The romance of movements
The following has been submitted by Tim Leberecht, the author of The Business Romantic: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself and the founder and CEO of Leberecht & Partners.
I REMEMBER ONCE MEETING THE FORMER GENERAL manager of MTV World, Nusrat Durrani, in Paris. We were talking about organisational change and innovation and what it is that makes organisations consistently perform at the highest level. Nusrat shared a very simple metaphor that stuck with me. He said, ‘It’s all about being on fire. If your organization is on fire, you can do anything.’ No doubt, MTV was on fire for more than a decade. It was a movement, although it would never have called itself such (to borrow from the movie Fight Club: first rule of a movement? Don’t call yourself a movement!).
MTV’s fire lit everything up, it warmed everybody, and it brought out people’s passion. It offered a strong sense of purpose rather than a strong purpose: never fully articulated, because it was always understood, always felt. You can’t codify a fire. Then, at some point, the fire went out. And if that happens, you just have to accept it. It’s almost impossible to rekindle it. Romance sustains its power because it doesn’t last.
The romantics knew that. Romanticism — the seminal art, literature, and philosophy school in the 18th and early 19th century — was a movement. Moreover, any movement is essentially romantic: the promise almost always exceeds ...