Holding back change is impossible. Change is an inevitable fact of our world and it is happening at a faster and faster rate. And, as we look into the future, the pace of change will continue to accelerate.
Change management consulting experts talk about change as having two main drivers: globalization and the growth of technology. Let’s look at how these factors affect business in our country today.
The internet and social media have transformed the way we do business. Every organization is challenged to adapt. In the health industry, medical devices gather and analyze samples and data for practitioners; in retail, inventory systems are self-regulating and customers are handled by elaborate robot voices and phone trees; in manufacturing, machines set up their own maintenance schedules and robots are taking over assembly lines.
As for personal phones, computers and the like, the number of new devices sold has grown tenfold to 2.5 billion since 2000. And there are over 3 billion people worldwide connected to the Internet. Every company, no matter what sector of the economy, must re-evaluate their strategy, their operations and their whole approach in the light of this dramatic and unrelenting change due to technology.
Whereas the U.S. dominated the world’s economy for nearly a century, China has now become, in purchase power anyway, the largest economy. One of its standard-bearers, Lenovo Group, is the largest manufacturer of personal computers and operates in 60 different countries. China is just one of other emerging Asian markets that can shift the balance of economic power away from the U.S., the European Union and the other once rapid growth economies of Brazil and Russia.
What can we do to meet the challenge of digital and global change?
Leaders must prepare as best they can for the future. They must be flexible and adjust their strategies to accommodate technological change, not fight it. Kodak should have seen the writing on the wall when digital cameras first came out. Instead, they continued to invest in producing film for what would soon be obsolete cameras. Additionally, leaders should explore new markets for their goods. They should build relationships with other countries and explore the possibility of global partnerships.
That’s what they can do at the high level. When it comes to leading their employees effectively through organizational change, they need to operate on a more personal level. As organizational changes loom, leaders must honestly and directly describe how it will affect the company and the work force. They need to show they have the confidence to weather the storms of change and ride high on the waves that can carry them successfully to shore. By modeling flexibility in the face of change, leaders can demonstrate how to survive and even thrive through the inevitable changes of the future.