The Pace of Change, Part 1: Warp Speed Ahead

The Pace of Change is an article series that explores the quickening pace of change, how organizations are responding, and why the only way to keep up is by fundamentally shifting our view on change.

by Holly Pendleton, Director, Organizational Change Management at Envision Business Consulting

Change is not only constant – it is accelerating. Leaders increasingly understand the importance of anticipating change and investing in organizational change management. As the pace of change quickens, however, the gap between “where we are” and “where we need to be” widens.

Research paints a picture of organizations continuing to fall prey to the increasing rate of change:

Organizations are trying their best to address change effectively yet continually falling short of the skills and resources demanded by accelerating change.

Why Change is Accelerating

Have you noticed the default response to the question “how are you?” has shifted from “fine” or “good” to “busy”? We feel this way because we’re inundated with understanding and navigating changes impacting all aspects of our lives. Ray Kurzweil is a futurist known for his forecasts and insights on accelerating change. Kurzweil explains that technology development is no longer about creating new tools, but rather using new technology to create even more powerful technology. It’s an exponential expansion through each round of innovation.

Technology innovation that we interface with every day, such as your smart phone, is only one accelerator. Organizations are being forced to confront the following major trends:

  • Globalization – Competitors, consumers, and employees anywhere
  • The Gig Economy – Freelancers and independent professionals, temporary contractors, and consultants transforming who, when, how work gets done
  • The Machine Economy – Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Cognitive Technology disrupting jobs and work processes long considered immune to this kind of displacement
  • The Internet of Things – Connecting people, devices, and intelligence shifts ways of working, productivity capability and expectations, and the way we interact

These trends help to explain why we experience a pace of change that isn’t slowing down. In 2001, Kurzweil predicted:

“We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”

Becoming intentional about leading through change requires business leaders to understand what is impacting the pace of change, continue to invest in managing change, and take action to develop new capabilities to effectively lead change across all levels of the organization.

Stay tuned for the next article in this series, where we’ll take a look at how organizations approach change today: The Spotlight Effect.

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These insights were derived from our ongoing executive roundtable hosted in Phoenix, AZ. At these complimentary roundtables held across the US, business leaders discuss challenges and trends, strategies to get ahead, and how to turn strategy into action.

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