A manifesto by SWA consultants
We believe that the business landscape is Changing EVERYWHERE. Industry Leaders disappear while emerging players vie to take control of the field. What used to take years of slow erosion now gets totally overhauled in the blink of an eye. Technological advances in Business Intelligence, AI and workflow optimisation, combined with globalisation, economic development of emerging markets and a new generation of workers all combine to challenge the status quo. As you read these lines, the next generation of Leaders are working to leverage a Change that could impact your reality tomorrow. What does this mean?
In the next 5-10 years Technology, Emerging Markets and Cultural Changes will fundamentally disrupt all industries. The jobs of today are being replaced by a new breed of worker. One that doesn’t need sleep, benefits or to be recognized for a job well done. Cryptocurrencies are threatening to challenge the international banking system. People are betting fortunes on technologies, like self driving electric cars, that will disrupt business practices that have been historically stable. These Changes will have a profound impact on the way we work, and the way Leaders connect with their team across time zones, locations and cultural habits. All those who fail to look ahead could be destroyed.
You need to adapt NOW to stay competitive: There is no way around it. Species have come and gone in the evolution of this planet and you and your business are no different. Today more than ever there is a need to Change and adapt because we are in an accelerated cycle. And the word NOW is key here! Everyday counts and you cannot take anything for granted. The adaptation philosophy has nothing to do with comfort: This will be hard.
Change is HARD.
The Meaning you give to this Change will determine your outcome. As scary as this is for those who don’t want Change, it’s as exciting to those who embrace Change. Where SEARS saw an apocalypse with customers moving online, Amazon saw a opportunity. At this VERY MOMENT, you are deciding if you want to resist or welcome this Change. If you attach a meaning of opportunity to that Change, you can WIN and this could be the most exciting time of your life. On the other hand, if Change only means pains and nostalgia, you are doomed.
Humans are naturally resistant to Change, but anyone can learn to leverage that Change by giving it new Meaning. And anyone can learn how to Change proactively before it’s too late. The main ingredient to achieve this is having an open mind and to enter the world of creativity and this goes 100% against our natural desire to control. The sooner you realize that you don’t control how fast this is coming, the better your chances of survival and success.
Change is not about adopting a dogma, a doctrine or even a specific discipline. It is not about forgetting about the past and moving on. You don’t need to Change who you are as much as you need look within to assess how you will adapt to the changes circumstances to succeed. Values, qualities and strengths are not to be forgotten but they have to be leveraged differently so they can generate results in a future that is different than the past.
Change is not even about looking at others and emulating their successes. We can model perseverance, we can model integrity, we can even model someone’s desire to acquire knowledge, but there is no steadfast rule that says just because someone else was successful that you will be successful emulating their path in a Changing business landscape. This is a journey of self discovery first, and the reinvention or actualization of identity for the future can only occur with honesty and courage to look ahead.
Change is about being open to look in the mirror as opposed to through the window. It is about assessing our own weak links as professionals, leaders and organizations. Everyone can look in the window and describe the outside world for good or bad but real Change happens when you look in the mirror. Facing the reflection and objectively accepting where to improve, what to Change, what to refresh and how to position yourself to succeed moving forward.
Leaders will need to learn to align company priorities and values with the people who make up their workforce, and that workforce is changing. The people that make your business move are changing. They don’t have the same needs, values or skills as the generation before them did. There are so many differing points of view on this issue that one can literally read two completely conflicting arguments within the same publication. That, however, doesn’t matter, because you want to worry about YOUR people. What do THEY need to Change in the business? How can you align people from different generations, cultures and geographical locations to accept, welcome and drive the Change?
The desired Change must be communicated clearly to all levels of the organization for employees to be engaged with their brand. Have a plan! This doesn’t happen by accident. No Executive ever stumbled into a highly effective strategy for adapting to Change without spending the time to plan the HOW for his specific audience. How can the message be communicated and reinforced in time so as to impact employee engagement and have people willing to walk the extra mile to get to the promised land?
Employee Brand Engagement encourages innovation, communication and productivity. The meaning of the brand cannot be driven exclusively to the outside world. Employees want to feel “IN” on the success of their brand. Studies have shown that this can foster innovation in all spheres of the business. As everyone needs to jump into a higher gear of creativity, innovation and adaptation, there must be a strong attachment to the brand that propels the engagement and the motivation.
We believe that we are on the precipice of a revolution of culture within businesses both small and large and that the first step to preparing for this Change is to accept that it is a reality.
How will you confront this Change?