The Key to Riches
Perhaps the most important factor affecting your life today is the speed of change. In all of human history, we have never experienced the rate of change that we are enduring today—except for next month and next year and for the rest of our lives. Three main factors are accelerating the rate of change and causing us to feel out of control. Our very best plans are often invalidated, sometimes overnight, by a change in one of these three critical areas.
The first factor driving change is the information and knowledge explosion. Information and new ideas are expanding, growing, increasing faster and faster. One new piece of knowledge, one new idea or insight, can upset or overturn an entire industry, causing failure and bankruptcy. More smart people are developing more good and disruptive ideas today, in more different ways and on more different subjects, than at any other time in history.
THE EXPANSION OF TECHNOLOGY
The second factor driving change is technology—growing, expanding, and increasing at incredible speeds. Advances in technology can quickly transform entire industries. Think of companies like Nokia and BlackBerry that dominated their industries until the first iPhone was released in 2007. Within five years, both of these companies were virtually gone. BlackBerry went from controlling 49 percent of the business cell phone market to 0.4 percent in that time, and Nokia stopped selling cellular phones and sold out to Microsoft. One new technological breakthrough on the other side of the world can put you out of business as well if you do not respond to it quickly and appropriately.
The third factor, perhaps more disruptive than anything else, is competition. Your competitors are fiercer, more aggressive, and more determined than ever before—except for next week and next year. The competition is focused on using each new potential piece of information and breakthrough in technology to change and shape customer tastes, develop new products and services, and render obsolete whatever you are currently offering.
Your competition is continually scouring the world of new information and technology, seeking opportunities to serve your customers with what they want better, faster, and cheaper than you are today. McDonald’s, the world’s leader in fast foods, has been caught flat-footed by companies like Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch have been blindsided by aggressive competitors offering more appropriate and betterquality products at comparable prices that are more in keeping with what customers want today.
The equation is SOC = IE x TE x C (the speed of change is equal to information explosion times technology expansion times competition). And theonly thing we know is that the rate of change is going to be faster and faster in the months and years ahead. Charles Darwin wrote, “Survival goes not to the strongest or smartest of the species, but to the one most adaptable to change.”