Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Adapting Our Minds to Perpetual Change

Customers' expectations continue to grow. They want instant, convenient, personalized, customized, predicted, recommended, rewarded and private. They want their own curated lifestyle mirrored back to them. They want control. They want mobile and fast. They desire digital experiences that are simple, consistent, beautiful and elegant. They want massive quantities of information – but in bite size quantities. They want to manage their lives from a smart phone anywhere at any time. The want to work from a coffee shop and be 100% productive.

Most of the world has already embraced the digital revolution. Our lives and behaviors are changing. The way we think and act are evolving as we integrate digital tools into our habits and processes. We constantly reach for our second brains (i.e. Wikipedia, search engines, apps) to access all of the information needed to both survive and thrive in the digital age. Our memories have been altered. We remember how to find information, rather than knowing the information itself.

These changes are rapidly impacting marketplaces, industries and even global economies. We use our smartphones for everything from meeting romantic partners, finding jobs, investing our money, ordering food, finding a ride, remembering to breathe, paying the water bill, monitoring our health, analyzing our DNA and even finding and buying our homes.

John Boyd, a renowned military strategist, taught that life is a process of adaptation, and that winners/survivors will find ways to exploit change and to adapt to it in order to survive and win. He taught that adapting and winning requires three things:
  1. People - must be trained to think, and act in ways conducive to winning in their environment
  2. Ideas - learn ideas (doctrines, strategies and tactics) conducive to winning in their environment
  3. Things - utilize the best technologies, equipment, materials, design, etc. available to exploit change and win

Humans are problem solvers. We look for ways to overcome obstacles and to create stable, secure and predictable environments that we can survive and reproduce in. We like efficiency, where we can solve problems, forget about them and move on to the next obstacle. That desire, however, is not realized in today’s environment of perpetual change. Today we are bound to operate in ambiguous fast changing environments that constantly require new mindsets and strategies in order to win. Change is not something to be solved today. Change in fact, is often the energy that propels us into action. Big opportunities are most often found where big changes are occurring.

Several years ago, I conducted a survey on why companies were engaged in digital transformation. The top reason was, “changing customer behaviour”. New customer behaviors introduced higher levels of uncertainty. This uncertainty motivated companies to innovate, invest and to begin a journey of digital transformation.

As the tempo of change increases and we move beyond "human time” (i.e. biological timeframes) into “digital time” (i.e. the speed at which computers can operate), and then into “future time” (i.e. utilizing predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence), we must adopt new strategies for succeeding in rapidly changing and uncertain environments. That means we must no longer seek the end of change, but strategies for thriving in perpetual change.

I believe the economic winners of tomorrow will be organizations that adopt processes that let them operate with agility in a fluid, ever-changing environment - always collecting and analyzing new data and perpetually adjusting to new realities utilizing automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning. They will not, as a goal, seek stability; rather they will employ strategies for perpetually surfing inside instability. They will use instability to propel them forward.

Kevin Benedict is the host of the Deep Dive series,

Kevin Benedict
SVP Strategy, Regalix Inc.
Online TV Channel RegalixTV
Website Regalix Inc.
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.