Business as Usual is Over – Risky is the new Safe

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business as usual is over

Business as Usual is Over – Risky is the new Safe

Why your change competence will determine success or defeat in the future

Let´s cut to the chase immediately, shall we? Business as usual is over! But what does that mean? In 1995, Professor John P. Kotter conducted a major study of hundreds of companies of all sizes that actively managed change. He came to the following conclusion: 70% of all change projects failed and did not achieve the desired results. Almost 25 years have passed since then, change has increased massively and the permanent need for transformation has become a daily companion. One might think that our change competence should have increased in the meantime, wouldn’t you think? But even in 2019, the studies say that 70% of all change projects still fail. Some even assume a higher number. Because the old rules no longer apply. What was standard yesterday may already be obsolete today. The timing of changes no longer increases linearly, but exponentially. Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, said in an interview in 2011: “Mankind today produces just as much information, data and ideas in 48 hours as it did from the Stone Age to 2003 put together.”

Every change harbours risks and opportunities

Of course, this development does not remain without consequences and has a major impact on our everyday business life. Great risks and imponderables face enormous opportunities. Never before has it been so easy to succeed and never before has it been so difficult to adapt to the ever-faster pace of change. Globalisation, demographic developments and, above all, digital networking via the Internet have led to dramatic changes in markets and ever more demanding customer demands. We are confronted with more and more changes in less and less time. Business as usual is over and risky decisions have become the new safety. And the trend is rising, because business as usual is over. This means that your change competence will decide whether you will continue to be successful in the future or disappear from the market.

Change is becoming faster and faster

The key to master change is to anticipate future developments and then offer suitable solutions. But what changes will we be particularly interested in in the coming years? The Danish scientist and Nobel prize winner Niels Bohr has summarized the answer in a very well-known bon mot: “Forecasts are difficult, especially when they are about the future.” It is difficult to predict which concrete ideas, products and technologies will have the greatest influence. Only one thing seems certain: change is accelerating and our society is becoming increasingly digital. While you are reading this article, researchers are working on the development of virtual holodecks, Google is pushing ahead with the development of its cyber glasses, and it is highly likely that you will belong to the first generation that can fly to the moon quickly over the weekend.

Forecasts are difficult, especially when they are about the future

And the end of this development is far from being reached. If you talk to futurists, read their books or attend convention who focus on the topic, then the experts agree on one point. We are only at the beginning of changes that will revolutionise our jobs, our habits and our everyday lives. And now hand on heart: Do you find these possible changes fascinating or do you have a queasy feeling because they all happen a little too fast for you? Maybe you are as surprised as I am, but technically the things mentioned in the last paragraph have long been possible.  Entrepreneur and billionaire Richard Branson is planning to fly into space with the first tourists. You can be a part of the team for about 200,000 dollars. Some time ago tens of thousands of people attended a concert of the late rapper Tupac Shakur and let themselves be entertained by a hologram which featured a duet with the rap icon Snoop Dogg. During the European Football Championship 2012 in Kiev, a computer-animated version of Freddy Mercury (who died far too early) sang the Queen classic Love of my Life together with Brian May and moved the hundreds of thousands of people in the audience to tears. These virtual appearances are so well received that the concert agencies are now thinking about touring with deceased artists.

We can’t prevent change, but we always have the choice of how we deal with it

Also in the economy, the wheel of change is turning faster and faster, and especially in the retail industry many beloved conveniences have been caught up by the current development and the requirements of the future. People’s consumer behaviour has changed dramatically and almost every product can now be compared, evaluated and of course bought at the lowest price via smartphone from the comfort of your home couch. We experience the consequences of this development every day. Online shopping is constantly growing at a rate of 20% per year, while stationary retailing is still looking for the right recipes for success. Even to configure, view and buy a new car, you don’t have to leave the house anymore. And apropos, the first cars can now park on their own and even drive from London to Edinburgh without anybody behind the wheel. A few years ago, Carlos Ghosn, former president of the Japanese car manufacturer Nissan, announced in a press conference the market launch of the first models of this kind for 2023 at the latest. How would you prepare for this if you were a taxi driver, bus operator or car manufacturer?

We live in the most beautiful time imaginable

I don’t know about you, but the more I think about these developments, the more I notice how huge the possibilities will be. If we get involved in taking advantage of them. The world today is completely completely through the Internet, so there are hardly any traditional local markets left. Today, a student from a small town in a rural area can easily sell his products or services to over seven billion potential customers in Los Angeles, Bombay or Moscow with just a few mouse clicks. And I could bet that there is at least one such boy (and probably three girls) who is doing exactly that right now. And while this smart guy lays the foundation for his first million, the masses of traditional companies mourn the good old days and lament the ever-increasing digitization of commerce. Where this attitude leads you can read in the newspaper every day. Former industry giants such as Nokia, Kodak or Sears have long since disappeared from the scene.

Business as usual is over

We can turn it around as we like, we are just at the beginning of a digital revolution that will continue to dramatically change our economy and especially our everyday lives in the upcoming years. The rules have changed and will continue to change, whether we like it or not. Business as usual is over. The most important key qualification of the future will therefore be the personal approach to change. Or to put it in a slogan of the surfers from Hawaii: “You can’t prevent the wave. But you can learn to ride it.” This is the attitude with which change is suddenly no longer a threat, but a unique opportunity to grow as a personality and become better. And the foundation are three strong pillars:

Change is a matter of attitude and mindset

1) Take responsibility: Always. Everywhere. Everytime. Especially when it’s hard. For the good results, but also for what didn’t go so well. Actively shape change and do not wait until the external circumstances force you to do so. Because if you don’t change, you will get changed at some point. Change just cannot happen without responsibility.

2) Align your focus: Where your focus goes, your time, your energy and your money go as well. You get more of what you focus on. So when you are very problem-oriented, what do you get? Right, more problems. If, on the other hand, you focus on the huge opportunities of the digitisation, then you will master the future and always be one step ahead of the competition.

3) Always Go First: Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Be the change you want for the world.” Translated into modernity that means as much as: Be a role model and first of all change yourself. Because when you change, everything and everyone around you suddenly changes as well.

At the end of the day, your attitude to change is the only factor that you can determine yourselves from beginning to end. You cannot influence whether the markets change, which technologies change our industry in the future or how our competitors behave. But you always have the choice of how you deal with them. In times of ever-faster change, the willingness to change is the decisive factor as to whether the digital future will mean success or defeat. Each and every one of us has the daily choice of jumping on the train of change or being left on the railway track. “Business as usual” is long gone and we are living in the most exciting times retail has ever experienced. If you don’t see change as a threat, but rather focus on the many opportunities and possibilities of the future, you too will be among the winners.

What´s your take on the topic? I am looking forward to your opinion, drop me a comment below 🙂

Best wishes and let the change begin

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