The year of the change agent?

Change is hard. If most of us struggle to alter simple personal habits, pushing change at an organisational, industry or national level is devilishly difficult. “In a change process, you will always find … people who say ‘No, no’, and they strongly mean that,” says change leadership expert, John Kotter. “These are the guys that resist to the death.” Yet change – the ability to lead it and leverage it – is more topical than ever. Leading the charge, according to Fast Company’s Robert Safian, is Generation Flux, pioneers of the new (and chaotic) front of business. “We’ve entered a next-two-hours era,” writes Safian. “The pace of change in our economy and our culture is accelerating – fuelled by global adoption of social, mobile, and other new technologies – and our visibility about the future is declining.” It’s that uncertainty which has thrown corporate boardrooms into confusion. “When businesspeople search for the right forecast – the roadmap and model that will define the next era – no credible long-term picture emerges,” Safian argues. “There is one certainty, however. The next decade or two will be defined more by fluidity than by any new, settled paradigm; if there is a pattern to this, it is that there is no pattern.” Have the times changed to suit change agents, then? David Armano, who leads global innovation at Edelman Digital, thinks so. “If this year belongs to anyone, it is the change agent,” Armano says. “You may be thinking ‘That’s exactly what I am’, but chances are, if you aren’t frustrated or feeling like you are constantly hitting wall after wall, you may not be the change agent you think you are. It’s a thankless job, but a necessary one, now more than ever.” Leadership will come through Gen Fluxers, Safian predicts, those whose mindset embraces instability, fluid careers, business models and assumptions. “Not everyone will join Generation Flux, but to be successful, businesses and individuals will have to work at it,” he adds. “Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills.”

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