Mindful Leaders know the Trends. We all operate in an environment that’s changing. Being mindful of how those trends will change the future operating environment, is critical if we are to lead constructive change. If we're not attuned to trends, we will get sideswiped and surprised by what, in hindsight, will look like the seemingly inevitable. We will be subjected to being reactive, rather than proactive. Another unfortunate consequence of not identifying changes, and not changing quickly enough, is that we are in the middle of the pack of other companies, and so in a highly competitive environment. These pressures, and this situation, lead to a stressful workplace, challenged revenues, with margins under pressure as we fail to innovate into expected trends.
If we are mindful of trends, we have the opportunity to lead the market, and innovate into successful products and services. If we do this very well, we will exceed expectations and grow with unexpected ease. It’s all about understanding the future operating environment and the factors we need to be successful in that future.
We should start our mindfulness of trends with the macro. Where are we at with the economy? What are the major trends that are impacting us and our markets? Digital innovation is everywhere and will be impacting us regardless of what we do. Embracing those things that can challenge our current business model, is what makes us successful in the future. A prevalent example is retailers. Many have embraced social media to communicate and e-commerce to transact. These trends have been with us for a couple of decades and yet still the major innovators in this space have been new enterprises.
I have the privilege of Chairing GreenHomes Australia. There has been a mainstreaming of environmental awareness, and a desire for energy efficiency, that has been growing for many years. GreenHomes have executed on that trend and are delivering green homes into a market with high demand for green products at an accessible price point. Our online engagement, obviously green product, and commitment to our franchise partners’ success, have led to enviable growth and international expansion. It’s an obvious example embracing a megatrend, but sometimes however it's the small trends that we need to note, the little things, like the change in consumer behaviour, the development of an expensive but powerful new product in our space. Never despise small beginnings . Never write off a competitor's innovation without full exploration of its potential.
Micro experiments to try new products and services in areas of small trends, is a great way to innovate. As part of Thought Patrols strategic planning process, Stragile, is an exploration of trends. Having a large diverse group of people from different parts of the organisation, looking at what is impacting them, their clients, stakeholders, and environment, can capture an extraordinary amount of change that seems to happen relentlessly, even over a short period of time. We work on a 90-day ‘review and recalibrate’ cycle. It continues to amaze me that even in this short period of time, we inevitably have a whiteboard full of trends and changes that are happening in the environment.
Being open-minded is important with regard to trends. There are things we know, and things we don't know. We have to continually explore the frontiers of our understanding and be mindful that small trends can become big trends, and then become quite disruptive. It's like river currents that can be small yet grow into rapids. They can also be deep and unseen yet none the less powerful. We would do well to our net wide for innovation by understanding trends, not only in our own industry, but also in others. Reading, listening, watching and gaining understanding from a broad range of sectors, can help us identify trends early. As we identify trends, we can identify our required success factors. These are the characteristics that will make us successful in the inevitable future operating environment. Do you know yours? You should. Good leaders adapt. They don’t remain static because they know the world is changing.