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Exclusive interview with African Utility Week keynote speaker Graeme Codrington, internationally recognised futurist.

On the opening day of AUW he will address delegates with an address titled: “Future of work and the disruptive forces that are shaping it”.

“The rules for success and failure are being rewritten, and there’s no ‘business as usual’ anymore. This is true in every industry and every market. In this environment, the task of the leader must change.”

Can we start with some background on yourself and your organisation?
My company is TomorrowToday Global. We have nearly 20 years of experience in developing leaders for the future of work. We do this through leadership development programmes, workshops and keynote presentations, and an online membership programme called The Future of Work Academy. We help companies and their leaders identify and understand the disruptive forces that are shaping the world around us, and then work with them to develop leadership responses.

Like many people in our team, my own personal background is quite varied. I started my professional career with chartered accountant articles at KPMG before moving to an IT start-up. I then shifted to studying youth work, with a focus on non-profit and church-based programmes. It was while doing my Honours that I discovered generational theory and came to an understanding of how and why young and old people are different. At the same time, I was involved in a massive survey of youth culture in South Africa, which led to a nationwide series of workshops on understanding youth culture in a changing world.

Over the past 18 years, our team has continued research into the changes taking place in the world, and has created many frameworks to help our clients understand and engage with these changes.

How does energy fit in with your message?
Over the past decade or so, the issue of energy has become more and more important. Energy has the potential to be one of the most significant disruptors in the next few years, specifically as we discover new and cheaper ways to generate electricity, and innovate the entire energy supply chain. Reducing the price of energy has the potential to impact every aspect of our world. And the possibility of decentralising energy production requires the energy sector to fundamentally rethink its structures and the “rules for success and failure” it plays by.

What should/can the energy sector do better?
The energy sector, like many other sectors in society has to prepare itself for a time of disruptive change. Many of the long-established players in their energy sector are actively working against change, especially institutional changes, as they perceive the risk to the entrenched (often monopolistic) positions. They may be able to slightly delay disruption, but they cannot hold it back indefinitely. It would be much better to adopt a mind-set which embraces diversity, and uses their existing power base to be a key innovator in their industry. I also believe that the drive should not be merely for green and clean energy, but for cheap energy too. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition is definitely going to have a big influence on the sector in the 2020s.

What surprises you about the way business looks at the future?
I am constantly surprised at how little senior business leaders actually look at disruptive change. When I speak at conferences, I am often asked to catalogue the major changes we’re likely to see in the world in the next decade. I get audiences to indicate if they’ve considered the implications of the issues I am talking about, and very few of my audiences have. From driverless cars to real-time translation, from blockchain to longevity, senior leaders know the trends exist but don’t take nearly enough time to consider their disruptive potential.

You are a keynote speaker on the opening day at the upcoming African Utility Week with an address titled: “Future of work and the disruptive forces that are shaping it” – can you give us a preview of what your message will be at the event.
We’re not just living a time of turbulent change – we are actually experiencing an era shift in history. The rules for success and failure are being rewritten, and there’s no “business as usual” anymore. This is true in every industry and every market. In this environment, the task of the leader must change. The best leaders today are those people who know what to do when nobody knows what to do, and are able to navigate confidently through uncertainty and paradox. To be successful in a time of such turbulence requires insights into the disruptive forces that are changing our world, and a new toolkit of skills for the leaders who must navigate the changes. This presentation provides a compelling picture of the near future, proving that we are living through an era shift in history, and provides a toolkit for future-focused leaders to use to navigate deeply disruptive change.

About Graeme Codrington
Graeme Codrington is an expert on the future of work. He is a researcher, author, futurist, presenter and board advisor working across multiple industries and sectors. He has a particular interest in disruptive forces changing how people live, work, interact and connect with each other.

Click here for Graeme’s full bio.

African Utility Week

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