Corporate Affairs Webinar — Business at the speed of change: How do businesses and organisations keep up with a world in hyperdrive?
We’re living in an incredibly fast-paced and dynamic society where change has become the only constant. The speed of change has increased dramatically with the digital age, as information is readily available at our fingertips almost instantly. This mega-change is overlayed with evolving societal, environmental, and technological needs that bring into question how traditional business models will keep up. New cultures and strategies are needed so businesses can adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world.
In our latest Rowland Corporate Affairs Webinar, we spoke to a range of industry professionals who are no strangers to change — working in organisations that are constantly adapting in real-time to address significant internal and external pressures.
The discussion provided unique insights into how we can take advantage of the opportunities that come with change, and how to leverage people and technology to become more adaptable.
Our panellists considered how they’ve adapted to change and answered two vital questions:
- What are the fundamental changes organisations need to make to survive and prosper in a fast-change zone?
- How can organisations ensure that they have the right technology, people and culture to adapt at the speed of global change?
- MJ Bellotti, Chief Purpose Officer, RACQ
- Chris Evans, Executive General Manager Development, Queensland Hydro
- Jane Seawright, Chair, TAFE Queensland
- Shane Rodgers, Director of Media and Platforms & Executive Strategy Adviser, Rowland
Watch or listen to the full webinar here:
Short on time? We’ve summarised the insightful discussion below:
MJ Bellotti, Chief Purpose Officer, RACQ
- We are living in an incredibly dynamic environment where external forces are adding to the pace of change. Everything from inflation to geo-political instability, climate action to increased cyber risks — all these factors are putting businesses under a lot of pressure to change and adapt. And with the rise in public scrutiny, the margin for error is shrinking.
- These challenges present an amazing opportunity for businesses to lead the way. Companies need to take the time to reset and pause. They need to revisit what their purpose is and how they can take on changes that align with their purpose.
- RACQ has spent 118 years saving people from the roadside and in that time, we have moved from the horse-drawn cart to petrol cars, and now to electric vehicles. It was critical that we kept re-aligning our opportunities with our purpose, asking ourselves — what role could we play in that challenge?
- We must think about the capabilities and people we need to embrace these changes. We need to recognise that our employees are incredibly diverse. At RACQ, we have employees that span over five generations, so we must take the time to really understand the different cohorts and evaluate how the organisation is meeting their different needs.
- We see change management as a capability a company must master. The future is rapidly transforming so our leaders need to get off the field and back on the balcony. Only then can we look past what’s right in front of us and look at the opportunities ahead.
Chris Evans, Executive General Manager Development, Queensland Hydro
- Queensland Hydro is a perfect example of an organisation at the speed of change, and that change has to do with the de-carbonisation of our energy systems. Hydro energy is one of the cheapest and most reliable sources of renewable energy and it’s crucial for the Queensland Government’s plans to achieve a 70% clean energy system by 2032.
- This clear purpose is what unifies our employees. As we’re starting out, we have a strong focus on building the right culture and finding the right people. It is important for us to build agility; we are likely to face many challenges with our upcoming project so we need people who can take on those challenges and help us deliver on our purpose.
- We have an ambition to be world-class — for us that means people in the future will wonder how we achieved the things we did. This not only includes our technological endeavours but also things like our community engagement, environmental impact, and social license.
- The energy transformation we are going through now is a once-in-a-lifetime event and we need the right culture and people to take that on.
Jane Seawright, Chair, TAFE Queensland
- Digital transformation has been at the heart of TAFE’s work over the past few years. We see it as essential for every business and as we train future employees, we have a huge role to play in that adaption.
- During the pandemic, we had to pivot very quickly to online learning. This involved updating our technological capacities and training our large team of educators — all in a short space of time. We have continued to drive digital skills and it’s been a key element of our product delivery, staff training and in helping us stay ahead of the curve.
- Our role as an educational institution involves anticipating change — not just moving with it but really being ahead of the curve. To do that, we stay very close to industry partners to anticipate what skills will be required in the future.
- Work culture is incredibly important to us, and we always put people first — that’s why we’ve been able to achieve the things we have. We’ve been able to adapt quickly to our environment by taking our people with us, every step of the way.
- I’m confident AI will not replace the role of people in our education system. What we’re hearing from students and teachers is that people still value face-to-face contact. As much as the digital transformation will help us become more efficient, the role of people is still paramount.
Shane Rodgers Director of Media and Platforms & Executive Strategy Adviser, Rowland
- A fundamental challenge facing humans and organisations now is the chronic over-supply of options. We’re in an unusual phase of history where we all have access to everything, all at once. The macro changes we’re seeing now originated nearly 20 years ago. So, even though this technology has been available for a while, it takes a long time for human capacity to catch up with our options. I think that’s why organisations struggle to keep up with the pace of change.
- If we look at the communications and media space, we’re living in a ‘post-media’ era. We’ve seen the disappearance of the mass market and audiences are increasingly fragmented. People don’t come together in the same place around media as they use to. What we’re helping businesses do now is create their own audiences and build their own media to attract audiences organically, without appealing to a mass market.
- Organisations need to treat agility as an end, not a means. You must be able to change, and change must become part of the way you operate.
- As we move into the AI/Automation age, we need to consider the role of humans with this technology. Humans need to be flexible, creative and able to reinvent. The organisations that will survive are those who can constantly re-invent itself in real time.
- This new age will revolutionise a lot of things, but it won’t replicate the heart, value, and judgment that only humans can bring. This time of change we’re experiencing will take us to a better place, but we should not underestimate the collateral damage that comes with transition. We need to be a lot more creative with how we handle change or it could be quite problematic.
Summary of questions asked from audience members:
Q: Instead of keeping up with everything all the time, shouldn’t organisations also take the time needed to properly evaluate, consider pros and cons, and whether new developments will create positive change and financial/operational benefits? (Debbie Everett, Mercy Community)
A: Where we do have all these options, it’s important to exercise a degree of strategic discipline so we can stop and realign the organisation’s purpose to what opportunities to explore. It’s important to not get too emotionally connected to what we’ve always done. In this market of opportunities, it’s important to confirm whether what we’ve done in the past really serves our future.
We’ve moved away from the old notion of change management — change now is management. In the past you could make slow moving change processes but now we need to make changes on the go — kind of like mid-air refuelling. You also must balance creating that change within the organisation so it’s easily adopted — you can’t create an organ for the body on the outside and expect the body to accept it. So we have this very fast-moving change methodology going on that is a very different approach to what we would have done in the past.