We are all aware that the world around us is changing very quickly. In fact, the rate of change is continually accelerating. As a result, individuals, organizations, businesses and even entire cultures are struggling to keep up.
Furthermore, as business leaders, we can no longer assume that the market space we occupy today will be the same market space that we occupy in six months. Products and services that we offer and the technology that we use today will be obsolete tomorrow!
Renowned authors, Alvin and Heidi Toffler’s book entitled “Revolutionary Wealth” provides innovative ideas on how changes in society, government, culture and business are transforming our lives in this century.
Especially relevant, the Tofflers have compared the rates of change of major institutions in North America to cars speeding along on a highway. They have rated nine institutions with a “change” rate of speed between 0 and 100 miles per hour as follows:
Change “Rate of Speed” for American Institutions
- 100 miles per hour – American business
- 90 miles per hour – Non-governmental organizations
- 60 miles per hour – American family
- 30 miles per hour – Labor unions
- 25 miles per hour – Government and regulatory agencies
- 10 miles per hour – The American school system
- 5 miles per hour – Intergovernmental organizations (IMF, WTO, etc.)
- 3 miles per hour – Political structures in the G8 countries
- 1 mile per hour – The law
Overall, the ratings are not surprising as businesses are typically quick to change and adapt when compared to legal or political systems. However, if businesses are changing fastest at 100 miles per hour then everything else is falling substantially behind!
(It’s no wonder our school systems are turning out students that are not ready for today’s workforce and our government and societal infrastructure is strained beyond belief!)
This rate of change observation is further corroborated by James Canton in his book “The Extreme Future” where he proposes four factors that will define the future:
Canton’s four factors that will define the future:
- Blinding rate of change that touches every aspect of your life
- Complexity of the change and also the interrelationship of currently unrelated forces
- Risks – new risks and higher risks will impact all aspects of life
- Surprise – both good, bad, and difficult to imagine surprises will become commonplace and will challenge sensibility and logic
How can we, as business leaders, deal productively with this increasing rate of change?
Canton states that anyone can influence their future and deal with extreme change by:
- Defining a future vision for the organization – Establish a clear vision of where you are going and, furthermore, why you are going there. Check out step number 1 in my eBook “12 Steps to Business Transformation“.
- Building a strategy to implement the vision – Either you have a strategy to implement your vision or you fail in your attempt to get there. For more information on strategy, check out step number 4.
- Obtaining tools to persuade people to commit to a shared vision and strategy – Clear and consistent communication is the most powerful tool a business can use to get the organization aligned around its vision.
- Effective execution – Once you have a vision and a strategy, you must effectively execute this strategy to be successful. Refer to step 8 for more information on strategy execution.
Spend some time this week and do an honest evaluation of your organization. Honestly and objectively answer the following questions and take action to prepare your business for a change!
- Is your business prepared for marketplace change? Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being totally unprepared and 10 being very prepared).
- Do you have a clear vision for your organization and are you constantly and clearly communicating it to your staff?
- Do you have a strategy in place to work towards your vision?
- What tools are you using to communicate and get your staff to commit to the vision and strategy? Are these effective?
- Finally, what tools and techniques are you using to measure your progress against your strategy and vision?
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. – John F Kennedy
How do you manage change in your organization? Let me know in the comment section below!
Download a free copy of my new Ebook: 12 Steps to Business Transformation. If you are interested in a business assessment to help kick off your business transformation, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 587-227-5179.
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