeing your contribution.