Leading in the face of exponential change


We’re often told not to dwell on the past, but what about the future?

Elatia Abate, futurist, spoke at the Grow Canada Conference at Ottawa, Ont., to help producers build a bridge between the now — and what’s coming next.

Looking at what’s next, Abate says we need to pay attention to the rate of which changes are occurring across the world. This pace is quickly accelerating, which can be dizzying at times.

The thing with change, says Abate, is it can be a bit like an avalanche. The pattern goes: nothing, nothing, nothing, and then suddenly, everything all at once. This is the dynamics of exponential change.

“When the first computers were built, the scientists who are helping build them said okay, the processing capacity of each new chip that’s built is going to double year-over-year, for the next X amount of years, into infinity. And that has happened,” she explains. “So that pace of exponential change is the dynamic of anything and everything that becomes digitized.”

With the rapid pace of change, it begs the question: how does leadership adjust to all of this?

First and foremost, says Abate, it’s important for leadership to remember they are human, and it’s okay to be scared. Secondly, learning the new sets of tools that can help us in the face of these disruptions is key, too.

“One of the ones [we talk about] is regenerative resilience. This notion that not solely do we get bowled over by change, but we can actually use the dynamics of disruption to help us become bigger, stronger, more capable as leaders. Regenerative resilience looks like having clarity about who you are, what you’re up to, and why that’s important,” she notes. “It looks like learning how to become fearless challenging the assumptions that we have about what is or isn’t true in the world, and flipping those assumptions in their heads. And then finally, connection. Working with others.”

Check out the full conversation between Abate and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney, below:


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