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"Transformation will not wait, pause, or stand aside while you think about it. There are three critical truths about business in this new era that you cannot afford to ignore: 1.) Transformation will happen. 2.) If it can be done, it will be done. 3.) If you don't do it, someone else will." Daniel Burrus

What's the difference between change and transformation? Barnes & Noble changed how we bought books (and pricy lattes!); Amazon transformed how we buy books. Change is doing the same thing a bit differently; transformation is breaking the mold and doing something radically different. Daniel Burrus, author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, writes, "Embracing change is no longer enough; we need to transform." Transformation won't wait; neither can you.

Don't Think Outside the Box: Completely Transform the Box

Transform is the third of Burrus's seven triggers that lead to flash foresights. These insights can help you see into the future - and shape it. How does transformation look in the real world?

As agricultural methods have advanced, for example, they have changed the way farmers produce crops. Given the growing demand for food and finite resources (e.g. land, water), they now need to transform it.

Burrus, a world-renowned futurist, predicts that by the end of this decade, farmers will use smart tractors and "plant" wireless transmitters and nanoantennae in their fields. They'll be able to see, courtesy of their computer or smartphone, which areas are under attack by pests, which are low on moisture, and which need more fertilizer.

This will enable them to optimize each acre, and use their time and resources (particularly increasingly expensive and scarce water) much more efficiently.

Agriculture, healthcare, marketing, media, entertainment, sales, education... there is no "field or profession, no business or organization, no country or society that is not going to transform dramatically and fundamentally over the years ahead."

Living in a Both/And World

At the same time, it's important to remember that dramatic and fundamental transformations do not necessarily doom older technologies to the scrapheap. Often, they coexist.

Take the Barnes & Noble and Amazon example: while the latter offers an endless selection of books, it didn't send the former out of business. Why? Because physical locations still have advantages that you can't get online. You can sit in a comfortable chair; chat with other booklovers, and, of course, sip that latte.

It's not either/or. It's both/and. One "flash foresight key" to thriving, says Burrus, is to figure out creative ways to incorporate the "freshly old" with the "emerging new." Barnes & Noble does this, for instance, by offering electronic kiosks in-store, as well as the NOOK, an e-reader with similar functionality to the Amazon Kindle.

Ready or not, transformation is coming. How can you prepare?

Discovering the Opportunity in Transformation

You can position yourself - and your organization - to capitalize on transformation. Instead of a massive disruption, it can become a significant opportunity. Burrus outlines four steps that you can take now:

  1. Review the 8 pathways of technological advancement. How will each of these transformations affect your business? Your life? How can you apply each of these transformations to innovate in your life and business?
  2. What impact will the 3 digital accelerators have on your life, your business, and your customers? What can you do to prepare?
  3. How do you think your own industry/field will transform in the next few years? Look at changes in healthcare and agriculture as a guide.
  4. Keep both/and in mind. How can you integrate new and old technologies in your field to realize better results?

Transformation is inevitable. Transforming your business is not; it requires conscious effort and a preactive approach. Decide now if transformation will be a disruption for your life and business - or an opportunity for sustainable success.


Larry Hart

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