Embracing the Opportunity of Change
February 5, 2017
It's always been an ‘interesting' time to be alive, but there does seem to be something in the water at the moment. I'm writing this blog with Donald Trump’s inauguration on in the back ground.
Whether it’s Putin flexing his metaphorical and in his case literal pecs, inflation escalating, the unknown and everlasting boredom of Brexit, walls being built between countries, Toblerone spacing out its’ triangular chocolate chunks…not forgetting that we’ll all be out of a job soon thanks to the rapid rise of the robot! It's safe to say things are a little more up in the air than we’ve been used to, and we don’t like it…I received a car sticker by the zany artist Jeremy Deller in a friends Christmas card this year that simply said “Fuck You 2016”. My sentiments exactly!
But my sense is that we’re only in the shallow end…in the words of futurist Ray Kurzweil in his essay ’the law of accelerating returns', "in a few decades, the world will be unrecognizably different. We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”
If we want to thrive in this environment we need to embrace change, get comfortable with the unknown and adapt…it's the only viable option. In my last agency, we adopted Winston Churchill’s words “never let a good crisis go to waste” as our mantra and mindset during the 2008 financial crisis and our Innovation training business subsequently blossomed. We argued that those who skilled themselves up to initiate change would have a better opportunity to manage the change that was inevitable.
In the last 6 months, lots of businesses have pressed pause on investing in anything other than what they see as fire-fighting the day to day, as part of a bigger ‘wait and see’ strategy. I get it as a panic setting, but it is undoubtedly the wrong approach. The uncertainty is unquestionably going to increase as the global, political, economic and social forces shift through time.
Cisco’s CFO, Kelly Kramer talks about having a healthy paranoia about what you don’t know. She believes it dials up your curiosity and hunger to learn and puts you on the ‘front foot’. This is important because when it comes down to it, we’re fundamentally lazy. We love our routines, familiarity and comfort zones and feel threatened by change, it’s our caveman brain kicking in. It’s a human survival instinct to keep our heads down and stick to what we know when times get tough. This blog was inspired by this quote “What is often mistaken for 20 years’ experience, is just 1 year’s experience repeated 20 times”. The best investment you can make right now is to teach your people how to adapt and lead for change.
Take a leaf out of Eddie Jones book. He took over the management of the England rugby team straight after their abysmal World Cup performance. From the ‘get go’ his mantra was to identify natural leaders and instill in them a growth mentality- seen reading Bill Catlette’s Contented Cows Give Better Milk, a book about the significance of treating employees properly. He leads by example and demands it of his coaches and players. His drive for this continual improvement has reaped its rewards as England went undefeated in 2016 with a record run of 13 victories.
In the words of Jack Welch, ex CEO of GE (which, in his tenure, rose in value by 4,000%) "An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” and another from the King of creative wisdom, Steve Jobs “there’s always one more thing to learn”.
So although it may feel counter intuitive invest in your people and get them fit and confident to embrace the change that’s coming.
See how Elvis does it here.
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