Shortly after graduating from high school I worked at a Radio Shack store. It was during the time-frame when the TRS-80 was first debuted. That was the very first “personal computer.” Radio Shack’s extensive advertising drew lots of people into the store. Most of them gawked at this new-fangled marvel.
We naïve employees were often asked, “What would I do with it?” Honestly, for the average person, we really didn’t have a good answer. There was almost no software you could purchase to “make it do stuff.” For many Radio Shack employees, it was a novelty that took up an inordinate amount of floor space, but at that point, it certainly had little real value for the vast majority of consumers.
People didn’t recognize what was about to happen in personal computers. How could they? These were uncharted waters. There was no way we could have envisioned what would take place. Today there are more personal computers sold each day than the entire first year of the TRS-80. Who could have conceived of such a gigantic and dramatic change?
Now, nearly forty years later, each day it’s a whole new world out there. Today is very different than yesterday and to even survive—let alone thrive—in business, we must recognize this.
Some time ago, on a CBS News special, a 101-year-old woman was interviewed. At one point she remarked, “Listen, honey, I’ve seen the beginning of everything.” She was almost right.
George Otis, Jr. commented, “Up until [the twentieth century], history was pulled along at an oxen-like pace. No longer. Since the dawn of the 1900s, mankind has been hanging onto the reins of progress for dear life.” That’s a vivid and accurate assessment. And I would add that the pace is increasing daily.
In general, people don’t like change. Yet change is happening all around us all the time. Think about your business in this regard. Are you keeping up? I’m not suggesting that your business should be on the cutting edge of every technological marvel that comes along. That’s an unachievable goal. You should, however, be aware of changes that are happening—especially any in your specific industry—and make sure your company is not left behind.
Even if you’re tech-savvy, there are new innovations being debuted on a regular basis. You can easily miss something important if you’re not deliberately taking steps to find new ideas.
For a company like Kodak, where the bread-and-butter product—film—was suddenly outdated, new technology was not a welcome idea. Yet for every Kodak, there are scores of other companies that have used new technology to open new markets and explore new sources of revenue.
Are there technology issues that you’re reluctant to consider? Are your competitors making advances in their businesses that you’re refusing to make? Have your business model and practices remained the same since your company started?
On-line communities (like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and a host of others), websites, blogging, and even emails, are all relatively new ideas. We weren’t Googling anything or even sending emails in my early business experiences. Yet those things have dramatically changed the way we live as well as the way we do business.
Don’t get left behind. The world is moving at a breakneck pace. What new avenues do you need to explore to remain competitive? What one thing should you change soon to move your company forward?
Think about it. But don’t stop there. Implement the change for the sake of your company, your employees and yourself.
Tom Kraeuter for Bill Bayer