In the first of our exclusive three-part series, former LEGO risk manager and current principal consultant at AKTUS, Hans Læssøe, and principal consultant at Risk Insight Consulting, Gareth Byatt, tell us why your perspective about change determines how you respond to it

Today’s business news, outcomes from business surveys, discussions internally within businesses and at a host of conferences are held regularly about the challenge of dealing with disruption, complexity in the business environment, the fourth industrial revolution of digitisation, and the immense speed of change the world is experiencing.

Many business people are worried or even anxious about the extent and pace of change – and many believe that it is, and will continue to be, extremely challenging to cope with, let alone to benefit from it.

If this is your position, we feel we must say that, as risk professionals, we can only advise that your environment will experience further and faster change – and you need to use risk management to benefit from it. Change is a constant, and the absolute speed of change today is increasing.

Your perspective about change determines how you respond to it – positively or negatively. Here’s an analogy for you to consider.

The basic chart we are showing describes a relative change of 10% per year. Year on year, it ramps up and becomes more and more pronounced.

In this “life example”, at the bottom-left lower end is the teenager (we deliberately chose to start here rather than any younger than that). They see a rather stable world through their eyes; where nothing much is changing in their view. In fact, they believe that if the world changed any slower, it would move backward.

In the middle, we have the adult, who remembers the stability of the past, and thinks that these days, the world is changing increasingly rapidly, more than before. Intellectually, they see that the pace of change will continue to speed up, and emotionally some of this is an unsettling thought, particularly at a time of life when stability is usually sought after.

At the top-right end, we have the retiree, who fondly remembers (and perhaps exaggerates) the stability of his youth, and the hard work they had to do to keep up with change when they were an adult. Today they see the world changing in an uncontrollably fast way, and they find it emotionally hard to fathom that the speed of change could increase any higher.

We are here to say: ‘Too bad, Grandpa!’ Your grandchildren are at the bottom of this curve and are seeing the present day in the same stable way as you did when you were their age. They don’t expect a phone (actually, it’s more a mobile computer nowadays) to be up-to-date for more than two years, SMS texting is passé, email is antiquated, and they have switched social media platforms several times in the past couple of years. As for music, their whole music library is available in their phone in their pocket.

In next week’s edition, Byatt and Læssøe tell us why the fourth revolution of digitisation is just the beginning of change.