October 12

The Zig Zag vs The Soft Shoe Shuffle


With its origins in vaudeville and the music hall, in the first decades of the twentieth century the soft-shoe shuffle was danced by tap dancers wearing soft-shoes instead of their normal tap shoes.

Comedic in performance at times (yes, this dance technique even featured in a Laurel and Hardy film), soft-shoe was accompanied by low music with many silent moments so the characteristic “swish” of the dancers’ feet could be heard. The concentration was on the intricacy and almost slow motion movement; there was no deviation from the steps, no willingness to explore a new path.

Imagine if we ran our businesses akin to the soft-shoe shuffle?

Whilst fascinating to watch, I reckon that today’s businesses need to adopt a style that is more about zigging and zagging, rather than one that is stuck in its own steps. One that is agile, action driven and results oriented. One that is focused and directional — and one that is strong in its commitment and decisive in its vision.

We live in a roaringly fast paced world. The people and businesses who will ultimately succeed will be the ones that zig and zag, evolve and innovate. They will not only keep their eye on the ultimate goal, but they will be willing to change their dance as required to get there.

I believe that the speed of transformation that we are currently witnessing in the way business is being done is challenging us all to think differently. To play on the edge. To seek out new opportunity. And above all, to develop innovative ways to communicate our differences, share our authenticity and deliver our products and services. In other words, to make up our own dance steps.

To be our own choreographers.

We are being challenged to think and do things differently. Consumers and clients are asking us to share something new and tell our own truths. Individually, if we are honest with ourselves, the words of Marshall Goldsmith “What got you here won’t get you there” ring through.

And that doesn’t feel like a soft-shoe shuffle to me.


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