American music icon and Nobel prize laureate Bob Dylan, famously sang, “The times they are a-changin’.” That may have been the case in the past, but we’re no longer living in a world of change. We’re in a period of outright transformation.
It’s essential to understand and embrace that reality in order to move yourself and your organization into the future with the greatest certainty possible.
Some people make the mistake of assuming that change and transformation are essentially the same thing, with transformation just a bit more extreme than change. That’s not true at all. Here are some examples to illustrate the enormous differences.
Many of us have distinct memories of listening to music on LPs, not to mention the hassles that went along with that: the scratches, the hisses and having to pad around the room to make certain the record didn’t skip from the vibration of our footsteps.
Then came smaller spinning discs—CDs. At the time, they seemed like an answer to a prayer; not only was a CD more compact, but it was also less vulnerable to scratches and other physical damage.
Notice I said “less vulnerable.” A careless CD owner could still leave discs out, causing the same sort of damage that an LP could suffer. Still, it was a welcome form of change.
Music lovers these days have probably stashed their CD collection in a closet. That’s because they can listen to the same music in a digital format. Even better, they can access it through their computer, tablet or smartphone.
To bring the point home further, describe to a young person what it was like to have to get up and fix a skipping record halfway through an album. You might as well be talking about the “horseless carriage” parked in your driveway.
That’s not mere change. That’s true transformation.
It’s also understandable to assume that this sort of transformation is limited to technology. Granted, from wearables that can track our fitness to automobiles that are becoming increasingly autonomous, technology is transforming our lives in many ways.
But that’s by no means the limit to transformation. Consider:
Those and other examples like them underscore the dynamic that is
transformation. Simple change is more a variation on an existing theme; transformation is an utterly new and revolutionary process. It’s an out-and-out game changer.
I’ve been tracking the impact of what I refer to as the Three Digital Accelerators, computing power, bandwidth and digital storage, for going on three decades. They’re the driving force behind the sort of transformation I’ve been discussing. Just as important, due to a predictable and exponential rate of change, they’re only going to bring about transformation at an ever-faster rate of speed.
Within the next several years, outright transformation will impact how we sell, collaborate, train and educate. That means if you limit yourself to simple change, you’re going to fall behind faster and faster. Transformation is going to occur and, if it can be done, it will be done. Further, if you don’t do it, someone else is going to.
With all this in mind, what can you do with transformation, both with regard to yourself and to your organization
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.