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Views from the Prairie

March 22

Surrender to the Changing Market

Ready to go back to "normal"? However, with the economic disruptions caused by a new war, that is not likely to happen. It is most likely that we will continue to see massive changes over the next 10 years. There is no way for any one person to know ahead of time what is going to happen. We need to be resilient, surrendering to the market, listening to the changes, and ready to pivot at any time.

History shows that changes never stop. There will be natural disasters as well as human caused tragedies. The more flexible a society is, the more likely it is to handle these events. Likewise, in business, the more flexible the business is, the more likely it is to handle the massive shifts that will happen.

As we actively listen to others, we can more easily see major shifts. Often, it takes a conscious effort to follow the shifts instead of trying to force our own understanding upon the world. We can have our "pet ideas" and may want to force things to "how they should be". Sometimes, the world will force us to pivot or fail.

To keep from simply being a follower, we dig deeper into our values and pivot based on our values. When we only try to follow the market, we will always be late. Doing "market research" and building to those results takes too much time. The market will have changed by the time we would be ready to sell. To pivot, we listen to the market but follow our "guiding star" and lead our customers.

Any time that there are major shifts, the organizations that were leading earlier get left behind. This is true for politics, governments, corporations, and non-profit organizations. They are unable to change as rapidly as the world does. Smaller organizations can pivot faster and take leading roles.

For most of us, we need to be aware that shifts are happening. In business, what worked last year is likely not to work next year. Business plans, especially five-year business plans are fiction. No business plan survives contact with the market. We build such plans to gain the value of the planning discipline, but need to surrender them to reality. We will always need to be reexamining the world we live in and make new decisions. Instead of making plans and following them, we live in constant analysis and decision making with new information coming in daily and new situations forced on us. We surrender to the concept that we can't control everything. We walk into the unknown trusting that everything will work out.

We surrender to a dynamic world. Those who retreat into an enclave will be left behind by the coming changes. Trying to preserve the old business will only leave us a declining customer base. In many cases, we need to find new business models and sometimes radically change how we operate.

Let us allow those enclaves to stay the same. We can visit them in the future as vacations to quaint places stuck in time. But our business will change.

Non-Traditional Candidates

Many job postings pull in hundreds if not thousands of applications and many of those applications don't have the needed experience. Quite a number of people are sending in applications in a "shotgun" style - spraying out so many applications that they figure one might hit the target. The basic problem is that there are so many people who respond to a job posting that almost nobody can handle all of them. Many large corporations now use software packages to screen so many resumes that come in from job postings. On the other side, there are places training people on how to get their resume past the screening software.

The Artificial Intelligence behind that screening is both cutting out a lot of candidates while passing people who don't really measure up. Job listings can ask for imaginary skills and job seekers can exaggerate the skills they have. Both the companies and the candidates are getting frustrated with the process.

The real opportunity comes from finding non-traditional candidates for job openings. The traditional hiring process has always missed quite a number of people. There are many people who can make good employees, but they don't fit the traditional mold. Some have had legal issues in their past. Others do not work well in the standard employee work environment. One person liked to surf during the day and work all night. Others have emotional or physical disabilities. It can take effort to hire and keep nontraditional employees. Companies that have deliberately hired some of these people have done very well.

Perhaps it is time to rethink the hiring process.

Risky World

One college campus had upgraded to use robots to deliver food orders. However, a traffic jam happened when the robots found their preprogrammed path blocked by some discarded scooters. Finally, a student took pity on the poor robots and cleared a path by moving the scooters.


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