What I want to talk about today is change.  Not just any change, but change that is rapid, ever present, and that impacts every aspect of our lives.  Social scientists have stated that the pace of change today is faster than it has ever been in the past and slower than it will ever be in the future.  No organization is immune from this change.  We see it in evolving technology, the attitudinal differences of various generations, and the very look and feel of the physical space in which we work.

So, change is going to happen but it is how we embrace that change that will define our future.  Obviously, one approach would be to stand passively by and simply react as change washes over us.  The far better approach would be to see change as an opportunity to grow and get out ahead of our competition.  We should anticipate change and consistently and continually monitor the way we do business so that we are always in a position to see change coming and then adapt to it.  The quicker we can let go of some of the old ways of doing things, the sooner we will enjoy the benefits that change can bring.  We must recognize our organizations are not immune to the changes taking place in the environment around us.  For example, we cannot ignore advances in artificial intelligence and think AI is just for someone else.  Similarly, we cannot look at flex time policies and new open work space concepts as something that is just for the individual employed elsewhere.

If we are going to take advantage of the opportunities presented by change, we have to make sure we have the right people to do it.  No one has explained this better than Jim Collins in his seminal work “Good to Great”.  When Collins and his team began their research, they expected to find that the first step in taking a company from good to great would be for the company to set a new direction, a new vision and strategy, and get employees aligned behind it.  What they found was the opposite.  The first thing great companies do is get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off), then figure out where to drive it.  If we begin with the who rather than the what, it is easier to subsequently adjust to a changing world.  The right people will be with us for the long haul, and if we need to change to ensure our success, the right people will be there with us.  And remember, once you think we have the right people on the bus, we have to make every effort to keep them happy.  How we do that will be a topic for a later discussion.

In closing, I leave you with a quote often mistakenly attributed to Charles Darwin:  “It is not the strongest of the species [organizations] that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change.”  Regardless of who said this, it serves as a good reminder of how we should view change.  Change is not something to be ignored or feared but is an opportunity to grow strong and thrive.