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How We Can Survive Our Faster Future With Mindshift Speaker Joi Ito

  • By Jim Kaitz
  • Published: 5/7/2019

How to Survive Our Faster Future With Joi ItoJoi Ito is many things. He’s the Director of MIT Media Lab. He is co-author of the book, “Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future,” as well as a columnist for WIRED magazine. He’s an activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and scholar focusing on the ethics and governance of technology, tackling complex problems such as climate change.

Joi also will be the Mindshift Keynote speaker, sponsored by Capital One, at AFP 2019 this October in Boston, where he will give a talk based on his book.

I spoke to Ito for the AFP Conversations: Leadership Series podcast. He and I share a similar perspective on technology and its impact on society. I speak to finance executives all the time about digital disruption – and how technology has the potential to completely change how finance works.

Ito takes the concept of disruption to a deeper level. He believes that to survive the future, individuals and organizations must first change their perspectives. And that requires getting rid of long-held assumptions and embracing change. That’s music to my ears—but it’s still a hard concept for many to embrace.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Joi Ito online. In the meantime, here are six insights on embracing change from Joi Ito:

Finance professionals are the agents of change in the age of digital disruption—not technology. “I’m much less interested in building apps for Bitcoin right now and much more interested in trying to fundamentally look at things like double entry bookkeeping that hasn’t been reinvented for 600 years and say, how is this changing? Because I think accounting drives what we understand, and when you change accounting it has all these knock-on effects throughout finance.”

The old learning model is outdated so… “I think a combination of computers and the Internet has made the world much more complex, and in many ways faster. And I think that the traditional sort of cycle of planning and execution, or the old cycle of going to college, learning a whole bunch of stuff, and then your job being mainly a repetition of what you learned—that model is breaking.”

… Finance professionals must embrace the new. “There’s a kind of sensibility that you need to have in order to thrive in this new environment. Some companies have been able to embrace that and survive, and other companies have either disappeared or are on their way to disappearing.”

Culture drives change. “I used to be on the Sony Corporation board. Most of the successful new innovations that Sony did came from so-called ‘culture forts,’ that tends to be in a separate location like the PlayStation group. And they tended to be supported by senior management. In the case of the PlayStation, it was in the United States, or the case of the Amazon Kindle, which actually was created in Palo Alto and not in Seattle. Part of creating new things is about how do you support from the existing business? New businesses must get permission to have a different culture.”

Compasses are better than maps. “Good corporations have a set of deeply held core values. If you have younger people coming into the organization, they will interpret your core values, but in a very different way. So you really need to embed your core values into the culture of your organization. Your maps will likely always be wrong and hamstring your ability to innovate. But if you know your compass heading, and you’re aware of your surroundings, to use a military metaphor, you know what you’re supposed to know and what you have authority to do. You’re well trained, but you respond to the environment, rather than somebody who’s just following orders verbatim.”

Learning over education. “Education is what other people do to you. Learning is what you do to yourself. Kindergarten is such a wonderful learning environment where you’re playing, you experiment, you’re sharing and collaborating, and then somehow that goes away. Somehow along the way learning becomes a chore for us. But you have to enjoy learning, and I think you can enjoy learning.”

Hear the full interview on the AFP Conversations: Leadership Series podcast. Listeners of the podcast can get special pricing to AFP 2019 in Boston. Listen in and then register here
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