“If you won’t be better tomorrow than you were today, then what do you need tomorrow for?” – Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav
One of the pitfalls for any organization – or individual, for that matter – is the idea that we’ve been successful doing something, so in order to continue to be successful we need to keep doing that exact same something the exact same way from now into eternity. It’s natural to think that way. Most people don’t like change. What we’ve been doing is working. So why change?
The answer is that we no longer live in a world that’s static enough to keep doing the same thing and expect the same result. The stuff that got us to where we are, whether as an organization or an individual, will not be good enough 3 years from now. The value we provided to our customers or our businesses will no longer be there.
So ask yourself – what value will we provide to our customers in 3 years? How will they demand that we provide it? What processes will that require us to master? What people will that require us to have? What technology will that require us to utilize? Not only do most businesses not know the answers to these questions (the future is indeed hard to predict), but worse, they aren’t even trying to come up with answers. Good is good enough, so let’s not rock the boat.
Ask yourself something else – what value will I provide to my business in 3 years? What will our people need from me? What skills will I need to have? What behaviors will need to become my habits? Most leaders think, at least subconsciously, that they got to where they are by doing certain things and therefore they should keep doing those things.
The world we inhabit is changing at a faster pace than it ever has before, and that pace is accelerating. There is very little opportunity to succeed that doesn’t involve change. You must do things differently, or do entirely different things altogether. You cannot keep doing the same things the same way. You might look back and see those things paved the way for your success, but if you look forward you’ll see that road ends. Find a new path and head down it.
With the rate of change coming we need to build our capability. I aim for a 20% annual growth so I double every five or so years. I do that through what I read, who I mix with, and the complexity of the tasks I attempt. Hard to measure directly, easier to measure the impact on the business of your capability in terms of capacity and efficiency improvement.
Agreed. We tend to get complacent and think that whatever we’ve done well in the past will be enough to succeed in the future. That’s a huge mistake. I think intentionally seeking out changes and challenges for ourselves will be a key characteristic of successful leaders over the next 5-10 years.