Saturday, May 25, 2013

Changing Change: A Series About The Future

The Subject

One day soon - in our lifetimes - most of what you do as a change agent will be done by machines. It is inevitable: humans have been integrating the skills and knowledge of experts into machines since long before recorded history, and we're not going to stop just because your job is hard or because your job takes expertise. Gutenberg automated publishing, and put monks out of business. Eventually printers were automated - integrated into their machines - and now they sit on desks. Go back far enough and 'firestarter' was a profession.

Automation of expertise and extension of human abilities is one trend you shouldn't bet against. But how can you prepare? Our world is undergoing ever more frequent disruptions, the pace of change is exponential, and we may be on the cusp of changing the very nature of what it means to be human (not through genetic engineering - through regular old natural selection). In light of this, what role is safe? Can any career be future-proof? Can yours?

As with most things, the business analysts' favourite answer is the most appropriate one: It depends.

This Series

In each article we will touch on some aspect of change, including how the approaches to change have themselves changed. This is a broad topic, so the discussion range far: information theory, evolution, processes, roles of change agents, behavioural psychology, automation, technological advances, and even the event horizon and singularity. Work by people +Jeff Jarvis, +Kevin Kelly, +Dan Pink, +Daniel Kahneman, +Dan Ariely, +Chris Anderson, +Clay Shirky, and +Steven Pinker will be referenced. It turns out that understanding how organisations change - how we create, alter, and destroy organisational systems - is a very large problem space.

All of this work was first brought together in a keynote I was honoured to present at the recent I-BADD 2013 conference, called "Changing Change". Since then, I have had several conversations on the topic. In each case, everyone learned something new; it's time to have the conversation on a larger scale.

The Schedule

Given that this is a big subject, the hardest part is breaking it down into manageable chunks. I'll aim to make one post per week, generally on Saturdays.

The Request

Please comment, critique, argue, and disagree!