Managing change or riding the wave? – Lessons from a futurist

Are we managing change or adapting to it? 

Success in the future will be determined by your ability to ride the wave of change. Not on the false premise you create change.

That was my big takeaway from an inspirational session with David Houle – self claimed futurist, at an open TEC event this week.

David spent the first half of our time together building the scene: giving us a technology history lesson and then motivating us (NZ)  to get our act together with broadband.  To be honest the warm up was a bit slow for me (maybe I am an impatient bugger) , but then came the really good thought-provoking stuff.

David labels the current decade (2010 – 2020) the Shift Age, with three main characteristics:

  • Flow to global
  • Flow to individual
  • Accelerated connectedness

 David describes a futurist as someone who helps transform shape and form of business. Stating there is always opportunity in danger.

 The main takeaways from this event for me were:

  •  Don’t kid yourself we can no longer manage change – we can no longer be change agents – we live in a world of every increasing change – future winners will be the leaders who can read and adapt to it, rather than attempt to control it. Effectively riding the wave of change.  We need to become a “morph corps” – how well structured for constant change is your business?
  • Forget traditional office environments – we need to separate the concept of place and work.  Modern workers need space to collaborate and cross fertilise. So how about pulling down cubicle farms and create thinking rooms – for staff to get together and collaborate in. Then let them to work at home for the rest of the time? It’s interesting us baby boomers still cannot get our head around teenagers working with distractions around (music, tv, etc) it is time we consider how the new generation thinks and creates best.
  • The new high touch – tech world – “hugging is in” – check out the teenagers – look at the Apple retail concept “the temple of cool” – designed to  get people using stuff. How are you integrating this concept  into your business?
  • Future wealth will be defined by Intellectual Property (IP) – interpreting his case studies my take on this was that it will be  IP + Brand Experience that will drive future wealth.  The emotional attachment to brand experience is real and consuming in this modern world. David gave a great example of this  “whose kid wants a HP or a Dell Laptop?” “Apple is the cool one” – Hell my daughter is fixated on her new ,MacBook experience this year.
  • Watch out for the “digital natives” those young ones coming through – who have no experience of the pre digital world – they are different – adapt and find ways to maximise their talent.
  • People hold the power not traditional corporations / structure – the individual needs to be engaged with. Interesting to still hear people failing to adapt to the new channel of customer/stakeholder communications of social media.

A great morning of inspiration:  If you are interested in more of David’s theories, he does have a book – “The Shift Age”. By all accounts he is another American who has fallen in love with Australia and NZ , so I am sure we will see him as a regular visitor on the NZ speaking circuit. Well worth a listen to.

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