Change: Are You Going To Avoid It Or Embrace It?

As a corporate anthropologist and culture change expert, I work with organizations that need or want to change. I'm an observer, constantly watching for emerging “trends from the trenches,” and I like to share them so that others too can see what's coming.

One of the biggest trends I'm noticing as I travel around the country is how business leaders are really struggling with today's breakneck pace of change. Rather than embracing change and its possibilities for innovation and growth, they’re fleeing from it. Not good!

The trends are obvious but CEOs don't want to see them

Often, the biggest challenge for people is how to recognize what's happening right in front of them. But for today's CEOs, this is particularly scary because the degree of change is so great—threatening their business models, fundamental beliefs and long-held strategies—that they feel lost, like the proverbial deer in headlights. But for those leaders who are willing to adapt and change with the times, new levels of productivity await them.

5 trends that today's business leaders should pay attention to:

1. Autonomous Vehicles

Like it or not, self-driving vehicles are coming soon, disrupting everything from car dealerships to auto parts suppliers to trucking companies.

2. Sensors And The Internet Of Things

Approximately 20 million sensors will be installed in the next 5 years. Yet repeatedly, manufacturers I speak with, from roofing material installers to industrial floor mat developers, deny their value. The better answer? "Hey, that's a great idea.”

3. Robots Are Coming Soon To A Business Near You

Yes, by 2035, robots are expected to replace 53% of the work force. In some business sectors I am working in, they are already there, slowly replacing current employees. This means that job openings for human employees who can program and manage robots is going to be a big growth sector to watch. 

4. Colleges Must Rethink Their Role In The Lives Of Their Students

Independent colleges quickly need to reinvent themselves, or disappear. At a recent consortium of independent colleges and major U.S. companies, I heard over and over again how American industry cannot currently find well-trained employees for the jobs of today. This means that 5 million jobs are going unfilled. If colleges would embrace change rather than staying locked in the past, they could change that number. 

5. Women Are Changing The Workforce In Powerful Ways

Today, women comprise 46% of the U.S. workforce, they own 30% of businesses and they represent 34% of the breadwinners. They are also changing how businesses are being run, with far more collaboration and teamwork. 

How to tackle change rather than run from it

Since the brain hates to change, you must overcome the pain associated with learning new things and make the undesirable desirable. But be aware that your employees will most probably fight the changes you're trying to bring about. However, once they learn their new script and inhabit their new roles, they'll see things with fresh eyes, embracing the future with energy and optimism.

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