Thursday, February 2, 2012

Embracing Chaos

As I was thinking about writing this first blog, I opened the latest issue of Fast Company to an article written by its editor Robert Safian, “The Secrets of Generation Flux.”  I have been poking around the issue of rapid change and our inability as retailers to embrace it for quite a few years—even going so far as to develop a conference with some friends (that never quite got off the ground) called ‘Reinventing Retail.”  An article in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review appeared with the same name. Lesson learned yet again:  “If you snooze, you lose.”
            In the Fast Company article, Safian writes:
When businesspeople search for the right forecast [to describe how business will transform]—the road map and model that will define the next era—no credible long-term picture emerges.  There is one certainty, however.  The next decade or two will be defined more by fluidity than by any new, settled paradigm; if there is a pattern to all this, it is that there is no pattern.  The most valuable insight is that we are, in a critical sense, in a time of chaos (
            As a GenFluxer myself—being a GenFluxer has more to do with a mind-set than a demographic—I long ago made friends with change.  In fact, my various careers in academia, publishing, multichannel retail, customer experience management—and a diverse consulting practice—well fits the GenFluxer definition.  I had to chuckle when one of the women interviewed—Raina Kaumra (who admits to skill hoarding) says:  “So many people tell me, ‘I don’t know what you do.’” How many times have I heard that?
            What’s this blog about:  How we as retailers are coping with rapid change, how we can keep our businesses viable when our assumptions and practices no longer seem relevant, what we might learn from other businesses about innovation and outmoded legacies, how our failure to adapt is leading us astray, and how we can regain the sense of agility our mom-and-pop forebears once knew instinctively—keep it fresh, keep it changing, and keep them coming.
            So, what are your thoughts as we face a New Year of Unknowns?

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