Are You an Agent of Change?

By George Foster, CEO, Foster Marketing 

When you’ve been in business for 30 years, you tend to collect a lot of stuff, and I’ve kept many interesting, thought-provoking articles through those years.

Recently I discovered a special 1990s advertising supplement on new technologies that claimed to “change the future of the advertising and marketing industry.” Here’s the intro:

“Who can remember when fax machines were unusual? When graphic designers sent mechanical boards, rather than disks, to the printer? When desktop publishing was a radical new concept?”

Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember not only those techniques but also the following now-outdated breakthroughs mentioned in the 1990s supplement:

• “Remember when Federal Express was the fastest way to get it from here to there? Think again.”

• “Media planners, throw out the bookcase full of media kits. You won’t need it.”

• And, the one I like the best: “The product manager wants to see the new label in 8 more typefaces, 7 more colors with 10 new logos. It’s no problem…and it doesn’t cost a fortune.”

Fortunately, we’ve survived those technological waves and now are embracing new media technological challenges.

In his book, Walk the Walk: The #1 Rule for Leaders, Alan Deutschman (who previously authored Change or Die), writes that while many see themselves as leaders, in fact they are engaging in one of three different pursuits — rulership, stewardship and lemmingship:

• Rulership is about protecting and preserving one’s position of power and privilege.

• Stewardship is the responsible and intelligent management of established institutions.

• Lemmingship occurs when the heads of organizations repeat the same practices and strategies that have already brought ruinous consequences for others in their fields.

Deutschman defines leaders as those who strive to change the ways that other people think, feel and act. Leadership is about creating change.

As the famous business philosopher Meat Loaf sings, “If it ain’t broke, break it.” We must be agents of change.

Following are some trends and technologies that could make you an agent of change in the oil and gas industry:

• 3D at home (and at a trade show). 3D is the new HD. Having successfully invaded the big screen, it’s on its way to the small screen. Panasonic will join Sony, Samsung and LG as developers of 3D televisions. At the recent IADC/SPE, Halliburton used 3D to present its downhole capabilities.

• Electric car networks. Networks of charging and battery-switching stations — where drivers can quickly replace dead batteries — are sprouting in countries such as Denmark and Israel. Five U.S. cities will serve as test markets for networks developed by ECOtality.

• Mobile money. Increasingly, people will be able to send money via their mobile phones as quickly as they would a text message. In the developing world, this helps entrepreneurs overcome infrastructure issues and allows banks and companies to reach people in remote rural areas.

• Mobile ticketing. Flashing cell phones at airports and event venues will replace paper tickets. Some major airports are using scanners to read bar-coded passes and several airlines are shifting to paperless check-in.

• Paying for Online Content. Content providers will attempt to engineer a paradigm shift from free to fee. Five major magazine and newspaper publishers in the U.S. recently launched a venture that would create an iTunes-like digital store for their content. Currently, companies pay for online content at Oil & Gas Journal andUpstream, but it could affect how we receive information from all oil and gas trade publications.

• Slow communication. There’s a backlash against today’s proliferation of speedy and thoughtless Tweets, status updates and emails; and our always-on, skim-and-pass-along communication habits. Watch for more Web-based products and services like, a Twitter-parody site that requires at least 1,400 characters per post, and Email Addict from Google Labs, which forces 15-minute email breaks by freezing the user’s email window.

These are just a few of the 40 Things That Might Matter to Your Business (and part of a list of 100 Things to Watch in 2010, courtesy of ad agency, JWT). Email if you’d like to see more of this list and we’ll pass on a link. How can (and should) you implement these concepts into your marketing or business plan?

Go ahead. Take a chance. Be an agent of change.