Step 1: Understand What’s Driving Change

Change keeps picking up speed. Before the organization can finish getting adjusted to one change, it gets hit with several others. We’re living in a constant period of transition, and the shelf life of our solutions keeps getting shorter. “What works” becomes history in a hurry.

Where is all this change coming from? Well, to begin with, people create change. So let’s look at what’s happening to the head count on Mother Earth. Human beings have been around for some 6 to 7 million years. It took that long for the population of the earth to reach 6 billion people. But the predictions say that it will take only about 50 years for the next 6 billion people to be here. If people create change—and obviously they do—then we should expect a rapid increase in the rate of change as the population doubles in the next few decades.

This growing crowd of people is armed with another source of change: technology. And technology feeds on itself. So let’s review what’s happening in the areas of science, inventions, and technology in general. Word has it that more than 80% of our technological inventions occurred in the last 90 years. Also, the last 15 years produced as much technological change as there was in the previous 85 years. Don’t think of technological change as something that keeps merely adding up—think of it as multiplying on a daily basis. Still another source of change is knowledge. Information. The experts say the fund of information available to us now doubles every twelve months. And soon it will double every twelve hours! More people, more tools, more knowledge. And here’s the bottom line: Maybe you think you’ve seen a lot of change lately, but you haven’t seen anything yet. The future promises us more change than we’ve ever experienced before, and it will come at us faster and faster. The question is, will we give our culture permission to change such that the organization can survive in a world of fast history? Change has no conscious. Doesn’t play favorites. Takes no prisoners. And change ruthlessly destroys organizations with cultures that don’t adapt. Just look around—it’s happening to companies everywhere.

In years past we could get by with a slower response time. Change didn’t move as fast back then. Competition wasn’t as stiff. Also, the world gave us more room for recovery. There was enough space between major change events for people to catch their breath and collect their senses. Many of the “normal” human reactions to the stress of change worked okay. Our old culture could cope. But those days belong in the history books.

A world of high-velocity change calls for radical shifts in behavior. Specifically, we must think differently . . . reorder our priorities . . . develop faster reflexes. We can’t afford to ignore change and just do what comes naturally. We must face reality and do what works.

Tools and Articles:
Three Major Forces

We could identify a wide range of factors that are reshaping our world and the way we live. But let’s focus on three major forces.

1. People

Here's the most obvious reason why we’ll see an even faster rate of change in the years to come: Mother Earth is producing a lot more people. And people cause change. Like, they make stuff. They come up with new ideas....

The World's Market Is Fast Becoming a Free For All

The technology of the Industrial Age gave us mechanical muscle and motorized speed. For example, cotton gins, conveyor belts, tractors, trains, drill presses, trucks, sewing machines, jet engines, and such.

By comparison, the technology of today’s Information Age gives us computerized brains and electronic speed. Work is becoming still less physical and more mental . . . we do less with our hands and more with our heads. The trend is toward “smart...

The Age of Instability

The winds of change keep blowing harder. Hitting more people. Reshaping all kinds of organizations and altering how they operate.

Business, government, educational institutions, not-for-profit organizations, the military—you name it. Change, as far-reaching as it is rapid, is cutting across all sectors of the economy. All classes of society. All continents. All cultures.

Just think back over the past year. How many organizations expanded rapidly... revamped their product lines...

Progress Keeps Picking Up Speed

Progress keeps picking up speed. The complexity of our world keeps increasing. The rate of change keeps accelerating.

In fact, change is sort of like a giant pinball machine where we keep adding several more steel balls every few minutes. They ricochet faster and faster. The game constantly grows more complex, the challenges multiplying moment by moment. Before long, we’re simply forced to alter our style of play. Otherwise, the game will overwhelm us.

It’s important for us to...

The Luddites: Fighting Against The Future

Early in the 1800s textile mills first began to appear in England. The wool-finishing machines inside these early factories were seen as high-tech wonders at the time. Each piece of equipment could easily produce as much output as four or five people working as “croppers.” The job could be done quicker, cheaper, and, in some ways, better by the new tools.

The mills soon began to replace the traditional cottage culture made up of weavers, combers, and dressers of wool. This was...

Let’s begin by emphasizing the obvious: We’re not the only people on Planet Earth. As of 2011, there are some 6,913,388,603 persons who live here. Nobody can tell us exactly how many of those human beings are of working age. But you’re looking at some heavy-duty competition. A lot of these people want your job! Many of them are smart, well-educated, and willing to work for a fraction of what you get paid.

As for the countries they come from, well, their companies are dying to sell you...

Our Love Affair With Quick

Businesses know about our love affair with quick. They realize we’ll like their products and services better if they somehow build in speed. So because of us, they keep trying to squeeze more time out of everything they do.

It should be perfectly clear to all of us that speed is a key source of competitive advantage. The dollar value of time keeps climbing. That means organizations need to save as much of it as they can.

Delay gets deadly in a world of high-velocity change. The...

It is you and I–along with everyone else–who keep pushing the world to change.

As consumers, we get more demanding all the time. We want better quality stuff. We want it faster. And cheaper. Plus, we want more choices to pick from. Whoever comes along that can satisfy all these wants the best gets our business.

That is, until somebody else shows up offering us a still better deal.

Whomever we’re doing business with must be improving constantly, or pretty soon they simply...

Fast History

“There’s no off-season anymore.”
—Nolan Ryan, former Texas Rangers’ pitcher and
world record holder for no-hitters, in a commercial for Advil®

Change keeps picking up speed. Before the organization can finish getting adjusted to one change, it gets hit with several others. We’re living in a constant period of transition, and the shelf life of our solutions keeps getting shorter. “What works”...