Let’s Face it, Adapting to Rapid Change is Stressful

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It’s 3am and I’m wide awake. I keep having this terrible nightmare. I’m at the county science fair and I’ve got this beautiful volcano that I built from the red clay I dug out of my backyard. I’ve got the vinegar/baking soda and I’m ready to rock. And then I glance over to the kid next to me and he’s built an autonomous car. Oh Sh&%! Let’s face it, adapting to rapid change is stressful.

Even the best have found themselves behind the curve on emerging trends. Twenty-two years ago this week… On May 26th, 1995, Bill Gates is famously known to have drafted a memo entitled “The Internet Tidal Wave” in which he described the internet as “the most important single development to come along since the IBM PC was introduced in 1981.” But first movers in the internet wave were already at full steam and Microsoft ended up late to the party. The moral of the story is that it can happen to any company, so vigilance is the key.

These statistics have been floating around for a while, but I think they are useful to put some perspective around this topic. It took the wireline phone 75 years to get to 50m subscribers. Angry Birds Space app did it in 35 days. A gigabyte’s worth of storage on a hard drive in 1993 cost more than $9,000, but it cost a mere $0.04 in 2013. Google won the race to zero in May, 2016 when it announced that its new photo sharing app would be completely free for unlimited storage.

With massive disruptions in long standing technologies seemingly occurring overnight, it’s a wonder any of us sleep. The pace of adoption is dizzying and at the same time – both terrifying and exhilarating. In today’s fast paced environment where technologies are born or die in an instant, attention to quality research and development (R&D) can spell the difference between success and failure. The goal of any company should be to create a framework to address rapidly changing conditions.

So, what does a framework look like? It’s likely different for every company, but at ShareTracker, this means several things:

  1. We stay current with emerging trends. Relevant articles are routinely shared at ShareTracker. I’ve taken it one step further and created a personal app (Vuology) which I use to share stories/stats of innovation and emerging trends with the broader company. I condense the information into concise graphics that allows users to quickly and easily consume large amounts of information. For anyone that wants to follow along, the app is available on both IOS and Android – Vuology.com. There is no sign up or advertisements, but you will be subjected to some of my cartoonsJ.
  2. We then take what we’ve learned from following relevant news and then ask two questions pertaining to emerging trends in our weekly leadership team meeting.
    1. What risks to we see from emerging trends?
    2. What opportunities do we see from changes in the landscape?
  3. The next step is to turn what we’ve learned and make it actionable. By that I mean, we prioritize what we think is most important in terms of risks and opportunities, assign a budget and timeline, and apply R&D efforts.

So, the good news is that I know we’ve created that framework at ShareTracker, so I’ll fall back asleep in a few minutes. And tomorrow morning… It’s “Giddyup” because in the race to stay relevant, the stakes are much higher than the county science fair.