The power of change
C2MTL was launched at full throttle this morning. As expected, high energy filled the Microsoft Forum as Montreal artist Patrick Watson set the tone for the three days to come.
Opening the floor was Noreena Hertz, an economist and renowned best selling author. At first, her message could seem defaitist, almost catastrophic. On Twitter, Fast Company's Jeff Chu event called her a "prophetess of doom" at one point.
Indeed, the world has changed, she said. In the span of a few years, we’ve gone from Wikipedia to WikiLeaks. A two-year old now easily misinterprets a magazine for a broken iPad. The business landscape of today has nothing to do with the one past generations experienced. The speed through which our world is evolving is leaving companies in a state of urgency to adapt or face death. But adapt to what? When a ten-year forecast is no longer conceivable, how can firms structure and shift resources in order to dodge risk, asks the decision-making guru. "A great brand, city or community is a story that never stops unfolding", would later say Zappos' Tony Hsieh.
Whether it be financial crises or disruptive technologies, market disruptions affect everything from the way we seek opportunities to the way we conduct daily operations.
Instead of fearing change, considering its inevitable state, we should embrace it. "I love crises", says Bobby Dekeyser, chairman and founder of DEDON, "because it makes you think, it makes you change". Change can be stressful, even overwhelming at times, but it’s an incredible leverage towards betterment.
For Cindy Gallop, founder of the site makelovenotporn.com, the social web has become a means to change the vision of sex, not only for the connected Y Generation, but at a global scale. From threat to opportunity, this disruptive technology is helping correct a distorted message on an important social issue. Going further, why couldn't the next big break in technology be about transforming the world through sex?
This said, "how can change be smoothly conducted in organizations?" was the question on everybody’s lips. Although no magic formula exists, today’s speakers agreed corporate culture can be a driving force catalyzing environmental shifts. In a chaotic time, refocusing on a common vision everyone can relate to makes the whole difference between good and great. Tony Hsieh, CEO of zappos.com, had to learn it the hard way in a former venture of his. Today, values, vision and passion guide Zappos corporate culture, the company’s number one priority.
More so, a culture of innovation becomes paramount in a world in constant evolution. To do so, shifting the focus from short term ROI to long term qualitative metrics closer to the company’s vision can push boundaries further into unknown and opportunity-filled territories. Hsieh now mesures return on community, or ROC as he puts it.
Innovation and creativity comes from the creation of ideas, but of their destruction as well. Yet, the business world is turning more and more, sometimes blindly, to complex and decontextualized data for answers. Data is not negative per say, but a balance should be sought. We also need more divergent points of view to challenge the status quo and go beyond the conventions. To this, Noreena Hertz suggests the integration of a chief challenging officer, one who will question the norm, refuse the comfort zone, create disturbance, be the in-house "agent provocateur".
And in your company, who’s the challenger in chief?