When I first started helping organizations with change, leaders were coming to me saying, "We have new and better ways of doing business. Can you help us get people's attention, then create the appetite and uptake so we can realize a return as fast as possible?"
But today it's all different. Now, I have entire industries coming to me and saying, "Our core business is being totally disrupted. We have to get a grip on what this means, reinvent ourselves, build a new strategy. Help us cope, let alone succeed and thrive!"
Here are ten patterns I see coloring the shape and sounding the taste of today's world:
1. We have moved from episodic to continuous change. No more plateaus to catch our breath. It's a different game. We have moved from adapting to new grooves to grooving on adaptation.
2. Game changing is a way of life, not a once-in-a-lifetime event. I was speaking to a Fortune 9 (hint) executive VP and he said to me, "We used to do strategic planning every 3 years. Then it was every year. Now I want real time strategic planning as a core competency among my top leaders. It's a requirement."
3. The future is now. Star Trek is here. We are printing prosthetic limbs. The cloud makes it possible to scale up and scale down massive computing on demand just in time. Everyone knows where everyone goes on the web - and if you leave the grid, we know that, too. Virtual reality has merged with physical reality and the new hybrids are being mainstreamed through everyday tools that everyone has.
4. We have all hit the wall. There is more infrastructure, computing power, and data than anyone knows how to use. The frontier is now in applications because the limits have been removed. If you don't do it, someone else will. That's both the good news and the bad news. It's bad news for most if you want to be first. It's good news for everyone else because whatever you want will be here shortly - someone is working on it now.
5. Value is in the eye of the beholder. Trends don't matter. What the guy next door is doing is immaterial. If he is tanking, you don't have to. If he is succeeding, it does not mean you are even if you are in the same industry doing the same thing. All that matters is what you do, whether or not you do it well, and if other people want it. Period. It's about all the different ways value is appreciated.
6. Time is more valuable than information. It used to be that we went looking for information. Back then we had more time than we could fill and knowledge was scarce, hence it was valuable. Now we have more know-how, expertise, and experience than any one person can digest. Time is the limiting factor, the scarce resource, and therefore the new wealth. If you can capture time on a large scale, you have traction: something you can no longer buy.
7. Pattern surfers are the new artists and frontiers people. Identifying, influencing, and leveraging emerging trends are big business, high creativity, and the source of breakthrough innovation. When you combine pattern surfing with time acquisition, you have heavy influence.
8. Globalization is in full swing. They are here. We are there. It's a mess. We have different cultures mixing, different disciplines jamming, and geography is overcome. Mutually exclusive realities coexist. Culture is a dog's breakfast with pockets of consistency. Travelers adept at navigating norms are creating the new renaissance. Chaos and order are swirling and generating new patterns all the time.
9. There are untold stories surfacing, breaking our simplistic models and killing our sacred cows. E.g., It is not clear that digital delivery devices (kindles, iPads, etc) have less negative environmental impact than paper, and killing trees may not be all that bad when they are seen as a renewable crop. Liquid fuel is not the bad guy it was made out to be. The people we most chastise are often the very experts we depend upon to build our new world. There is a new willingness to look complexity in the eye, be overwhelmed, and yet remain undeterred in the pursuit of adaptive solutions.
10. Opportunity persists. Despite the overwhelming odds, disorder, and ongoing, relentless, continuous, disruptive change, there is great opportunity for those who pursue it with determination and clarity. New connections are made. Greater patterns are generated. Desire is met and satiated and then it begins again. People everywhere want opportunity, believe in opportunity, pursue opportunity, and so it goes on and on and on and...
Seth Kahan (Seth@VisionaryLeadership.com) is a Change Leadership specialist, helping leaders successfully adapt to the new world of business. He has worked closely with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, Prudential, Marriott, World Bank, Peace Corps, American Society of Association Executives, Project Management Institute, and NASA. His Web site is VisionaryLeadership.com. His latest book is Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out. Download a free excerpt at GettingChangeRight.com.