The Inevitability of Change

by Jim Goughenour

I wonder if the makers of the Digital Video Disk ever saw the changes coming that would effectively render their invention worthless?  I wonder if they had any warning, or notion that Video Cassette Recorders and Video Cassette tapes (….you remember, the ones you had to rewind) would take over the movie consumption industry?  I wonder if the VCR folks saw it coming that Digital Video Disks (DVDs) and eventually Blue Ray Disks (Blue Ray) saw the displacement before it happened?  I wonder if the owners of Movie Theaters ever foresaw the eventuality that many of us would purchase very large screen televisions with Dolby Surround Sound and streaming services and really not go to the movies anymore?  The point in all of this is to say that change is a matter of time, not a matter of question.  Industries change, become different than they way they were before, and you either remain relevant, or not….and if you are not relevant, well, you may have the same fate as the folks that brought us the Digital Video disk.  The thing I remember about the Digital Video Disk was that you as the consumer of the movie had control over how you consumed it.  You could pause (to get more popcorn or refill your drink), fast-forward (the parts you did not want to see again), and rewind (the parts you really wanted to see again).  You had control!

The very first cell phone I purchased and used was a bag phone, and it was quite a sight to behold.  You could plug it in to your cigarette lighter, put the magnetic antenna on the roof of your car, and you could drive and make or receive a phone call all at the same time.  It was marvelous.  Until the bill came of course, because back then, you purchased an access contract to the cellular network (AMPS-900), and then for every minute you were on the phone, that costs extra.  I think my first cell phone bill was something like $700, because I started a phone call in Charleston, South Carolina and ended it three hours later in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Needless to say I put some quarters in my truck and started using a pager and pay phones as a substitute for this convenience of having a phone in my truck.  Today, I carry a cell phone that is a computer, a phone, a calendar, a video chatting device, and an alarm clock, and I think I pay about $40 a month for all the phone and data I can use.  Where are you going with all this Jim…well, here is where I am going:

I was in a meeting recently and I heard this comment and question: “The 900-pound gorilla (hereafter referred to as the Company) in the room has made some changes, and that is the way it is.  How are we going to adjust to these changes?”  In a matter of moments, several people started to submit ideas for how to navigate the change (me included), and suddenly the future did not seem so dark.  In a call with my boss after the call, I said to him that we are smart, nimble, highly skilled, and at our core are solid with principles of leadership and service, and we are going to be ok.  Not sure what ok looks like yet, but we have some ideas to work with, explore, and leverage.  The change that was made by the Company impacted the way our business served the customers we have and how we got paid for work we would execute for those customers.  Now I am being cloaked on purpose here as I am not sure how much of this I am allowed to share publicly, but that is not the point.  The point is that in the Information Technology Industry, change is a matter of time, not a matter of chance.  If you need proof, just go ask the folks that thought AMPS-900 would be the end all be all to the Cellular industry.

If you are new to the IT Industry, know that change will happen.  You may like it or not, but it is inevitable.  If you have been around for a while, you already know this to be true.  Leadership structures change, personnel change, business processes change, and the expectation is that you will stay appraised of all those changes and keep rolling forward.  When I was in College, one of my Professors said to the class “stay close to the core…as the core cannot be outsourced.”  At the time, I was working for one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, and I understood what he meant.  I remain close to the core, and feel that regardless of what the future holds, I will be ok.  The company I work for will be ok.  It will be hard, but that is how we grow and mature and gather experience for what the future holds.  Now I suspect that this may be starting to sound like a motivational speech, and I guess to some degree it is….but moreover, it is a rallying for you that will take the time to read this that there really is nothing to fear.

To that end, I spent the past weekend preparing for yet another IT Certification, and I am excited about the possibility of leveraging that knowledge to the benefit of those that will share the classroom experience with me.  I am more excited that I am meaningfully moving in a direction to take some of the eggs that I have in my almost singular basket and building a new basket….and then maybe another basket in the future.  Know this for certain….if you are in the IT Industry, learning and consuming knowledge will always be part of your function.  Enjoy it!  As I have learned in the last twenty or so years, learning and sharing that knowledge with others is quite a fulfilling endeavor.  I will close with a favorite quote of mine: Mahatma Gandhi once said that “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service of others.” Know that if you need us, we shall remain available for you, and find deep and meaningful purpose in serving your needs.  Thanks!

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