Ambiguity and the New Business Normal


The pace of change has picked up. Not only is the world flat, the world adopts technology, new standards at a much faster pace than ever before. Just look at what Google and Facebook have done for business and cultural expectations. Yesterday Facebook introduced a new profile feature and Google introduced an ebook store. Millions of people immediately adapted and adopted the new options. As a matter of fact, we have come to expect this kind of dynamic change. This fast pace has created a lot of opportunity for some and has been the demise of others. To me, this new business model is defined by ambiguity.

Ambiguity is the New Business Plan

What does that mean? It means that as a leader I still need to know where I want to take my organization, but I no longer have the luxury of planning my trip all the way to its final destination. Along the way the road might turn right, left or not at all, but I won’t know it until I get further down the road.

Do you remember the 5 and 10 year plans? I do. I went through a lot of them. Today they are a big waste of time. If you’re going to survive this new faster race, you will have to be able to adapt and do so quickly. Once upon a time business plans plotted the course from A to Z by connecting all the dots and creating a linear path through the business alphabet: A connects to B that connects to C and so forth. In the new economy A connects to B and C might be something completely different that it was a few months ago. As a matter of fact, C might not even be there at all. Unless you’re able to, not only live with ambiguity but also embrace and anticipate change, you’re going to be left behind.

What are the implications for businesses, churches and ministries? More than ever before, organizations have to know who they are and what they want because the “how” of their plans will be a continuously moving target. This can be frustrating to a lot of people, but it’s also exciting and dynamic for those who learn to embrace change, try new ideas and discard systems that stop delivering.

The cost of inertia has just gone up. Way up.

How do you feel about leading and working with uncertainty and ambiguity? Are you experiencing that in your world?

  • Agreed. The speed of change is rapid and not slowing anytime soon. What's exciting to me is trying to figure out how to be part of making the change instead of just being on the back side and responding to it. Sometimes you have no choice but to live in the wake of giants such as Google but there are certainly some proactive things we all can do to create vs respond. Step one, in my opinion, is to accept that fact that business, life and ministry are fluid. Despite our love of control, control is an illusion. We just need to GO and DO and work our plan but not let our plan be so rigid that we can't adapt.

    • You're right Daniel, control is an illusion. Yes, we need to go and do instead of just planning.

  • In my opinion mission, purpose, and values are more important than ever.

    In a world where technology is spinning us at warp speed – leaders, organizations, and companies must reman centered and present to what they ultimately want to achieve. If they aren't, it's just too easy to be swept away or crushed completely.
    Changing course, redirecting, and altering the game plan are always part of the journey. Yes – life is coming at us faster every day and the HOW of things is constantly evolving.. No one here has power to slow this world down. Embracing change, however, is a sure way add your positive impact to the velocity.

    Knowing who you are, why you exist , and being clear about the difference you know you are called to make, creates a reliable internal GPS system. It's the one that keeps you heading towards your destination and one that will let you know when it's time to 'recalculate' it.

    • Great insight Tami and you of all people should know of the changing dynamic of business. I love your perspective from retail, publishing and now the digital platforms. I love the quote "embracing change is a sure way to add your positive impact to the velocity."

  • Instead of inducing anxiety and stress having to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty gets me excited. Your statement "If you’re going to survive this new faster race, you will have to be able to adapt and do so quickly" couldn't be more true and I've found it to be descriptive of my career thus far.

    I love the pace and need to learn and adapt. It makes it an adventure!

  • This is particularly important to those of us who find ourselves in the 45+ age range. (I keep recieveing my AARP membership in the mail…geez, leave me alone. Let me enjoy what's left of my forties!)

    We feel like we've spent our whole lives chasing and learning, and now the curve has gone into hyper-speed. If we want to stay in the game we have to be willing to keep learning and engaging (I know you've covered this topic). If we aren't willing to bend and change, then we will be blindsided by the next craze. People who are engaged will anticipate and can navigate change.

    I've seen several of my friends, my age, appear on Facebook only to disappear weeks later. They'll probably say their too busy, but more than likely they are overwhelmed and unwilling to accept this new frontier.

    Do not fear change! Change is good! (now where did I put my prunes?)

    • Bret, your friends disappeared from Facebook because they were hooking up with their ex and their wives found out and deleted their account while threatening to go Lorena Bobbit on them.

  • Now that the WORLD has turned to social networking sites, would it be wise to connect with these sites to build a new business?

    • Absolutely. You should be where the people you want to serve in your business be. If they're on Facebook, Twitter or linked In, you should be there.

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