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Opinion

Discontinuous Change

Discontinuous Change.

It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that the business environment is changing at a rapid pace. Change, however, is not new. We have been dealing with changes for millennia. The difference today is the type of change we are experiencing varies from the change that we are used to.  We are all used to “incremental change” – change that meant more of the same, just better.  Basically, this change was quantitative in kind – we continuously improved the way we were doing things. We strived to do the same things every day, just better; so that in a way we were not doing anything different – our improved skills and experience only made us better at doing the same things.

The change we are experiencing today is “discontinuous change” – a type of change that breaks away from the past.  It is disruptive since this change is qualitative in kind – change that is forcing us to fundamentally change the way we approach and solve challenges. It is not good enough to do the same things better anymore – we need to do things differently. Past skills and experience become irrelevant.

So, if our past skills and experience become irrelevant, what should we do to adaprt to the new normal?

Firstly, we should decide what should change and what should stay the same:  Identify those things which are core principles of your business (which will hold true through any change) and identify those things that have become redundant for your purposes. 

Secondly, we should redesign our business with our customers/clients in mind. It is a kind of design thinking that ignores our current services, processes and procedures and rather focus on our customers’ needs. We then redesign our business to serve our customers better.

In the third place, we should embrace technology wholeheartedly – understanding the consequences with regards to our current human workforce. Business today know that technology should permeate everything that they do, but they are hopeless unprepared for the social consequences. You need to anticipate that changes that technology will bring to your human Talent and minimize the disruption through reskilling and upskilling.

Lastly, the only way change can be managed effectively is through teamwork.  Encourage discussions about the way your company does things; share information between all levels, divisions, business units; embrace every suggestion made (positive and negative); create a culture of sharing feedback with each other regarding every client-connecting event.  Adapting to change should become a company culture, something every employee performs instinctively.

It has become critical for each and every one of us to learn new ways of doing things.  We should focus on learning and adapting to our environment.  Those who will learn and adapt to our new environment will become increasingly successful, finding it easier and easier to find new clients and keep them.  Those who fail to adapt to the new opportunities will unfortunately struggle to keep up with the rest.

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