Align Strategy: Trends

Today we're talking about trends, those things that will define our future operating environment. Dick Clark said, “I don't set trends. I just find out what they are and exploit them.” in that little phrase is all the wisdom you need to align your organisation to the inevitability of a changing environment.

When you don't align to trends you are always, catching up and never getting ahead. Always in the crowd, and never ahead on your own, enjoying the freedom of demand with low competition, and the economic rents that engenders. Quite simply your organisation becomes reactive rather than proactive.

We all want to get ahead of the curve. If we analyse and understand trends we can understand what our future operating environment will look like, and start to shape our companies and organisations to be future capable.

It's very true to say we can't predict the future. In a very real way, we do only see in part, but we can look at what is impacting us now and deduct and deduce what we believe will impact our future. Ongoing learning and anticipating future needs is no longer a luxury, but an absolute essential in times of fast dynamic change.

"In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." According to Eric Hoffer. It is one of my favourite quotes; albeit a little sarcastic. I’ve battled the old school in many turnarounds and have a few scars to prove it.

Quite simply if we get this right, we will grow as trends grow, and stay ahead of the competition. It's the difference between small incremental change and positive step change.

If we don't understand the trends that will impact us, we are doomed to a future where we chase our tails, live in highly competitive environments with low margins. Quite simply if we do not continually innovate, we will ultimately fail.

The underlying principle here is quite simple. As Steven Covey said, “begin with the end in mind”. It's the difference between looking at your organisation and changing incrementally and internally, against an external perspective that looks at the future environment and adjusts the organisation to be optimal.

It's not a one cut operation, it is an ongoing state of being that continually considers trends and endeavours to look over the hill, to understand the future and adapt as it is revealed.

If organisations are to grow, then they continually change. It's like the stages of life, every season is different what looks funny in a 5-year-old, certainly doesn't look funny when you're 15.

We need to learn to evolve and adapt as our environment changes. Nokia is the obvious example; global domination, and massive market share, but the company did not adapt to the trend of smartphones, despite being an early innovator in the space, and subsequently failed.

Here's a question for you. What are the trends that will impact you most over the next 3 years? Do you know? They will happen regardless of what you do. Maybe now is a good time to understand the trends that will impact your world sooner than you think.

So, if we want to align our strategies and people with the future, we need to understand the trends that will shape it, and impact us.

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