Do you remember the time when you could smoke in hospitals? It seems completely inappropriate now, but just a few decades ago, nurses made a tour of the rooms with a selection of cigarettes and sold them to bedridden patients. When chocolate cigarettes for children got banned, there was a great dismay, but a few years later, it is hard to imagine why we were so keen to nudge our children into unhealthy addictive habits. Society changes, whether we like it or not.
The dissapearance of the classic light bulbs
Since 2005 the classic light bulbs are being phased out in favor of more energy-efficient lighting innovations. Just imagine you are in the business of these light bulbs. If you did not see these changes coming, you are bound for a hard ride. One German importer had a smart idea and simply reclassified the lamps as “mini heaters” for your house, but that loophole was also quickly closed when policy makers found out what was happening.
Culture changes over time. Today’s society has a different morality than it had in the past. This will not be different for our society in the future. Things that we now find normal will completely disappear, or will at least be frowned upon.
Are we still going to be stuck in the exhaust fumes from miles of traffic jams on the way to work? Will we look back in amazement at the time when we transported ourselves by burning scarce and polluting fossil fuels?
One thing is certain: society changes, and so should your company. We have to stay alert to these cultural changes. Keep your eyes open for the so-called megatrends that could have a huge impact. For example, what could be the consequences on your business of individualization, focus on sustainability, rapid urbanisation, or virtual experiences?
Nothing is permanent except change. Pick up these societal changes as fast as possible and think about how they impact your business. Do not only focus on potential threats, but identify the opportunities as well. And dare to disrupt your own business. If you don’t, sooner or later somebody else will.