Lisbiz strategies: Innovation means moving forward

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January 6/13, 2014; Volume 27/Number 18

By Lisbeth Calandrino

You’re probably tired of the hype about social media these days and hope it will disappear. Social media may vanish, but who knows what will be next? We know that communication has changed forever. It seems just as we get comfortable, it goes away. There are lots of businesses that won’t embark on the social media frontier because of their “fear” mentality. “What if it doesn’t work?” is the cry. The world is filled with things that initially didn’t work but eventually became the basis for things that did.

Let’s face it folks: The nerds have won!

So many people I know tell me that understanding social media is difficult because they didn’t grow up with the computer. Did they say the same thing when they were learning how to ride a bike or drive a car? Do you have to grow up with something to understand or want to learn how to use it? Who said it would be easy? Like many of you, I went to college to learn new things; when did we lose this inquisitiveness?

What matters is how we tackle the future—our future.

It’s easy to say that learning something new erases the old. However, that’s not true!

Remember: The past will not get you to the future. This is why many companies are cautious about hiring people with a lot of experience. They’re afraid the old ideas will prevail and nothing will change in their business. They’re afraid of methods failing, leading to resistance of new ideas. Be mindful of the fact that the past doesn’t work because it is the past. For it to work, the conditions that previously existed must continue to prevail today.

One of the things we forget is the power of luck. Many people have been credited with the statement, “Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity.” This saying goes back to the phrase, “We make our own luck.” Neither of these adages have anything to do with the past. If you’re ready, a chance meeting can change your life; what has previously happened is irrelevant.

In fact, history is the story of what changed, and we have lots of history. Things can be stable for long periods of time, but this calm is usually followed by a shattering change. Do you remember the savings and loan crisis?

If we can’t count on the past to get us to the future, then what will we do? No, we don’t know the future, but if we’re going to succeed we have to decide to take part in the outcome.

Mike Myatt, a contributing writer for Forbes magazine, talks about the value of understanding people in his new book, Hacking the Future. He feels that predicting the future isn’t as hard as it seems; smart people stay focused on what’s happening and what people of influence are doing. Myatt suggests that in learning our business we can develop the skills that allow us to understand people.

The only way we can move forward is to focus on changing ourselves. How can we create a growth organization and facilitate the devlepment of those who work for us if we don’t change? One thing to look at is how much time we spend ignoring the signs of the future. We may not like things we don’t understand, but if they make us more successful, why wouldn’t we examine them?

We all must learn more about our businesses and pay attention to what’s going on around us. Organizational growth doesn’t happen without leadership growth. Becoming a better leader will give us the confidence and skills to meet the challenges head on.

Bottom line: Make today count—you only get one.

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