Facing Up to the Future

The closing keynote speaker was Gary Hamel, of the London Business School, Strategos, and the Woodside Institute . His talk, entitled "Facing up to the Future," was richly illustrated with New Yorker cartoons (shown without attribution or copyright notice), but he left his other slides on screen for such a short period of time that I found it difficult to completely follow his train of thought.

He had 5 propositions:

The future is less and less an extrapolation of the past. Change is accelerating, as is ignorance. We need to recalibrate our priorities.

Success has never been so fragile. Being the incumbent is worth less and less
As change accelerates, so must the pace of strategic renewal. He likened corporate top executive changes to regime change in dictatorships in third world countries and advocated making deep changes, not only changes at the margins.

Every one of us has to become an enemy of entropy. We should understand the lenses through which people view information. We need to be the antidote to denial, to filter out the filterers, and foster a contrarian spirit.

We are not just librarians. We need to raise our value add. Hamel’s suggested roles: Court jesters, mindset engineers, future seeking radar, and decision architects.

Innovation, he said comes from identifying unexamined dogmas, unexploited trends, unseen assets, and unvoiced needs. He also talked about the resiliency of markets, life, cities, faith, and democracy.

His final message for SLA conference attendees: "Move from being custodians of information to catalysts for renewal."

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

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