Once Upon a Time

  |   Change Forecasts Print Friendly and PDF

My children have sworn to do me grievous bodily harm if I ever utter the phrase, “When I was your age.” Still, it’s fun to look back and note how things have changed.

Once upon a time, phones plugged into the wall. The phone company owned the phone and the wires. A three minute long distance call from NY city to Southern Connecticut, during reduced-rate evening hours would set you back about $15 in current dollars.

Once upon a time, executives (who were almost all men) had secretaries (who were almost all women). The executives dictated letters to the secretaries who took them down using shorthand and later transcribed the words onto paper. After corrections and adjustments, the letters were mailed.

Once upon a time, computers were giant beasts that lived in air-conditioned rooms guarded by a computer priesthood. Programming was done by punching holes in cards. It was a rule of nature that you would drop your cards at least once on every job.

Once upon a time it was the Personnel Department. No one ever thought of outsourcing the functions. In fact, no one thought of outsourcing.

Once upon a time, getting information was the hard part. It might take you two weeks and the help of a friendly librarian to gather the information for a presentation. If you were lucky there were people in the marketing department who would make visual aids for you.

Once upon a time you worked very hard to stay in touch. You called in for messages a lot. Teletype was a hot communications technology.

Once upon a time it was very different than now. Not better. Not worse. Different.

I’ve learned from observing the changes that have happened in my life. I love how each new big thing follows the basic pattern of every other big thing. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Fads come and go with lightning speed.

Technology changes rapidly.

Habits change slowly.

Human nature doesn’t change.

Boss’s Bottom Line

No matter what you read, human beings are still pretty much the same as we’ve always been. And business is a people game.

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