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#InsightsIn5: The Astrophysics of Business


As I walked to the local lockdown farmers market this week with my inquisitive twelve-year-old daughter, she tested my elementary knowledge of astrophysics to the very limit. We talked about different planets, the stars, the galaxy, the universe, and the possibility of parallel worlds. It got me thinking about further parallels to business, and especially in the current challenging times.


Specifically, I thought about the different profiles of organizations and their ability to not only survive but to thrive beyond the current crisis into the New Normal. I liked the context of the Stellar Galactic and hope that you do too.

In business, the Perfect Star has all the factors required for success. They are balanced and aligned in a way that they are focused, from leadership through to execution and everywhere in between. They understand the importance of an aligned approach and that all the moving parts are focused on client and consumer success.

"The Perfect Star, has the foundational core, an equal balance of Dreamers and Doers, of Partners and Believers and has the fundamentals of Liquidity, Nimbleness, Agility, and importantly the Imagination to adapt, even co-create the New Normal."

Just like everything in existence, stars have a lifespan and different factors dictate how long that can be. The difference is the currency of stars is millions, billions, or even trillions of years. Just like a business though, these foundational elements are critical in understanding that trajectory and life-cycle, but unlike a star, a business has the opportunity to make changes to what the future can be.


If this Perfect Star is likened to our own Sun, it is stable, optimally sized, with a balanced fuel and burn rate, then what are the other potential categories in the constellation, galaxy, or universe we can learn from?

"Which star relates to your organization, but more importantly, which one do you aspire to be into the future?"

There are many examples but here is a quick summary:


The Protostar is the equivalent of the start-up in the business world. It's a collection of gas full of gravitational energy but not the nuclear fusion to materialize fully. Often they either fail or get swallowed up, only the few make it all the way to superstardom.


A Tauri Star is waiting for its big break before it makes it to center stage as a Main Sequence Star. Its gravitational pressure holds itself together and is often its only source of energy, yet to have all the ingredients required for nuclear fusion.


The Red Giant has gained critical mass but over time has consumed all of its energy but can still exponentially increases in size. Despite its continued growth, it has depleted all its fuel, and in the absence of a renewed source it will eventually turn into a White Dwarf - it may continue to exist but become increasingly less relevant in the scheme of the wider Universe.

"The Red Giant exists in business. The company's size and mass continues to push growth but it may have run out of its fuel - creativity, new ideas, innovation, or lack of talent to further future differential."

True, it's not just about the makeup of the star itself, it's also about the environment in which it exists, but without the right level of awareness, innovation, creativity, talent, then the internal and external factors can lead to any organization becoming a White Dwarf, or altogether non-existent.


Red Dwarf Stars often have a much lower mass and are much cooler than our own Sun. They are however able to keep the hydrogen fuel mixing at their core and can conserve their resources for much longer than most others and are estimated to continue burning for a very long time.

"Red Dwarf's will not necessarily shine the brightest, but they will continue to outlive most of their contemporaries."

Neutron Stars are between one and a half and two times the size of our Sun. When they die, often through a catastrophic supernova explosion, it leaves behind its core and becomes a neutron star composing entirely of neutrons. If the original star is even bigger, then these can become black holes, or in business, can get swallowed up where the core activity is complementary to an acquirer.


Supergiant Stars are the largest stars in the Universe. They are monsters, dozens of times the mass of our Sun. Unlike a relatively stable star like the Sun, Supergiants are consuming hydrogen fuel at an enormous rate and will consume all the fuel in their cores within just a few million years.

"Supergiant stars live fast and die young, detonating as supernovae; completely disintegrating themselves in the process."

Especially in this current environment, there are several Supergiant Star candidates to watch closely.


Then finally, Main Sequence Stars have all the factors of the Perfect Star, they are both balanced and stable. They have an overall vision and purpose, their stakeholders are aligned with the shared values and focus of success. They have sufficient fuel, funding, liquidity, they have the optimum mix of factors for them to shine bright.

As you can see, stars come in many sizes, colors, and varieties, as do businesses.


Knowing what accounts for this, and what their various life stages look like, are all important when it comes to understanding our Universe. It also helps when it comes to our ongoing efforts to lead our organizations into the future and steer them to the longest possible period of sustained success.


I am sure you will draw your own conclusions on which type of star represents your organization but the constants exist in astrophysics as they do in business.


Companies also need the right conditions not only to survive but to thrive. A set of factors uniquely balanced to ensure you have the gravitational pull that aligns your united efforts, the right balance of resources required to fuel your business, the optimum size, and sufficient focused energy to excel.

"At the core, you have Liquidity, Nimbleness, Agility, and Imagination to varying degrees. This is at the very heart of your star. You should nurture each of these well."

The shared vision and values between your Dreamers and Doers, your Believers, and Partners is your gravitational pull. Your Insights, your Proactive Innovation, your Value to, and Strategic Alignment with your stakeholders, including your customers is your fuel source.


Finally, Your Brand, your Image, and Reputation are your shining light and together will be collectively what will make your star shine long into the future.


I hope you have enjoyed my meanderings and that I have not exposed my almost non-existent knowledge of astrophysics too much!


What I do know is that our world, our universe is changing and only those with these core elements, harnessed in the right amounts will not only be the ones to survive but the ones who will thrive and shine long into the future.



4xi is a global consulting firm helping EMPLOYERS, OPERATORS, INNOVATORS, and ACCELERATORS Optimize the Power of Potential.




4xi Global is a part of the Global Partner Leadership Board of WORKTECH and is also the Chapter Chair for North America.


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