Most of us enjoy birthdays and the celebrations that accompany them. After all, birthdays acknowledge and revere our grand journey of life and the triumphs, trials and tribulations along the way. This August, Information Management Solutions (IMS) will celebrate 19 years of serving our credit union customers and jubilation is on the menu.
So why are business birthdays important and what’s the importance behind celebrating them? Being in business for 19 years may see like a rather mundane achievement considering the average life expectancy of the typical American (human) is approximately 79 years. However, according to the Harvard Business Review, “over the last 50 years, the average lifespan of S&P 500 companies has shrunk from around 60 years to closer to 18 years”. Many start-ups never make it to the age of 5.
With all the critical business decisions that must be made to ensure that the business thrives, customers are happy, employees are productive, and financial stewardship is sound, the volume of decisions made within a business are exponential to those made by even the most prodigious of individuals.
When Devon Wilson founded IMS, he had one goal in mind… to provide a level of service that exceeded every expectation and to forge CU customers into wildly enthusiastic fans. By focusing on this goal, it wasn’t long before the phones rang incessantly and Devon quickly began to realize that running a successful business would require more than just an ardent clientele.
Companies are often viewed in two different ways:
- As a machine for making money
- As a living being or entity
Either of these perspectives illuminate an entire host of core assumptions about management and the organizational philosophy that propels the business. A Living Company is described as “an organization that is viewed as a ‘Community’ of human beings that is in business – any business – to stay alive.” Arie de Geus, The Living Company.
IMS was founded with the view that a community of people bearing a like-minded vision of natural evolution and sense of identity will grow, adapt, and change through its own capacity for autonomous action and regeneration.
The community dedicated to IMS’s longevity understand that a key tenant of sustaining that life is founded on the simple principle of Trust. The very core of our services provided (data backup, disaster recovery and hosting) require a tremendous amount of trust. After all, what could be more important than the care and keeping of the IT systems that are the central nervous system with which credit unions rely upon to serve their members and stay in business?
In his book “The Trust Edge”, David Hosager defines trust as: The confident belief in someone or something. It is the confident belief in an entity:
- To do what is right
- Deliver what is promised
- To be the same every time, whatever the circumstances
Moreover, trust carries the implication of being reliable, dependable, and capable. Building and maintaining trust is a tall order and one that requires constant effort and vigilance. It can take years to build and can be destroyed in a moment, and once lost, it can be virtually impossible to regain.
Trust also plays a vital role in seeing a company as a living body that can evolve as an entity, much like a professional sports team looks at losses and victories as ways to adapt to changing environments and circumstances. The three tenants of trust are essential to a business being able to learn as a unified team. Without trust, the entity lacks the foundational values necessary to learn and grow.
During our 19-year history, IMS has been in a constant state of adjustment. We continually monitor the internal and external forces that could impact our status as a living entity. We look for events or circumstances that could jeopardize our stability and we seek opportunities to better serve our customers that may provide greater growth for IMS as an entity. No one can say for certain what will happen in the future, so we ask, “if something happens, what will we do?”
Striving to look outside ourselves (and typical industry standards) allows us to create scenarios that facilitate our ability to adapt to change. And with practice, to become better prepared for the unexpected. We celebrate our business birthdays, not as an opportunity to review and reminisce about our past, but to reinforce our unity as a living entity and to safeguard the future as a living community.
Our business birthdays remind us that life… even the life of a business, is fragile and past successes do not ensure that the living entity will survive and renew. It is only through optimizing of our resources to create a cohesive identity that continued life is viable.
Cheers to another 19.