Ever since I founded Minkowski a couple of years ago, people have been asking me about that name: who is it and why have you named your company after him? The reason is because he (unknowingly) has created our blueprint for the way we look at the future and transformation. Transformation is not about disruptively changing course midstream, but rather about exploring possibilities for the future and taking steps towards it that align with what your organization is capable of.
Who is Minkowski?
The first time I came in touch with Minkowski was years ago when I briefly collaborated with Joe Pine during the time of his book on authenticity. The name disappeared to the back of my mind until 2017. Hermann Minkowski was a German mathematician and one of Albert Einstein’s teachers. He showed that Einstein’s theory of special relativity could best be understood as a theory of four-dimensional space-time. This understanding is known as Minkowski spacetime. Minkowski illustrated that there is only a cone of possible positions a particle can move to in the future (it can not move faster than light and cannot go back in time). The position of the particle in the future is therefor determined by where it is now and where it is coming from.
How do you apply this to business?
When you apply this to business it means that your future is in fact determined by your past. Where you can transform to in the future as an organization is determined by your heritage and the capacities and capabilities you have as an organization today. The possible positions in the future that this can lead to Minkowski calls a ‘cone of possibility’. In our work with clients we explore this cone of possibilities in the future and then design paths that match the past and present of the company. This way you increase the chance of actually being able to take the necessary steps for change and transformation, rather than being blinded and overwhelmed with what is possible. Disruption is only possible when you want and are able to transform.
What is an example?
Let’s take a big supermarket chain as a hypothetical example. Inspired by all the technologies of the future it could think that autonomous vehicles is THE thing for the future. Then theoretically they could fire all their employees, hire a bunch of engineers and start developing such a car. When they succeed nobody will probably like to drive a supermarket branded car, so they have to re-brand it. Technically they’ve then become a different company. So, what this supermarket chain can do with autonomous technology is determined by who they are and what they are capable of. Yes, there are possibilities for autonomous technology to be used by this company, but how and what is limited by their own ‘cone of possibility’.
But that is not the only reason why we are calling ourselves Minkowski. Minkowski was also a teacher. He merely was one of the people that helped Einstein become Einstein. That is our ambition too: we are all people that are not looking to be in the limelight, we rather help others reach their future and take center stage. The art of facilitating such a process is embedded deep in our DNA. Nobody knows Minkowski, but everyone knows Einstein. It is thus our ambition to enable a million Einsteins to change and transform and have a lasting impact on the world.