You must own change before it owns you

Back when I was an IT Consultant, I knew that “preparing for what might be” was my “one thing”, and it just came natural for me. And today, one of the cool things about the work I do is I get prepare my clients with “what if’s” all the time.

Most don’t like it because they don’t want to consider that their business might change. They want to keep things the way they are. This is not unusual. It is actually the every day norm for those of us who are in the business of shaking things up.

Now, I have a client in Mexico that literally sits in the middle of how business gets done in on daily basis. This is in an industry where behavior change is in full order. And yesterday, I got a message from one of their MarComm people about a trend that is going to (if not already) affect them and how one of their partners is tweeting openly about it. They FEAR that this does not help them because it affects their business and so people might not consider them as an option anymore.

Hello!!! How many of you are in a similar situation? Everyone is.

Change yields to no one

What to do?

You have three options:

  • Option 1. Ignore
  • Option 2. Wait and see
  • Option 3. Do something about it

Most, if they acknowledge that change exists, choose to ignore it. This is not where you want to be because you will eventually yield. You are just choosing a slow death.

Those that choose option 2, play a “smart follower” strategy. Where they know change is coming, but choose to wait and see what competitors do. This is where the Microsoft’s, Samsung’s and Google’s of the world have been playing recently. Imitation and copycatting happens here. And a large part of what is considered innovation happens here too.

If you choose option 1 you enter a dilemma, that if you act first and go full throttle but it doesn’t work, you are screwed. A recent example of this is OnLive and its “way ahead of its time” live streaming game platform.

But, there is a smarter way to act that sits between option 2 and 3. Lets call this one 2.5 Smartfailing.

Probe your way to change

Smartfailing, coined by Stefan Lindegaard two years ago, means learning through failure. This is done by hypothesizing about the future, and doing quick experiments to either prove or disprove your hypothesis. A simple way to remember this: Fail cheap, fail quick and fail often.

Yes, fail cheap. You don’t have to invest, or go hunting for VC money to experiment. That is the point about experimenting, you are probing yourself towards the future. Not committing all you resources to it before knowing a little bit about what might happen.

But before even acting, the first thing you should do about change, is acknowledge it and introduce yourself to it. Yesterday I shared 3 questions you should ask yourself to help you take charge of change:

  1. What do we do now?
  2. What do we do next?
  3. How can we make this work for us?

These three questions can be answered through smartfailing.

Point: You must own change before it owns you. Ignore change at your own peril.

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