The Pace of Change

Originally posted on March 30th, 2007 by Pete

If you think ideas and change are happening more quickly than they used to, you are probably right. On the Conference Board’s website is an article describing how the rate of change is impacting the business of managing organizations. 

“Ideas are circulating faster,” Clark says, “with the consequence that the lifespans of recent management fashions are considerably shorter than those for ideas which came to prominence in earlier periods; their peaks are much higher.” Research confirms this. A recent academic study found that the period of time between the introduction of a fashionable management idea or technique and the peak in its popularity has fallen from a mean average of 14.8 years in the 1950s through the 1970s, to 7.5 years in the 1980s and to 2.6 years in the 1990s.

 (For the entire article, click here http://www.conference-board.org/articles/atb_article.cfm?id=346&pg=4.)

This may mean that we are increasingly impatient for new approaches to deliver results, and when they don’t (or if they take too long) we abandon the approach.  But it may also mean that we have become so addicted to the new and novel that we are ready to jump on whatever the next bandwagon happens to be because we have to be the first in line.

For management consultants, this can result in continuous morphing of your identity. “TQM? Sure, we do that. I mean, Six Sigma? Yes, we have that.” For businesses, it can mean wasting a lot of time and effort training people, creating powerpoint decks, re-positioning initiatives, changing labels on things, and so forth. But little benefit. Running a business requires more than just applying the latest idea. You have to really understand your market, your technology, your value proposition. It isn’t often (ever?) simple.

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