The Times, They Are a-Changin’ is a song by Bob Dylan (1964), it is also the reality of our times today, and how we react to all the change can make or break us.
Like with Agile Software Development, one of the main values is “responding to change over following a plan,” to improve the success of software development, similarly in the world today, we need to be able to rapidly and flexibly respond to change in order to successfully compete.
Fast Company (February 2012) has two important articles on this topic–one is called “Generation Flux” and the other “The Four-Year Career.”
Generation Flux is about how we are living in a time of “chaotic disruption” and that this is “born of technology and globalization.” Generation Flux is a mindset of agility versus a demographic designation like Gen X or Y.
All around us we see the effects of this rapid change in terms of business models and leadership turned upside down, inside out, and sideways.
Recently, we have seen:
– Mainstay companies such as American Airlines and Hostess declare bankruptcy
– Some titans of the Fortune 500 companies ousted, including Carol Bartz of Yahoo, Leo Apotheker from HP to name just a few
– Others, like RIM and Netflix have fallen from grace and are struggling to regain their footwork–some will and some won’t
At the same time, we have seen the ascension of companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon becoming the “kings of the hill”–driven in part by their agility to get in and out of markets and products:
– In 2010, Google was getting out of China; today Google is expanding its presence once again. In addition, Google continues to start up or acquire and discontinue services regularly; just last year they closed Google Desktop developed in 2005, Google Health Service started in 2008, and Google Aardvark purchased in 2010 (and more)
– Amazon, once an online book and music retailer has now become the premier e-Commerce company as well as the No. 2 in tablets and in the top 3 in cloud computing.
– Apple was slick in developing the navigation wheel on the iPod only to get rid of it completely with the touch-screen of the iPad.
– Facebook continues to adapt to security and privacy concerns, but still has more to do, especially in terms of simplifying choices for their users.
According to Fast Company, to survive, we need to be profoundly agile and “embrace instability, that tolerates–and enjoys–recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions.” The article points out that this is just as Darwin has professed, ultimately it is the agile that will survive–not the strongest or smartest.
For organizations, change, agility and adaptability is the name of the game, and they are depending on petabytes of information and the business intelligence to make sense of it all to make the right decision every day.
For individuals, “the long career is dead” (U.S. workers have a medium job tenure of only 4.4 years and have an average of 11 different jobs over a lifetime) and “the quest for solid rules is pointless” (with automation and robotics atrophying low- and middle-skill jobs and part time, freelance, and contract work all on the rise). Now, in an agile marketplace, “career-vitality” or the continuous broadening of individual capabilities is encouraged and expected, and the “T-shaped” person with both depth or subject matter expertise as well as breadth in other areas in becoming more and more valued.
Moreover, hard skills are important, but social skills and emotional intelligence are critical to get along, share information, and collaborate with others.
Of course, not all change is good, and we need to speak up and influence the direction of it for the good, but in the end, standing still in the path of genuine progress is like standing in front of a speeding locative.
While the quiet and serenity of maintaining the status quo is often what feels most secure and comfortable in uncertain times, it may actually just be the forerunner to the death knell for your career and organization. There are no short-cuts to continuing to learn, explore, and grow as the world around us rapidly evolves.
Adapt and live or stagnate and die.
(Source Photo: here)