Kids today don’t know a world without smartphones or high-speed digital connections. And they’re challenging us to rethink the way we do business. “The real impact of the future doesn’t come from new technology,” says futurist Mike Walsh. “It comes from new patterns of human behaviour.” Walsh is the author of the new book The Dictionary of Dangerous Ideas and CEO of Tomorrow, a global consultancy that advises Fortune 500 and other leaders how to thrive in an era of disruptive technological change. 5 MIND GRENADES TO KICKSTART CHANGE At a recent talk in Toronto,* Walsh inspired leaders with questions — he calls them mind grenades — to start moving business into the future. 1. What do your kids think about the technology you use at work? The next generation of employees will have a radically different approach to work. Their childhoods have been shaped by disruptive technology: think toddlers on iPads. Walsh encourages business professionals to bring kids into the workplace. Ask them to imagine a work environment and management model that fits their worldview. 2. What are the most effective elements of your culture? What’s holding you back? Creating a high-performance culture when you’re small is easy. Scaling up when you get big is hard. Push the envelope on collaboration, says Walsh. Create a cross-departmental adoption team and focus on solving a specific enterprise problem with a new approach. 3. In five years, what roles in your team won’t exist? What will you pay anything to acquire? Twenty-first-century companies will be innovative by design. “The more you start to automate, the more your people need to elevate,” says Walsh. The cloud will force us to upgrade the idea of the company. We need to look at smarter ways of doing things: technology has to change productivity. 4. What’s something your customers do that drives you crazy but might also be a source of opportunity? “Breakthrough innovation is anthropology, not just technology,” says Walsh. Success is placing strategic focus on people, both creators and users. Walsh advises business leaders to challenge teams by taking them out of their comfort zones to look at unconventional things that work. The Chinese, for example, don’t do focus groups. “They just give the market what they want.” 5. What one big-data insight about your business will make leadership sit up and take notice? “Data isn’t absolute truth,” says Walsh. The real lesson of big data is the way it affects decision making. New types of questions are more valuable than quick answers to familiar inquiries, he says. * The Cloud Will Disrupt the Future of Business Technology, Mike Walsh’s keynote speech at the HRPA 2015 Annual Conference and Trade Show, was sponsored by CPA Canada.