Forget Focusing on Change
Forget Focusing on Change
Six things that won’t go out of style next year — or any other year.
In a 2007 interview with the Harvard Business Review, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos offered his famous take on predicting the future.
“There’s a question that comes up very commonly: ‘What’s going to change in the next five to 10 years?’ But I very rarely get asked ‘What’s not going to change in the next five to 10 years?’ At Amazon we’re always trying to figure that out, because you can really spin up flywheels around those things.”
At the time of the interview, Amazon’s revenues were a mere US $20 billion. In 2022, they were more than US $500 billion.
While Amazon has been a juggernaut of innovation, Bezos’ insistence on keeping an eye on what’s not going to change has also paid off. His company spun up “flywheels” around things that people never stopped caring about — and ones that Amazon could really drive at scale: selection, low prices and fast delivery.
As he went on to tell the HBR (in that now 15-year-old interview), “I can’t imagine that 10 years from now they are going to say, ‘I love Amazon, but if only they could deliver my products a little more slowly.’ ”
Even those at the forefront of today’s most disruptive, change-enabling technologies like artificial intelligence recognize that making rifle-shot bets on the future can be a fool’s errand.
In 2022, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman took Bezos’ horizon for predicting the future … and blew it wide open: “The stuff that people cared about 50,000 years ago is likely to be the stuff people care about 100 years from now.”
So what might that “stuff” be for leaders not interested in building the next Amazon or OpenAI, but still seeking a consistent edge?
Turns out, much of it comes down to understanding — or remembering — what has always been our human nature.
Six things the best companies and leaders will still be doing in 2024. And 2124.
1. Talking to customers
I recall an investor sharing some pretty sharp feedback with an exceedingly well-prepared team after their pitch: “It seems you’ve mistaken your ‘market research’ data for getting out there and talking to actual people.” Their point? Customer conversations are a gold mine of insight — and should forever be high on any CEO’s duties. Pro tip: Talk less about your company, ask more about their life. As my father always said, “It’s not about our grass seed. It’s about their lawn.”
“ Who talks to your customers? What questions are they asking? What are you doing with that information?
2. Giving back
The poet Maya Angelou is not a corporate strategy guru, but I think she nailed one of the truths about business when she said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” One of the most effective ways to foster a feeling — both within and about your company — is through strategic and authentic service. Volunteering, donating, advocacy and other forms of community engagement will only become more important as societal challenges mount.
“ Where and how do you serve your community? What feelings are created through that?
3. Telling stories well and often
I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Zita Cobb, creator of the magnificent Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland and a relentless thinker and storyteller. Among the many things she has shared with me, was this: “Money follows coherence.” And it’s true about more than just money. As social beings we use stories to make sense of the world. We seek people and institutions whose consistency gives us comfort. A coherent, repeatable story about your company confers trust — and drives loyalty.
“ What are your stories? Who is telling them? Are they coherent and repeatable?
4. Being transparent
From salary disclosure laws and the rise of B Corps to the Panama Papers and F&ckup Nights, it seems that transparency, openness and humility will continue to have their moment. Companies and leaders who embed transparency in their culture will not completely avoid missteps, but they will accrue valuable forgiveness when mistakes do happen. It will only become easier in the future for the public to assess if your organization is walking the talk — or simply mouthing the lyrics.
“ Rate your transparency as a leader and as a company. Now ask your employees, shareholders and key customers to do the same. Is there a disconnect? If so, why do you think that is?
5. taking care of employees
While last on my list, this is number one in my book. We’ve all heard the stats about the cost of replacing great employees versus retaining them in the first place. This will remain an evergreen issue. So, what’s the trick in an ever-changing workplace landscape? Well, take a look at numbers 1 through 4. Now apply those to your employees.
“ Communicate, foster a culture of giving, furnish them with great stories, and above all else be open and honest when it gets tough.
6. Recognizing that change is dynamic
Change will happen in your business even if you do nothing to guide it. Employee values, mindset and behaviors have evolved rapidly in the last few years. So leaders are obliged to take a proactive approach to build a healthy, dynamic corporate culture.
Do these things and, no matter what Amazon or AI does, you will be doing things people care about. Which sounds pretty future-proof to me.
Jim Hayhurst is a trusted adviser to purpose-driven organizations and leaders. He is currently active in six companies and social impact projects that elevate Victoria’s reputation as a hub of innovation, collaboration and big thinking.
Media Contact : Douglas Magazine
Source : https://www.douglasmagazine.com/forget-focusing-on-change/