Many years ago, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was world-renowned for its elephant show. Gunther Gebel-Williams, a world-famous tamer of elephants and tigers, routinely performed his act in which at one point he had a stampede of some 12 elephants running in a large circle. The walls and rafters of the auditorium would shake almost uncontrollably from the thunderous pounding of these amazing animals, and audiences screamed in delight. It was a show that would not – could not – ever close its run.

Alas, all good things do come to an end. Earlier this year, the circus announced it was retiring its elephants permanently from performing, bringing to a close its decades-long battle with animal rights groups. Can you imagine a circus without dancing elephants in the ring? Whether you can or not, that time has passed. We’re in a new age.

What does this tell us from a business perspective? Even an institution as old and traditional as the circus needs to change with the times.

The phenomenon of change affects everyone and everything. In business, change is like a coin: It has two sides. On one side, there is an opportunity to advance the business model and take the organisation to new heights. The other side may signal the beginning of the end. Whichever side of the change curve that management and the board of directors find themselves, it has become almost a cliché to acknowledge that disruptive change cannot be taken lightly.

Jul-Sep 2016 Issue