A few years ago my now business partner in Holos and I were in Rio doing a job together for a client. Unusually the schedule had been changed at the last minute and we ended up with a “spare” day to explore Rio. We decided to go to the Christo Redentor statue high above the town on a rocky peak.
When this 38 metre high statue weighing 625 tons was built between 1922 and 1931 it must have been an incredible feat of effort and engineering to build along with its surrounding infrastructure of viewing decks, right on the tip of a steep 700 metre mountain.
It could not possibly have conformed to any known rules of economics. The business case would have been a basket case. Can you imagine having the conversation with a bank manager or venture capitalist?
This summer with, my family, we visited the amazing recreation of a medieval castle at Guedelon in France. This is a 25 year project to build a “new” 11th Century castle using period tools and technology. Again you can imagine the conversations to get funding for such a project. And yet with nearly all of the materials coming from a site in a forest which they paid less than 1000 Euros to buy in 1995, only 60-70 employees and now 300,000 paying visitors a year it must be quite profitable.
Equally I imagine that if Banksy had had to get external funding for his Dismaland Bemusement Park , the bemusement would have been with the bankers.
In each of these cases someone with an amazing vision has created something so monumental as to be iconic. In each case they were built out of passion and belief rather than economics and yet all of them have or will, make a huge financial impact, not just for themselves, but for surrounding communities and areas, both in terms of direct employment and as a visitor attraction benefiting the area.
That is not all, each has an ideological purpose as well Christ the Redeemer was envisioned to promote a less godless and more moral society. Guedelon to understand medieval architecture and building techniques and Dismaland, perhaps also to remind people how trivial much of modern life actually is and to strive for something deeper and more meaningful.
The awe and inspiration we feel from these monuments stands in sharp contrast to the dispiriting, deliberate destruction of ancient monuments like the temples and artefacts of Syria and the giant Buddhas in Bamiyan.
They is significant for precisely the same reason. Monuments matter. They communicate the transcendent aspects of humanity, they show us at our best. Their destruction and our current shortage of new monument building point to the same absence of transcendent thinking, it shows that we are currently bound by the mundane.
Doing transcendent stuff, like building monuments, for its own sake is as vital a demonstration of humanity as our compassion and care for those who are suffering through misfortune, poverty or conflict. Equally our businesses have the same choice between declining, surviving or transcending. If we want out enterprise to do more than just survive we have to go beyond the quarterly performance dogma and invent boldly, create monumentally and think transcendentally to a new and better future.
Holos has a vision to contribute to making holistic leadership ubiquitous in our society within 175 years. We want to see this kind of leadership taught in schools and deployed for the good of society in business, politics and the public sector.
Holos believes that “Change is Easy” or at least it can be when it is done well. Holos has the resources and the skill to help organisations of any size to flourish in the future.
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