How To Avoid Becoming Irrelevant – Change is a’Come’n

Face it: it is very likely the way you work is outdated and much less effective than your competitors – um, I mean your peers’.  Why?

We watch the rise and fall of businesses.  Each week it seems an “established” company is going under, is filing for bankruptcy or is being purchased for a fraction of what it once was worth.

In the book The Innovator’s Dilemma Clay Christiansen took a look at why businesses rise to glory and then fail.  (Fascinating book – it needs to be on your MUST read list.)  He points out that as the consumer’s values change a new business is there to take them on.  They fill the niche and in time they have a successful company.  But soon the customer redefines value – again – and the company doesn’t change with it.  They keep filling the original value (because some people stay there).

A great Forbes piece was recently written about this.  The author writes, “..with the rate that the tech world is moving these days, there are good reasons to think both (Google and Facebook) might be gone completely in 5 – 8 years.”  Web 1.0 is overtaken with Web 2.0 is overtaken with Social is overtaken with Mobile is overtaken by…?  What’s next?

So it is with the way we work.  The way we have worked in the past is not sufficient for today – or tomorrow.  It is mandatory that we change.  If we don’t, as our companies morph they will place a greater value on work habits we have not developed, styles we have shunned and strategic thinking we are not capable of.

It doesn’t matter how smart, how charming or how innovative you are.  If you don’t change the way you work to match what is needed, none of that will matter.  The companies that fail have incredible people in them.  But that doesn’t stop the company from the nose dive.  We have all seen brilliant people fail at business – all because they were unwilling to change.

There are four main possible outcomes for you:

1) You don’t change the way you work.  Others do, as does the company.  The company grows and your skills are marginalized along with your paycheck.

2) You don’t change the way you work and neither do your peers in the company.  The company is incapable of following the trends and the company suffers a less than pleasant fate.

3) You upgrade the way you work but your peers do not.  You find a company that is ready to move in the right direction.  You join them and sadly watch your former company fumble.

4) You upgrade the way you work, become a champion and influence your peers to the do the same.  That culture drives the company in the new direction.  You are the hero.

Be the hero.