We’ve Always Done It This Way.
I used to own a Kodak camera with film.
I used to buy 45-rpm music records and play them on a turntable.
I used to own a VCR.
I used to own a Game Boy.
I used to own an alarm clock, the type you wind up.
I used to have road maps in my car.
I used to own a walkman.
I used to make mixed tapes, on cassettes.
I used to have little flashlights around the house.
I used to have a thermometer outside my window.
I used to have a Texas Instrument solar-powered calculator.
I used to carry travel books and a dictionary when I went somewhere.
I used to buy postcards and stamps at every destination, and send them.
I used to carry coins to call home when I went out with friends.
I used to rent videos at Blockbuster.
I used to send faxes.
I used to call a travel agent to make flight reservations.
I used to check the Yellow Pages to find a restaurant’s number and order food.
I used to bring out the Encyclopaedia Britannica when I needed to verify information.
I used to get my newspaper delivered every morning.
Today, I carry one device in my pocket that does all those things: my smartphone. I don’t remember the day I stopped using a product and switched to a new technology. I just did. You’d think change happens in an earth-shattering way – Ta-dahhhhh, welcome to the future! – but in my experience, I find it tends to weave itself seamlessly into our lives.
Most of us cannot imagine life before cell phones and yet, it’s a fairly recent invention. Apple’s first iPhone came out in 2007. Today, there are 2 billion smartphone users in the world. How did we function before? Looking back at the last 10-20 years, it is incredible how quickly products become obsolete and consumer behaviour changes in a very significant manner.
“We’ve always done it this way.” Resistance to change is normal. It’s even harder for successful businesses. If what you are doing right now works – maybe less than before but it still works – why bother trying something different? Why invest effort and resources in something that may or may not produce results? Why take a risk?
BECAUSE THINGS CHANGE. Products become obsolete. Consumer behaviour changes. Innovators will disrupt the status quo. Brands that are well known today will be wiped off the map. New companies will emerge and dominate the marketplace.
It is hard to imagine a world that doesn’t exist yet. But it’s coming, and it’s coming fast. In this constantly-changing environment, the biggest threat to your business is not your competitor. It’s failure to innovate and adapt to change. I’m not advocating chasing every trend but stay open-minded. Look towards the future and anticipate where society is going. Invest some resources in “what-if” projects. And listen to the 16 year-old intern. Because sometimes the crazy idea is the one that saves your business.