The Dream Center, Lagos 19/2/2015
THEME: LEADING STRATEGIC CHANGE
The meeting’s keynote speaker, Professor Pat Utomi, began the session by elucidating on the meaning of change. He said that change is fundamental to being human and to not approach it from a strategic point of view is to shortchange one’s self. Change, he said, is one of the most certain things about life and every aspect of life involves continuous change.
From a biological point of view, Prof. Utomi gave an example of change that takes place in a human body with the generation of billions of new cells, and the simultaneous death of billions of old cells. Few things, he went on to say, generate as much fear in people as the issue of change. People pretend like change is not going to happen and this results in a state of being unprepared when it eventually takes place.
Professor Pat Utomi noted that many people resist change because of the fear of the unknown, and advised the participants to anticipate and plan for change so that when it comes, they would be on top of it.
He went on to make references to a number of authors, whose works are notable on the issue of strategic change. He spoke about the author of the book, The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli. Machiavelli coined the popular phrase, ‘the end justifies the means’, and in The Prince, he wrote that nothing is more difficult to bring about than a new order of things, for the reformer would have strong adversaries from those that are benefitting from the old idea, but only weak followers from those that might benefit from the new idea in the future.
Speaking about Nigeria, Professor Utomi said that it is a country extremely resourced yet in every dimension it is one of the worst in countries in the world. According to statistics, Nigeria is said to be one of the most miserable places to live on earth. He spoke about the need change in order to make progress and the understanding that progress does not occur when there is no change. To better capture this, he quoted Reg Ravans who said that an organization’s rate of learning must be at least equal to, but preferably greater than the rate of change in the environment.
Professor Utomi also referenced the author of the book, Collapse, Jared Diamond who reviewed the causes of the collapse of societies whose culture have not been able to adapt to the means of change. He also mentioned the book, Why Nations Fail, by Acemoglu and Robinson, who explained that some countries fail while others continue to accumulate power because their cultures fail to change or adapt.
Professor Pat Utomi reiterated the importance of Nigeria to anticipate and plan for change and went on to highlight four generic approaches to planning for change.
· Discontinuous change: This type of change occurs when things are not going as hoped and an entire system is brought to a halt in order to have a restructuring. Examples of this are when companies retrench in the face of difficult situations, and Nigeria’s continuous economic diversification.
The biggest problem with discontinuous change, he went to explain, is how to build the morale of the staff in an organization and make them see the change in a positive light.
· Culture change: This type of change deals with changing the entire culture of an organization because culture determines performance. He said that this type of change is very difficult to achieve and not more than 30% of planned culture changes succeed.
· Bottom-Up change: This type of change occurs from the bottom to the top of an organization. He cited Intel as an example of a company that uses this type of autonomous change and said that one of the autonomous processes of change is the belief of employees that their opinions actually matter.
· Continuous Renewal: An example of this type of change is the Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning “good change”. This type of change refers to activities in the workplace that continually improve all functions and involves all employees.
In conclusion Professor Pat Utomi asked all participants to examine themselves everyday and ask themselves what they did, that they can do differently tomorrow. He advised them to meditate on it and anticipate the changes that it will produce.
SECOND SESSION (Executive Master Class for leaders, Professionals and Entrepreneurs) THEME: Understanding the Concept of Disruptive Innovation
At the second session of the Leaders Breakfast Meeting, Professor Pat Utomi started by referencing the book, Creative Destruction, by Joseph Schumpeter. He said that the human race actually makes progress by creatively destroying that which was yesterday’s progress.
Professor Utomi gave examples of disruptive innovations by pointing out how modes of communication have evolved over time, from the use of birds to the use of the printing press and computers, and said that man must continually advance the quality of his life.
One of the most innovative societies in the world, he said, is the United States of America. He explained that one of the reasons for this is the availability of institutional arrangements that make it easy for young people with very limited resources, to innovate ways that creatively destroy a dominant order.
He went on to explain how innovations have disrupted change systems and expounded on this by talking about the arrival of the Internet in Nigeria, the introduction of sachet milk in Nigeria by Promasidor, and the restructuring of economic flights by Virgin Airlines.