The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same!

Despite the often slick and charismatic theatre from the marketing equivalent of snake oil salesmen, human physiology and basic psychology does not change in any discernible way in the short term. Evolution takes thousands of years not a generation. Life-stages and their psychological forces are known and universally repeat. What does change however, is context and it is the lack of comprehension of context that leads to the kind of commercial exploitation leapt upon by the peddlers of “new order” theory.

The lack of change in human physiology and basic psychology is why we keep repeating the same old mistakes. It’s why we are in the current financial environment we are in. People want to believe things are “different this time”, but the fundamentals are not and so we make the same mistakes – again.

It is also the reason retail businesses fail.

Fundamentals do not change – context does. Context is the key to relevance, but fundamentals are the key to productive execution and profit outcomes. Smart retailers don’t fall for the “the world is completely different” headline but look below it. They understand how to read context and match their fundamentals to it. The use of language, the adaption of technology and the blending of trend are examples of context – which is constantly changing.

Physiological triggers, human behaviour, conscious and sub-conscious information processing are constant fundamentals that are ignored at your peril. Often with generational context change we get so seduced by the changes that we forget to teach the fundamentals and begin to breed them out of the DNA of the business. This is what sets up the cycle of history repeating itself.

And while nature thrives on the cycle of seasonality that goes from the explosion of colour and growth in Spring to the quiet regeneration of Autumn and Winter, retail businesses often die in a winter that is brought on not only by the context they find themselves in, but often by their own failure to understand the difference between their unique fundamentals and context.

Every business and its stakeholders have their own immutable laws. Find them and enshrine them in your DNA.

Keep your radar tuned to context shift and learn how to re-interpret your immutable laws to fit the current context in which you operate. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming hostage to your immutable laws but – just as dangerously – don’t get seduced into throwing out your immutable laws by blindly following trend.

Lemmings, in the end, fall off the cliff together.

Retail leaders prosper in all contexts and are sustained through the generations because their fundamental, immutable laws are part of the fabric that gives them the confidence to use context to their advantage and stand out from the pack.