I recently changed my computer. #excited This change has been mostly free and easy, except for an hour I spent one morning trying to resize a photo.
Nobody really likes change, unless you’re getting upgraded to First Class.
As if on cue, the priest at the USC Catholic student center, Fr. Marcin (dropping off my daughter last Sunday — more change!), put it this way: People hate change. What we want is for things to stay the same, only better.
The change can be a software upgrade, new product development or a reorganization. Then you’ve got this crazy election campaign in the background, gender politics, Brexit, terrorism, not to mention artificial intelligence and climate issues. Just read any news headlines.
The August 13 e-edition of The Economist magazine, a top global thought leader if there ever was one, opens with Today’s world of work is completely different to anything that’s gone before. How can you stay ahead?
While no one can predict the future, you can definitely prepare yourself and your team for any change; the way you listen, speak and interpret makes all the difference.
Learn to profit from this increasing pace of change, volatility and ambiguity. This happens with the right attitude, spelling out expectations (for yourself and others), seeking positive interpretations and lots of energy.
Going back for a minute to this special edition of The Economist. On the topic of artificial intelligence (AI), things are exploding. In 2015 companies invested $8.5 billion in AI, that is 4 times the amount invested in 2010. While this technology can be helpful, leaders including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk express concern. As Mr. Musk put it, “It’s one thing if Marcus Aurelius is emperor, it’s another thing if the emperor is Caligula.”
On the topic of jobs, we learn that investment banking, which used to attract the cream of the cream, has lost the interest of our elite graduates. They are much more interested in start-ups, tech giants and consultancies. As recently as 2007 46% of the MBA graduates from the London School of Economics chose jobs in finance. By 2013, banking has lost its sexiness; only 28% of the LSE MBA grads went into finance, 5% into investment banking.
Then there is this disruptive on-demand economy, driven by cheap technology and changing social habits. Karl Marx was completely wrong in predicting a binary world of rich owners and poor workers. The world is becoming a mash up of people who have time but no money (like Uber drivers) and people who have money but no time (Uber clients.)
Among other changes: aging workforce, the millennials, global unemployment and a leveling off of world trade.
Back in the day when mainframes were the thing, the average lifespan of an S&P 500-listed company was 61 years.Today the average company from that same list, meaning the super successful ones, is 18 years.
(This makes Boeing’s recent 100th birthday all the more remarkable. #waytogo #happybirthdayboeing)
Of course back in the day, the job you’re doing right now probably did not exist. Will it exist 5 years from now? Even in a low-tech business like communication skills coaching, Mixonian has to change to offer more digital trainings and even short videos to get the word out. #draggingmyheelsonthisone
Let’s look at one man who really profited from change. Nassim Nicholas Taleb is one of the smartest men ever — he made millions on the economic crash of 2008. Author of Black Swan, –nothing to do with the movie– but more recently came out with Anti-fragile: things that gain from disorder.
Anti fragile means to benefit or gains from disorder, change, shocks, chaos, rather than to merely survive. At a basic level, if getting a low test score propels you to study more and actually learn, then you are becoming anti fragile after this disappointment. If you blame the teacher, you are becoming more fragile.
The mythical Hydra grew 2 heads every time one was cut off. Your bones get stronger with some level of impact (i.e. load-bearing exercise).
Maybe Nietzsche was onto something with “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
What if you had the attitude not only to expect and welcome change, but the way of communicating that helped stakeholders get on board without wasting so much time complaining about it?
How can you communicate in a way that makes you more resilient to change and better able to see the opportunities in the chaos?
3 attitude adjustments Proactive Conversations (aka to be more anti fragile):
1.Look for more projects.
I know you’re beyond busy, but make sure you’re working on a variety of things. If your work isn’t project-based, variations of this include taking on a new client, developing a new aspect to your service, learning a new skill. Personally, I’m studying for the PMP* exam.
2. Be the one who’s changing things and learning from mistakes.
If you’re in change mode, you are automatically more receptive to and perceptive of any change. Allow yourself to make mistakes so you can learn from them. Feedback is your ticket. Find ways to get more feedback faster.
Remember the quote from Samuel Beckett (tattooed on tennis player Stan Wawrinka’s arm):
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
3. Ask yourself “How can I make this work for me?”
This is especially effective for changes you think are dumb or unnecessary but turn out to be inevitable. What’s the workaround? What’s the hidden upside? How can you personally benefit from this? If you seek, you shall find.
More to come next edition, including an exciting new comprehensive leadership communication program that’s all about helping you benefit in a work world of disorder, volatility and turmoil. It’s called Proactive Conversations.
*PMP = Project Management Professional. It sounds easy and straightforward; it’s not.