Don’t ignore what is unchanging

by Kieran Flanagan

In a world of relentless change, most leaders and organizations understand the importance of keeping up to date, but often forget the importance of looking to what will endure.

What is unchanging is just as important a consideration when it comes to inventing our futures as what will. The legendary adman Bill Bernbach (one of New York’s real Madmen) wisely spoke about unchanging man (of course he would has added “unchanging woman” had the MadMen era not so entirely biased towards the masculine.

He observed, “It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.”

No matter how our business or technology or trends may change the way we deliver value for our customers, Mr Bernbach is of course, correct. Core human drivers will not dissipate.

We will still want to feel important, to matter, to connect to feel like us showing up to work made a difference.

We will buy emotionally, feel fear, worry for our loved ones (and their futures) and want to love.

We will be driven by ego, to prefer to do more of the things we are good at, that make us feel good, that trigger dopamine releases deep into our cerebellums.

None of these things will change because they are core to who people are.

When we understand this we can look to the heart of our businesses and consider how we serve the deepest motivators of humanity. If and when we do we can rest assured that no matter what technological or other changes occur (often beyond our control) what we offer will still be fundamentally relevant.

The how we deliver might be different but the core of what we deliver may not change at all.