“This is the first time in history that you can be great at what you’re doing today and be out of business tomorrow.” – Ken Blanchard
Quotes like Blanchard’s above can be found everywhere these days. Everyone talks about the pace of change and how quickly we have to change and how if we don’t change we’ll be history. And, for the most part, it’s true.
Unfortunately, a lot of business leaders I know don’t really know what that means. At worst they’re overwhelmed by the idea and do nothing (this seems especially true of business owners who are nearing the end of their careers, which these days is a huge number). At best they think it simply means they have to be constantly coming up with innovative products or new features on the products they already produce.
I think it means more than that. Product innovation and features are great, but the world is changing beyond just those things. Next time you’re thinking about change, think about these things:
How will customers want to buy from you? We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what we’re going to sell customers. We don’t spend nearly enough time trying to figure how we’re going to sell to them. Technology will probably be part of it. At the very least people won’t buy from you the way they have for the last 20 years. What might change?
What kind of people will you need to have in your organization? In a lot of businesses a big emphasis has always been put on technical skills. The ability to make the product, etc. In the future technology (computers, AI, etc) will be able to do most of the technical work. So what kind of people will you need? What skill sets will they need to have? What behaviors and characteristics will make them a valuable part of your team?
What behaviors/strengths will need to be part of who you are as a leader? Your business is going to change. Good, bad, or ugly, it will change. Does it make sense that if your business changes that the way you lead that business can stay the same? Of course not. In a rapidly changing environment you won’t be able to just put leadership on autopilot. How much time to you spend on strategic issues? How do you evaluate your business’s performance? What are you doing to develop as a leader?
It’s 2016. Nobody’s going to attempt to make the argument that the world’s not changing quickly and we don’t have to change too. But as you think about change, think about what that really means for your organization. Think about what you need to do differently. Think about tomorrow – today.