Review of Convergence 2.0: How do we drive high performance in an era of exponential change?

Review of Convergence 2.0: How do we drive high performance in an era of exponential change?By Michael Bidwell (The Legal Forecast/ McCullough Robertson Lawyers)Photos by Dream Oz Photographyimage1On 14 March 2017, dozens of innovators, tech junkies, corporate professionals, leaders and other interested individuals gathered at Flight Centre’s new office in the Southpoint development in South Brisbane.  There were incredible views of our river city and the featured speakers were very thought-provoking.  Ticket holders were scanned in and provided a ‘boarding pass’ with allocated seats at tables to network.  Furthermore, each table was assigned a ‘Sidekicker’ to connect people with similar interests.The wonderful Daniel Morcombe Foundation also made an appearance announcing their international charity drive and commitment to child safety on and offline.  I will outline some of the key themes below that were focused on throughout the night by the speakers relevant to The Legal Forecast.Are we experiencing exponential change?image2Joel De Ross, VR Thought Leader, absolutely believed we are in a period of exponential change.  He commented on the notion that your mobile phone will be one million times more advanced in ten years time.  Joel uses virtual reality to assist event and festival planners to visualise the risks and potential losses before their event occurs.Dr Emily Verstege, Author and Thought Leader, acknowledged that technology is changing exponentially but people are not.  She commented that transformation of people takes time and there will always be that human element connected to technology.  Dr Verstege said we should be doing more to train people for transformation.The remarkable founder and CEO of Top Deck Travel and Flight Centre, Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner, was against the idea that we are experiencing exponential change.  He followed on from Dr Verstege’s human element comment and added that we have innate human behaviours that will not change exponentially.  While companies may use an app like ‘Sidekicker’ to fill temporary or casual work vacancies, we will still have a recruitment process in place to ensure we receive the best employees.What is the difference between technology and innovation?Aaron Birkby, Entrepreneur of the Year, said there is a very big difference between technology and innovation.  It comes down to technology making life easier or disrupting an industry but it does not shape the industry.  Mr Birkby is the chief executive of Startup Catalyst which inspires young Australians to visit Silicon Valley and come back to start their own companies here.Andrew Flannery, Executive General Manager of Flight Centre’s Australian corporate travel business, clarified that innovation does not require technology.  He gave two examples from Flight Centre’s perspective.  One was operating Flight Centre with dozens of ‘small-business’ brands to ensure each one had a clear target audience and specific expectations.  The other example was allowing managers of their stores to have a stake in the business so they felt connected and engaged.Jess Anscombe, General Manager of Flight Centre’s Corporate Traveller, discussed how technology can enable companies to provide gender equality in the workplace but the innovation comes from the people within the company to actually achieve gender equality.  Although she has never felt disadvantaged as a confident woman in the industry, she acknowledged many women will not put their hand up for a promotion.  As a society, we need to innovate how we inspire, enable and encourage women to put their hand up when they deserve the promotion or opportunity.Should failure be a measure of success?Every single speaker recognised that failure is necessary in order to achieve success but there were some lasting comments I believe every person should hear.  Aaron Birkby argued failure should actually be something measured like a KPI because he tells his young tech gurus that, if they are not failing 70% of the time, they are not moving fast enough in the industry.  Dr Verstege noted that every failure enables us to become the best version of ourselves the next day.  Graham Turner reflected on moments during his initial trial and errors with Top Deck Travel and said there was once a time when they did not have enough cash flow to pay for their brochures.  Call it innovation or the Australian way but he took investors out for some beers and they all agreed to offer some extra cash.Final thoughtsI do not believe society is experiencing exponential change but I believe our traditional methods of thinking and behaviour are being challenged exponentially.  I agree with Dr Verstege that people will always hold resistance to change but we will transform over the years to our new convenience and efficiency driven lives.  Innovation does not require technology but technology is encouraging everyone to think more outside the box.  I know many people who reflect upon their failures to learn but I believe it would be innovative to have measurable KPIs for failure.  It was a genuine pleasure to attend and meet professionals from diverse industries coming together to inspire and encourage one another.  Thank you to McCullough Robertson for sponsoring my attendance.