Few things are as essential and painful – in business and in life – as change. In this industry, change is often complicated and wrought with second-guessing (and calculations). But, more often than not, company-wide changes are not born by anything other than a simple change of viewpoint.
In the first seminar of Dscoop, held at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, FL, Barrie Bramley discussed all aspects of change to a packed room and rapt audience. His session, titled Leave the Past Behind Because the Future is Full of Print, opened with some simple but profound quotes about change and innovation. One, from Bob Seidensticker, was particularly noteworthy:
“The digital watch didn’t come from well-established watch companies. The calculator didn’t come from slide rule or adding machine companies. Video games didn’t come from board game manufacturers…the ballpoint pen didn’t come from fountain pen manufacturers and Google didn’t come from the Yellow Pages.”
When people in this industry entertain the thought of change, it’s usually specific to a piece of equipment or a marketing strategy. Bramley’s point, which was delivered in a simple and energetic fashion, was that change starts with perspective. Data and numbers and trends can paint a picture, but, as he so aptly put it: “Trends do not predict the future. They tell you where something is currently in relation to where it used to be. There are no guarantees that a trend you’re looking at will move into the future. All it will tell you is what it is now.”
Bramley illustrated his point by discussing a movement from the late 1800s in London: people predicted, based on existing trends, that London would one day be buried five feet deep in horse manure. “No one was picking it up,” he said. “No one was assigned to clean the streets.” So, based on a perceivable trend and verifiable data, many Londoners concluded that their city would soon be inhabitable.
“That’s what they saw,” he said. “No one saw the motorcar.”
Innovation, as Bramley demonstrated to his audience, does not come down to updating equipment or changing a brand image. It boils down to one thing: perception. And changing perception, particularly after you’ve been in an industry for many years, can be a serious challenge. In fact, Bramley said that “the people least likely to predict change in the printing industry are the people in the printing industry, because we have been trained to look at it a certain way.”
He added, “Young people come around and ask seemingly dumb questions, but they just see things they way that we don’t.”
Bramley said that change comes down to two opposing forces: driving and blocking. Some things, he said, are driving change from print to screen. There are other things that are driving that change. Its important to identify which is which and to know what is behind those forces, he said.
"Just because something is changing," he added, "doesn't mean that is what it will look like tomorrow."