Real World Futures

Eight lessons in adaptation

Date: 18 October 2018

QUT gave 160 people a crash course in adaptation in the final Real World Futures event of 2018 on Tuesday, 16 October 2018.

Adaptation was the focus of the 2018 Disruptive Influences And What To Do With Them conference at the university’s roomthreesixty, Gardens Point campus.  Eight speakers gave their accounts of adaptation to technology disruption, feeding an interactive workshop which inspired participants to apply their lessons to their own organisations.  The lessons, as interpreted by the Real World Futures team were:

  • Create social experiences to stay relevant (QUT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Sheil AO, who spoke on adaptation of learning);
  • Be ambitious in what you do (Bosch president Mr Gavin Smith who spoke on adaptation of business)
  • Treat incumbency as an asset (Suncorp Group CFO Mr Steve Johnston who spoke on adaptation of business)
  • Change your perspective (Engineer and company director Mr Matthew Ames who spoke on the personal adapation needed after  losing four limbs through a strep infection)
  • Don’t wait for perfection (Google executive Ms Sally-Ann Williams who spoke on adapting thinking).
  • Invest in people (Innovation and Science Australian CEO Dr Charlie Day who spoke on adapting thinking);
  • Create conditions for decent work (QUT’s Professor Paula McDonald who spoke on adapting work);
  • Learn while you adapt (Australian Centre for Robotic Vision COO Dr Sue Keay who spoke on adapting work).

This was the third Disruptive Influences - And What To Do With Them conference and its tone turned the focus to the role of people as both users and customers of technology.

Professor Sheil’s references to social experiences related to her own observations of the cinema industry that had faced serial disruptions which it kept withstanding because its customers had enjoyed both the films they paid to see and the social experience that went with them.  She related that to universities which would increase their online learning but still offer students valuable human interactions.

Mr Smith’s admonition to be ambitious drew on Bosch’s experiences in reshaping its manufactured products to be suitable for a world where most devices and their parts would be connected digitally.

And Professor McDonald’s counsel on decent work connected to her research on how photographers had resisted joining platforms that reduced their earnings and regularity of income because it fell short of “decent” standards.

The lessons from the day were corralled by QUT’s Executive Director of Corporate Engagement, Professor Michael Rosemann, who also introduced a range of new QUT products to involve the corporate sector.  They include new structures to access students and researchers and access to QUT facilities and expertise for innovation workshops, including a summer innovation series.

The Real World Futures director, David Fagan, closed the conference with acknowledgement of the focus the series over three years had put on technology but its permanent connection to what it meant to people.

“We can’t forget that people matter the most here. How they use the technology and not be used by it is the key problem we have to focus on at all levels and these lessons are a means of solving it,” he said.

The speaker’s slides are now online and so are the photos from the day.

David Fagan, October 2018

Content sourced from QUT News Web Service.

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