*B’oni ti ri, ola o ri be, ni ng mu babalawo d’ifa oroorun.
I was at an official retreat recently, and one word has refused to leave me since then – change. And I do not mean the hypocritical change being mouthed by our politicians at the moment.
The buzzword today in the industry I work in is disruptive technology. Disruptive technology is a subset of disruptive innovation, which Wikipedia defined as an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances.
In our industry, new entrants are leveraging on technology, new products are riding the waves of technology and the boundary between our traditional business and businesses in other industries is being thinned out by technology. Technology is doing us strong thing, we could whine all we wanted but that wouldn’t change a thing. We are smart, so we know we have just two options – evolve or go into extinction. We therefore focus on how technology was redefining our business and how we can leverage on that.
Late last year, I had the privilege of being in a meeting with someone I would call a veteran, he retired from the industry having reached the peak of his career and I couldn’t help but notice how he referred to the different era in which he operated – same industry, different times, vast difference. In his time, when they opened books of records, they meant it, now, when we open books, it could just be an excel sheet.
Some few years back, if someone wanted to discuss companies and how they responded to change, you would list RIM (makers of blackberry smartphone) as one of the game changers who rode on the back of innovations to become a force to watch and the toast of investors. Today, things have further changed, the game changers are the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, while RIM is now a struggling brand, in the same list as Nokia and Yahoo.
Change is a dynamic constant force, that almost read like an oxymoron. Statistics show that only 71 companies from the original Fortune 500 list, compiled in 1955, are still in operation. The other 429 have either been bought out or gone under, classical example of – nothing stays the same for ever. In our country, as with many countries of the world, telecommunication companies (telcos) are money-spinners, so much so that job applicants see them as the next viable option after IOCs (International Oil Companies) but today, the going is not as sweet as it used to be.
Recently, we woke up to the news that telcos in Nigeria were considering shutting out Over-The-Top (OTT) services like Whatsapp, Skype etc as they realised those OTT services were running them out of business. As OTT services are giving telcos a run for their money, Financial Technology (FinTech) companies are giving financial service providers a run. I don’t know what industry you operate in but I assure you things are changing there as well, disruptive innovations are coming for us all.
In all of these, it might be easy to assume that corporates are the ones who need to brace up against the coming revolution of disruptive technologies, not so. We forget that as it affects corporates, so it affects nations and individuals. Evolutionists say man has had to adapt over the ages and that’s why we are still here. The creatures that didn’t adapt, like dinosaurs, are extinct. It means we must always think of newer and better ways of doing whatever it is that we do.
As it stands, someone somewhere is thinking of how to change how you work or take your job altogether. You, therefore, can’t afford to be rigid, you must be ready to evolve. Think of the so many job functions of the past century that are no longer relevant. Forget how the books say it must be done, pay attention to Alvin Toffler’s words that – the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. You’ve got to constantly reinvent yourself to stay relevant.
In my opinion, our approach should be like those of the lion and the gazelle in Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running. Proactivity is the key – always stay ahead of the game.
PS: *The priest consults Ifa daily because he knows that each new day would be different from the last.
I am ‘Seun Alade