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To keep up with customers and competition, organisations must react to external pressures for change, as well as accommodate their own desire to change. To a growing extent, the combination is overwhelming. In fact, it is precisely because the downside of change has become so prevalent and costly in recent years that our profession has grown as much as it has.

The concept of future shock applied at the organisational level means so much change is being engaged that people can’t maintain the expected productivity and quality standards. When this happens, it elevates future shock from an individual’s predicament to an enterprise problem – a problem that shareholders notice.

Investors may, on occasion, be somewhat understanding about organisations contending with highly visible changes (e.g., the 2009 economic crash, the BP oil spill) but even such brief moments of empathy dissipate quickly when productivity, quality and safety metrics drop. Future shock isn’t some theoretical, touchy-feely jargon manufactured by HR. Its impact on the workforce and an organisation’s market value is very tangible. Leaders must be vigilant about attending to it in order to avoid unnecessary resistance, weak results, encroachment, and damaged leadership credibility.

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