Jim Harris’s mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, he gave her a notebook computer rather than a get-well card.
“I gave her the tools,” he told 500 members of the Certified Management Accountants of Alberta (CMAA) attending the M=More conference in Calgary last week.
He explained that the Internet shifts the power to the user and that his gift enabled his mother-in-law to find the answers the doctors couldn’t, or wouldn’t, give her.
If you withhold information, you are into an old paradigm and will eventually crumble, said Harris, the opening speaker and author of the book, The Learning Paradox.
|Larry MacDougal, Business Edge|
|Jim Harris says speed of new technology is accelerating.|
An authority on change and leadership, Harris’s clients include Arthur Andersen, Barclays Bank, Columbia Tristar Pictures, Deloitte and Touche, General Motors, Johnson and Johnson and Nortel Networks.
He didn’t stint on the information he gave the CMAs to help them embrace change. Some businesses may appear to be healthy, but in fact they are dead. Or as good as, Harris told them.
“When you learn to drive you are told to keep 10 feet distance for every 10 miles per hour you are going,” he said. “Then the fog descends on the car.”
A company in that position is “technically dead,” said Harris. Either you have to slow down to 10 m.ph. in a world where we are forever being exhorted to go faster, or you increase your responses six-fold.
An example Harris cited is the music recording industry, which still doesn’t know “the genie is out of the bottle,” even though it has been confounded by the 18-year-old founder of Napster.
In July, 1999, Napster was in the hands 10 people, by July, 2000, it reached 20 million. So what did the recording industry do? Take Napster to court, giving it even more publicity and, by February, 2001, 62 million people had hooked up. The music industry was decimated, said Harris.
Quoting Charles Darwin, Harris predicted the organizations that will be the most successful won’t be the strongest, the fastest or the most intelligent, but those that are most capable of adapting in a changing world.
“Eighty per cent of the technology we will use in the next 10 years hasn’t been invented yet,” he said. And the speed with which new technology reaches the consumer has accelerated rapidly.
Harris showed how companies like Dell and FedEx take advantage of the Web to sell their product. In the latter case, customers now answer two-thirds of their own enquires, saving time and money.
Dell, a rising star in computer sales, has “frictionless transactions,” selling through the Internet with customers doing their own administration work that would previously have been done by a salesperson either on the phone or in the flesh.
Harris said Michael Dell had told him that the only cheaper way of selling would be through mental telepathy.
“Your job,” he told the CMAs, “is not to measure accuracy to the penny, but to strategize the big picture; how you add more value to your organizations.”
Fifty per cent of McDonald’s customers don’t sit in the restaurant. They, in effect, provide their own chairs,” said Harris, citing this as an example of making the most of the chain’s assets.
Meanwhile, the CMAA, which is committed to mandatory post-designation learning, has launched a unique e-learning opportunity for its 5,400 members and, through them, to their companies.
Looking for a high-quality, accessible, low-cost solution, it has teamed up with the U.S. based e-Knowledge Source.
Tom Olivo of e-Knowledge said the company spoke to 600 CMAs in putting the package together.
“The easiest part was to find out what they wanted. The hardest was to swim upstream, convincing major content providers it would be worthwhile,” he said, predicting that the package will be snapped up by other provincial CMA groups.