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Views from the Prairie

August 20

Dance and Turn

We can watch ice dancers race, turn, and pivot as they try to make beauty on the ice. Each individual or team has a different set of moves and different music that they dance to. Businesses all over have the same opportunity to race, turn, and pivot to find new ways to profit during times like now when what has worked in the past no longer works. The next few years will continue to have rapid changes because of debt, generational changes, and more. We will have to continue the dance for years.

Yes, we are in rapid changes. While the pandemic was the trigger, our economic world had been teetering on the edge for a while. Our world is awash in debt and a debt slowdown was inevitable.

We are also in the middle of a generational change. The Baby Boomers are retiring and dying off. Both the next generation and the generation after that will have to carry the country forward.

The next few years will be a challenging time. Even though the stock market roared back, the economy has not. Worldwide, we are facing a serious slowdown. No country has escaped and all are slowing.

One thing is very clear - attempts to "go back to the good times" won't work. What worked during the good times rarely continues to work in this new environment. The people who made the good times work are those who are now retiring.

We need to innovate and find new ideas, new strategies, and new techniques to survive. This is called "pivoting" the company. Inc. magazine recently surveyed their most successful firms. Many of them have already pivoted since the pandemic hit.

Pivoting the company is difficult. Smaller companies pivot much easier than larger ones do. In most recessions, the leading companies prior to the recession rarely are the leaders after the recession. This has to do both with the size of the company and the type of people who work in such companies.

Large firms have a hard time pivoting as fast as smaller firms do. Most major firms exist to preserve an existing structure. That means that they hire, train, and promote those who know how to preserve existing structures.

Take IBM as an example. At one time, it was the technology leader of America. However, the environment changed and it no longer met the needs. It has gone through a number of changes. Whole divisions and product lines have been sold off. Many of the workers have retired or have been let go. It is a totally different company today than it was then. It has a very different set of products and services. It took a lot to pivot such a large, successful company.

Our future will come from new ideas, new people, new services, and new ways of dealing with the world. Instead of trying to protect old ideas and old companies, we would do better to find those people with new ideas and promote them.

Be the Best Version of Yourself

We all are getting tired. We slack off, give up hope, and stop trying for the best. Sometimes, it can be so easy to just go with the flow of those around us even when that flow is harmful or winds up at the wrong place. We are called to be the best we can be. But we are human. We fall down, we fail, and we don't meet the hopes of those around us. But as we strive for the better, our failings fade away.

Many people are tired of the efforts we face. We want the hard times to be over. We do need to take time off from the efforts just in order to be able to face the next day. Hard times never go away just because we wish them to.

But, we have a future. In order to get that future, we need to focus on being the best we can be. It takes a lot of work to get beyond the hard times.

We can focus on our strengths instead of obsessing over our weaknesses. We have different strengths and those change over time. When we discover who we are and live in integrity to that person, we gain far more than when we conform to someone else.

Yes, there are times when we need to do stuff we are not good at and times when we have to operate in our weakness. But, we are the most productive when we work in our strengths.

People will forgive you for being human, failing, and not meeting their hopes. They will never forgive you for not living up to your own boasts.

It helps to be honest about our capabilities. The best way is to under promise and over deliver. But simply being honest is often enough.

Be the best you can today.

Risky World

McAfee researchers found a way to modify a picture so that to the naked human eye, it looks like one person but to the facial recognition software, it looks like someone totally different. It points out just how fragile such programs are and how dangerous any police reliance on them can be.


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