Q&A with Dr. David Bray (Pt. 3 of 3)

by | Apr 19, 2018

As CVP enters its 15th year in business, we continue to witness first-hand an accelerated rate of change in the markets we serve and in society in general. CVP and George Washington University (GW) have partnered on a new, ongoing speaker series focused on change, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The CVP Speaker Series @ GW debuts April 25, 2018 at 6pm with Champion of Positive #ChangeAgents and Executive Director for the People-Centered Internet coalition, Dr. David Bray, at the Lehman Auditorium in GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) building at 6pm.

Dr. David Bray’s keynote is entitled “Needed Now More Than Ever: Positive #ChangeAgents Across Sectors” and will focus on why and how we all can be change agents in our rapidly changing world while highlighting meaningful multi-sector strategies for delivering results differently and better.

In this last of three special blog posts, our founder and CEO, Anirudh Kulkarni, asks David Bray a few questions about the topic of his talk.

Q: What are three characteristics of successful positive #ChangeAgents?

A: First, positive #ChangeAgents proactively work to increase the cognitive diversity of a team, organization, or sector in which they operate. With crowds: diversity trumps ability — specifically, learned perspectives may limit the search space any one individual uses to reach an answer, even for “smart” individuals. Multiple individuals with varying perspectives expand the search space employed.

In practice: A diverse crowd has more “tools” to apply. This is partly why market-based mechanisms work, those with views different then the norm that are “more fit” than others can make a profit. That said, diversity works if everyone has same goal, such as “getting the answer right” or “seeing our quarterly goals get met” – and values this goal. If goal-related values of different groups are not shared, crowd may splinter into factions and in-fighting. Effective #ChangeAgents as leaders will listen, learn, and help craft shared goals and shared narratives to bring diverse groups of people together.

Second, positive #ChangeAgents work to encourage more bottom-up information flows to counter-balance traditional top-down hierarchies. While organizations beyond a hundred people or so can’t be completely flat, the organization can empower the edges of the organization to signal and act with some autonomy to help the organization get stuff done that matters and adapt to marketplace or mission-driven changes.

In practice: Top leaders may “see more” across the organization, however they’ll be out of sync with the “edges” of their organization who are closer to the changing dynamics to include shifts in costumer, market, or global opportunities and challenges. This is why empowering the edges of organizations is so important for successful positive #ChangeAgents.

Third, positive #ChangeAgents work to build people-centered relationships across teams and sectors. In the private sector, horizontal partnerships traditionally were avoided because they might eat into your profits. In the public sector, at least for the United States, the Founders intended there to be turf wars between different groups as a way of implicitly implementing “checks and balances” to prevent the rise of a king-like individual. Yet despite these challenges, working with different teams that you don’t have direct influence over is increasingly important in our rapidly changing world.

In practice: Positive #ChangeAgents who build bridges across teams and foster people-centered, ecosystem approaches are crucial, especially since any one individual’s (or team’s) perspectives and views may no longer be relevant in a changing world. Different views can better scan the environment. Building bridges makes all of us more adaptive and more informed.

Q: Any closing thoughts as you look to the future?

A: There is no textbook for where our organizations or societies are going next with the rapid, exponential changes in technology and services possible as a result. The next seven years will see more change than the last 20 years combined in terms of network devices, data on the planet, and computational capabilities.

To me this presents a degree of excitement: how do we maintain those things we want to hold true to as individuals, as organizations, and as a world while also adapting to rapid change? It’s worth noting that the words “expertise” and “experiments” both have the root “ex peria” meaning out of danger, not all experiments work out on the first go – however you always gain experience from them. Moreover, the United States itself was born from an experiment in self-rule and over the last 240 years, “out of danger” came experience.

Looking towards the future, I look forward to continuing to help navigate turbulent changes with empathy, as well as championing positive #ChangeAgents across sectors to be bold, brave, and most importantly benevolent in helping our world adapt to the rapid changes we all face together.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see David Bray speak live on April 25 at GW.  We look forward to seeing you at this debut event.

Anirudh Kulkarni, CEO

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