Long ago, before digital became the state of the art, the print industry hadn’t seen significant change for decades. Actually it wasn’t all that long ago in the scheme of things. Less than twenty-five years.

Then someone figured out ones and zeroes. And norms for an entire industry began to shift.

Seemingly overnight, what had once been the purview of trained typesetters, and skilled printers was suddenly open to alternatives that streamlined the process and had impact on the bottom-line. Upstarts with nothing more than a desktop computer and laser printer began nibbling away at market share.

Everything Looks Worse in Black & White

The invasion wasn’t limited to print. Digital solutions were changing every facet of advertising, marketing and the related production.

Even film was losing ground. (If you’re of a certain age, you recognize the above line from a Paul Simon song, and you remember Kodachrome and Ektachrom.) I had friends at Kodak who went from scoffing at the idea that anything could replace film, to arguing that when and where there was demand for the highest quality, film would always be the choice — the quality could never be matched.

Alternatives and Opportunities

Scarcely ten years ago taxis owned what is now defined as the ride-share market. In cities worldwide hundreds of cabs would line up at airports, hotels, convention centers and popular social spots just waiting for the next patron to call for transportation service.

With the vehicles, personnel and infrastructure essential to the service area, few saw the approaching tidal wave.

And then there was UBER — presenting a software solution to a transportation opportunity.

The change that served to disrupt publishing, imaging and ride sharing is not unusual. It is normal. While disconcerting to some, professional service providers and those possessing solutions to today’s business challenges should take heart; anyone able to navigate the changing landscape is poised to become a trusted voice.

What are the keys to occupying this coveted space? Here are three for your consideration.

1. Build Communication and Development Strategies On A Listening Platform

There are at least two big reasons change is unsettling: it is often a corridor to the unknown; and it tests existing processes and values. Intentional Listening changes everything. It accelerates learning, nurtures legitimate insight, and results in improved perspective.

2. Cultivate An Opportunistic Perspective

Perspective born of intentional listening is uniquely positioned to understand market place realities. While keenly aware of problems, pitfalls and risks, change management — not to mention, leadership — derives from a perspective that discerns opportunity.

3. Focus On Solutions

In the midst of high-consequence change the market covets solutions — to the fear of unknowns, the pitfalls, and the risks — to the new realities that precipitate sleepless nights. Focus here (versus preoccupation with historic models, offerings and capabilities), and the market will pay attention.

Listen, cultivate opportunistic perspective, and deliver viable solutions; follow this roadmap, and you’ll likely avoid the fate of the typesetter, Kodachrome and your friendly taxi driver — even in the midst of the volatile new normal.