Where change leads us

I was running this weekend in my local park. Along the side of the park is a row of old 70’s pre-fabricated houses, the kind that are actually grey in colour. Uninspiring, outdated. I wondered at what point they would develop the block into something more pleasant. Probably some of the tenants had been there since the beginning; that must be difficult to manage.

Today the world is changing very quickly. Markets are adapting fast, politics is unexpected, and digitalisation is ending some companies, while launching others. Keeping up with the pace of change can seem exhausting. Keeping the focus on your strategy can be unnerving.

Innovation, today’s buzzword, is already tiring. Most people don’t know how to create it.

I did a speech last year, in which I explained that the real magic of innovation isn’t found in text books, or on MBA programmes. It is found in the magic of working together, leading through situational change, and patching over new cracks, with innovations. Explaining reasons for change is difficult, but the underlying point is that mostly, there is no choice. People might dislike it, but unless you develop, you all lose out. Other companies will simply overtake you.

Can you imagine the first conversations at Fujifilm when the top engineers were told they’d have to leave film behind? Leaving all they knew, everything they had ever made, and creating a whole new model, in a business area, which didn’t exist yet: digital cameras. They did it. Kodak, their rival, didn’t. After 130 years leading in the film market, Kodak went bust. Fujifilm? They lead in today’s digital age – look at the camera in your mobile phone, most will say Fujifilm on it.

That’s business. Change and thrive, or fail. That’s what I love about business – it works, or it fails.

There’s a shop near my house in Amsterdam, in the 9 streets. It makes the most delicious ice cream. It was always busy, like queues down the street, kind of busy. Except one day it wasn’t there anymore. There was a woolly hat shop in its place! I was shocked. Then last week, in the spring sunshine, it became an ice cream shop again. I found out it hadn’t closed down after all!

We all know the world is changing, but are you changing with it? Are you open for change, and all that it brings?

Make sure you’re not just a fleeting Kodak moment.

 

Rana Hein-Hartmann, Executive Director –EMEA

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