“Whoah, dude, what happened?” : How to avoid failing at the future….



Ask yourself this question: do you work in an organization that just simply doesn’t get it? Who is oblivious, blind, completely unaware of just how much business model change is occurring out there?

Here’s the thing — there are three types of people in the world:

  • those who make things happen
  • those who watch things happen
  • and those who say, “what happened?”

I’ve often pointed this out on stage, and have emphasized the point, by suggesting that the folks who find themselves last on the list sit back and say, “whoah, dude, what happened? Where’d that come from?”
In other words, they’ve been completely blind to the trend which would cause massive upheaval within their industry, or refuse to accept the significant business model disruptions which are already occurring.
Guess what — it’s happening right now as a lot of financial institutions don’t realize just how quickly mobile technology is going to change everything in the consumer financial services industry! Or in countless other industries where the blindness of current market leaders is leading them to their own “whoah, dude” moment.
So let’s make it simple: when it comes to innovation, make sure that you are in the first camp!
What should you do if you make that conscious decision, and are trying to steer your organization into the future?

  • turn forward! establish an overall organizational culture in which everyone is firmly focused on the future while managing the present.
  • change the focus: make sure that you link the corporate mission of today to the major trends and developments that will influence the organization through the coming years;
  • pursue speed: use a leadership style that encourages a culture of agility and allows for a rapid response to a sudden change in products, markets, competitive challenges, and other business, technological and workplace trends;
  • watch more stuff: establish and encourage an organization-wide “trends radar” in which all staff keep a keen eye on the developments that will affect the organization in the future;
  • share more: make sure that you’ve got a culture of collaboration in which everyone is prepared to share their insight, observations, and recommendations with respect to future trends, threats and opportunities;
  • change responsibilities: ensure that staff are regularly encouraged to not only deal with the unique and ongoing challenges of today but are open and responsive to the new challenges yet to come;
  • take risks: you won’t get anywhere if you don’t make sure that are encouraged to turn future challenges into opportunities, rather than viewing change as a threat to be feared.

I continue to be stunned by how many organizations today continue to be caught flat-footed by the pace of rapid trends that impact them. It seems like it should be so simple to avoid this. Yet there likely still lots of “whoah, dude” dudes out there.


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.