Wild Beasts in the Fair Garden

I gaze out my office window and see the winter birds are back. It’s 10 degrees. I cannot fathom how these little birds manage. They have picked clean the seeds from the flowering bushes. I haven’t filled my bird feeder in weeks. Still, they flit from branch to branch in search of food. Why do they stay?

It makes me wonder about why we keep ourselves in impossible situations. The recent article by Al Ries in AdAge gave me pause. His “CEOs are from Mars/CMOs are from Venus” premise is that marketing people are right brainers. They thrive on visuals, intuition and holistic views of the customer and the product. On the other hand, CEOs are left brainers. They thrive on language, analytics and logic. According to Ries, this puts management and marketing at odds. It’s an impossible situation.

As a marketer, my bias is to root for the right brainers. But I have come to notice that the younger entrepreneurs I encounter aren’t as easily pigeon holed. Is there a third-brainer? Middle-brainer? Or a whole-brainer who is emerging to meet today’s challenges?

As business undergoes a major transformation, it will shed some worn out ideas about how to relate to customers and employees. The broader social and cultural context for commerce will come into balance. New language will be created to explain what works and what doesn’t. New norms will spring from winning practices. This is change. And the rising class of business leaders will swing both ways. They’ll have to. The complexity of their environments will demand it of them. But before all these adaptive changes occur, a gap will open up.

The leaders fluent in the dying language of business, standard bearers of traditional approaches, are living in a walled winter garden. Protected from the elements, but ultimately starving to death. The newcomers will seem like wild things, unschooled and irreverent toward the old ways. They won’t have MBAs and they won’t care if you do. Fur and feathers may fly. But I say let the wild rumpus begin! Because in the end, it may restore vitality to what is now a barren landscape.