Think’s INNOVATE Conference Arms Mid-Atlantic Business Leaders to Capitalize on Change
The rate of change continues to accelerate creating new challenges and opportunities for businesses, according to technology and innovation experts presenting at Think’s inaugural Innovate 2022, a two-day conference held last month outside of Baltimore that convened nearly 200 business leaders from the Mid-Atlantic region.
Throughout the event, speakers and panelists repeatedly stressed that to ensure future success, businesses must be agile to adapt technology, business practices, and business models that capitalize on emerging trends. Leaders and their teams must not be averse to change but instead embrace it. This can be difficult, but the alternative is likely becoming irrelevant.
The Future Is Now
“We are absolutely in the midst of a revolution,” said Rachel Mushahwar, Director of Americas Partner and Channel Sales at Amazon Web Services. “Everything is converging and happening simultaneously. It is not tomorrow we are not talking about the Jetsons. The Jetsons are already here.”
Mushahwar also stressed that this revolution was just beginning and that more change would come even faster, so business leaders must be prepared.
Presenters highlighted that the world was wrestling with several crises that are causing major disruptions across industries.
Dr. Daraius Irani, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research at Towson University outlined some of the consequences of these crises, including consumer sentiment which has fallen sharply in recent months to the lowest levels in decades. Even during major confrontations like the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s, the Vietnam War or the 2008 economic meltdown “we were still happy. Now, not so happy,” Irani said in his keynote.
Capitalizing on Massive Disruptions
“Moments of massive disruption can provide massive opportunities,” said Entrepreneur Magazine Editor in Chief Jason Feifer. “You can’t debate whether change should happen. It’s already happened. The thing in your control is how you respond and find value in it.”
Feifer observed that change happens in four phases. First, we panic, then we adapt, next, we find a new normal and finally we reach the point where we wouldn’t go back to the way things were. The key is to adopt a mindset that allows you to quickly progress through these stages to arrive at the last stage.
Nimble companies that can quickly adapt to take advantage of the ever-changing landscape are the ones that will continue to be successful long into the future.
“Think about the companies that thrive during a recession,” Mushahwar said. ”They invest through the recession and that investment might not be a capital investment, it might be doubling down on their people.”
“A crisis like this can shift the window on the options that we are willing to collectively to take seriously,” Feifer said. “Step outside the box and reconsider your filters and assumptions. Build the reality of what is coming next into the reality of what is happening now.”
In today’s technology-driven, fast-changing business environment, businesses that are currently successful today won’t be successful tomorrow, unless leaders build high-performing cultures that embrace change, and drive innovation, according to Point North COO and international innovation expert Sara Frasca.
“To win, we must defy traditions, let go, and crave what’s next. The first act of creation is destruction,” Frasca said.
To survive and thrive today and into the future, businesses must defy traditions, fall in love with creative problem solving, and be willing to fail, get back up, learn quickly, and move forward, she added.
“We have a tendency to focus on the things we’re losing. We make the same mistake over and over,” said Feifer. “We see change and we fear that new things will replace old things that we are familiar with, and we will lose that. Instead, we should focus on the gains and not the loss.”
Preaching and Practicing
The inaugural Innovate 2022 conference was presented by Think Systems Inc., which has been pushing clients to embrace innovation and technology to overcome obstacles and take advantage of opportunities. Think practices what it preaches and has benefited from adopting a mindset that embraces change.
The company continues to grow and projects additional national growth over the next five years.
“We are now competing with the big firms,” said Think CEO and Founder Tony Gruebl. “We are not just competing we are winning. I think we can continue to do that.”
Joe Poling, Think’s President of Commercial Services added that Think has brought in a “slew of big talent,” and the goal is to “change the consulting world from the expense category to the value category.”
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