While getting ready to watch the Paralympics Opening Ceremony on Wednesday evening, I found myself re-watching some of the many highlights from the Olympic Games. Perhaps I’m biased, but track and field produced the most iconic celebration poses: an ecstatic Mo Farah, arms aloft in the shape of an M, and Usain Bolt’s now legendary “lightning bolt”.
What strikes me about these moments is the way in which they have become highly identifiable. At first, they stand out because they are so different from anything we’ve seen before. Later, the gestures become synonymous with the success of the individual. That is, they become familiar, recognisable – even expected – a shared reference point that we all “get”.
Now, I think innovation in business follows a similar path.
Original thinkers often come out of nowhere. Hurtling down the track, they suddenly and unexpectedly take the lead. Think Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson. As with Mo Farah and Usain Bolt, our eyes are drawn to their victories and their winning ways. Eventually, the methods they use become familiar. The competition steps up a gear and attempts to emulate them.
I believe we’re at this stage now with flexible working.
A recent survey suggested a 50 per cent increase of flexible working during the 2012 Games. Those determined to move ahead of competitors will embrace flexible working. Others will hold back, perhaps biding their time while noting their opponents’ progress. To many, this new mode of work may seem unusual or even unnecessary. But as more businesses unlock increased productivity and a capacity to cope with disruption, my prediction is that flexible working will soon become an easily recognisable indicator of high performance – as well known as any victory pose.
If you are a business owner or employee, which side of the divide is your business on?
Photo credit: nickwebb