Success in the Innovation Age: Navigating Change

We’ve entered a new economy where technology transforms the strategies for future success like never before.

We’ve entered a new economy where technology transforms the strategies for future success like never before. We sat down with Jim Bottomley, keynote speaker at the 2018 Conference for the Oil and Gas Industry, to ask some questions about his work as a futurist and his thoughts on how to develop improved strategy and leadership. We also asked Jim for his insights on the future of energy, another theme he will explore with attendees at this year’s conference.

Q. Jim Bottomley, you have worked as an independent futurist for more than thirty years. How did you get your start in this role and what methods do you utilize to look at the future?

In the early eighties, working in new product development for Puss ’n Boots and Ken-L-Ration, I was assigned the task of deciding whether pet owners would, in future, own more dogs or more cats. I began to perform trend analysis as a result and have been working as a strategic planner/futurist ever since. By the way, back in the eighties, trends pointed to cats; but trends change – now we’re going to the dogs.

My unique way of doing this work has provided insights that have enabled clients from across sectors to succeed. The key is to recognize that all work is about meeting human needs. Period. Success comes from improved need satisfaction. Period. My value as a futurist is to look at the interplay between technology, economic, social, demographic and political/legal trends, and focus on how they impact human needs.

This opens up a whole new way to conduct economic and financial analysis. While other futurists specialize in one trend category, I look at the interplay between categories, analyzing how trends converge, often collaborating with technical specialists since technology leads change. The end goal is to provide a better understanding of how to better meet the needs of the future. In the Innovation Age, needs are changing like never before.

Q. So, you analyze how human needs change. What benefits come from looking at the future in this way?

All trends impact human needs, and their power to guide actions not only helps avoid the dark night of the innovator, but also improve change management. Success is all about the Better Benefit goals you deliver (delivering better need satisfaction for the stakeholders you serve).

Better Benefits are our reason for buying anything, attract attention in the age of information overload, drive motivation and investment and define the value of each step in a process. Increasingly, they guide technology application and help avoid workplace disruption.

A key to future success is to focus on achieving Better Benefits. For career success it will be increasingly essential to define: what are your Better Benefits? They are the language of the Innovation Age.

Q. What does this mean for Oil and Gas?

Change causes stress. Today, stress relief sells like never before. Reducing the stress of those who interact with you is a winning strategy. The only way to achieve social license is to focus on stakeholder needs, recognizing that all change is both good and bad, and that both sides of this equation need to be addressed by stakeholders impacted by change. Communities come together when Better Benefits are defined for all.

I have seen this process work while facilitating cluster development and in sectors such as forestry, and will share insights with the energy industry on how to better lead change in a profession where boundaries are also changing.

Q. Do changing professional boundaries affect CPAs and their role in the Oil and Gas industry?

To install new-age building security, an electrician now needs to be a computer technician. The YMCA doesn’t just bring clients to them, they take their programs to the schools. Boundaries are being challenged in every profession. Is a pipeline a pipeline, or is it also a community builder?

For professional accountants working in the energy sector, your impact goes well beyond the numbers. By helping forge Better Benefits in changing conditions, your impact is greater. Only by looking at how needs change can we truly uncover future opportunity. This ability ensures a bigger seat at the leadership table.

Q. What about leadership? How will it change in future?

 Industrial Age leadership focused on fixing problems, spending 80% of the time fighting fires. This focus is not only soul-destroying to the culture, but is also less productive than the alternative.

In the businesses I own we strive to create a culture of thanks, looking for work well done and thanking those that do it well. A team that measures customer satisfaction, focuses on sharing how to provide Better Benefits, and thanks each other for good results, succeeds. All it takes is to look at the attitudes of young millennials entering the workplace to know that creating a culture of thanks is the future.

My experience facilitating work design provides insight into ways to better navigate change: for all people, Better Benefit dreams are the true motivators.

On November 22nd in Calgary, Jim Bottomley will share lessons learned that showcase how to better navigate and lead change effectively, forging future success.