There’s an old maxim that goes, “A problem well defined is a problem half solved”. This is so true in the transformation of your community, in business, as well as in our personal lives. In the technology world, we are taught the theory or principle of “Diffusion of Innovations”. This theory tells us it takes the same amount of time for new innovations to become used and perfected by 10% of the early adopters as it will for the next 80% of the population to adapt and embrace it. Simply put, the longer a sustainable innovation is around, the rate or speed of adoption accelerates rapidly. While this is a technology principle, it can be adapted to most innovations, and I also might add, to community and business transformation.
Translating this into a community or business venture, there are always a few, say the 10% tending to do the heavy lifting or work early on in the project. For true transformation to be made possible in smaller communities allowing it to take hold, we need the 80% or the entire community kicking in to reach the heights possible. As they say, ‘many hands make light work’ in order to avoid burnout of those leading the charge. It takes many hands willing to pick up the mantle of work allowing for sustaining a consistent and long-term transformation.
Albert Einstein taught, there is no such thing as darkness, that there is simply an absence of light. That being the case, in community and business building, there is no such thing as inaction, only an absence of action. Years ago, I listened to a wise man, Dieter Uchtdorf tell the audience that we must “lift where we stand”. Now is the time to cast inaction aside springing into action and lift where we stand in our community. There is no better time than now to become the light and action within your community and business.
Last week we discussed how forward-thinking communities are in the business of building dreams. They are busy creating an environment of trust, innovation, friendly competition, quality-of-life, teamwork, motivation, and other business-friendly attributes. They do this at all levels of their community by involving the entire community from their citizens to their local government in the process. They understand the true power of teamwork and how building a business-friendly community attracts not only entrepreneurs, but others seeking this vibrant mindset.
Communities must be aggressive and focused on business attracting change. They must be willing to embrace the needed change which isn’t always easy. Change brings disruption, disruption upends the status quo, which in turn can make many uncomfortable. It is human nature to resist change, even when we know change is necessary. As General Shinseki once said to his troops, “If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevance even less”. It is the fast and adept that will transform most effectively, the slow will be roadkill on the road to transformation.
Don’t let up when it comes to transformation, you will have roadblocks thrown into your way. Don’t get discouraged, let that motivate and drive you harder. Be aggressive in building a community that helps other’s dreams come true. As you do this, your community will begin to transform in ways many believed not possible.
I will close with this. In today’s transformative world, the quick will more likely survive and the slow to transition will be eaten alive. The 10% early adaption and 80% mainstream adaption period has shrunk from decades to years and now even months. It took TV thirty-years to reach 90% of the households, it took computers twenty years to reach 90% of the households, it took cell phones ten years to reach mass adoption. Likewise, the period of time which communities have left to transform is shrinking, even as the world speeds up.
John A. Newby, author of the "Building Main Street, Not Wall Street " column and CEO of Truly-Local, LLC which is dedicated to assisting communities create excitement, energy and combine synergies with their local media where LOCAL is often lost to the Internet and out-of-town owned companies. His email: john@360MediaAlliance.net