The disappearance of change management?

Category under: Change, Financial, Innovation, Keynotes

bc690.jpgI’m off today to Montreal, to keynote the 2007 International Financial Leaders Forum. This is a gathering of several hundred senior financial leaders from throughout the private and government sector.

One of my key messages in my opening keynote today is that as CFO’s and CEO’s, they must ensure that they are putting in place a culture of agility and flexibility, such that their staff are able to deal with rapid change that comes with the high-velocity economy.

Enter the new boarding pass bar code, as seen on the right: I’m using this Blackberry enabled boarding pass on my flight to Montreal. This is an initiative set-up by Air Canada — you check in online with your mobile device. You are then sent a text message/SMS that contains a 2-dimensional barcode. At the airport, ostensibly, it will be wanded at security, at the gate, and I’ll be on the plane. (The bar code shown will have expired by the time you read this.)

The reaction of my 14 year old when he saw it? “It will never work dad! I don’t have good feelings about this.”

His reaction, he explained, comes from his belief that the security people won’t know what to do with it; that I will get some cranky gate agent who wasn’t aware of the new technology; that simply, from what he has learned while travelling with us, is that this simply represents too much change, too fast.

I promised to text him along the way with any updates!

He does have a valid point though : today, we live in a world in which change management is a big issue. I’ve run (and continue to do) workshops or keynotes where I am addressing issues of how to cope with change. It’s a big issue that I cover off in my new Ready, Set, Done: How to Innnovate When Faster is the New Fast book.

Yet a big question looming on my mind these days is this: what happens when the need for change management goes away? Twenty years out, we will have a generation in charge which has embraced technological change from their birth. They are attracted to new ideas, innovation, and new ways of thinking, like bugs drawn to a light. Their world will continue to involve a flood of new technologies, new ways of working, constantly shifting work structures, rapid micro-careers, and all kinds of other things that involve what we would consider to be rapid change.

What happens when change management disappears, and change occurs even faster than it happens today?

The airline involved in today’s flight is quite focused on innovation. The big issue to watch is whether they are keeping the change-process up-to-date with their innovation process. Or whether the issue of change-management is starting to disappear and go away….

Nov 5 update

  • the security people knew about it, but
  • the first gate agent freaked out, muttered about management and new technology, and printed me a paper boarding pass
  • the flight attendant didn’t like it, and wanted the paper pass
  • returning, it took 3 minutes for them to get the security line guy who had the bar code wand
  • the gate agent flatly refused to accept it. She complained, complained…

Just about what I expected!


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.