To anticipate change so that you are proactive rather than reactive, you need to do three things.
1. Be aware of the current situation within your company. What is the current state of the business? What is the purpose of the company? What is the status of your customers? Are they satisfied? Are their needs being met, or are they changing? The answers to these questions can easily change as demographics change and new markets and audiences form. Are there new markets that your business could capture? The world has changed; new markets have emerged, including millennials, single parents, DINKs (double income, no kids), LGBTQ2 individuals, as well as all sorts of new socio-economic classes. Diff erent ethnic groups now form important parts of the cultural mosaic. Do they apply to you? Has your customer based changed? Have their needs evolved? Do they buy diff erently? Do they interact and communicate diff erently? What is going on with new entrants to the market? How are they competing and what are they off ering your customer base that you are not? Asking these questions is crucial, and it is your intrapreneurs, the thinkers, the researchers in your company, who will take the lead on this. All of these variables could impact your current infrastructure and how you support and service your customers. You must under-stand and embrace change, equipping your companies with the tools, skills, and knowledge needed to adapt.
2. Look at your products and services. Have you become compla-cent? Are your services still resonating with your customers? Have their needs and desires changed? Are there new entrants to the mar-ket that have better products? Should you be concerned? We are often selective about what we see and hear, reluctant to expose ourselves to what may not be working, in fear of change. Knowing that we have to change and having the awareness of all of the work that will come along with that is daunting. Inertia obviously is dangerous, so you must shift your mindset to embrace change. To succeed, you need to anticipate the new and stay ahead of the curve, constantly researching, observing, and forecasting what is coming next … if not creating it. You must cultivate an outside-in view, not just taking in informa-tion but also using it in a meaningful way. This will enable compa-nies to have a clear competitive advantage over those who suff er from insularity.
3. Re-imagine change. Change is inevitable. Instead of fighting change, embrace it and ride the wave. You need to realize that the wave is com-ing and learn how to ride it rather than drown in it. This means you must know and understand which parts of your company will be impacted by those waves. Are these changes going to impact your workforce? Will they impact parts of your operations and how you support your customers? Will change impact how work gets done? If you can identify which elements of your business will be impacted by change, it will be easier for you to get your head around it all. If you think of change as a new mode of operation, it will make it easier to pivot and switch directions, and to do it with grace and confidence, staying focused on the desired outcomes.
It is important to understand that in this fast-changing environment and marketplace, skills and knowledge become old very quickly. It is there-fore essential to be a constant learner. Bill Gates has said that he will always be a life learner. Why? Because he believes that learning is the single best investment of time that we can make. Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” The fact of the matter is that we are in a knowledge economy. People who have intellect, if leveraged properly, can turn that knowledge into financial capital. Learning opens your mind to adaptability. You must develop a learning mindset. Many companies are shifting their cultures in this way, to encourage this in their employees, and to set themselves up for adapt-ability.