The general thinking is that people don't like change. In reality, humans are born loving change. Think about it ... babies cry until you change them. Also, why do we take vacations? Because we want a change. We need to get out of our usual surroundings and see something new. In this case, change is a choice, and we like it.
But there is also a negative side to change, and that is when the change affects you personally and you didn't see it coming. However, most of those changes that come "out of nowhere" are actually very visible months or even years before the change hits. When do people get burglar alarms? After being robbed! We all tend to react to change and put out fires more than we anticipate what will happen based on the direction change is heading.
It's time to become more anticipatory in terms of change so you can see it coming. Only then can you use change as an opportunity for growth rather than a crisis to be managed.
How to Be Anticipatory
There are two types of change that you can use to see the future accurately. First is cyclical change. You're in the midst of cyclical change every day: weather cycles, biological cycles, business cycles ... these are all examples of cyclical change. In the United States, you know exactly when the next presidential election will be, when the next full moon will be, plus many other key things that cycle with time. You know that if the stock market goes up, it will eventually go down. Cycles are everywhere; you just have to be aware of them.
The second is linear change. Once this type of change hits, you're never going back to the old way. For example, once you get a smart phone you're never going back to a dumb phone. Once the people in China park their bicycle and get a car, they will not go back to the bicycle as their primary form of transportation. It's one-way change with many predictable consequences.
When you look around and determine what cycles you experience in your business, as well as what linear changes have been happening and then look out from there, you can turn the predictable changes into an advantage. That's how you can be anticipatory and turn much of today's uncertainty into certainty.
Certainties fall into two categories: Hard Trends and Soft Trends. A Hard TrendTM is a projection based on measurable, tangible, and fully predictable facts. A Soft Trend is a trend that "might" happen. That means you can change or influence a Soft Trend. For example, saying that Baby Boomers will age is a Hard Trend--it will happen; it's a future fact. But saying because over the past ten years fewer people have been becoming doctors means there won't be enough doctors to treat aging Baby Boomers is a Soft Trend--it's something we can choose to address or ignore; it's a future maybe. Being the able to tell the difference between the two will enable your organization to transform its culture into one that profits from change, uncertainty, and burgeoning trends.
Change the ViewTo get employees at all levels to embrace change, you have to give them the confidence that certainty brings by having them get involved in identifying the Hard Trends that will happen. Therefore, encourage them to...
- Make a list of all the Hard Trends that are taking place in your industry, so you know what you can be certain about.
- Make a list of all the Soft Trends taking place in your industry, so you can see what you can change or influence.
- Answer: What do I know will happen in the next few weeks, months, and years? And how can I innovate to take advantage of what I now know for certain about the future?
Finally, realize that how you view the future shapes how you act today. And how you act today shapes your future. Therefore, your futureview becomes the future you. What is the futureview of your employees, business partners, and customers? When you manage the futureview and elevate it based on the Hard Trends and the certainties that are before you, your employees will actually embrace the changes before them. Remember, the good old days are not behind us. They're ahead of us. Let's make them happen together.