“Life is Flux”, according to the famous Greek Philisopher – Heraclitus of Ephesus. Variant translations of this phrase are “only thing constant is change” and “everything gives way, nothing stays fixed.” These words holds true till date and will continue to. I still remember a couple of years ago, when I decided to get my first email address. I used ask.com to search for email address companies and finally opted to sign-up with Onebox.com. I later changed to Yahoomail.com because it was one of the biggest technology company back then and most of my friends were using it due to the chat feature used in keeping in touch real time.
Fast forward to now, all these companies (Ask.com, Onebox.com, Yahoo etc.) have been disrupted as they couldn’t keep up with the rapid pace of change. The recent and most shocking news was that of Yahoo’s exit to Verizon at a price 10 times the amount Microsoft offered the company back in 2008 – just 8 years ago! It is still a headline news across various media channels with various contributions to knowledge on how and why big companies fail.
Another interesting case study was that of Nintendo. The company faced a major challenge years ago due to the introduction of the iOS and Android into the mobile gaming market. Nintendo experienced its first loss (over $926 million) in 30years due to its failure to keep up with the evolution of customer buying habits.
Fast forward to now, it has regained market leadership with the latest release of Pokemon Go (first version was in 1996) by Niantic Inc ( Nintendo co-invested in this company alongside Google), a free location-based augmented reality game, and Niantic did that by simply leveraging on the same iOS and Android mobile platforms that led to the near demise of Nintendo approximately 20years ago to deliver the new offering. This is what I call “riding the wind of change” since Apple and Google were the two companies that initially introduce the change that disrupted the mobile gaming market.
The wind of change has always been blowing and will continue to. It is the fear of the unknown that makes change scary because we never know what happens next or what can go wrong. Rapid changes in our environment makes the future much more uncertain and most of the things we grew up to know have all been phased out by this wind. Companies of the past and that are still around today are those that are future-focused and that embraces and lead change. Those around today and that will be relevant tomorrow will be the companies that behaves similarly.
Nintendo knows that mobile is the new future and they are shifting their offerings from handheld devices to mobile gaming through their investments, as demonstrated in this infographic. Aside focusing on the future and leading change, I discovered 10 important steps, top entrepreneurs and organizations of today take, to remain relevant and pave the way into the future. In order to ride the scary wind of change, the following acts are necessary:
- Develop a sense of Timing – Have a good grasp on whats happening around you and where it’s likely to head towards.
- Acquire and adopt appropriate Principles – A mentor once taught me that the correct application of principles can keep a boat steady in the midst of a storm.
- Know your C.E.G. – That is know your Customers, Environment and Government like the palm of your hands. Government policies can bring about unfavorable changes and customer or environmental evolution can kill a business that fails to adjust.
- Avoid Rigidity – Always be willing to adjust. Refuse to be stiff. Always be willing to learn, unlearn and relearn habitually.
- Avoid Complacency – Encourage statements such as “I’m okay with this or I’m okay as I am” less and “this can be better or I can do or be better” more often in your environment. Remember that your word creates your world and you cannot afford to be complacent in such an era of rapid changes.
- Take enough Risks – Yahoo refused to buy Google’s for $1million in 1998. Yahoo said no to Microsoft’s acquisition offer of $40billion dollars in 2008 only to be sold for $4.6million dollars in 2016. Follow Richard Branson’s advice on risk-taking, which goes: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
- Always Experiment – Use the lean startup principles here by building, measuring and learning continuously. Its a proven customer development and company building technique that has stood the test of time (since the early days of the Toyota Production System).
- Fail gracefully: Try not to dwell on failure. Its a natural part of success. Success in a rapidly changing environment will always come with failures. It is not you who failed as a person but the product or service, as long as you don’t stop trying.
- Focus on Continual Self Improvement (the new CSI) more than you focus on Continual Service Improvement (old CSI) – Yes! You deliver the services, you create the products and you manage them also. Improve yourself consistently and the product or service you offer will improve accordingly.
- Lead Change – The only thing the likes of Google, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Tesla etc. have done, and are still doing, is to lead change. Being future-focused, they lead the way in technologies that will redefine the way we live 5, 10, 30 years from now and some of these are already having significant effects presently around us, such as the Augmented Reality (AR) feature that gave Pokemon Go/Nintendo their new fortune and, its fan base, a new type of craze. You don’t need permission to lead change.
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