Call Me Amy Jetson

Last week while I was waiting for a flight to board, I walked into one of those newly redesigned stores at the airport where you swipe your credit card upon entry, grab the snacks you want and then you walk out of the store. Invisible scanners take note of everything you grabbed and charge your card for it automatically. 

Three weeks ago, I ordered a brand new electric car online using my credit card for the down payment and the process was as easy as ordering a pair of shoes. I picked the color, the model, the range of miles I wanted it to have, and the salesman told me that I could always add the $10,000 self-driving package I didn’t want later because it is simply a software download.

Just today, I ordered groceries, rescheduled a doctor’s appointment and set up payments for my daughter’s college tuition all on my cell phone from a hotel room over 200 miles from my home.  

Am I the only one who feels like the world is changing so quickly right now I can barely keep up? My brain sometimes feels like it’s spinning as I try to process the change.

Most days, I just want everyone to call me Amy Jetson.

The pandemic has without a doubt increased pace of change and our use of technology in new ways over the past eighteen months. Automation, one-click online ordering, no touch payment, virtual document signing and unbelievably fast delivery of goods are all now the norm, an expectation not the exception.  

I don’t think there is any doubt that we are living RIGHT NOW in a turning point, a moment in history that will be talked about for generations to come. The world is changing before our very eyes.

While it’s exciting and energizing for those who easily embrace change and technology, I think for all of us, it also causes at least some stress and anxiousness. Will I be left behind? How can I even keep up when I just learned how to use the LAST technology or social media platform or app?  Is all of this change GOOD, even if it is more efficient and really cool?  Should we trust this new technology when it eliminates so much interaction with actual people from our lives?   

So many questions arise, but the truth is that whether we resist it mildly or rail against it vehemently, whether it’s empowering or harmful, it doesn’t really matter. We are powerless to stop it. Change is here to stay. And not just change, but I believe that RAPID change is here to stay.  

Because I spend my work days holding space for leaders who are navigating this fast-paced change, the question I have been asking is what do leaders need to guide their teams and organizations in this kind of environment?  What will set apart those organizations and businesses who just barely survive from those who thrive?   

I have three tips I’ve learned from the leaders and businesses I see staying on the crest of change and not getting swallowed by it. 

  1. Be nimble. In a rapidly changing environment, it’s dangerous to become too attached to any particular PROCESS or any role in any line of work. Anything can be obsolete in an instant. Everything and every role must be constantly evaluated for its efficiency and effectiveness. Are we just doing it this way because we always have?  What if we removed the constraints of past thinking? What technology could maximize the effectiveness of what we do? Where are we too slow or antiquated (even if you just instituted that process 3 years or 3 months ago)?  
  2. Be extremely clear on the PURPOSE of your business or organization while being flexible with the process. Be steadfast and consistent in your communication of the purpose of the business or organization you lead, even if the way you raise money or sell or deliver your products or interact with your clients changes frequently. What do you provide that sets you apart from your competition? Why do you exist? What is the underlying meaning in all of it? If this isn’t clear, I can almost guarantee you won’t survive the intensity of all this change.  
  3. Remember that strong relationships are the foundation of all great organizations, and they will never become obsolete. In her book Radical Candor, Kim Scott says that we often, “undervalue the ‘emotional labor’ of being the boss.’” When you feel like your real work is always interrupted by people, remember that as the leader, your real work IS leading the people. Scott says, “emotional labor is not just part of the job; it’s the key to being a good boss.” Emotional intelligence and the ability to connect with people are today’s most valuable and rare currencies. If you can work effectively with people, you will always land on your feet and your business will too.  

Mostly, know that it isn’t only you who feels a little breathless or overwhelmed at the current pace of change. We are all trying to keep up as we interact with our world in new ways and play a small part in this moment of time that will change our world forever. Stay nimble, stay connected with your purpose and with your people and you will be able to not only survive but thrive.  

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