Magazine article Work & Family Life

New Ways to Cope in a Fast-Changing Workplace

Magazine article Work & Family Life

New Ways to Cope in a Fast-Changing Workplace

Article excerpt

The words of Dylans old folk song ring true today: the times, they are a- changing. "In our work, our lives and everything in between we are witnessing change so fast and unpredictable that our first challenge is simply to make sense of it," says business guru and author Alan M. Webber.

We've seen prestigious old companies disappear overnight. Entire industries are being forced to adapt or become extinct. "The time has come to rethink, reimagine and recalibrate what is possible, what is desirable, what is sustainable," Webber says. "Its time to rewrite the rules." And, in his new book, Rules of Thumb (Harper Business), he offers "52 truths for winning at business without losing yourself."

Here are some of Webbers ideas.

* Do the math of change. Its not enough to be against something. You've got to he for something better. And people on all sides of an argument at the workplace will respect the dollars-and- cents of an issue. Proving that your solution will work better - and cost less - will make your other arguments more compelling.

* Look for new categories. For example, a large international corporation rethought the old concept of "developed" and "developing nations." It now organizes countries in these categories: "natural-resource-rich," "peoplerich" and "technology-education-rich." On a personal level: if you are part of a company with a website, that makes you global.

* Take "no" as a question. If you didn't get the answer you wanted, it's your turn to show that you can accept this news with grace and not take it personally. The correct response to a "no" is "thank you." If the person offers an explanation, listen carefully and respectfully. You're getting something important: honest feedback. Write it down. It's what you need to make your idea better.

* You don't know if you don't go. No amount of briefings or presentations can substitute for genuine experience. Don't operate in an echo chamber. Go see for yourself. Get out of your comfort zone, even in small things. If you are a fan of food and fashion, take home Popular Mechanics for a change.

* Words matter. Mark Twain once said, "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." As an editor, I've heard sloppy pitches offered as important ideas from very smart people. My advice is always the same: Write it down. That's the only way to know for sure what you're really trying to say. …

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