What would you do in your business, if, in 12 months time, your product or service was irrelevant?
That was the challenging question posed to delegates at the PCO Association’s annual conference in Auckland by Lynne Schinella, chief executive of training company Ripe Learning.
Schinella said the conference theme “Adapt, Improvise, Overcome” was very apt, as she predicted that 2012/13 would be a “fairly stagnant” market.
“I don’t think that’s ever been more relevant as we teeter on the brink of another GFC, at best in Australia and New Zealand we can expect a market with little growth and plenty of turbulent times ahead,” she said.
“I hear a lot about innovation but don’t really see much evidence of it.”
Emerging trends included cost-cutting, small events merging with larger ones, intense competition for attention, and delegates looking for more connection.
She said studies showed that a high percentage of respondents took part in virtual conferencing, and that tweeting was a growing trend in both online and live events. Free internet would soon become a staple requirement at conferences as delegates increasingly used the high tech tools available to them.
But many people – especially those in the SOHO sector – were still looking for human contact.
“Networking, business leads and education – these are the three reasons people attend conferences,” she said.
“The cornerstone of education is the speakers – they should be relevant, on-topic, and authorities in their field.”
As change was inevitable, it was important to learn how to manage it, she said.
“Desire and belief are not enough. Focus and commitment are needed.
“Don’t just wait for change to happen. Create change – if you are an innovator, you are ahead of your competition and you are the one making the rules. Use the strengths of people in your organisation who love change.
“In healthy economic times, you can get away with one size fits all. But when it’s time to adapt, innovate and grow, we need diversity. Differences in people bring fresh perspective, different ideas, robust debate and innovation. If your team is full of one type of person growth will be stifled, because everyone is too busy validating each other’s ideas.
“It is not the smartest or most talented people who get the best results, it is those who take massive action towards their goal.”
Useful websites recommended by Lynne Schinella for managing change: