Golden Business Ideas

Thinking in the New Millennium

Have you adjusted your thinking for the new millennium? Have you taken time to assess how the vast technological, economic and social changes the new century is ushering in will affect you and your business?

It’s not just that the Internet has changed our way of buying and selling. Nor is it just that the Web has reshaped marketing strategies and commercial operations, stretching the business day to 24 hours and the business week to seven days. It’s not even that we’re living longer (although maybe not healthier) or that the computer is taking over some of the drudgery. In fact, it’s not even that the separation between our business and private lives is shrinking.

So, what is it?

Most people are beginning to think differently—It’s not necessarily what they think (their opinions, for example), but the way they think. For example, consider this basic shift: Until recently, most managers wrote with a pen or pencil, using either their right or left hand—but just one hand. Today, they write on a computer keyboard using both hands. That apparently trivial change has triggered significant rearrangements in thinking patterns: Writing predominantly with a pen challenged only one hemisphere of the brain—usually the left (calculating) hemisphere. But now, the brain’s left and right (intuitive) hemispheres are suddenly called upon to work in tandem. And in the immediate future, using voice recognition software, which will allow us to “write” on the computer in a completely different way, will impose on us yet another thinking pattern.

All this may sound a bit academic, but there’s no denying that the speed and scope of innovation is accelerating.

Like it or not, creativity linked with knowledge is becoming the dominant commercial asset. It’s no longer money or natural resources such as oil or gold; it’s not even raw brain power.

Which returns us to the original question: Are you ready for the new millennium, which is undoubtedly ushering in a new thinking paradigm?

Here’s what you must do to prepare for it:

  • Ask yourself whether you and your staff need to learn new skills and acquire greater knowledge. Recognize that not only will new technology demand both of everyone (including the maintenance staff), but even more important, as technology changes, job functions will change too: Some will disappear and new ones will appear, which means a career track won’t be what it has been—for you, your staff or even your boss.
  • Reassess your creative and management skills and your attitude toward them. If you find change uncomfortable (or secretly even resent it), sit down and have a serious talk with yourself. Resisting change will only label you a Neanderthal. Since today’s (and tomorrow’s) leading currency is creativity, it’s clear that someone has to manage it. And since truly creative types often are poor, or indifferent, managers, administrators open to innovation and skilled at assessing, nurturing and managing creatively will end up on the winning team.
  • Examine your approach to business risk. Are you generally risk averse or do you see risk as a challenge and opportunity? If you delight in risk, be open to cooperating with those who are somewhat risk averse—yet judicious and intelligent. Work with them to get a realistic assessment, and possibly even support, of your innovative idea. And if you are naturally risk averse, don’t let that make you respond negatively to new ideas. Instead, add value by analyzing risky ideas without prejudice, putting your conservative nature to positive use.
An Invitation

The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).

Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.


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