08 Jan Three Trends to Watch in 2019
I am fascinated by developing human potential. I have written nine books and spent almost thirty years helping leaders and companies stay ahead of the curve in terms of their leadership, purpose and burden of responsibility. My clients say their work with me sharpens their competitive edge and keeps them motivated to serve their customers, build up their employees and make greater gains in goals around corporate social responsibility. So, as a follow up to my 2018 book The Purpose Revolution: How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in an Age of Social Good, I am sharing three key trends to consider as we start the new year in a powerful way.
Trend One: It will get even harder to differentiate your business, so you’d better think differently
In most businesses today, we are increasingly in a world where most of the levers used to differentiate ourselves keep getting harder. I call it the age of product commoditization, where the differentiators of price, quality, and service mostly get you into the game. The Amazon world we live in has created a place where price is set by the lowest competitor. With a few notable exceptions, our products are rarely fundamentally different than our competition. We create, they imitate. Even companies like Apple are finding it increasingly hard to be different. Quality and great service still matter but they are now base expectations. So, what’s left? To me it is all about relationship. Have we created a relationship with our customers that is based on a connection to their values? In my latest book The Purpose Revolution, I show that companies who make a values and purpose connection with customers are growing about 30% faster than those who don’t. I also show that when customers have a values connection with a company, they remain loyal and don’t switch brands when competitors lower their price. A great example of values loyalty is Ben & Jerry’s, where a third of customers buy ice cream from them because they believe in the company’s values which revolve around social, environmental and economic ethics. The Ben & Jerry’s fans never switch even when other premium ice creams are cheaper. So, what is the relationship you have with your customers- Do they truly have a relationship with you and a deep sense of connection to shared values?
Trend Two: Disruption will continue to accelerate, so you’d better be disrupting, not waiting to get disrupted
Years ago, I used to give lots of sessions on Managing Change. I stopped that because the future doesn’t belong to those who manage change but to those who CREATE IT! Instead I give talks on Leading for Transformational Change. Disruption is the order of the day and creating change in every industry. Today, machines manage portfolios as well or better than humans. People compare and source products themselves so middle men and distributors are struggling. Just when you think you can glide, someone else starts disrupting! One of our clients is FAIR, a new form of car ownership that lets you buy a car on subscription just like watching a film on Netflix. They are disrupting the business of vehicle sales that has been stable since the 1950s. So, what do we do if disruption is going to keep accelerating? The answer is simple but hard: focus on disrupting yourself! On a recent visit to Google they put it this way, “You better be asking how to put yourself out of business because someone else is in a basement doing that very thing.” Most people have heard of the dating app Tinder, but how many know it was created by match.com. Why? The CEO sent some of his best people in the company to the basement and said, “Put us out of business before someone else does.” They invented Tinder, a faster way to meet people. Now both companies are thriving, but just imagine if someone else had invented Tinder instead?
Trend Three: Busyness & Stress will keep growing, so you’d better take your own wellbeing seriously
The final trend is that we aren’t going to get any less busy or stressed in the world of work. As one of my clients says, “It’s like drinking water from a fire hose.” Surveys show people are more stressed and more time starved than ever. So, we’d better double down on wellbeing both for ourselves and our organizations. Recently I spoke to a group of high-powered CEOs gathering in Scottsdale and they asked me to speak to them about how to “be more happy in 2019.” People who are happy perform better, are more creative and make better decisions. So smart companies and wise leaders aren’t leaving wellbeing to chance. Staying happy and reducing stress needs to be serious business in business. What are you doing to increase your happiness and calm amidst the storm? What is your business doing to truly help people thrive?