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The Times: They Keep on Changing

Over 25 years ago, The One Minute Manager revolutionized the way leaders approached the art of managing. These days there is certainly no shortage of management books out there and many have asked me the motivation behind my own book, More Than A Minute. While consulting leaders across the globe, one thing became clear to me – much had changed over the last few decades and leaders and managers not only needed to be able to convey this to those they were attempting to lead but they also required a concise roadmap to help navigate through these changing times.

It is a bit mind boggling when you stop to consider the depth and complexity of transformation to our everyday lives in the past 25 years. The world has certainly changed, the way we live has changed and so has the way we do business. There are six categories we can glance at that tell the story pretty well.

  • Communications – We can reach anyone, anywhere, at any time! 25 years ago we faced busy signals and mail that took several days to arrive. But now, connection is instantaneous and the methods seem endless via your cell phone, PDA, Skype, and various internet channels like social networking profiles (Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter).
  • Information – Did you know the number of text messages sent each day exceeds the total population of the earth? There certainly is no shortage of information. Previously, we relied on trips to the library for facts but these days we are only a few clicks away from getting an answer to virtually any question conceivable. We don’t even have to wait for the paperboy to deliver the daily news as morning papers can be sent directly to your PDA via RSS feeds bringing news in real time.Speed & Size – Faster and smaller is the way of life these days. Just when we think it can’t get any faster, it does. Distance is no longer a boundary because when it comes to doing business, reach is almost limitless. Teams can work globally and virtually 24/7.
  • Technology – You certainly don’t need me to rehash the extensive developments in this space but consider; the average consumer today wears more computing power on their wrists than existed in the entire world before 1961. Something as simple as blogging (which allows internet desktop publishing) has become a way of life for over 31 million people which happens to be more people than even had internet connection just ten short years ago.
  • Competition & Customers – Today, barriers to entry for business have been lessened and some even eliminated. The ability to share information instantly around the world coupled with the ability to readily access it means that it’s less complicated than ever to start your own business. Garage start-ups don’t appear any differently to the consumer via the web than large, brick and mortar structures. And customers are not only finding products online, they are turning to the Internet for every aspect of their lives. One out of seven couples married in 2007 met online. Now that’s effective service!
  • Generations & Diversity – The United States has four generations at work for the first time ever. The differences in values, needs, wants and desires are enormous- providing unending perspectives on every aspect of business, product, and service.

There is no denying the vast differences between the old-style of administration and directing and the new methods of guiding and inspiring. Today’s managers and leaders are faced with a whole new set of expectations especially in terms of the ways they motivate those who work with them and for them.

With all that said, it’s important to remember that certain aspects and behaviors of leaders and managers that were important twenty five years ago still remain critical today and will likely be vital even 100 years from now. These include acting with integrity, leading by example, developing talent and ensuring customer satisfaction/loyalty.

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