Time line of a company consists typically of three parts: past, present and future. There are few exceptions to that. A start up is a company that has in practical sense no past. It is heavily weighted with future. Another opposite is a company that I call pop-up company. It has no future and it is heavily weighted with past.
In most cases a time-integrated company has all three time slots: past, present and future. In an ideal world you could argue that a company should be balanced. It means that at present you take into consideration both past and present and make intelligent decisions based on them.
If you ask any business leader they all say that their company is a balanced time-integrated company. Reality is different. It is not that easy. There is a continuous struggle how to balance past and future and there is no simple recipe to do that. Most of the business leaders have hard time to even recognize this situation.
Future is partly proactively made and partly it is of capabilities to react and adapt to that what the future will bring with it. Concrete activities done now reveal how future oriented a company truly is. This kind of outlook on future is understandable to most people.
It is harder to get grasp of the past. Past is as far from present as future! What makes us to think past as more relevant is because we have to live with the “remains” of the past also in very material sense. Past feels “heavy” and its business significance becomes overrated.
And in business what really matters is not so much the material remains but the “mental remains”: habits and customs. Business in deeper sense is social activity under certain rules. Those habits and customs are therefore far more important for business than is typically realized.
In an ongoing business it is necessary to continuously balance past and future. The more uncertain the business environment becomes the more there is need to weigh future. What makes this difficult is that past business remains can at worst become an insurmountable barrier or a mental block to the future.
How do you learn away from the past? You could apply well proven strategies from start up world. Why not experiment also towards past? The aim with backward experimenting is to become aware of those internalized customs and habits. Often you are intuitively aware that they are no longer valid and also cognitively it is understandable that new times require new customs and habits. By experimenting they become visible.
Different approaches are needed. Concept of time-integrated company is one that sheds light to this problemacy between past present and future. It has risen from new business approach where the aim is to find new ways to deal with such integration questions in existing companies.
In current world business past becomes history ever more faster. Sustainable businesses are therefore based on renewables also on mental level. Mental concepts and habits from the business history simply aren´t enough for successful companies to ensure their competitiveness.