This succinct summary of the challenge of modern life is a quote from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, from his keynote at the Davos World Economic Forum in 2018. And although that organization tried to downplay the sentiment later that year, Trudeau’s claim seems an accurate summary of our times.
Change is hard for human beings; we are accustomed to a great deal of consistency from one day to another: in what is expected of us, in the tools we use to perform those duties, in how we’re perceived by others and how we interact with others, in what constitutes the necessities of life, and in how we obtain those necessities. Most of us feel we can “handle” change, but when we say that we usually mean one change at a time, and with a pause after each change before we’re forced to confront the next one.
The challenge today is that the pace of change is accelerating at an exponential rate, so we’re dealing with more changes coming faster at us than ever before. It’s one thing to acknowledge that and to accept the challenge of dealing with these changes in both our personal and professional lives – it’s quite another to realize the stark truth that this shocking pace of change is the slowest any of us will see for the rest of our lives.
It’s strange to realize we will one day look back and see 2020 as a year in which the world dealt with relatively few changes. Considering COVID and technological change, political and social winds, medical and scientific innovation, it hardly seems possible; and yet, that is a truth embedded in the exponential change acceleration we’re experiencing. It calls for a complete revolution in how we think about change itself.
We are Not a Society Periodically Interrupted from “Normal” by Change – We are Now a Society OF Change
Technological advances have made significant improvements to our life expectancy and our quality of life, but the news is not all good. Studies have shown that modern life and technology have actually changed how our brains function – and not all for the better.
But we’d better adapt to it now. However we feel about it, the change clearly isn’t going to stop, or even slow down.
Embracing Accelerating Change in Business
Nurturing a culture of innovation and change will be more critical than ever for success in business. Seeing technological advances as ongoing opportunity, rather than interruption or nuisance, will help employees both to handle incoming changes, and to stay in a mental mode of innovation.
Progress and innovation are seen as some of the top priorities in businesses, always trying to stay ahead of the curve and compete for an “edge” on an ever-shifting scale. Since Covid-19, companies are seeing just how critical staying apace with the changing times is to their survival and success. The uncertainty of the future brought on by a global pandemic has exacerbated the issue surrounding change and created several challenges for businesses as they attempt to plan ahead.
We see situations where business are struggling to “keep up” with developing technology and systems, particularly when the changes impact their business models, or when they have to defend against disruptive innovations from their competitors.
Startup companies who avoid inheriting a large installed base of “older” technology find themselves at an advantage, for a period of time at least. Some of these startups – “unicorns” – are companies that reach a $1B valuation in an incredibly short time. Many older companies will never have a chance at that kind of growth due to the weight of their legacy infrastructure, and the maturity of their competitive landscape.
It requires an increasing amount of research time to stay current with technological capabilities, and that will do nothing but increase. Business leaders, already stretched to the limit by the demands of their “day jobs,” simply cannot invest the time to stay informed and up to date of all of the changes happening in the technology industry. That is where tech consultants like Innovation Vista can help, since we spend a significant portion of our time staying current in order to advise companies on how to stay current, and how to adapt their cultures to be ready for constant change.
Leadership’s Mindset about Change is Key for Survival and Success
Much of success in this age of accelerating change will come from how leaders frame the challenge for their organizations. We suggest embracing it, and designing in a regular assessment and redirection of strategy to their business as a “heartbeat”. Avoiding the perception of change and innovation as an “interruption” to business, and encouraging it as an ongoing opportunity for them to jump (and stay) ahead of the competition.