Thriving in the age of acceleration


Can you find the inspiration for agility in your organisation? Actions we take now will impact future generations in a most powerful way.

“Things are getting better and better and worse and worse, faster and faster, simultaneously.” — Tom Atlee

Never before has one species been able to conquer or impact so many elements on Earth so dramatically. We are accelerating into the future. The rate of change continues to astonish us, and the awesome power of human ingenuity enables us to make what was once consigned to the pages of science fiction novels reality.

But, the increased progress is creating a parallel sense of existential dread. Are we the masters of our future? Will we set the direction for the economy and the environment? Will we set out the nature of the ethical society we want to live in? Or will events and mistakes overtake us?

The global economy swings between optimism and pessimism. Governments seem to either be paralysed or at risk of falling prey to populism. Many businesses are cash-rich, risk-averse, strategically incremental and lacking fresh ideas and innovation. The world needs leadership, invention, generosity and daring now more than ever. We need audacity and abundance not austerity. Individuals and organisations need to embrace bold, creative ideas and innovative solutions that represent real business opportunities and spark a revolution for courage and change. We must attack our big, wicked, problems to improve the economy and society as a whole, re-invent the future and ensure we do not leave people behind.

Yes, we live in interesting and challenging times. Actions we take now will impact future generations in a most powerful way. Artificial intelligence, robots, and other exponential technologies entice the imagination. We need human energy to drive forward in a world of huge potential and stare down enormous problems now and on the horizon.

If there is one word that sums up what we need from today’s leaders and institutions, it is: agility.

We need our institutions to create the future we all desire. After all, problems of scale – think climate change, poverty, job displacement via automation, terrorism, high energy costs, and resource scarcity – demand scale solutions. Yet, institutions such as large companies, governments, and universities need radical reform to rise to the challenge. Over time, organisations tend to become more rigid. At first, this is a feature, not a flaw, because the only way an organization can scale is by finding consistent ways to repeatedly solve a particular set of problems. However, a strength in one context becomes a weakness in another. As the pace of change accelerates, our institutions must become more agile.

That means developing the systematic ability to test, learn, adjust and adapt. To tolerate missteps, mistakes, false starts, fumbles, and, yes, even failures. That’s much easier said than done. How can organizations develop cultures that hardwire innovative behaviors such as immersive research and rapid prototyping?

Agility starts at the top

Institutions only change if leaders change. Today’s ever-quickening pace of change demands that leaders be ready, willing, and able to quickly adapt and change course. As the saying goes, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Humans as a species are born to be creative and adaptable. However, as we go through school and work we become increasingly rigid and risk adverse. How can we develop the ability to rapidly process information and change course in environments that too frequently constrain us? How can we become the improv comics or jazz musicians the world so sorely needs to solve our wicked problems?

We face the certainty of uncertainty. Strategic creativity is increasingly valuable to nations, communities and individuals making the transition to innovation and knowledge-based economies. Creativity and innovation are vital for businesses exposed to globalisation, increased competition, consumer diversity and rapidly changing technology. Tomorrow’s competitive success will be based on the implementation of creative ideas and the ability to keep up with an ever-accelerating world. The development of agile human beings who can imagine and create innovative new solutions and enable agile institutions to deploy them at scale is the key to future success and sustainability.

Creative Universe founder and Ci2017 Executive Producer, Tania de Jong AM, says Ci2017 gives delegates the opportunity to expand thinking and leverage their often hidden “right-brained” creative capabilities to help alter traditional mindsets and open the doors for new solutions.

“Ci2017 is a cross-sector, community-wide program and the cross-pollination of ideas at this event is a significant factor for anyone wishing to innovate, become more agile and develop more of a culture of collaboration and innovation. This is a rare opportunity to learn, connect and share ideas across sectors with some of the world’s most influential thinkers and innovators under one roof.”

One of Ci2017’s Ambassadors Hugh Morgan AC says that successful leadership in business and government often requires simplifying the complex and finding new ways to achieve sustainable growth.

“Ci2017 provides a unique chance to see through the complexity and acceleration we are experiencing and find new ways of thinking and collaborating to achieve lasting growth. It is a wonderful opportunity for leaders and potential leaders in all walks of life to explore and understand these issues and to take strategies and new thinking back into their organisations. This outstanding event is a wonderful contributor to developing a true culture of innovation in this nation.”

Reader discount: We are delighted to offer a special discount to Ci2017 for the readers of The Mandarin. Please use the password “acceleration” to receive 10% off Platinum, Gold and Silver conference packages upon booking. www.ci2017.com.au