Changing at the Speed of Light

It’s fascinating looking back over the past 100 years to ponder the phenomenal changes that occurred. Moving from turning the fields with a horse and plow to putting a man on the moon.

The earlier prehistoric, stone, bronze and iron ages spanned over several thousands of years. The industrial age, which began around 1760 until 1840, took North American and Europe from an agricultural-based economy to an industrial one.

In the mid-19th century, after the invention of the internal combustion engine enabling the ability to harness electricity, we entered into the Second Industrial Revolution. This gave way to the advent of the assembly line.

During these periods, people had a chance to adjust and keep up with the times. Although the changes may have seemed quick at times, relative to current times, it was slow.

The Information Age or Computer Revolution started in the 1970s, but it was the Internet that drove it to reach critical mass in the 1990’s. The Computer Revolution has affected impacted almost every human being in the world.

The impact of the changes on the psyche has been as stark and abrupt as they have been with the actual technology primarily because it changes the way we do things and therefore the economy in significant ways. During the Industrial Age and the Second Industrial Revolution, people predominantly sought jobs in the industrial sector.

The majority of jobs created in the Computer Revolution were primarily manufacturing and engineering. Soon after companies sought cheaper ways to manufacture dramatically reducing workforces in North American and Europe. The jobs moved over to third world countries on the basis that the work being done with human intervention did not require any particular skills or knowledge.

At the beginning of this period, many companies either shifted their focus to provide services ranging from software development, integration of various platform and programs throughout an organization over multiple locations and technical support when there were issues. What some people saw then as the Service Age never really materialized for the simple reason that others around the world could offer similar services via the Internet for a lot less money.

Suddenly the competitive edge that the First World always enjoyed seemed to have slipped away. People weren’t prepared for this sudden shift and it was particularly difficult for those lower in the business hierarchy. Others may blame them for not seeing it coming, thereby retooling their skills/knowledge and moving more quickly to other fields.

Some claim we are now entering the Social Age, which encompasses societal, ecological and technological changes, to find creative ways to address modern day problems. The Social Age is feeling-based rather than physical with a focus on collaboration, sharing and greater good. Time will tell what impact this age will have on jobs and the economy.

So why is this history lesson of any importance?

Simply put, having time to think about taking an action or making a change is a lost luxury. Regardless of the organization’s size (this goes for world leaders as well), people expect the leader to produce conscious, well-thought-out plans and responses immediately. Someone can bungle once. It won’t go unnoticed, but if it happens twice, then one is categorized as incompetent — not a leader.

Ninety-nine percent of employees come to work for one reason. That reason is a paycheck. They aren’t there because of the leader, but it is possible to attract people that want to and do work for you because of your leadership and vision. The greatest success is created when you have a team of people that believe in your vision. People that feel a connection to the leader and the leader’s vision will go well beyond what is expected of them.

This isn’t to suggest you have to go it alone when making critical decisions or taking meaningful actions. However, it does highlight the importance of having a trusted, experienced advisor focused on your success to support you.

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