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The Six Drivers of Innovation and Change

I ran across an interesting article the other day – “The Driving Forces of Change” (

It discusses six major forces driving innovation and change in today’s world:sprinter in blocks

1. Commoditization. The constant pressure to drive prices and margins lower.
2. Digital revolution. New technologies level the playing field by giving small companies the same computational powers that only big corporations used to have.
3. Social media. These platforms make it possible for people anywhere in the world to instantly connect, share information, and create communities.
4. Globalization. Competitors can now come from anywhere in the world, no matter the product, market or industry.
5. Increasingly turbulent world. We live in an unsettled world of economic upheavals, territorial and religious disputes, shifting demographics, and a very rapid rate of change.

All of which contribute to driving force #6 – running faster just to stay in place.

At first glance, these may seem like yesterday’s news. After all, people have been talking about commoditization and globalization for years. In reality, they’re more relevant than ever because when I work with business leaders, I still get pushback on these issues. Not so much on commoditization, as everyone is facing pricing pressures these days. But definitely with the rest.

Hard to believe, but I still encounter leaders who think globalization isn’t (and won’t be) an issue for their company. Many still deny the need to adopt social media as a marketing and branding tool. And many more have yet come to terms with how rapidly the world is changing and what that means to their businesses.

In their defense, it’s not entirely their fault – it’s their brain’s.

The human brain often gets in the way of seeing what we need to see. It operates with all kinds of assumptions and thought bubbles that are usually not based in reality. It likes to stick with what it knows. And it likes to believe that everyone else sees the world the same way we do. So when the world changes at an alarming rate, our brain tells us to do more of what has made us successful in the past. When that doesn’t work, we try to do more of it, and faster. And so we end up running as fast as we can just to keep up.

The solution is counterintuitive. Instead of automatically running as fast as we can, we need to first slow down. Specifically, we need to pause for a moment, question our assumptions, review our data, and see if we’re missing anything. Then we can run like crazy. But only if we run with focus, purpose and direction.

To help your organization run in the right direction, try this “Playing with Your Brain” exercise – Balance the Big Picture with the Details – from my new book, Using Your Brain to Win.

Every now and then, pause to ask, “What am I missing? What is going on in the world that I should pay attention to?” Then look for ways to build space into your life for balancing the big picture and details on an ongoing basis.

For example:

• At weekly management meetings, talk about an idea or technique from another industry and how it might apply to your business.

• Visit to hear short presentations from some of the world’s best minds. Once a week, have someone watch a TED video that, on the surface, has nothing to do with your business or industry, and present a lunch-and-learn session for the rest of your staff.

• Spend 15 minutes each day studying news from several different sources.

• Read those trade and professional association journals you have stacked up on the floor in your office to look for new ideas.

• Take a day off from your business. No cell phones, no PDAs, no checking in to see what’s going on. You’ll be amazed at how this invigorates your thinking.

• Invite a business associate to lunch and talk about their business. This will force you to think about your own business in new and different ways.

• Attend a conference that is outside your industry or function. Ask a client if you can accompany them to one they are familiar with.

We can’t change the brain’s propensity for screening out data that doesn’t fit our view of the world. What we can do is stay aware of this tendency and build in habits that allow us to pause and balance the big picture with the details on a regular basis.

Call to action: Commit to following through on at least one of the “Balancing the Big Picture with the Details” bullet points. Write down the time and date you will do it.

LinkedIn question: Which of these six driving forces do you think will not impact your business? Why?

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