One of the harsh realities of this fast-paced digital world is that almost everything we buy is out of date by the time we get it home. To obtain the most value of any purchase, especially if it is an expensive one, we need to adopt a future mind-set to help us avoid picking up legacy products.
Driving has long been considered a symbol of personal freedom — an open road going forward, with almost limitless possibilities and opportunities on the horizon. For this reason alone, car manufacturers like to add new features that make us feel like we are purchasing a car that is equipped to transport us into the future.
I recently found myself wanting to replace my hybrid SUV. I have been very happy with my Lexus, but before buying, I wanted to see what the other major brands — including BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Cadillac, to name a few — had to offer, to see which was most suited to me and my lifestyle. As you might guess, since I have been forecasting semi-autonomous as well as fully autonomous car features for decades now, I was interested to see what they had to offer at this point in time.
As you would expect, all of the high-end vehicles had great features, including automatic braking and various systems to alert you if you are about to change lanes and hit another car that is in your blind spot. However, it was when I drove the Tesla Model X that I felt like I was driving in the future. After that test drive, my view of the other brands was changed. All the others instantly felt like the past.
From a customer experience perspective, that’s a powerful shift. Any time you can make the competition seem like they are offering yesterday’s features and functions, and you are offering tomorrow’s, you can accelerate growth well into the future.
Buying a car has always been both a left-brain and a right-brain experience. On one hand, we would love to buy that just-out-of-reach dream car, the one that our emotional, creative side would love to have. On the other hand, our rational, logical, sensible mind wants the car to be safe, economical and not too expensive. Tesla has found a way to do both.
The realization that the Tesla is already offering a wealth of future-oriented features — features that can save lives, features you know we will all have someday — has the power to change how potential customers think.
Tesla, like Amazon, is what I call an Anticipatory Organization, one that identifies the Hard Trends that will happen and then uses that knowledge to turn disruption and change into its biggest advantage.
With all of this in mind, where would the greatest young engineering talent want to work? Ford, General Motors or Tesla? I suspect that Tesla would attract the talent because it is showcasing the future, today.
Rather than sitting around waiting to be disrupted, maybe it’s time to jump on board and disrupt both yourself and your industry, to become the disrupter. We often talk about legacy software and hardware holding businesses back, but the reality is that legacy thinking is far more damaging.
If your company wants to attract the most talented employees as well as the imaginations of future customers, you need to follow Hard Trends and learn to become anticipatory rather than getting better at reacting.
When I returned to the showroom a few weeks ago, it quickly became apparent that Tesla is a prime example of an Anticipatory Organization. The majority of competitors within the automotive industry are still taking incremental steps rather than exponential leaps. The majority have embraced the idea of agility as the best way to turn rapid change into an advantage. The problem they are finding is that all organizations are becoming agile organizations, which greatly decreases the advantage of agility and, more importantly, the main advantage of agility is that you can be far better than your slower competitors. Being agile is very important and we all should get better at it, but it is no longer enough.
It’s true that there is more uncertainty today than ever before. On the flip side of this coin is the science of certainty, learning to separate the Hard Trends that will happen from the Soft Trends that might happen. As the exponential pace of technological change continues, having the ability to foresee growing problems, disruptions, customer demands and new opportunities has never been more important.
Technology now surrounds us. The rapid rise of the internet of things (IoT) in our cities, businesses, infrastructure and even our homes will also raise the bar of both our expectations and demands. As our world continues to evolve, why would the automotive industry remain the same? Why would a dealership stay the same as it always has been? Why would I want to buy a new car that has only a few more new features than the car I’m driving now?
Having a business strategy based on certainty has low risk. Leaders now have a choice to anticipate today, before their competitors do, or find themselves left behind in the slow lane. What are you going to do?