01
Feb
10

Tick tock, tick tock: What are you doing different today?

Remember the opening scene from the movie Cast Away? Tom Hanks’ character is teaching the Moscow FedEx office about the urgency of time. With passion, he says, “Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Time rules over us without mercy. It’s like a fire; it can either destroy us or keep us warm. That’s why every FedEx office has a clock – because we live or die by the clock. We never turn our back on it or allow the sin of losing track of time.”

January 2010 is officially in the history books. Today is February 1st. As the leader of your company, what are you really doing differently this year than last? While it’s true that old habits die hard, the unceasing ticking of the clock is a constant reminder that change is relentless, too. I bet you started 2010 with thoughts of shaking things up. How’s that working out? Anything different? Tick tock, tick tock.

What got you here is no guarantee of future success. Yesterday’s achievements are simply an indicator that you’re on the right track. And the more successes you have, the better the momentum to keep your company driving forward. But if your successes are separated by large time gaps, your momentum is compromised. Performance inconsistencies, cash-flow problems, employee turnover and poor customer service are the speed bumps and potholes that slow progress.

We are in unprecedented times of rapid and extraordinary change. Rock-solid business models of the past are being crushed by technology and innovation. If there’s a faster, better, cheaper, cooler alternative to your product or service, it’s out there. If not, your competition is working on it. More importantly, entirely new approaches and breakthroughs occur every day that can make your competitive advantage yesterday’s news. For example, Amazon’s Kindle digital book reader was the market leader and was quickly followed by competitive knockoffs. Apple’s introduction of the iPad brings full-color digital books via the new iTunes bookstore plus web browsing, movies and pictures, and runs the tens of thousands of apps already available for the iPhone. The landscape changed in an instant.

React, adapt, innovate – or become irrelevant. Those are your choices. I don’t know about you, but becoming irrelevant is not in my DNA. Reacting to all the dynamic changes going on in the economy doesn’t work for me either. Reacting is stressful and saps energy. Adapting simply means coping and trying to keep up. That doesn’t work for me either because adapting never gets you to the forefront of change. Innovation – now that’s where I like to be. I like new. I like cutting-edge thinking. Most of all, innovation is a heck of a lot more fun. While the competition is trying to figure out their version and their spin on something that already exists, innovators are already grabbing all the attention. And the smart innovators are well into developing the next big thing. Where are you? Tick tock.

There are eleven months left to 2010. What are you going to do with that time? Are you going to react, adapt, innovate – or become irrelevant? If you need a jumpstart, e-mail me at neil@strategies.com. I’d be happy to schedule a call with you.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership

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