The world is changing, every aspect of it, and it is changing
quickly. Politics, technology, global markets, economics,
information systems, society, the environment, the structure of
business, and industry are all changing. Individuals must change as
well! Today's business environment demands it!
According to Beck in the pre-1918 era, the four engines that ran the
economy were textiles, coal, steel and the railroads. The key factor
of cheap steel influenced these economic mainstays of our nation.
The infrastructure in place to facilitate the economy included
railroads, shipping and the telegraph. From 1918 to 1981 we were
deep into the mass manufacturing era. Automobiles, machine tools,
housing, and retail became the primary economic products.
Cheap energy made mass manufacturing possible, and a solid
infrastructure of highways, airports and telephones facilitated
these businesses. From 1981 to the 1990s the key factor of industry
was cheap microchips. Satellites, fiber optics, networks, and
broadcasting were the key infrastructure items which contributed to
the opening of semiconductor, medical, communications, and
instrumentation economies. The mid-1990s brought cheap storage, and
infrastructure items such as information highways, data bases, and
access systems are leading to increases in biotechnology,
intelligent systems, new materials, and information economics.
The rate of change is accelerating. The speed of human
transportation is only one example of how rapidly the changes are
taking place. Before 1890 the rate of speed was limited to the speed
of the horse. The automobile multiplied speeds by two, the airplane
multiplied those speeds by two hundred, jets by even more, and today
the fastest we know of is the speed of a shuttle reentering the
atmosphere, approximately 6500 miles per hour. This only reflects
the changes in the speed of human transportation. Similar rates of
change are occurring in the knowledge industry, the service
industries, the medical industry, the communications industry, the
computer industry, and every other industry.
Businesses must change to meet the new realities of this business
world, and the businesses that do not change will fail. According to
Senge, the average lifespan of a business today is less than 40
years. That means that the businesses that were beginning when you
were born are either dead or dying today. Unless, that is, that they
have mastered the art of changing, and can change quickly! Those
businesses which can and do respond to market conditions and change
quickly have a strong competitive advantage!
How do they have to change? They must become flatter. They must have
methods and procedures that are less bureaucratic. They must focus
more on the customer, and emphasize providing added value in their
services. They must integrate new technology at the same time that
they respond to environmental concerns. They must eliminate waste.
Throughout this change process, executives have the responsibility
for making decisions, for being right, and for convincing others of
that fact. They must lead and manage the change. The process of
change impacts individuals, work groups, and the organization as a
whole. No aspect of the organization is immune from change. Winning
in war or business requires a winning attitude that is reflected in
the organization, the people and the technology.
Individual personality will impact the ability of a business to win.
It impacts the organization's development, team building, and
individual behavior. Personality impacts how people communicate with
each other, how they learn, how they experience and participate in
teambuilding, how they perform, their ability to succeed, their
interpersonal relationships, their motivation, their cooperation,
their behavior and their morale. It also impacts their ability to
manage change. As individuals encounter change, they respond
according to the Walpole model. Initially they reject the idea of
change, determined that it won't happen. Then, when they understand
that it will happen, they react with disbelief. When the change
finally takes place, they respond with reluctant toleration. After
some experience with the new procedures and methods, they give tacit
approval. Finally, when they have mastered the change, they own it.
It belongs to them, and they are proud of it.
To be Continued
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