Some thoughts about what this summer has taught us about change.
As we approach the end of July and the thermometer routinely hovers around the 30 °C (a pretty decent temperature in the Nordics) we seem to move from the ashes to the frying pan.
Covid-19 waves seem to keep coming and, as if that wasn't bad enough, waves of rainwater have caused severe flooding all over the world. In other places fires scorch the earth supported by enduring heatwaves. Meanwhile billionaires try to get an overview from the edge of space and confidently wave to the masses after safely returning to Earth's surface.
Smile and wave?
One of the problems with big, scary, hugely complex problems is that they can be so big, scary and hugely complex that it seems easier to ignore them and hope they go away or that someone else will fix them. After all, we all knew that Jeff Bezos was building a rocket and planning to use it. We cannot say that we weren't warned.
Last year several companies started surfing the wave of digital transformation inspired by (or realistically forced by) the persistent and widespread lockdowns. Digital transformation is, however, not a new beast, but still many executives are surprised to learn that the much talk about Amazon is not driven by a keen interest in fluvial deltas. An exaggeration, of course, but let's face it: online meetings are not new technology.
Digital transformation is enabled by new technologies, but the change has to be driven by people. Which means that the pace of change rapidly drops to glacial speeds (ups - cannot use that expression anymore, given the speed with which they are now melting away). The speed of change drops to the level of the European Handball Federation's adaptation of dress codes for women's beach handball. This is so slow that it actually caused a wave of uproar on social media. Shortsightedness give no shorts in sight for the female handball players. Yet!
What does all of this boil down to?
We need to do things differently. Many things. Some very differently. Some we need to stop doing. Most importantly, we need to it now. Much of it comes down to the accumulated small choices we all make every day. We have collectively been able to make very bad choices, usually driven by the lowest price on the short term. This applies to both companies and individuals. Technology can be a strong tool to help us make better choices going forward, but before even wanting the technology we must want the change. People must want the change.
Companies are made up of people and companies must want to drive the change too. There are really no excuses for not leveraging technology to do more, do better. AI, blockchain, internet of things etc. all open for better ways of doing business. They may look big, scary and hugely complex, but they don't have to be and they definitely can't be put off. Time to get it on.
Speaking of which; at the next international competition we hope to see the Norwegian women's beach handball team waving confidently wearing the attire of their choice.
Happy summer to all! 👋