“Why can’t things be like they were when I first started?”
I was fortunate yesterday to be able to sit down and reconnect with a few people that I had not really spoken to since I left for Japan. It was good to sit down and talk, but by 4pm I was exhausted with three more people to see, I had to reluctantly turn down a relaxing sauna. There was a common theme that emerged from the day of meetings and it was that a large number of entrepreneurs are living in the past. If their current lives are not rocketing towards success personally or professionally, they are stuck in a rut wondering how they can get back the good days when the world was filled with hope. This was gleaned not from the people I met with but with the clients that they had been working with over the past year.
Change is inevitable and I’ve come to rely on it as a constant. The one thing I do know is that everything will change no matter how well things are planned out. However, I’m never satisfied without taking things to the next level – recognizing change will happen is a moot point. Putting a process together to monitor change is moving things up a level. Responding to change as it happens helps to stay ahead of the curve.
A few points:
- Monitor ongoing change: establish an ongoing trend line for the number of new customers, average order size, lifetime customer values, overall sales growth, and sales within specific segmentation categories (geography, type of business, etc)
- Consider impacts: if there is a trend change, ask yourself – “will the change significantly impact our industry or product / service category? If so, in what ways will the change potentially manifest itself? In what ways is the change a threat? An opportunity?
Weak signal monitoring (recognizing small or micro changes that can lead to macro changes)
A. The more irreverent and upsetting a new idea is to the status quo, the more chance it has of reaching a level of importance
B. The more often you hear, “That’s just a fad,” the more likely it’s not
C. Identifying and monitoring weak signals should be an ongoing, systematic process
D. The ability to see the next big thing before it happens is equal parts art and science
E. Weak signals often grow by joining forces with other weak signals. In other words, weak signals often need reinforcement from other ideas floating outside the established boundaries before they can be seen or heard.
- Develop a response: I can’t tell you what your response should be to the macro forces of change that surround you. That’s for you to decide. What I can suggest is a systematic and regular effort to insert the future into your ongoing planning efforts. An organization’s ability to put the future into the plan with any degree of accuracy is rare. The ability to take action on such a plan is where the money is made. Here are a few common trends:
1. Shifting demographics
2. Changing China
3. Casper Technology
4. Small Business Going Forward
“A new factor, that of rapid change, has come into the world. We have not yet learned how to adjust ourselves to its economic and social consequences.” – Wallace B. Dohham, Harvard Business Review