Red Hat Summit KeyNote: How to survive rapid change – Jim Whitehurst

In Jim Whitehurst’s Red Hat Summit 2017 keynote, he opened by making a bold claim: planning is dead. He followed up his statement with predictions from the past that have turned out to be grossly inaccurate. He referred to a prominent example from 1899 when the US Patent office stated that “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” a quote that received soft laughs from the audience of 10,000.

Following the claim that traditional planning is dead, Jim backed it up with a statement of fact when he stated that “cognitive bias makes us terrible at predicting the future. The faster the rate of change, the worse we are at planning.” So, how do companies succeed if they can’t plan linearly? Both companies and people are fighting to keep pace with change, and change is coming from every direction. For example: how would car manufacturers have planned for Uber? Uber came out of nowhere with a few dollars of venture funding. Now, car companies are building their businesses around providing cars for new-age taxi services like Uber. No doubt that your industry has a similar analogy.

Because things are no longer planned, but rather “emerge,” the key is to participate in the communities who are initiating change, and help drive the forward-moving innovation.  Think about the “Big Data” market where tons of companies making small steps forward are creating massive market changes. The same is happening with AI.
Organizing humans is now about creating context for individual action. The new model for industry success is “Try, Learn, & Modify.” Organizations who figure out how to reward fast failure, continually adapt to changing plans, and participate inside their respective market communities at scale will thrive. If you embrace, rather than fear the rapid change in the world, you will have the chance to be apart of it.

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