Finding Gold in Transitions
I have a colleague who has produced more than 200 podcasts, and a couple years ago I was honored to participate in Episode 130. His format took each guest through their past to tease out a good story or two. During the interview, Jason said something interesting, “The best stories are always in, or about, the transitions.”
The existence of transitions and how the person handles them opens a window into the mind of the individual. For example, during my podcast, Jason elicited a story from me about how I got my first job after college. I won’t bore you with the story again, however, what Jason pointed out later in the show is that my transition from college to the working world was paved in a well-orchestrated path of planned collisions, nurtured relationships, promises delivered and trust extended through handshakes.
In other words, if you listen to my stories, particularly in the transitions, you’ll gain valuable insight into how my mind works and what’s important to me. Which is precisely why, like Jason, I like to ask people about their story when I first meet them. When they tell me their story, I dig more deeply into the transitions, because it is in those transitions that you find valuable insight into their DNA and what makes them tick. It’s where they hide the gold!
Of course, transitions aren’t just about people, they are happening everywhere. It’s the patterns of those transitions that reveal golden insights and create enormous opportunity. I have a simple example that will hit very close to home for those reading these words.
We are approaching 100-year anniversaries of the founding of numerous parking companies. Back in the day, enterprising businesspeople recognized the emergence of a transition from horse and buggy to automobiles. These businesspeople built thriving and strong family businesses by providing a place for those cars to be parked, while the driver attended to other matters. The automobile unleashed a massive transition enabling people to spread out and explore. That transition also revealed a truth that holds today, more than 100 years later – we like to own things and we like to drive.
Parking is well on its way through another transition – a digital transformation. It’s making parking easier to find and easier to pay. What’s important to recognize, is that the transition bolsters the underlying truth that car ownership continues to steadily rise, because at our core, we don’t want to give up our cars, and we want it to be easier to park them!
If, as an industry, we are to be successful making it easier to park those cars, we’ll have to manage through the transition with the same core value that got us here: trust. But now it won’t only be the trust of a physical handshake and the exchange of a dollar, it will be that, plus the digital handshake of a trusted electronic connection that will make the exchange of digital currency. Plus, the newest form of digital currency – information.
Information will need to flow freely between disparate systems like never before. We’ll all need to build our systems with the ability to access our information as easily as we access others’ information. The days of locking down our data and hiding it from others to prevent the pilfering of our customers are over, because those that hide their information from the rest of the world risk becoming invisible to their customers.
For some, this transition will be difficult because sharing to this level has never been necessary or easily done. My belief is that those companies and leaders who embrace the concept of openly sharing information will be rewarded handsomely. They will also find that managing their operations will get easier, as the information from this digital exchange will be gathered, organized, and displayed in a comprehensive and convenient way. Those vendors that build ever-better decision-support capabilities into their offering will be rewarded with the trust of their customers for making their jobs as easy as it once was to roll-up the gates and usher a river of cars into their facilities.
In this new transition, I’m reminded of the phrase: “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” Americans love their cars, so they’ll keep coming, which means they will be looking for parking, just like they always have. If you make your information visible, your customers will see you. Trust me! Lean into the transitions, and you may just find some gold.