“A simple fact: if you don’t know what’s next, you won’t be prepared to do what’s next!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
I gave a talk yesterday’s to a group of senior executives from a variety of different; it’s fantastic to get back on my ‘stage’ and interact with people, albeit in a virtual fashion.
One question that came up is typical of what I get when I outline just how quickly our future is changing: what we should be doing in terms of education, career choices, and opportunity paths for young people? And related to that, what should we be doing in our own lines of business.
I had quite a few folks in the (virtual) room from industries that are clearly going to see pretty massive upheaval and disruption in the years to come. And from the questions, it was pretty evident that few had a real appreciation for the scope of the challenge and opportunity with what comes next.
I’ve always wondered – if you are going to spend so much time in the future, wouldn’t it make sense for you to understand what it’s going to be like when you get there? If we are going to send our young people into a world that involves massive, disruptive, accelerated change, shouldn’t we do more to equip them with the tools to navigate that road?
I’ve long believed that we don’t spend enough time on what we might call ‘future-studies.’
Maybe we should!
What if you are ready to really change your approach to what comes next? What should you do about it?
Do an assessment of what we might call a ‘change quotient inventory’ of your world. If you are hopelessly mired in the issues of “today” and aren’t thinking about how your market and industry will be changing tomorrow, fix that. Focus on these issues:
- velocity ratio: What is the rate of change within your industry? What’s the velocity of business model change? How many new competitors are there, and how quickly is the industry blurring as they come into play? What’s the staff turnover rate? How quickly do new products come to market?
- the rate of ‘rising tides‘: How quickly are customer expectations changing? If you’re in an industry in which there are rapidly rising tides in terms of minimum service delivery, you’ve got an industry in which there are countless opportunities for innovative, future-oriented products and processes.
- innovation index: Is the industry widely innovative, or are there only a few scattered folks who dare buck the current reality? Is everyone in the industry generally stuck in the past, or is there a widespread focus on the future, with a lot of innovative activity as a result?
- retirement rate: Not to be crude, but how many boomers are there hanging around who want the benefits, want the salary, and want the executive responsibility, but don’t want to have to do anything to confront change? This, more than anything, can be one of the key measures for change-capability.
- generational tolerance: Out on the speaking circuit, I’ve been meeting thousands of Gen-X and Gen-Connecters in a lot of industries who scream in silent frustration each and every day. They’re stuck in organizations with management who actively work to kill new ideas. They’re full of innovation, but they have no outlet for it. On the other hand, there are other industries where the frustration doesn’t boil away, but instead, is tapped for the opportunity. Spot those industries — where “young people” are welcomed as a source for ideas — and you’ve got an industry with massive agility and a high change-quotient
- wisdom wealth: Boomers need not be change-barriers; indeed, there are some who understand where change is occurring, and who are using their years of experience – often with devastating effect – to spot and capitalize on an opportunity. These are some of the most powerful organizations on the planet. They’ve merged the generations, and are change-masters.
Take the time to look at how quickly the future is coming at us today, and then assess whether you and the organization you work for, are ready for it.
Fix the mismatch!