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Change is a tough master — for all of us

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy systems this week.

It probably started with a plumbing problem here in the office that’s going to take six weeks to repair. It snowballed as I thought about Clark County Schools trying to turn a ship the size of the Titanic and HCA hospitals negotiating a contract with employees against the backdrop of a still broken healthcare system.

Pretty soon, it became something akin to an ear worm, those pesky songs that rattle around in your head for a few days. I started seeing legacy issues everywhere.

I’m unhappy with my cable provider and it’s a legacy system issue. I was shopping for some new bedroom carpet and I saw a legacy system problem. That was when I realized I’d gone over the edge.

That doesn’t change the fact that we, as a country, have a huge problem with legacy systems.

We just can’t see that tipping point — think horses vs. cars — clearly and bring ourselves to say it’s time to change, with all the structural disruption that entails.

Consider:

• Oil vs. natural gas vs. solar

• ‘Too big to fail’

• And my favorite, the shift from landlines to mobile phones.

On a business tour to India and China a decade ago, it was clear these countries were far ahead of us in communications technology. There was no massive infrastructure investment in telephone lines, no consumer habits to break, no entrenched corporate structure with thousands of employees whose careers are threatened. It was a relatively easy leap from a communal pay phone to a mobile phone in the pocket.

And in a moment, they blew past us in one area of technology.

We’re a nation that prides itself on its history of innovation and its forward lean. Yet as innovation speeds up, our legacy systems are holding us back in so many ways.

If you’ve come this far with me and you’re looking for a brilliant answer to all this, you’re going to be disappointed.

Anybody who’s lost a job to seismic economic change – and I’m on the verge of losing my whole industry of journalism to disruptive technology – knows the pain. But our economy, our whole American ethos is built on leading/embracing/enduring change.

Invest in education, re-education and retraining. But don’t lie down on the tracks expecting to stop progress.

It’s a losing position and one that just complicates my carpet shopping.

Some housekeeping

Speaking of change, you may have noticed some differences in today’s edition.

Yes, we’ve had some work done. Cosmetics surgeons have helped us turn back the clock to make us look a year younger, back to the design that drove our relaunch in January 2015.

We’re a little greener in spots. Our design is a bit more sophisticated. It’s all the result of a move that returned the design and copy editing functions to the plant on West Bonanza Road after a detour to Austin, Texas.

We’re delighted to have the more immediate communications with this important part of the production process and that can only mean good things ahead for the quality of the product. That change is one positive effect of the well-documented regime change that has taken place here in late 2015.

Another change may not be as popular, at least judging by my email.

For a number of years, the Business Press has conducted a Rising Stars program that sought to identify and honor the next generation of community leaders. Last spring, we subtitled it ’40 under 40’ in an effort to add definition.

But for 2016, we’re going to suspend the program as we work though a larger review of our overall event strategy.

The popular Women Who Mean Business program remains on the calendar for late spring. Watch for nomination details. And our Green Awards program is scheduled for summer.

It’s all a grand effort to make the Business Press an even more vibrant, informative and sustainable voice for the business community. Thanks for your support.

Comments, suggestions and letters to the editor are welcome. Contact Norman Bell at nbell@businesspress.vegas.

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