The business world is based on innovative practices developed over the past 300 years since the mid 1700s and the first industrial revolution. Accounting is even older.
It can be beneficial to review history in order to provide a context of how these different practices, disciplines and conventions arose and how we got to now. This practice can give us a sense of the logic of the trajectory.
Understanding how this mindset evolved and what basic need it has addressed helps us understand what is working and what is ripe for disruption.
When we find something that works we tend to stick with it. Sometimes we stick with things too long, past when they are effective or useful, simply because of the inertia of convention. Radical ideas become conventional over time and then lose their relevance and become obsolete. Some obsolete and discarded ideas can be revisited and repurposed for these times with new tools.
Historical perspective can help overcome the inertia of conventional thinking if we ask why we are doing things a certain way and how we got to here. History can provide insights into where to innovate.
The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
- Warren Bennis