Today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, Ian Bremmer, author and President of the Eurasia Group, suggested the 10 biggest risks the world is facing today. The trans-Atlantic alliance weakening, a closed Europe and China’s ever expanding footprint were the top three. Can you imagine a top three ‘risks’ list without ISIS? Granted, ISIS was number four on the list, but reading through Bremmer’s list should get us all thinking about the potential risks for our businesses in 2016.
Three-time Pulitzer prize-winning author Tom Friedman talks about change, and implied risk, in his 2005 book, The World Is Flat. He observes that the world has changed dramatically in a very short period of time and highlights events and trends – what he calls “world flatteners” – that have affected us in so many ways. These include the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which opened up a huge part of the world to us and ended the Cold War; the rise of “netscapers” (early adopters of the Internet); the use of offshoring, supply-chaining, and outsourcing; the development of workflow software that helps us collaborate; and the many new demands of operating in a digitized world.
The point of Friedman’s book is that the world is always changing now, and leaders, business people, and organizations, have to learn to cope with, manage, and even embrace change as the only constant. Manage the risks.
The World Is Flat, I should note, makes no mention of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube or other ways we communicate and work together today. Even though the book was first published in 2005, we hadn’t yet felt the impact of these newer media and tools at the time it was published. Friedman, in a talk to the IBM Think Forum in September 2011, said, that “When I wrote the Word Is Flat, Facebook didn’t exist, Twitter was a sound, the cloud was in the sky, 4G was a parking space, LinkedIn was a prison, applications were something you sent to college, and for most people, Skype was a typo!” It just shows you how the pace of change has ramped up over just the past decade.
There is no need to panic however, but do take a moment this week, engage your team, and create a list of the top three risks your project, your team, your division or your company will face in 2016. You can be sure conditions will change during the year – the question is – will you be ready for the change? Will you be able to manage the risks?