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Whoah! Dude! What Happened?

Ask yourself this question: do you work in an organization that just simply doesn’t get it?

Stressed businessman

In almost every industry, there are situations where the blindness of current market leaders will eventually lead them to their own own “whoah, dude” moment.

Who is oblivious, blind, completely unaware of just how much business model change is occurring out there?

Who you know that one day, wake up and discover that the business model it operated under is forever gone; that new competitors have emerged where there was no competition before; that the pace of change and the speed of innovation has been forever changed as a massive acceleration of new ideas took hold?

Sadly, I see it happen all the time. And here’s what I have learned when it comes to trends and the future: — there are three types of people in the world — and indeed, three types of leaders.

  • 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 trends 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 in countless industries as technology comes to drive the pace of innovation. In banking, the speed of innovation is shifting from banks to companies like Apple, PayPal and Facebook. In the auto industry, as technology takes over the dashboard, it is companies like Tesla Motors and Google that are defining the future — not auto companies. In the retail sector, the speed of innovation is being set by Amazon and others with their emphasis on massive logistics systems that provide for same day delivery.

I could go on — and the fact is, in almost every industry, there are situations where the blindness of current market leaders will eventually lead them to their own own “whoah, dude” moment.

So let’s make it simple: when it comes to innovation, make sure that you are in the first camp! Make things happen!

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 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.
Here’s a quick little video hit that fits the theme.

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