Wasn’t the Industrial Age supposed to be over in the 1970s? Oh, it was? Then why are so many companies still following the Industrial Age script?
In a word: habit. Comfort, even. Let’s face it; we humans don’t just change on a whim, merely because we feel like it. Most of us… well, we stick with what’s comfortable, what’s “normal” to us; what we’re good at.
And there is a whole world full of leaders who grew up in the Industrial Age – me included! We may not have found the mechanistic ways of our companies all that inspiring, all that fulfilling or (dare we say?) all that uplifting, but… well, a couple of decades later, it’s what we know. Our business leaders rose through the ranks in the Industrial Age – the leaders of legacy companies are the winners of the Industrial Age game, so it’s even less likely they find the old ways worth changing. And heck, aren’t they still teaching traditional old school management in business school?
No, a wise leader only changes because he has to. Because his organization is, as Intel’s Andy Grove put it, at a “strategic inflection point,” where it is no longer tenable to fiddle around the edges – where the entire competitive landscape has shifted, powerfully and irrevocably.
Or, as the Law of Change puts it, Change is the result of insurmountable market pressure.
Perhaps the Industrial Age was replaced by the Information Age when many of us were still just kids, but management didn’t flinch: information technology was easily integrated into the old school command and control leadership.
The 1.0 version of the Internet gave us another shiny new name: not Information Age, but Digital Age! Sexy, right? Transformative, even? Yet management easily incorporated digital into business as usual… and work continued on, orders coming down from the top, groans of despair rising back up the ladder, same as always.
Then, we went social. Starting about 2008, we hit a tipping point, where enough of us were connecting on social platforms that things really got interesting. Got disruptive. Got… insurmountable.
Welcome to the Social Age. How ready is your company for this new business reality?
By the way, check out something we’ve been working on recently. I’d love your thoughts, ideas, and feedback.