Embracing Change in the Workplace by Predicting the Future

Is your company currently going through a transition? How do you navigate change in the workplace?

Many people fear change because it can be difficult and painful, even if it’s necessary and inevitable. Therefore, you must readily embrace change, rather than fear it.

Continue reading for the key to embracing change in the workplace.

Embrace Change

In Thou Shall Prosper, Daniel Lapin says that many companies go out of business when faced with change. However, the people who are embracing change in the workplace often enjoy profits that more than make up for their initial losses. In other words, those companies find that things have indeed changed for the better. 

For example, when the Internet became available to the average person, it created enormous changes in the business world. Many companies that didn’t embrace those changes went bankrupt, like Toys “R” Us and Blockbuster. However, businesses that embraced those changes and used them to their advantage—such as Amazon, led by Jeff Bezos—enjoyed enormous profits. 

(Shortform note: The classic business fable Who Moved My Cheese? gives two reasons why people (and businesses) tend to fear and resist change, even though it often works out for the best. First of all, people who are satisfied with the way things are will naturally resist change because it could upset their comfortable situation. Second, people (satisfied or not) tend to exaggerate the risks associated with any given change—they’ll imagine worst-case scenarios and act as if those scenarios are sure to happen. However, the moral of Who Moved My Cheese? is the same as what Lapin says here: Change is inevitable, and usually beneficial for those individuals and companies who embrace it.)  

We’ll discuss how you can guide your business through major changes, and how you can anticipate those changes by learning to predict future trends. 

How to Navigate Big Changes

Lapin says that companies can navigate major changes by acting slowly and purposefully, rather than impulsively reacting to a changing market. Furthermore, it’s crucial for companies undergoing change to stay connected to their core values and mission statements—if they make changes that compromise their brand identities, they’re likely to lose customers instead of gaining new ones.

A business that exemplifies successfully navigating change is the Walt Disney Company. While staying rooted in its mission to entertain and inspire people through stories, and continuing to use its most popular characters (like Mickey Mouse) as the foundation for its brand, Disney has repeatedly expanded and diversified over the last century to become one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. 

Lapin bases his assertions about change on Jewish traditions. Judaism teaches that change is easier to accept when it happens gradually, which is why rituals to honor life changes (such as marriages and deaths) take place over multiple days. 

Jewish rituals also make it easier to embrace change by encouraging you to draw support from the parts of your life that remain constant. Such rituals involve praying, celebrating, or mourning with your family and community—therefore, they help you stay connected to your loved ones and your faith as you navigate major changes in other aspects of your life.

Looking to the Future

You can arguably embrace change more easily and more effectively by following another of Lapin’s teachings: Learn how to predict the future. (This may help you to figure out exactly how things will change.)

To help with this, Lapin provides several pieces of advice on how to make the most accurate predictions possible.

Tip 1: Study current trends and ask, “How did we get here?” When trying to predict future events, it’s often helpful to see what led to the present state of affairs. In other words, before trying to guess the future, look at the recent past for major trends that are likely to continue (or to end soon). For example, the Earth’s climate is getting warmer, and that trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that people will need affordable and reliable air conditioning; that could be a business opportunity for you.

(Shortform note: When considering possibilities—like whether a certain trend will continue—the most accurate predictions tend to come from people who embrace uncertainty and think in probabilities, rather than definite terms. In Superforecasting, political science writer Philip E. Tetlock and journalist Dan Gardner say that the best forecasters are those who break the habit of thinking only in terms of “yes,” “no,” and “maybe.” Instead, they estimate (in percentages) how likely it is that something will happen, and then choose a course of action based on that probability. This method is similar to how skilled poker players will calculate the odds of a winning hand and pick their plays based on those calculations.)  

Tip 2: Keep an eye on world events. Major events can create opportunities or dangers for your business. For example, Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine caused a sharp—though relatively brief—spike in gas prices around the world. Therefore, companies that rely on transport vehicles (trucks, trains, planes, and so on) had to find ways to prepare or compensate for those increased costs. 

(Shortform note: Predicting the outcomes of major world events can be difficult; big changes often have far-reaching and unpredictable effects. To make your predictions more accurate, the authors of Superforecasting suggest a technique called Bayesian question clustering. Instead of trying to answer one big question (“What will the war in Ukraine do to my business?”), break it down into numerous smaller questions that you can answer: For instance, “What will happen to my business if the price of gas increases?” or “How might a war in Ukraine affect the global supply chain?”) 

Embracing Change in the Workplace by Predicting the Future

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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