Over the past 12 months myself and Jonathan Peach have done so many presentations to different people that I struggle to remember them all. As people this is what we do, we do things and then forget about them. Very rarely do we get the chance to reflect upon what actually happens. Blogging is good for this purpose, because you can go back and read about what you had forgotten. When we present our research around the Workforce Evolution we tell people that things are changing and that it would be wise for them to understand that change so they can prepare for it. The change we talk about is a difficult one. The workforce is already evolving, but it might take more than a decade to see the full effects, and as anyone can imagine it is difficult to tell people to change today in order to prepare for ten years ahead. Although, I would argue that if you cannot respond to the way your workforce will change then you will probably not be in business in ten years time anyway.
I think many business leaders find what we say interesting, but they do as we all do, they forget. Buzz words like strategy, innovation and future are widely used by business leaders, but do they act upon it? Some people argue that short term thinking brought us the recession; business leaders talked the “long term language” then but clearly did not walk the talk.
Over the past couple of months I’ve met with many decision makers and its incredibly tough for them to make strategic decisions as the whole economy seems to be in survival mode. If your ideas do not show quick ROI or saves money then it’s not interesting. To me it seems we have gone from one extreme to another. Looking to the past to determine the future can sometimes work really well and when it comes to recession behaviour this is definitely true. Companies like Proctor & Gamble, Walt Disney, Microsoft and Google were all recession era start ups. Also, let’s not forget that transformational innovations such as the PC and the IPod were invented during tough economic times.
These companies believed in innovation and the long term but still managed to survive tough times. Maybe focusing all efforts on driving down costs will work for some, but the real winners will be those who can do what’s right now and act upon what they predict will happen in the future. Too often innovation is associated with technology and inventions, but it’s much more than that. Innovation is “a new way of doing something”, so how about behavioural innovation? Businesses will have to change their culture and behaviour to suit the most diverse workforce ever witnessed, and the way in which they respond will have a massive impact on their future success.