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Plan For Tomorrow Today, or Become Yesterday's Layoff
By Peter de Jager   Printer Friendly Version

Plan for Tomorrow Today, or become Yesterday's Layoff

Bill, lost his job recently. It seems his company was downsized; his well-developed skills were no longer required. It's tempting to claim his company was at fault. But the fault was his and his alone. Let me explain why.

Things are changing incredibly fast. Yesterday's idea is an emerging technology today, mainstream news tomorrow and history by next week. And...everyone contributes to the speed of change.

There's a myth about management, since we're responsible for so much change, we must be good at coping with it. I've observed the exact opposite. Managers have great difficulty accepting change. They tend to get complacent in their 'secure' status quo. They believe the skills they've acquired, will serve them well into the future, in spite of all signs to the contrary.

Take a close look at business magazines. Each issue offers something new, something different. Each advertisement promises to increase productivity, to increase efficiency, to inflict change upon our unsuspecting organization. Used properly, magazines are a guidepost to the future. Ignore them and they'll get you downsized.

Bill acquired his management skills in the trenches. He worked his way up through the ranks. He acquired a set of skills, and over the years, deepened them. He began to believe his tool kit of management techniques was complete. They'd served him well in the past, and would suffice in the future.

Bill's error was not in his judgment of whether or not a particular skill was long lasting. Bill's error had little if anything to do with 'management skills.' His error lay in his worldview. He believed his world would stay the same. Somehow he's protected from change. Somehow he alone is immune.

Shielded in immunity, he gives no thought to a 'different' tomorrow. He leans on his illusion of status quo, even while destroying the status quo of others. He's not alone in this. He's joined by Politicians, unions, successful companies, staff, by anyone and everyone who's comfortable with past achievements.

How do you prepare for the future? Step one is trivial... Acknowledge uncertainty. That alone, will keep you from being complacent. That alone, will have you thinking about alternatives. That alone, will remind you that you're not alone. Everybody is faced with the same uncertainty. Welcome to the future!

Next - you're not your business card. No matter what your title, no matter what your function, you're more than a 'box' on an org chart. You're a collection of skills with the ability to learn new ones.

These steps do little to change the future. Accepting uncertainty and solid self-assessment is a good strategy, but without a plan of action, they'll add up to nothing.

Assume you're fired tomorrow, what would you do? Sounds drastic, but it happens every day to thousands of people from 'every walk of life.' So why not to you? What better time to contemplate it, than today, when you still have a job, and time to plan?

Bill lost his job because he couldn't see beyond his status quo. Don't make that same mistake; contemplate this issue of Words of Mouth devoted to Change. Ask the question... "What's my place in the uncertainty I'm helping create?" Then leap into your future.

1995, Peter de Jager speaks on Managing the Impact of Change...Technological or otherwise.


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