Rapid Change is Not a New Idea
The idea that change is accelerating is all around us. But is life changing faster now than it did a hundred years ago? Rapid change is not a new idea. It’s most familiar to us in concepts such as Moore’s Law. We are constantly urged to work faster – faster time to answer calls, faster time with new products or services to market, faster, faster, faster – but they tend to be aspects of efficiency or competitiveness, rather than progress. Today, it’s the amount of data in the world that’s doubling every couple of years. So, when we focus on change, we need to focus on the aspects of data and information that affect our business. I will talk more about that in a bit.
Change is not Accelerating
The idea of exponential change just isn’t accurate. Yes, the world is changing. But change is not accelerating. Maybe some companies are growing exponentially – WhatsApp, Uber, Alibaba, but the external drivers of that change are not themselves exponential. Be calm; we are not in a period of chaos. Most thinking about exponential change is driven by the digital revolution and the transition to a network economy – the internet, mobiles, platforms, and much more.
If we think of, for example, physical transport and how we move things around, then that technology has hardly changed for 30 or 40 years. We still have the same planes, and we still transport our goods in big ships. The exterminator still needs a truck to show up at your home. Pianos haven’t changed in 160 years, but the selling process has changed dramatically because of information and data. It’s much more efficient.
We have all these new technologies at our disposal. Right now, most of us are trying to understand what they are, how they work, what they will mean. The winners will be companies that avoid hyperventilation, develop their core products or services, and play the long game.
Manage Data and Information More Efficiently
Try to focus on how using data and information affect your business. For most, it only affects efficiency. It’s easier to focus when you boil it down to its essence. Many companies need to look anew at how they deal with data and information. When you have salespeople using five different tech solutions, and you see post-it notes on their screens, simply tell yourself there must be a better, more efficient way; I just need to find it. Finding solutions that enable you to manage data and information more efficiently will be what separates many of the winners and losers.
Assessment, Acceptance, and Action
The other advice I give our managers is to focus on AAA; Assessment, Acceptance, and Action. You’d be surprised at how difficult it is for many people to accurately and dispassionately assess what’s really going on and to get at the essence of the problem.
Even harder is getting your team to accept that reality because, as we all know, people don’t like change. Once you accept reality, taking action becomes much easier and more effective. Take just 2 minutes every morning to assess where you are, what you could have done better, and act to improve. These little actions add up over time.