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Experts have been predicting a new economy for a few years now, and astute observers and analysts can already see that it is here. While several catalysts drive the acceleration, exponential technologies, the global debt bubble, changing demographics and the recent pandemic are a select few.
Even those that are most change-resistant amongst us agree that the world will look very different by the time this decade ends. However, many folks are still in denial, succumbing to denial-led obsolescence. Several paradoxical changes in the new economy conflict with old-school thinking and need diametrically opposite approaches. The foundations for the new economy are built on the paradox, which makes it hard for old economy folks to transition out — unfortunately, many will not make it.
The shifting landscape
The term “new economy mindset” refers to a way of thinking and approach to business focused on innovation, adaptability and modern technology to drive growth and success. This mindset often involves a willingness to take risks, embrace change, think outside the box to stay ahead of the competition and remain relevant in today’s rapidly changing economic landscape.
“The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.” – Justin Trudeau
Old economy: baggage patterns
I have seen a few different patterns of baggage which hamper progress and block the transition or success in the new economy.
1. Resisting truth
Understand yourself, watch your reactions and analyze if you resist every new technological change like artificial intelligence, metaverse, cryptocurrencies, autonomous driving, etc. Missing out on the first wave of success in the new world makes people upset, and you either play victim or adversary — neither is helpful in your transition into the new world. But if you take positive action, understand the opportunity and dimension the risks, you set the foundation for growth.
It is also important to remind yourself that these shifts are fundamental whether you like them or not. If these changes cannot be bent to your thought process, you change your thinking and adapt or get left behind. People who have built nothing and have opinions about sticking to the old economy are already obsolete and often subject to ridicule.
2. Living in the past
Many of us have had very successful careers in the past decade or two; this success hinged on skills, background and ability to do things in a certain way. However, as the turf changes around us and the new realities of the new economy unfold, many people hold on to security from the past to masquerade their insecurity. While nostalgia is a great feeling, it blinds people to the progress around them.
“Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw
3. Sense of entitlement
Holding some title in an old economy enterprise neither makes you current, relevant or sought after. There is a high probability that your skills have not developed outside the realms of your responsibility. Spending many years in large archaic companies disconnects people from ground realities and turns them into administrators.
To succeed in the new economy, one must get hands-on, play with the dirt, make mistakes, look stupid and even be mocked. The definitions of scale have changed; complexity is now defined as doing more with less headcount and more innovative technologies. If your company’s T-shirt gives you a sense of handling a complex job or a sense of entitlement, it might be time for some introspection.
New economy: skills and attributes
There are multiple skills required to succeed and thrive in a new economy. When playbooks from the past don’t apply, one needs to upgrade their mindset. A mosaic of skills and attributes must be imbibed and cultivated.
1. Navigate uncertainty and ambiguity
We are no longer in a linear era and do not have a well-charted course to follow as a professional or a business. Unpredictability, lack of clarity and disruption are rampant, creating the need to navigate uncharted territory.
The new economy, by definition, is volatile, disruptive and fast-changing. People used to predictability and practices which worked in the last decade must adapt to survive.
2. Be a connector
Mastering relationships and building networks are the currency of the new economy. Social capital must be built, acquired, and grown to drive effectiveness. True connectors understand this well and have ingrained this into their operating model inside and outside their company, i.e., they are a mini ecosystem in themselves. Being a connector creates opportunities and a sense of community and provides a platform to thrive in today’s fast-paced, breakneck-speed world where it’s easy to lose the human touch.
3. Develop a personal brand
Many people network or even get visible when they want something. In the new economy, your brand must be managed daily as the volume and velocity of opportunities not even on your radar move fast without you. If your brand is strong, visible and recognizable, then it attracts opportunities, and you drive your goals. If this is not something you do, it might be time for a mindset change and attitude upgrade.
Many old economy companies cripple the personal brand narrative by throwing obsolete reasons like self-promotion or lacking humility. These cultures cripple ecosystem enrichment and limit innovation, and it eventually reflects on their financials.
4. Abandon comfort zones
The days of lifelong employment or even milking your skillset for a decade are long gone. Jobs, companies and industries all get disrupted and replaced. Sometimes your skills, as relevant as they may seem, become obsolete within a company or industry without even coming to your notice. One should constantly be learning (and unlearning) and adapting to market shifts.
A personal brand and your network help stay on the cutting edge. Be firm on principles but flexible on methods — it can help individuals and organizations avoid becoming rigid and inflexible, making it difficult for them to adapt to changing circumstances and stay competitive.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” — Wayne Dyer
5. Let go of your experience
There is never a guarantee that experience gained in one organization will make you successful in another — there are too many variables like structure, culture and incentives which influence behaviors.
Many playbooks, practices, mindsets and beliefs from the past have taken a toll on companies and industries themselves. Expertise is valuable, and experience is baggage in the new economy. People with mindsets rooted in past success and proven and established strategies must look at things afresh and analyze where they stand.
Often, old economy beliefs may be characterized by a lack of innovation, a reluctance to embrace new technologies, and a focus on short-term gains rather than long-term success. Unlearning is as important as learning to make the transition.
Overall, the key to overcoming these barriers is recognizing the need for change, investing in resources, and embracing new ways of thinking and working. Individuals and organizations can adopt a new economy mindset and thrive in today’s rapidly changing economic landscape.