As a leader, you will have to make decisions. Lots of them. And you’ll probably spend significant amounts of time and energy trying to make unbiased, fair decisions. But you’ll also probably discover that finding the right balance is quite the challenge.
Many small businesses lament that they do not have the resources nor foresight to compete in the new economy. Contrary to what most believe, technology actually develops rather slowly, then becomes viable suddenly. Usually the signs are there, except that the ‘perfect storm’ has not yet happened. Unless you are familiar with the technology, it would usually be too late for any unsuspected onlookers to get involved when the ‘storm’ does happen.
Therefore, getting your people familiar with future technologies is critical to your company’s growth. And we are not talking about merely attending seminars and conferences!
Here’s how you can better help your people cope with the future.
Get Used to Change
While it can be unsettling for many, it is important for your people to always be trying something new. Consider mobilising them across different projects or even different roles. As they pick up new skills, they are inadvertently trained to adapt to the changing needs of the company. This would also help them avoid getting trapped in a mode of complacency. When real change does happen, the team would have the necessary flexibility and tenacity to ride the change.
Dabble with Technology
Even when a technology is not commercially viable, you should allow your people to come in close contact with it. First, there is the awareness of what possibilities a technology can offer. More importantly, let your team experiment with it and see how the technology can be applied in your industry domain. This would help your team build the necessary “muscle memory”, i.e. knowing how to avoid the pitfalls and putting the pieces together when the technology is ready.
Invest Real Resources
Nothing beats putting actual resources, i.e. money, time, and people, into a project of future strategic importance. Consider investing at least 10% of your resources to get acquainted with future technologies. This means setting up a dedicated project committee or even a department to explore such technologies, without the distraction of other daily operations. Accept that the ROI won’t happen immediately, and that it is an important strategic bet to become future-leading.