What does the future look like? It is difficult to be 100 percent certain, but here are six trends that I believe will be a big part of our lives and work going forward:
- Customer expectations will continue to increase. Today’s “WOW!” experience will become tomorrow’s “Been There — Done That.” You must continue to meet the customer’s fundamental expectations and be distinctive in ways that add value. It isn’t an either/or decision. Both are required.
- Keeping the best and brightest talent means that you must change how you engage your workforce. Timeless values and principles such as respect, appreciation, and empowerment will remain. How you demonstrate them will change.
- Technology will become smaller, more personal, and increasingly video driven. Two studies by the Pew Research Center reveal point the direction for the future:
– Seventy-eight percent of all teens have a cell phone and 37 percent of teens have a smartphone. One in four teens considers themselves to be “cell only” Internet users.
– Ninety-five percent of teens use the Internet. 37 percent of them use video chat applications such as Skype, Googletalk, or iChat.
These developments will change how you market to and interact with customers as well as how work is accomplished.
- We will continue to age. In the United States, the number of adults aged 65 and older is expected to double between 2009 and 2050. Lifespan projections from around the world are expected to continue to increase. The profound impact of an aging population on healthcare is already being anticipated. The effect on employment, new business development, and technology continues to evolve.
- Cost containment will stay in style. We may eventually return to the free-spending days of the recent past. But, our history with the financial trauma of the Great Depression in the 1930’s suggest that people and companies will be careful and more discriminating with what and where they spend.
- Disruption will be the new normal. The beauty of a connected world is the calamity of a connected world. Technological innovations, changing demographics, geopolitical chaos, and economic swings have existed throughout history. Our connected world has brought them closer to home – taking them from an interesting fact read about in the newspaper or magazine to a potentially life altering reality with which we must deal every day. We will eventually get to the point that disruption is considered normal much like the way that terror attacks are considered normal in some parts of the world. Until then, we will struggle. But the sooner we can adapt our thinking to this new reality, the more successful we will be in the future.
How you can win
Making change work will always be about connecting with people; bringing them together; and keeping them focused on a common purpose. Trends point the direction. Technology opens new opportunities. But, those are simply interesting ideas until people make them work.
And as long as people are essential to change, leaders who can make change work will be in constant demand.
Make change a strategic advantage. The landscape is littered with companies who became complacent and irrelevant. They forgot to sustain a culture that relentlessly focuses on customers; continuously increases operational excellence; and creates an environment where talented people want to help you succeed.
People want to be led through change and not managed. They want to contribute to exciting work that achieves a meaningful result for the customers they serve. They want to make change work, and they want you to lead them.
Show your resolve and demonstrate your resilience. Hold on to your enthusiasm and commitment. Most important, accept the responsibility.
*Excerpted from Make Change Work (Wiley, 2013).