This is a well-known saying with wide applicability. Inside big corporates, for example, individual business units go through periods where they grow, can do no wrong, and their success influences the whole corporation…until they ultimately decline and are surpassed by another unit. The decline is often rapid, painful, and caused by arrogance, complacency, a focus on internal matters rather than clients, or failure to act on clear adverse operational trends. You may recognise these dynamics if you’ve worked in a large corporate.
The saying also applies at a human level. The Badger, for example, learned early in his career that if you are a project manager then you are only as good as your last project. If your last project was perceived as being problematic then that’s what people remember, not the run of delivery leadership successes you had before that. Indeed, when the Badger became a delivery gamekeeper to lead company delivery/risk reviews, any endeavour run by leaders with impeccable track records received a little extra attention. Why? Because one of the underlying questions was always ‘could this be the one that is this project/service manager’s nemesis?’. So, it’s a very good saying which is just as applicable to our career ups and downs and personal lives as it is in business. The trick is to realise this, to keep the saying in mind and think before rushing to follow the crowd, and to realise that business colleagues may have it in mind when they interact with you.
The Badger read recently that the combined value of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google (FAANG) exceeds the entire value of companies in the UK FTSE 100. FAANGs also exceed the entire value of companies in the Japanese Nikkei. To the Badger, this rings alarm bells. FAANGs are enormous money-making machines – empires, no less. But are they now too powerful? Can social media platforms be trusted? Hmm. The Badger has always been cautious with social media, ostensibly because ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’. Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytic woes just illustrates that. Furthermore, Google’s recent fine from the EU highlights historic practices but also begs the question about where effective FAANG regulatory oversight is coming from.
FAANGs reported their quarterly results to the market last week. Facebook and Netflix wobbled but Amazon continues its march to world domination. The Badger’s all for the free market, but do FAANG valuations and power ultimately bode well for people, democracy or society? We should all think about what the answer is to this question. Anyway, let’s get back to ‘what goes up must come down’. FAANGs are not exempt and the Badger’s message is simple. If whatever you’re looking at or engaged with has a perpetual march upwards, then just keep in mind that at some stage there will always be a reversal of fortunes…