I found it depressing to read that the U.S. Post Office announced recently that it was on a path to lose $9.2 billion this fiscal year, and that they are trying to figure out how to deal with the implications of e-mail and electronic document storage and sharing. A good time to think about those issues would have been 1994-95 when such technologies were emerging, not 15 years later when they are driving it to irrelevancy!
It matters not whether you are a for-profit business, an arm of a government, an education system or a non-profit, the world changes. Technologies evolve, lifestyles come and go, economic conditions shift in surprising ways, and new players emerge with bright ideas that bring about big upheavals.
So…any organization should be doing the following:
1.) Constantly ask how you are going to compete successfully in the future. What emerging trends or technologies have the potential to have a big impact on what the organization currently does?
2.) Lead the way in experimenting with products and services that take advantage of those trends and technologies. In doing this, use fresh talent that are neither experienced nor at all subservient to you current ways of doing business.
3.) Move fast but stay flexible. Be very willing to put aside all current practices, and be ready to modify your efforts on the fly based on new learning.
4.) Be willing to face that fact that your organization may not deserve to exist in the future, and design a way to exit in an effective and efficient manner.