10 Trends Change Leaders Can’t Ignore In 2014

Bob Wright, the founder of the Dallas Social Venture Partners, wanted to meet the growing magnifying business trends 2014needs of the Dallas community by sparking the interest of a new generation of social innovators. Bob and a few partners decided to create an event like no other—no conference with static agenda, no talking heads, and no formal event. It had to begin building a long-term community commitment to new generations. This one-of-a-kind event became the bigBANG!

Bob said, “We lived by the belief that we can’t own and control this. We have to turn loose of the steering wheel and let others be part of shaping it. We crowd-sourced the creation of this experience because we wanted a broader circle to feel responsibility for it.”

Bob and his partners invited about twenty-five select social innovators to the first discussion and told them to invite anyone else that they felt should be included. Interest spread and seventy-five people showed up. That meeting resulted in four Spark Clubs, which were idea-generating groups that all helped develop the bigBANG!

They found a new way to build interest and commitment based on the dramatic change in how we want to connect, interact and participate with others.

We can’t own and control this. We have to turn loose of the steering wheel and let others be part of shaping it.

Leading or participating in a change is likely one of your biggest challenges in 2014. I have summarized ten trends that will cause waves this year. Ask yourself: 1) What can I learn about this trend? 2) What opportunities does it present in my organization?, and 3) How can I incorporate this trend in our change today?

Trends in what we want

1. Desire for meaning

Meaning and purpose build a lasting commitment to change—not just compliance or reaching a metric. Meaning is defined as a commitment to something bigger than self. Today there is a growing emphasis on ‘what’s in it for us’ more than just ‘what’s in it for me’ which can have a very short shelf life.

2. The real deal

In our over-advertised, Photo-shopped, create-your-brand culture, it is expected that ‘who you are’ and ‘who you say you are’ align. Authenticity—the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intention – is essential for anyone building commitment to a change. It’s also an essential ingredient in finding meaning in our work.

3. Fast and bite-sized

There is growing evidence that social media and changing technology are rewiring our brains with shorter attention spans than ever before. And, the exploding trend toward mobile means we are engaged all of the time, but not for long. The forty page presentations and lengthy emails aren’t the answer.

4. Customized by me for me

We design our own car features and phones, custom build athletic shoes, and create a display of our unique interests on Pinterest. This growing trend drives the shift from “one size fits all”, or your market segment, to “one size fits me”. Individuals want the bigger meaning, but the application must be individualized to stick.

This growing trend drives the shift from “one size fits all”, or your market segment, to “one size fits me”. Individuals want the bigger meaning, but the application must be individualized to stick.

5. Grapevine becomes primary

The grapevine, or word of mouth, is becoming the communication channel of choice. Research tells us that we listen to the recommendations of those we know much more than to campaigns or packaged communications. According to an Ernst & Young study, “Peer recommendations—not paid-for advertising, whether on social media platforms or in print—are what count.” Your change needs a word of mouth strategy.

6. Retro communication

As we spend more hours in front of a screen, the more unique human interaction becomes. We use technology for convenience, speed, efficiency and even cost. Human interaction can be simple or obvious, yet is often forgotten.  Direct human interaction is a key differentiator that drives engagement and positive word of mouth. Know when technology works for you and when it gets in your way.

Trends that affect how we work together

7. Upside-down hierarchy

Social media has had a dramatic effect on leveling the playing field by allowing anyone to have a voice, platform and a following. Our stories and information don’t need to be filtered through an “expert” or an official source. The hierarchy and the command-and-control environment in business are giving way to a culture with more flexible and collaborative leadership unrelated to title or years of experience. An organic, flexible change plan is essential.

Human interaction can be simple or obvious, yet is often forgotten.  Direct human interaction is a key differentiator that drives engagement and positive word of mouth.

8. Peer power

Crowd funding allows anyone to be an investor. Companies like Lego are crowdsourcing ideas for new designs from customers and there are increasing avenues to share our assets with each other. A self-created group can solve, invest and share without a traditional hierarchy. Find areas of your change that can be crowd sourced and designed by a broader group and then act upon it. You’ll drive up engagement.

9. Virtual reality

Technology continues to enable a new era of virtual collaboration and sharing. Virtual collaboration from anywhere in the world can be a strategic advantage in your change rather than a challenge to be managed.  While not new, the virtual opportunity is so often underplayed.

10.  Demographic tsunami 

In the four generation workplace, millennials will make up approximately 36 percent of the 2014 U.S. workforce and become almost half by 2020. Boomers are retiring at record numbers. For the first time a generation is entering the workforce engaged in technology well beyond what their employers use today. We all know this demographic change is upon us, yet are we redefining how we start and lead changes as a result? Our success will depend on it.

These trends are based on research from Patti Johnson’s upcoming book, Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work and in Life to be released in May 2014. 

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