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Common Enemies — Part I

September 19, 2018
Florence 201809
Hurricane Florence 2018

Common Enemies: 

As leaders, we are charged with the vision for our organization. That usually means predicting where we need to be in the future. People with different world views will unite when they have a common enemy. I believe we have major “enemies” that have the potential to unite people across the globe: Climate Change — Part I, Technological Disruption — Part II, Cybersecurity — Part III, and Economic Bifurcation — Part IV (significant economic inequality).

My hypothesis is that sooner or later, as these enemies grow more powerful, people will finally begin to join forces to overcome them. At that point, as Nick Hanauer has said, there will be pitchforks. Prior to the pitchforks though, I believe we will see our businesses affected by change and unrest. [Here’s a video of Hanauer’s speech. And if YOU want to get political, here’s an interview that is quite challenging.]

I intend to stay out of the politics of these hot topics. I also wish to not judge whether they are actually “true,” but wish to acknowledge that they are real in the minds of many people and so can have an impact on our businesses. Let’s take them one at a time. And, as intimated by the title, over several posts.

Climate Change

If I suspend my belief or disbelief around climate change and simply accept that many people do believe that climate change is real and must be addressed, then what are the opportunities and challenges for my business?

I have noticed an amazing increase in the number of fully electric vehicles as well as plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road. And even allowing for the fact that I live in a state that embraces climate change activism, the trend seems to be significant. The numbers prove it — according to CleanTechnica, California’s EV market share reached a record 7.77% in April 2018. Loren McDonald has gone out on a limb and suggested the market share will reach 9.5% by year’s end. Based on the delivery of Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt cars, that seems quite achievable.  How about other clean energy opportunities? 

As we move more to an electrified economy, are there opportunities for you in the infrastructure upgrades that will be required? Likewise, we know there will be lots of trades work repairing the damage from the latest storm — Florence — that has caused a tremendous amount of damage in the Carolinas and the eastern seaboard. [Many people believe that climate change is causing these storms to be much larger and more powerful.]

What about the challenges? Is it possible that clean energy will create a cost problem for your business? Will your products be obsoleted or demand greatly diminished? What about retraining your workforce for new more sustainable products?

There will undoubtedly be “guidance” from local, state and federal government as we transition our economy. How will that affect your customers and your business?

In The End

It seems that when we argue about the cause of these larger trends instead of thinking about the response to the reality of what is actually happening, we quickly become incapacitated. Certainly, at times, it makes sense to know what is cause versus effects if we are “solving” a problem. Most of us are not directly involved in “solving climate change.”

In many cases, we can reserve time to do the root-cause-analysis at a later date. We can respond now to the results. An example comes from how NASA responded to the Apollo 13 issue. They did not stop to try and figure out why the oxygen tank exploded. The didn’t need to know that at the time of the incident. They needed to get our astronauts back to earth safely. So they addressed the many issues to doing just that. 

At a much later date, the analysis of what happened was done so as to avoid future accidents. The same is often true for us. Do we really need to know about and argue about what caused climate change in our businesses? Certainly as a society we do in order to mitigate and reverse the process if possible. For most businesses, it’s enough to know that many believe there is climate change and we can find opportunities in that belief — regardless of our own beliefs about cause and effect.

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