Changing Won't Kill. Not Changing Will.
As hard as it is, a great leader has to be able to lift themselves out of the chaos of the day-to-day long enough to take in the bigger picture. When you do, you start to see themes and trends that signal the future. It helps provide direction.
That's what makes innovators so unique. They can see what's actually going on. They look back to understand how it all started and can recognize how the future is forming and, most importantly, where we're going.
Then they build in that direction so they get there first.
The problem with most business leaders is they can't or won't take the time to look. They fear what would happen to their "now" if they stole a second to look ahead. So they grind out their days trying to break even, maybe gain a little or worst case, not lose too much ground. They live with hope that one day soon everything will even out and they'll find the success that makes all this grinding worthwhile.
But things won't even out. They are changing.
The innovators see it. Those holding desperately onto the past; too afraid to look forward will simply fall away and there is little we or anyone else can do about that.
But here's the thing - Taking a second to peek ahead won't kill you. Grinding day-to-day in denial will. Understanding that change doesn't mean "raze and rebuild," or stopping to retool while your competition snuffs you out.
Change just requires you understand and accept its inevitability and commit to participating. It's going to happen whether you do or don't.
Last year, the MIT Executive Summit cited research that predicts 40% of all existing companies will cease to exist during the next 10 years. Companies, including former industry leaders, will have chosen to grind instead of change. Maybe they just din't see it coming or, more likely, their rigid structures and cultures wouldn't let change happen. It won't matter.
But you can begin the change today. It just means looking ahead to see the world as it will be. See the new reality as we come out of a 25 year period of the transformation of business from how it was done to how it will be done going forward.
The new rules are simple:
1. Leave behind the notion of "Company First." Understand your success will depend on your ability to drive the success of your audience. Period.
2. Accept that to drive the success of your audience, you will be forced to identify and commit to a very small segment of that audience.
3. You will focus solely on what you love doing, and are among the best at doing. Think "Craftsman Vs. Handyman." Forget, everything you can do because, like it or not, everyone else can do that too. Trust us, they can.
Focus on your passion and how it sets you apart.
4. Hire only those people who share your vision, values and beliefs. Forget experience that brings baggage. Hire the right people who will embrace the quest toward that single point on the horizon.
5. Let go of your belief that marketing is about telling people what they need to hear to buy today. Make it, instead, about demonstrating your commitment to them through actions. Deliver them real value for their time and attention at every point of contact.
The list goes on but you get the point.
Change isn't about letting go of one false persona to adopt another. The coming change in business is about stripping away the BS. It's about letting go of the posturing to impress and celebrating who you really are at your core; being proud of that and wanting to share.
It's about raising the banner so like-minded people who value what you do, will find you.
Change starts by honestly answering simple questions as specifically as possible. In other words, forget universal solutions (again. trust us when we tell you that everyone offers them and no one wants them anymore) because people want personalization and transparency.
Be anything you want to be. Just tell the truth.
What do you do?
How do you do it?
Why do you do it and do it that way?
For whom do you do it?
Realize the wider your audience, the more vulnerable you will be to other companies cutting away segments of your audience to which they will give a greater focus.
You may not like the future because you believe you can do so many things for so many people. You think focusing will cost you opportunities. The reality is just the opposite.
The future is coming. Embrace it or grind until you're done.
You'll likely have a lot of company.