It may be time to climb out of the well and look for a new place to dig! Often, when faced with a problem or a challenging period, we hunker-down and focus on details within the comfort zone of familiarity. We go back to what we “know” and recommit to what we consider to be the core mission and the fundamentals of our industry. We dive into the minutia, intent on wringing a few more drops of efficiency from our systems and productivity from our staff. But what if innovations and/or market trends are making the core business less relevant or even obsolete? What if we are digging in a well that is going dry?

Cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz states that “Attention is an intentional, unapologetic discriminator. It asks what is relevant right now, and gears us up to notice only that.” In other words, honing-in on the details causes us to ignore other, potentially relevant or even critical factors in our environment. The result being that while we have our head down hard at work digging in a well that is becoming less and less productive, up on the surface our competitor has realized there is a supply problem and is retooling to build an aqueduct, or perhaps, has leased their land to a company that build aqueducts.

A tangible example is building within the automobile industry; recently GM announced that it will launch 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023. A few days later The Hill reported that, “Paris Wants to Ban Gas-Powered Vehicles by 2030.” Think of the combined impact of these two reports: Paris wants to move way from gas-powered vehicles, and GM has development plans that would make it possible. Concerns about climate change in parallel with the speed of technical innovation make this vision almost a certainty and the Paris announcement just the tip of a very big iceberg.

While these reports might be shocking, they are nonetheless believable and possible. Even more startling is the broad impact these changes will have on the ecosystem that supports gas-powered vehicles. Those impacted will include petroleum producers and refineries, fuel transport companies, gas stations and repair shops just to name a few. It is hard to imagine the full impact this wave of change will have and, ultimately, to predict the view of the resulting and newly carved landscape.

One thing is certain, going forward what we learn will be far more important than what we know. Equally critical, will be how quickly and efficiently we assess, assimilate and act on the new information we have garnered and the ideas this newly acquired knowledge spawn. It sounds counterintuitive, but the fact is focusing on what has worked in the past may not only be inefficient, it may put a company out of business.

How companies prepare and ultimately respond to this approaching change-tsunami and its impending impact will dictate whether they sink or swim – survive and thrive or become relics of a bygone day. My recommendation is that each of us climb out of the well that is our comfort zone and look toward the change-horizon – There is opportunity there.

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