The theory of evolution by natural selection applies as much to the workplace as it does to other organisms and their ability to adapt and change.
As Darwin explained back in 1859, survival of the fittest is all about the ability to adapt and change according to the environment. The same rules apply to the corporate world. If I still operated today as I did at the beginning of my career, I would find myself simply obsolete and out of touch.
I recently had the opportunity to present on “The Evolution of the Workplace” at a conference, and this gave me a reason to pause and reflect on my own career and the dramatic changes that I have witnessed first-hand.
There are some key themes that emerge from my personal experiences. This article is a quick overview of those key themes and the degree of change that I have witnessed. Although some areas still desperately need more evolution, it is obvious that change is constant. Embrace it we must!
Look deep into your ambitious soul and ask yourself: “Do you want to be a CEO?”
This year I have been busily looking for my next executive role. A role that would provide significant challenge, an opportunity to be creative and most importantly, a place where I can work with great people who are smart and know how to have fun. That is my quest!
One of the questions that has popped up several times during interviews, networking catch ups and soul searching sessions with mentors has been a question that I sometimes struggle to answer. “So, do you want to be a CEO?”
My immediate reaction to this question is, “When I grow up?”. Then follows a mixture of feelings including flattery, burning ambition, and an overriding sense of the “tall poppy syndrome”. A battle in my brain between my ambition and my fear kicks in, followed swiftly by endless questions in my mind about how that could possibly happen.
After being involved in 25 mergers and acquisitions in five different organisations, I think it is reasonable to say that I have seen my fair share of M&A activity. Ah the stories!!!
Some of them have been hugely successful and others a complete disaster. Some have made sound business sense and others have been clearly an ego driven exercise. I have participated in the acquisition of small, local companies of less than 10 people, and the acquisition of large businesses of more than 1,300 in international transactions.
As tempting as it is to share the many entertaining stories I have witnessed first-hand, this article is of a more practical nature. For anyone who is thinking about expanding through M&A, there are some very consistent lessons. Ignore these at your peril – as I have watched several CEOs do so.