What if we consider our life on a macro scale. There is a birth, some activity, we perish. It is a narrative that has been repeated billions of times. If we change the aperture to a bit finer detail, a person was born in a specific decade, received an education, worked a job, retired, and then died. Not remarkable, but a bit more specific. If we zoom in much further, we could fill novels with an exhaustive list of each second of a person’s life. One speculates that a meta-analysis would confirm that no two people have lived the same life.
How we talk about our work, the impact of our cause and the narrative that defines our quest depends on scale. Too much detail, and we lose our audience. Too little detail, and we are generic and miss detailing our signature superpower.
How might we find the optimal scale to share our story? Some narratives need a sentence and others a page or more. What has worked for you?
The world’s largest iceberg just formed. It is remarkable for its size (larger than the Spanish island of Mallorca). The moment it separated from the ice shelf in Antarctica, the countdown timer begins on its title defense. It will be overtaken by a bigger iceberg, divided into multiple smaller icebergs, or eventually melt. Its fate as the former largest iceberg is inevitable.
When we try to retain a title as largest, biggest, fastest, best-funded, etc., we hang our competitive advantage on a flimsy flag pole. It might stand tall and be covered in spotlights, but our flag looks out of place, antiquated, and even irrelevant once it is surpassed. That is why some companies invest in achieving the title of ‘best place to work.’ It reflects their organizational culture and values. The best place to work is more challenging to create but sustainable when the community believes in its collective strength; it is not a finish line but an enduring journey.
Is your enterprise trying to win by metrics or invest in human experiences? The number of large retailers that were once ubiquitous and now obsolete might provide a narrative about the staying power of those who scale first. Then there are those remarkable causes that continue to deliver on a promise that is not easy to measure but is profoundly evident in every interaction.
How do we scale? Collaboration. We cannot do it alone. The destination we seek requires assistance from others. As Simon Sinek reminds us, if we were great at everything we would have no need for others. We scale by taking our greatness and finding others who are uniquely positioned to amplify our strengths by employing their super powers. The opportunity that exists in front of us is the result of those who went before and collaborated.