In a July 6, 2016 New York Times column, writer Farhad Manjoo highlighted a quote from “Future Shock,” the 1970 book by author and pioneering futurist, Alvin Toffler.
“Change is avalanching upon our heads and most people are grotesquely unprepared to cope with it.”
Toffler, who died in June at the age of 87, coined the phrase future shock, referring to the psychological state of people, or a social sickness that occurs when there’s “too much change in too short a period of time.”
While Manjoo linked Toffler’s profound argument to the news of the day – the Presidential race, Brexit, social media, inequality, and so on – we look at this statement and see a more myopic issue – the business world’s lack of planning for the future.
During the last recession, many businesses tightened their belts, opting to keep things constant instead of planning for growth. Positions in marketing, sales and communication that are necessary for growth were consolidated or eliminated – all in the name of keeping things on an even keel.
This has left many businesses living day to day, paycheck to paycheck, with no plans for the next five, 10, 25 years.
As you can imagine, firms that recently pressed the “Oh Sh!t” button emerged from stasis to a world that is in constant flux, and are now forced to play catch up.
If there’s one lesson we can learn from the recent economic turmoil, it’s that the future is going to happen … no matter what.
We don’t have to accurately predict the future, as leaders in our respective industries we have to take a shot. Planning for the future is an acknowledgement that things are going to chance, and as Toffler said:
“Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.”