Thought Leader: Coping with change

If you want to have small glimpse of what the future might look like, visit Point England School in Auckland. You can visit them online and view their blogs and podcasts, and episodes from their TV station at www.ptengland.school.nz.
These children are broadcasting to the world, and their computer skills and creative abilities will surpass those of most reading this article. The motivation that comes from having worldwide audience interested in their achievements is reflected in the academic attainment of this decile 1A school.
This is not one-off phenomenon, it is movement. Point England School and the cluster of schools in the area, including Tamaki College, are supported by the Manaiakalani Trust, partnership between schools, parents, philanthropic organisations and business.
Not only does the trust lease computers for affordable purchase by families, they also provide technical support, training for families, and construction of community wireless network.
And there are other similar initiatives around New Zealand, such as Manaia View School in Whangarei. This is the future of our education system supported by high speed broadband access to schools through the Government’s ultra fast broadband initiative, and with additional support being given to replicate achievements such as those in Tamaki.
So what does this have to do with you and your business? Everything. This is your future workforce and they are our future society. And their expectations are that they will enter world as savvy and creative and open minded as theirs. world that celebrates achievements, that embraces diversity, that benefits from collaboration.
Our managers must confront the new paradigm. If you lead based upon what has happened in the past, you might well miss the future. You need to anticipate what the future might look like and be there to greet it.
This requires:
• An awareness of the e-world. Look around the globe – and remember the speed with which technology and science are advancing. Facebook did not exist 10 years ago and the iPad was only released three years ago. And yet so much of the marketing and communication for any business now uses social media channels and such devices. James Martin’s The Meaning of the 21st Century is compulsory reading for glimpse of the future.
• An external rather than an internal focus. Where do you spend your time? There is need for constant interaction with those outside your organisations.
If you and your people are doing all of your strategy and training in house, if you are restricting access to social networks, where are you gathering new ideas, and where are you talking with your customers, your stakeholders, your community? New ideas come from new perspectives and new lenses.
• focus on diversity; not just gender and ethnic diversity, but diversity in its broadest sense. Where are the intergenerational conversations occurring, because often these will be the most challenging conversations. As the demographics change and the population ages, we are going to be dependent upon the innovation and creativity of the younger generation.
• focus on collaboration rather than competition. In the recent PWC 16th Global Annual CEO Survey, the importance of the public and private sectors working together is also emphasised. There is need to develop trust and mutual respect and we need places where this can occur.
• focus on creating agile and resilient organisations which can meet daily challenges and changes. This means an abolition of hierarchy, with employees being empowered to make the decisions appropriate to the time. This means accommodating risk taking and the prospect of few failures.
• And finally, the overall focus on people – he tangata. Good people are paramount and we need to create an environment where they will want to stay. The expectation of younger employees is for meaning in their work, with values-aligned organisations, and recognition and balance between work and life, rather than just pay and rewards. There is also an expectation that organisations will recognise the environmental and social challenges around them and act as good community citizens.
So are you ready to move from an emphasis upon managerialism to new form of leadership that embraces this new dynamic connected world? One that is open, empowering and encourages innovation and collaboration and most of all, trust. If you are, you just might be ready to embrace your new and talented employees from Point England and Tamaki. M

Jo Brosnahan is chair of Leadership New Zealand and Northpower Fibre, and has her own leadership development organisation, Leaders for the Future.

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