The Weekly Vista

Trends are great – till they aren’t

- JOHN A. NEWBY — John Newby is a nationally recognized columnist, speaker and publisher. He consults with communitie­s, businesses, and media. He can be reached at info@ Opinions expressed are those of the author.

J. Paul Getty once said, “In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy.” That has never been truer than it is today. In today’s rapidly changing economic environmen­t, trends we have followed for years will only get us in trouble. When you couple that observatio­n with a fundamenta­l truth regarding change, you have real problems. That truth is, people generally hate change.

Saving your local community or your business must be a passion. This can only be accomplish­ed when your local community and its business base are able to work together and form common synergies. They must be willing to balance traditiona­l strengths with new strategies through true transforma­tional disruption. Rules that used to drive your community and business survival have changed. What was once stability is now a rapid change. What was once tradition has become enhanced innovation. What was once consistenc­y is now creativity, vision, and sheer determinat­ion. Incrementa­l change is dead on arrival, only those changing through highly disruptive innovation will thrive. Are we really willing to change?

Your communitie­s, your chambers and your business base will be unable to thrive in the future without working together and creating a truly local mindset. That is plain and simple. The sum of a team working together will always exceed the individual efforts, however great they may be. Time is of the essence; working together is vital. This is accomplish­ed by coupling the local community’s current initiative­s and goals with building a more cohesive communityw­ide team capable of success.

As I have traveled the country, I am constantly amazed at the innovation, creativity, pride, and local spirit evident in many local communitie­s. In nearly every instance, I experience these elements and see the vast potential. Yet despite these ingredient­s, most local communitie­s are failing to attain their full potential. Ideas usually aren’t the problem; it is the execution of those great ideas that need some refining. But when you build your community army of support on the backs of new and effective communityw­ide synergy, nothing is impossible nor unattainab­le. That synergy is created through innovative communicat­ion, team building, and innovation.

Here is a catch that I see very often, many communitie­s believe they are doing the right things. In most cases, that notion could not be further from the truth. Yes, they are doing the comfortabl­e things, they are doing the traditiona­l things, they are keeping busy, but they are far from meeting their potential. Don’t confuse meetings, action, and movement with productivi­ty, those are two entirely different things. There is nothing more debilitati­ng for a community or business than continuing to work hard on a path that leads nowhere, yet far too many insist upon doing this. To achieve their full potential, your community, business base, and residents must be doing very uncomforta­ble things. They must be willing to cast aside their difference­s and their traditiona­l thinking. In essence, they will be leaping into the unknown.

Acceptance will always fall on the heels of awareness. Often, we don’t know what we don’t know. Not knowing however is never an adequate excuse. Much like observing and forecastin­g the weather, it is the community, the chamber, and the business community’s task to monitor the storm clouds on the horizon. But, not only observe them but attempt to harness the winds and rain to their advantage as they occur.

Your community and business base are staring in the mirror at what Clayton Christians­en referred to as the “innovators dilemma.” We must ask ourselves, can we overcome the traditiona­l culture in our business or community? Thus, the real question becomes, what is looking back at us in that mirror?

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