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Incremental Changes now result in Major Changes Later


Guest articles > Incremental Changes now result in Major Changes Later


by: Jim Rickard


“Everything rises or falls based on Leadership” -- John Maxwell

Any recreational sailor or professional airline pilot will tell you that small degrees of change will result in either arriving at their destination or missing it by hundreds of miles or more. The recent loss of the Malaysian Airliner over the Indian Ocean, which to date has still not been discovered, gives us pause as we think about the horrific outcome; and the eventual posing of “What if” scenarios that arise by every “armchair quarterback” or “talking head” on television explaining what happened.

The things that we do today affect the outcomes of tomorrow, and as a leader of an organization your job is to safely bring your business into “safe harbor” 15-20 years into the future. Many organizations in the past have neglected to scan the horizon for emerging trends and to take them seriously, i.e. Eastman Kodak established in 1888 failed to take seriously the competition when digital photography began to emerge in the late 1990’s and due to its slowness of response did not generate a profit until 2007; it later filed for and emerged from bankruptcy in January 2013. Kodak left the digital camera market behind and sold off its patents to Apple, Google, and Microsoft etc.

Steve Jobs created Apple in his garage and is credited as being a pioneer in the personal computer market, i.e. iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad (who would ever want one of those?) We know the answer and you probably use many of these today. Small changes can result in major changes later or in other words, “The Butterfly effect” is set into motion; small ripples from the butterfly wings onto the water can join with other ripples and form massive waves and hurricanes further out into the future.

Leaders will need to recognize trends evolving in society in order to be prepared to not only survive but to thrive in the future business environment. Those companies that fail to plan and prepare will find themselves on the “bone yard” of failed companies who once thought their businesses were unassailable.

Using strategic foresight to achieve or attempting to achieve goals under areas of uncertainty is a way for leaders to help position their companies or organizations for success in the future. According to Pew Research, 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 today and every day for the next 19 years. The Boomers represent 26% of the total population and they are not going anywhere soon. They are healthier and wealthier and living longer than at any other time in history. The ramifications and opportunities of this are obvious to a leader with the foresight to prepare their organization to capitalize on this subset of the population. Real estate sales will benefit from the Boomers through, purchasing second homes or downsizing from their current homes, travel agencies helping with major trips across the globe, an increased use of “concierge medicine” for the many who can afford it in spite of the current healthcare debacle. There will be an increased market use of “anti-aging” products and the study of senescence, or the aging process. Nutrition products, vitamins, canes, wheel chairs and Depends for the incontinent, etc, will be available for the 79 Million Boomers who approach the older limits of Boomer hood. The funeral home industry will be doing quite well, as it is expensive to die in America with current prices at $7,000 to $10,000.

Gridlock continues in Washington, DC with partisan politics operating as usual unless external forces (a common threat) create a solidarity platform between the power players to present a united front and place the interests of the country in front of personal politics. Term limits for “professional politicians” are still raised by the public to no avail to the powers that be who seem to have conveniently forgotten that the founders asked for “public servants” to serve their country for a period of time and then return home. Washington, DC has become the proverbial Roach Hotel, “they go in, but they don’t come out.”

Foreign Policy will affect global trade between countries and trade imbalances will impact tensions between first world and two thirds world countries that are becoming economically stronger emerging countries. China will have surpassed the United States as the world economic superpower and continue to own most of the US debt, but will not be in a position to call the debt because of its enormity and the catastrophic results that could transpire if they do. The country of India will be a booming market and opportunities will be available for joint ventures for those companies willing to adapt to that market population.

Technology has and will continue to shrink the world we live and work in and the time to bring ideas to the marketplace will be shortened from months to days as virtual work teams from around the globe work on projects 24/7.

What kind of world will your company see in the next 15-20 years?

That will depend upon the types of changes you begin making today which will ultimately impact whether or not your company will survive or thrive.

Albert Eisenstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”


A former United States Marine, Jim Rickard has worked with a major international non-profit organization since 1983 and he has earned his BA in Criminal Justice Administration, Master of Public Administration and Master of Business Administration. Jim lives with his family in Brandon, MS and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Strategic Leadership degree with Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Contributor: Jim Rickard

Published here on: 01-Jun-14

Classification: Leadership


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