One thing is for certain: Uncertainty. I am sure the first farmer to employ a plow he dragged behind himself was sure the innovation would last forever. Then oxen were tamed and the users of oxen for plowing were innovators who would dominate the future. The steam engine was developed and the machine age began. Then internal combustion engine all but put the steam engine out of existence. Is the electric or hydrogen motor the engine of the future?
Interestingly, all of the above technologies are used in plowing fields around the world to this day. Those who embraced innovations prospered more than those who did not. Innovation continues to generate change throughout our world and have for some time. Some will catch on while others will keep dragging a plow by hand.
So change is normal. But historically the rate of change was slow. Information that once took generations to disseminate now takes seconds. Broad groups can share, embrace, and iterate on new ideas and concepts faster than ever before. Strong innovators combine existing technologies with new technologies to yield new uses…well like the farmer who hooked a blow to an ox.
But the cycles are very fast yielding what some call the most transformatve period since the invention of the steam engine. As the diagram below shows, social development spiked shortly after the steam engine and it will again as digital becomes pervasive.
But what does all of this mean to businesses? That old cultures and approaches are going to leave your plowing the field by hand until your fields are purchased by someone who embraced automation. The speed of disruption has been enabled by key digital forces:
- Big Data/Analytics
You ability to master these forces and think differently may be the difference between rapid growth or rapid demise. What would Sears be today if they had seen Amazon coming, embraced digital, and beat Amazon to the same day delivery punch?
Imagine the possibilities. Think different. Act with edge. Disruption is now normal. Use it to your advantage.