I have a cold, and god, I hate colds. For telecommuters like me, colds are the gnats of the illness world — annoying little pests that leave you feeling miserable, but not quite miserable enough to take the day off.

So here I am, working and feeling lousy, a small mountain of used tissues piling up on the desk next to my laptop, wishing I had heeded those first few scratches in the back of my throat and loaded up on Vitamin C and Echinacea when it would have done some good. An ounce of prevention and all …

Actually, forget what I said about gnats. You know what colds are? They’re change and complexity.

Scratchy throat? That’s the weak signals of disruptive change, the first signs that things are changing. It’s mobile in 2007, social media in 2004, the Internet in 1992. If you don’t do something about that, and I mean right now, you’re doomed to an extended period of misery.

The moral here is simple: Pay attention to those weak signals. They’re more than an annoyance. They’re signs that things are changing. If you don’t take steps to harness those changes, you’ll get flattened by them.

Better still, avoid those scratchy throats all together. Consistent doses of strategic thinking and innovation will keep you ahead of the change curve. At that point, almost nothing will surprise you.

Or, you can do what most folks do — roll the dice, take your chances, and end up with a nasty cold twice a year.

If that’s the case, do us all a favor and stay home. No one wants to be near you at that point.

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