Law Of Impermenance

In Buddhism, it is said that Buddha taught 3 facts of existence. They are suffering, non-self, and impermanence. Impermanence, also called Anicca or Anitya, asserts that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is “transient, evanescent, and inconstant”. All temporal things, whether material or mental, are compounded objects in a continuous change of condition, subject to decline and destruction.
If you’ve heard the phrase “nothing lasts forever” then you are touching on impermanence. Not even Diamonds last forever.
This law is particularly profound for businesses. In the good old days a successful company could get away with doing the same thing over and over again once it has found its secret recipe for success. Nowadays past successes cannot guarantee future wins and companies constantly need to renew just to remain competitive.
The Dawn of the Digital Age has changed all this and no one can afford to rest on their laurels.
One thing that is guaranteed in life is that CHANGE is constant, and if you do not or cannot adapt to these changes, you live under stress due to the inability to adapt to the changing environment.
In November 2007 Forbes had a blockbuster cover about Nokia.  “NOKIA: One billion customers-Can anyone catch the cell phone KING” read the title.
An Era of complacency
In the 1990s Nokia was the undisputed King of the mobile revolution. The Finnish company was so dominant that people didn’t talk about the brand; it was just about the number, was it a 3210 or an 8210. If you owned a Nokia phone you had definitely made it in life.
The new millennium brought about a new set of challenges for the company. Although it was still the world leader in the mobile phones market, the playing field was gradually changing. The law of impermanence was at work. These changes were the evolution of wireless and internet technologies which were converging and promised enhanced multimedia capabilities.
The company responded well by churning out both sophisticated multimedia handsets as well as low end devices-striking at both ends of the market. Genius!
For the first half of the decade the company was doing extremely well. Its biggest sellers were still the budget friendly phones, with the 1100 selling a whopping 250 million units. The King was firmly on its throne. This was also the company’s billionth phone sold later in 2005.
Then one presentation changed everything!
Then all of a sudden, in January 2007, Steve Jobs walked on to a stage and pulled an iPhone out of his pocket and changed the world forever.
“An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator,” Jobs said on stage during the Macworld conference. “Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device.”
Nokia made great phones, they still do. They went through this incredible decade of innovation in hardware, but what Apple saw was that all you needed was a rectangle with a screen, and the rest was all about the software.
After more than 10 years of that iconic Forbes cover featuring Nokia’s (then) CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo holding a Nokia series 6xxx flip phone two iconic companies were at opposite spectrums governed by the same law. While Nokia was complacent and basking on its past glory, Apple was on an everlasting quest for innovation.
Nokia was the undisputed king on the cell phone market. Because of its dominance, the company was inert to change and refused to acknowledge the shift the industry was making. In 2007, Apple announced the original iPhone, and 10 years later, the iPhone is the most popular and recognizable smartphone on the planet, while Nokia exited the market selling its phone business to Microsoft.
What are the Lessons for the Rest of Us?
The Finnish company’s unwillingness to embrace drastic change when it was required the most was probably the biggest reason that brought the mobile giant down. The company took way too long to embrace the smartphone revolution and when it finally did it made way too many errors in its strategy.
How many of us are still stuck up in our own ways? How many of us are still using traditional methods and systems to combat modern problems? How many of us are comfortable in our false sense of security. Comfort is the beginning of complacency. How many of us are too big to fail? How many of us are anticipating change and preparing for it?
Permanent thinking is the seed of decline. It is the seed of arrogance that comes before the fall.
The good news about the Law of Impermanence is that even the worst times will not last forever. Past transgressions can be rectified. Even Nokia bounced back. In fact, its entire history has always been about constant change and adoption to the changing times; from a rubber factory to world’s cell phone king, and then to the biggest network infrastructure company on the planet, like we know her today.
Digital Solutions for modern problems
Globalisation and digitalisation have changed the way business is done and competes in the market place and Information and communication is the life blood of this change. Technology has democratised access to knowledge and in today’s economy-knowledge is power. Botswana has ambitions of being a knowledge led economy in the near future but many companies, organisations and even the government are still trailing behind our peers in the region and globally.
In today’s highly competitive world, with competition both at home and abroad, if you don’t improve, you will be left behind and you may never catch up. You can’t use 19th century tools to succeed in the 21st century. No matter how big or small you are today, keep learning, keep improving, adapt quickly to changes else you will risk being overtaken and becoming a past instead of a future.
How could we use technology to make our business/organisation more efficient, attract more customers, be more profitable, cut costs and grow?
As the saying goes ‘nothing is permanent’. You can’t change the fact that everything is impermanent BUT you can change your response!
Charles Darwin was spot on when he said, ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survive. It is the one that is most responsive to change’.
Over the next coming weeks we will be running a series of articles on Digital Transformation and its impact on businesses and organisations.
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