Gordon Moore, cofounder of Intel, famously observed more than 50 years ago that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. And he’s been prophetically accurate in that prediction, which is now referred to as Moore’s Law, as the capability in digital electronic devices—from microprocessors to memory and pixel capacities—to mention just three—has exploded exponentially. And with it has burst a never-ending surge of marketplace innovations, competitive restructurings and operational alterations.
No matter what your industry, you are immersed in a changing business. As a leader, you may exude technical expertise or adroitly manage your company’s financial affairs, but it is only when you solve people’s problems and confidently lead them through change does your collective value proliferate—rather than stagnate.
Because everything rises or falls on leadership, how you anticipate and respond to the constant stream of changes, innovations and modifications—especially when folks and facts go off-kilter—makes all the difference to your ultimate success.
Adaptability is the name of the Change Game. And we’re all players, like it or not. So if we’re going to play to win—and we should be, or what’s the point?—we’re going to have to acquire a taste for trends, a touch for timing, and a talent for transitions.
A Taste for Trends
Trends in markets, industries, politics, businesses or cultures are more than passing fads; they signal a broader and meaningful shift, and tracking them is key to managing their repercussions and profiting in their consequences. Be aware of current events, in and out of your industry and interests; subscribe to professional journals and newsfeeds; connect with your peers, associates and industry leaders at seminars and conferences and in online networking groups.
- What are the three most-discussed trends facing your company or your profession today?
- How may you insert yourself knowledgeably into the conversation? What educational opportunities can you avail yourself of to stay current?
Touch for Timing
Just as a batter will strike out if he always swings before the curveball breaks, your timing on connecting with changes is crucial to pitch a win and advance your standings.
The Innovation Adoption Lifecycle is a way of describing the general population’s response to adopting change. It’s depicted as a classic bell curve that shows half of the population to the left of the peak and half to the right. The Innovators are the ones ahead of the curve, consisting of just 2.5 percent of the population. To their right we find the Early Adopters, those who are embracing innovation, at 13.5 percent. The Early Majority, or 34 percent of us, extends to the peak of the curve and represents those who understand or are learning more about the change. On the downside of the curve, we have the other half: the Late Majority, who have merely heard of it, at 34 percent, and the Laggards, who remain unaware, at 16 percent.
- As you consider you own particular change issue, where do you find yourself on the bell curve? What steps can you take to move ahead of the curve? Think in terms of attitude, vision, intuition, flexibility, and readiness.
- Will the change be readily accepted or does your team, operations, facilities, resources or the public need time to adapt or be educated? What other systems or capacities must be developed or prepared to facilitate a smooth transition?
A Talent for Transitions
When herding a multifaceted project toward a finish line, sometimes a Nudger works better than a Mover or a Shaker. Because certain tasks or opportunities often can’t proceed until other things fall into place, the astute change leader nudges what is nudgeable, then reassesses and nudges elsewhere, facilitating the overall transition. On the other hand, by being attentive to the fast-breaking trends, and anticipating their timing, the decisive leader can be opportunistically poised to ride herd on the stampeding changes and ease profitably into the transitional saddle.
- Impact. How will this change affect people? profits? places? planning? precepts?
- Involvement. Who are your key people to assist in the implementation of the change and to
help others in the transition?
- Influence. How can you gain buy-in from those directly and indirectly involved and affected?
- Information. What educational avenues and methods are available to you, and how can you best communicate and manage the informational transaction?
MasterPoint: Lead through trends, timings and transitions to transform your team and win.