Strategy

28th April 2016

Inukshuk

Inukshuk is a word of Inuit origins and it refers to one of those human-made stone landmarks used by the Inuit and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America. These structures, which often resemble a stone man with his arms outstretched are found from Alaska to Greenland. This region, above the Arctic Circle, is dominated by tundra and has areas with few natural landmarks.The inukshuk were probably used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, places of veneration, or to mark a food cache.

Varying in shape and size, the inukshuk have ancient roots in Inuit culture.So what has that to do with growing businesses and business leaders. Quite a lot actually. The Inukshuk typically indicates the way. It says “Don’t be afraid. Pass this way. I have been this way before and it is safe”. Inukshuks are rare but invaluable. They show what is possible. They inspire confidence and courage when confidence and courage are in short supply and badly needed. They belong to the frozen north a place that normal people rarely frequent.

That is remarkably appropriate for business people. Business owners and business leaders are something of a rarity themselves, preferring the thrill of doing something new, something fresh, something challenging. They know and they understand that they are venturing where only a very few dare to go. They know that if they do what everyone else does they will get what everyone else gets and that won’t be good enough. They have chosen the road less travelled. And because they have their courage and confidence is often tested.In business an Inukshuk is rare. There are few trusted markers of the way, but if you can find someone to assume the role of an Inukshuk, someone who has travelled that way before and can show you the way what value would that have?

In her 2014 Scale Up report to the government on UK Economic Growth Sherry Coutu identified that “mentoring from business leaders who have scaled companies before can have a major impact on a scale-up company lacking in experience. Research has found that companies which were being mentored produced 23 per cent more employment growth than other similar companies.” Page 56.

Inukshuks do exist.