I have recently been thinking about change, I guess that is only natural for a person in my position. You would after all expect a 40 something year old man who has recently jumped tracks from one career field to another to be pondering such things. But it is not my change in careers that I have been thinking on specifically. I have been trying to identify the secret to dealing with change from the perspective of a business. It is pretty easy to see that businesses and industries have to learn to deal with change just like people do, so what can a business do to deal with change more effectively?
I think by now most people would agree that the legal industry is facing some changes. Some may debate the finer points of how long this change has been going on, to what depth it will change, or what has caused it…but I think at least most people would say “the times they are a changing”. As I have written in previous blog entries, this change feels quite familiar to me. I began a career in IT back in the 90’s and rode my share of waves of change in that industry. Because I have experienced the opportunities that ride shotgun with change, I have learned to embrace it. That’s the point that got me thinking about this topic…there seems to be a correlation between how quickly a business or industry accepts the change and learns to embrace the opportunity that it brings with it, and how painful the transition is. The funny thing is that most of us would tell an individual who is facing change this very fact, but somehow we sometime forget this when it comes to a change in a business or industry.
Let’s look at a few examples of industries that have faced massive changes. The book stores of old don’t exist anymore, at least not in a way even close to the way they used to. The advent of the internet and digital content wiped away any trace of major bookstores that did not embrace the very technology that was threatening to destroy their livelihood. Some did it well, look at Amazon.com, others did not change quick enough and was left taking the full brunt of the change, look at Borders. The music industry too has faced enormous change, with the early adopters reaping benefit while late changers got wiped out. This list could go on and on…movie rental, which would you rather have stock in Netflix or Blockbuster?…How about the travel industry?…or photographic film industry…or newspapers…or video game industry…or etc. etc. etc. I guess the point was made clear to me by all these examples, change is like a giant ocean wave…if you see it coming early enough, and paddle hard enough in anticipation of it, you can get on top of it and use its power to surf all the way to the shore. Or you can sit back and hope the wave will just go away…soon finding yourself under the wave getting churned like a load of clothes in a washing machine, and saying to those around you how horrible change is.
I say all of this to continue to encourage myself and others to keep an eye out for the waves of change in your industry, find ways to harness the change in a positive direction for your clients or customers, and then enjoy the ride. Now I need to go find my copy of who moved my cheese…it may be time to read that again…oh who am I kidding I’m going to listen to the audio book of it on my iPod.