The world is changing rapidly, politically, technologically, online and offline. The key element to not being overwhelmed by all of that is to have an Agile business.
It wasn’t always this way. Back in the day, you would learn how to do a job from your parents and then teach the exact same skills to your children. There wasn’t a lot of change or innovation. Maybe it was because the roads were all muddy that the engine of progress would end up getting stuck.
Now that they’ve paved the roads, however, that engine is chugging along and innovation after innovation is shaking up the landscape. That has dramatically changed what skillset and mindset we need. Suddenly, the ways of thinking that got our parents through their lives aren’t going to get us through ours. Heck, the beliefs and skills we had 10 years ago barely cut it today!
There are many ways to deal with what is going on. By far the best strategy you can adopt, however, is one of agility. Here are the advantages that doing so will give you.
Technology Is Changing
Only Agile businesses can take advantage of that. The company with a conservative mindset will constantly find itself falling behind as it gets out-innovated and out-maneuvered in the landscape of technological change.
You see, a lot of people believe that technology is a force for good. It can be, but it can also be a force for turmoil. Just as surely as it creates jobs, it destroys them. In large part, that’s why we’re having so much trouble today and why there is so much anger. That’s why the U.S. has the president it does. People would like to blame outsourcing, but the truth is that technology is the main culprit. That means those kinds of jobs aren’t going to come back.
The only way to deal with this kind of thing is to be Agile, to make sure that we’re constantly retraining ourselves and our employees to have the skills that the modern marketplace needs. You can’t stop the progress of technology, however hard you might want to try.
The World Order Is Shifting
The economic center of the world is shifting towards Asia. More and more opportunities are across the Pacific, in China as well as South East Asia. If you aren’t willing to be Agile and take advantage of these new developments, then you’re losing out on a lot of chances to expand your market share.
In fact, as the Western world shrinks not just in economic clout but also in population, that means that your market is actually shrinking if you continue to focus exclusively on them. An Agile company can surf the wave towards Asia and end up better off than they ever were. A company that doesn’t have that kind of flexibility will end up getting knocked off its feet instead.
It Isn’t Just Changing on a Global Level
With the change of power in the U.S. that just happened, as well as the numerous elections in Europe that are about to happen, we can be sure things are about to head in a dramatically different direction. Nobody knows what the consequences will be. Sure, people have their suspicions about whether this will send the world into a tailspin or give it a growth spurt, but nobody knows.
The result? We need to be ready for whatever will happen and to take advantage of whatever situation may occur. In this climate of uncertainty, the only way that we can make sure that happens is if we can remain agile and aware of what’s going on.
That means constantly working to update our skills. It is no longer enough to do well on the SAT test, go to college, learn a trade and then let things slide after that. Learning is something that we now have to do our whole lives. That means taking more courses even while working and constantly working to update our knowledge and our understanding.
We Don’t Completely Understand the Online Marketplace Yet
Another big thing that needs to be considered is the online marketplace. People are still struggling to know how to deal with this space. Some people do very well, other people don’t know how to get any traction whatsoever. Though it might not be the wild west that it was only half a decade ago, it is still developing rapidly.
New tools are coming online and old tools are constantly being changed and updated. That means that we need to constantly be reassessing our strategy about how we’re going to do well in the online marketplace.
Big Data and AI
Then there’s the impact of big data and the upcoming AI revolution. What’s that going to do to our businesses? Again, we simply don’t know, but the effects are going to be significant. After all, big data is giving us insights into the minds of users and consumers in a way that nothing else has ever been able to do. We’re going to learn things about how we fit together (And how to make us buy things) that aren’t obvious to us today.
In the same way, AI is going to make things possible that we can’t even imagine today. The thing is, once again we can’t really predict what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. I mean, who correctly predicted the smartphone revolution and how much time we’d be spending on those things, right?
Since we’re so bad at predicting, we have to make do with moving quickly when the innovations actually hit, as early adaptors benefit just as much as those who foresaw the innovation (and they don’t have to be prophets in order to do so).
All of This Means Turmoil
All of the above points suggest that there is turmoil on the horizon. People are going to be dissatisfied, looking for new opportunities, and working very hard to protect the turf that they’ve managed to carve out for themselves. It’s going to be a difficult time.
At the same time, it’s also a time of opportunity for those who are willing to be flexible and willing to accept that the direction they were heading in is perhaps no longer the best direction to head in. That takes agility on an individual level as well as on a company level.
It's pretty clear that agility is essential for the coming years. That begs the question, then: How do you stay Agile?
There are many ways, but the main way to do so is to foster an environment where people feel that they can safely express contrary views. The moment the people in your company feel that they have to toe the line and express the views that everybody else does is the moment that you’re setting yourself up to be blindsided by some unforeseen change.
So, make sure that when people have an opinion that doesn’t gel with everybody else, rather than shouting them down, you give them the time to express their doubts — you consider them and you consider the consequences.
That doesn’t mean you always have to act on them. A contrary view can be wrong, just like the mainstream view can be. The important thing is to be able to acknowledge that there are other ways to view the situation and just because you don’t want to hear them does not mean that they are wrong.
We’re naturally resistant to change. Most of us like to think that the world will be as it was. The thing is, in this time of turmoil and change, that’s no longer the case. The solution is to have our ear to the ground so that we can pick up on the changes that are coming. The best way to do that is to actually listen to the people who work with you.