There are two mindsets surrounding the concepts of transformation and change.
First, there is fear that comes with transformation and change. The feeling of not having control over something in your personal or professional life can be daunting, because it leaves us feeling helpless. And the second mindset is an apathetic, hands-off one. This is where the concepts of transformation and change seem so insurmountable that we accept them passively.
Neither of these mindsets are warranted, because the reality is transformation and change are two completely separate occurrences. One of these you can control in your professional and personal life, and the other is mitigated by controlling the first. As a result, neither transformation nor change should prompt fear or apathy to well up in your mind.
As I have mentioned here and in the past to clients and readers alike, transformation and change are not one and the same.
Simply put: Change tends to happen from the outside in and is a short-term adjustment in a process, practice, industry, or even a product. Transformation happens from the inside out, sending a disruptive ripple throughout an industry. The term “change” itself gets thrown around in many marketing circles, which is largely why it gets confused with the term “transformation.”
Let’s think of a musical instrument manufacturer as an example. If a drum set company produces different colors for their drum sets to draw in attention from new customers looking for a stylish set of drums to play, this would be a change. The adjustment made is purely aesthetic, in no way impacts the sound or quality of the drums and can easily be outdone by a competitor where both companies are constantly scrambling to outdo the other.
That confusion between transformation and change comes when the marketing company behind branding for this drum set company sends the message to the masses that “Drum Company A has changed the game!” — as if a new color somehow makes their product something brand-new.
Now, suppose the drum set company decides to manufacture metal instead of wood drums, using a material that is unaffected by temperature swings for the touring drummer that performs outside. This is a transformation in that it revolutionizes their products, potentially changing the industry itself.
Between transformation and change, have you guessed yet which occurrence can be controlled? Better yet, have you determined how you can control transformation or change?
Both transformation and change create disruptions in the status quo, but which one can be controlled and leveraged to your company’s benefit truly comes down to whether the disruption came from the outside in or the inside out. The answer is transformation, as disruption from the inside out is the very definition of control!
As a business leader, transforming your industry puts you in the driver’s seat of something that could have very easily disrupted your status quo. The only difference is that you caused the disruption, rather than the disruption forcing you to play catch-up. To gain control over transformation requires an exponential look into Hard Trend future certainties.
Let’s return to our drum company example. Suppose they reinvent drum sets and transform the industry by making metal or aluminum drums.
A couple Hard Trend future certainties that may have been observed in this instance could be the reality that at one point or another, temperatures swing and affect all musical instruments, especially when they are played outside. Metal drums eliminate the problem that wood drums will face.
Another Hard Trend involves a sustainability factor. Wood drums require trees, and the more drums that are manufactured for young, up-and-coming musicians means more trees get cut down to make them, potentially affecting the environment. Now this brings in a Soft Trend future possibility that is open to influence. Using aluminum instead of metal to make drums, the company is reducing the number of trees cut down for traditional drum making and can perhaps even utilize recycled metals to make metal drum sets.
Grabbing hold of transformation and making it your own as a business or organization keeps you from being disrupted. If you strive to simply create change, you will always be leading from behind, whereas if your organization creates transformation from the inside out, you are the force of change! You reinvent the way things are done and set a new standard for all involved.
Our drum set manufacturing example is just one instance of transforming an industry from the inside out and gaining control over what would otherwise disrupt an organization. This process can and should be applied to whatever industry you are a business leader in!
Using Hard Trend future certainties to create transformative results is part of an Anticipatory Organization and positive disruption. This is not a one-time deal, either: Once you have anticipation on your side, it becomes second nature.
The drum company may transform the percussion industry with metal drums, but what comes next? Perhaps they look to how digital technology can improve and transform the drumming industry itself, partnering with music streaming services that give new drum students a subscription to be able to play along to their favorite songs as they learn. This exponential transformation may solidify their place in the music education industry as well as the musical instrument manufacturing industry.
Building an Anticipatory mindset toward innovation and creating industry transformation keeps you and your team in control of your future.
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.