The past two weeks I spent reviewing two great dealers in Europe. One was in Norway and the other in Belgium. They were both family owned businesses with a strong history and terrific presence in their markets.
What I wanted to point out, however, is not how good they are at what they do, nor how skilled their employees are or how well their leadership executes strategies. No, it is how they view change.
Each part of the world seems to view change through a different lens. In North America one would think that American Companies would be right our front about innovation and change. Not so fast. In Canada you might be thinking about the conservative Canadian being more entrenched in tradition and not that open to change. Hang on there. Europe with all the centuries of tradition would be another case. Similarly, the South and Central America, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Russia and Africa. All areas approach the need to change differently.
Change is difficult and except for a very small number of us would not be part of our lives. We love predictability. We struggle to learn how to live on our own, or the changes required when we get married or have children. We struggle to learn our jobs and get good at them. And once we get comfortable with our lives BAM along comes change.
I grew up in the late fifties and sixties, the 1900 version folks. Do you think the “baby boomers” see and have seen change? For starters think about this: The “Baby Boomers” were the first generation to have credit cards. No matter what you think about credit cards they have had a dramatic impact on the lives of everyone in the developed world. But the element of the credit card that I want to focus on is the unintended consequence of debt. We all have too much debt. Right? Look at governments, then look at credit card debt, then look at student debt. Need I say more?
Next look at Technology. I took a minor at University in Computer Science and learned how to “wire” Unit Record equipment. That is true. Most people would think about Unit Record computing in the same way that they would think about an “Outhouse” and indoor plumbing. But look how far the “computer” has come in the last seventy-five years. The last set of disc drives that I had to purchase cost over $1,000,000 that is right one million dollars. There were two banks of disc drives each four drives requiring a control unit. Each disc drive held a removed 44-megabyte storage unit. That eight-disc drive set up gave me 352 mega-bytes of disc storage and the cost was more than $1,000,000. Imagine that. Today I can buy a thumb drive with 8 GIGA-BYTES of storage for less than $20.00. How about that? Then we have cellular telephones. They are everywhere. They didn’t exist a short ten years ago. And what about AI, Artificial Intelligence? Big Blue, from IBL, beats the best chess player in the world. Watson wins Jeopardy. The self-driving car, the Roomba Robot vacuum, photography and on and on and on.
Jack Welsh, when he was CEO of General Electric is famous for saying “when the world around you is changing at a rate faster than you are, the end is near.” Look around you. The world is changing very quickly and shows no signs of letting up anytime soon.
We need to embrace change as difficult as that might seem to many of you. To resist change is to be run over. So, look around. What could you do differently? What do you do that you don’t even need to do anymore? The world will be a better place and your job will be more enjoyable if you do things more effectively. The only thing in life that we don’t have enough of is time. Take advantage of all the time you are given. Make you job and your world a better place.
The Time is NOW.