Change is Coming, Ready or Not

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The past 18 months have dramatically changed how we act, think, recreate and do business. While a great deal of our daily routines has returned, we have learned that many of us can be just as productive (or even more productive) working at home. We enjoy having our groceries delivered, and we’ve experienced the value in attending virtual classes, conferences and seminars. When we do meet others, the greetings have changed; maybe a fist bump or elbow tap, but fewer handshakes.

The global supply-chain mess we are all sorting through is also changing the way we think. Companies that have spent decades optimizing their supply-chain management with high-inventory turns are now rethinking not only just-in-time inventories, but also the value of buffer stock, which until recently was considered waste. And, of course, we have all learned that virtual meetings can save time we previously spent traveling.

The pandemic is driving a lot of change, but it’s not what’s driving most of the change headed our way. A big part of the changes coming is related to technology — and the primary driver of technological change is increasing computing power. This increasing power is creating change that will affect our businesses and every area of our lives. The world will be much different in 10 years.

Ever since George Mitchell pioneered commercial fracking more than 20 years ago, the United States has become not only energy independent, but also a net exporter of energy. That is a big change, but bigger ones will come. Decreasing costs of solar power, especially when matched by an increase in battery technology, will make solar power the obvious and inexpensive energy choice for much of the world. Electrification is already underway, looking to phase out internal combustion engines, and changing the automotive and boating industries. Our electric boat company, Ingenity, is selling electric watersports boats with great performance around the globe today.

Virtual and augmented reality will change how we sell, manufacture, learn and experience the world. Biotech, biometrics and genomic advancements will soon significantly change how we live and how long we live; what we are learning about our microbiome alone will dramatically change medicine. Robotics and 3D printing will not only help to relieve labor shortages, but also will lower the cost of production and hasten delivery of industrial and personal goods. Finally, nanotechnology and quantum computing will have the most impact: They will change everything.

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The world is changing fast — very fast. As leaders, we must be looking out to the future and innovating. If our organizations are not innovating, then their very survival is at risk.

Almost every leader agrees that innovation is important, but it is surprising how few leaders really understand the process. I have written and spoken a lot about the process of innovation, and it takes way more to be innovative than just deciding you want to be innovative.

The biggest mistake I see leaders make related to innovation is failing to take the time to understand the difference between sustaining and disruptive innovation. Each of these types of innovation is managed differently, and failing to understand the distinction can be the difference in success or failure of your innovation efforts. The best book written on this topic is The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen; every leader interested in innovation should read it.

Other innovation mistakes include being afraid to self-disrupt, being afraid to fail, lacking a growth mindset, and lacking clarity around the importance of innovation. Additionally, some organizations get caught in the trap of trying to be market-driven, when true innovators are market-driving.

Our team has spent a tremendous amount of time and effort the past several years to learn all we can about innovation. We, along with some outstanding guests, are going to share what we have learned at the marine industry’s first Innovation Summit on September 9. As a service to our friends in the industry, our company is underwriting the entire cost of the summit, so it is free to attend, no catch. As I write this, we have about 600 industry leaders who will join us at the summit to learn about innovation. If you would like to join us, more information can be found at www.themarineinnovationsummit.com

The world is changing incredibly fast. Your organization’s future is predictable: If you are innovating, you will likely thrive. If your company is not innovating, then get your resume polished up. You will be needing it.

Bill Yeargin is CEO of Correct Craft and author of Education of a CEO: Lessons for Leaders.

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