Ability to Embrace Change is the Key to Development


Change has been the hallmark of our civilization. Be it technology-induced or social change, we have seen metamorphosis happening time and again. The human potential in every walk of life has improved substantially with the increasing synergistic play between man, machine and software. Another significantly clear trend is the change in daily life, habits and normal rigmarole of life with increasing penetration of digital technologies. Personal relationships and the way we interact with each other have also changed with the entry of multiple gadgets and the social media.


Activities which are repetitive in nature and require high efficiency are likely to be taken over by robotic process automation, says Rajesh Nair


While we foresee a future of limitless opportunities, we also see an interplay of automation and artificial intelligence in both skills and jobs. Activities which are repetitive in nature and require high efficiency are likely to be taken over by robotic process automation. The latest introduction of chatbots has seen the regular customer service calls being replaced by recorded audio-supported responses which can answer fairly complex questions.

Manual service, which can be replaced by artificial intelligence and sensor-driven equipment, will disappear in due course. But there is a certain time frame attached to these changes. Different economies will see these changes coming in different stages and time frames. But a clear truism is the fact that all these changes will displace 400 million to 800 million workers globally by 2030. So, for the youth entering the portals of employment, things are fairly in a state of flux.

Mastering the evolving changes in technology will be a continuous process. It is not just the fundamentals of education that is important but your ability to adjust and adapt to the changes around you. New competencies and skills will be needed time and again. Basic business models will undergo a shift and business intuition will no more be a constant. This also implies that decades of business experience, which builds into mental intuition in professionals, will have to be questioned repeatedly. So the challenge of changing business scenario is not just for the young professional but for the middle-aged and senior professional as well.

Change management does not come to humans naturally. We are wired biologically to resist change. This is true for pathogens or bacteria and our immunity resists all these change agents with alacrity to the best of its ability. We are comfortable with status quo and also to follow regular patterns of behaviour and work. But with this kind of change looming on the horizon, we have to learn to not only adapt to new ways but also pre-empt and anticipate changes. Change management also points to basic skills – listening and taking notes.

On listening: The silent truth is that one of the key aspects of persuasion is the ability to listen and understand. This is often neglected when we rate articulation much higher than listening, and as they say – we refuse to put listening on the same pedestal as ‘speaking well’. One of the most undervalued of skills, it is still in a nascent state as a business competency. As a professional, our minds perceive that the biggest challenge is to explain our idea, product or service to others. We are also driven by the need to feel that what we hear confirms to our beliefs and ideas, what Daniel Kahneman calls the ‘confirmation bias’.

On taking notes: “Take notes, as if your life depends on it”. Your memory is cluttered by a zillion ‘to dos’ related to work and your personal life. Every interaction with a business leader or visionary becomes a failed opportunity if one cannot take a set of actions and benefit from the interaction by just forgetting what we heard and talked about.

We are all inclined to listen and learn selectively. Listening and taking notes help us neutralise our biases and get insights to take course corrections and make intuitive resolutions. But the best part of both these skills is the ease with which you can cultivate them. You can see the positive changes in an instant with a conscious first step.

(The author is Executive Director-Markets, Kerala & Tamil Nadu, EY and President, TiE Kerala)