Wayne Aspland of The Content Factory shares a tale about the future and the value of communication.
There’s a guy in America called Ray Kurzweil.
When it comes to futurists, he’s pretty much God. He’s even been called the rightful heir to Thomas Edison.
Back in 1999, he expanded on Moore’s Law and found that the speed of your average computer wasn’t just growing over time… it was growing exponentially.
He predicted that by 2000, your average computer would be as fast as a dragonfly’s brain. By 2005, a mouse’s brain. By 2025, a human’s brain.
And by about 2050, that average computer – on our desks, in our pockets, on our wrists and goodness knows where else – will be as fast as every human brain on the planet.
Hollywood today… reality tomorrow
What does a world with technology like that even look like?
One person who seems to know is Scarlett Johansson. Her movies are like a show reel of the future.
In ten years, our lives will be like the movie Her. Our computers will be so intelligent we’ll be having conversations with them.
In 20 years it will be like Iron Man. We’ll have artificially intelligent, robotic personal assistants, like Jarvis. They’re already making rudimentary versions for household use today.
In 30 years, it will be like Lucy. We’ll be using technology to massively enhance the capacity of our brains.
In 40 years – ethics permitting – it will be like Ghost in the Shell, which Scarlett is making right now. It will be the age of cyborgs.
Change is good news for communicators
This is our future. And it can be summed up with three words.
Relentless, accelerating change.
Change that impacts every corner of our lives, society and businesses on a scale you and I can’t even begin to conceive today.
Now, in one respect, this is good news for communicators. As change accelerates, so too does the importance of communication.
Strategy is a great example of this.
For fifty years, we’ve relied on turning the ship once every five years and tweaking it annually. That increasingly doesn’t work anymore. It can’t cope with the pace of change.
To survive in the future, we need to build agile organisations. Organisations with an inbuilt capacity for rapid change. Organisations you can literally turn them on a dime.
And for that to happen…
- Everyone needs to know exactly who they work for. Who are you? Where are you going? How will you get there? And what, precisely, is my role?
- And everyone needs to be completely aligned. No more silos. No more empires. If you want to turn the ship quickly, everyone needs to be turning with you.
You can’t do either of these things without outstanding communication. That's why communication will move from being a nice to have in some people’s minds to an absolute fundamental – like sales or production.
A seat at the table
As an IABC Board member, there’s one question I hear more than any other.
“How do we get a seat at the table?”
I’d say this… be patient. Soon, the penny will drop and they’ll be knocking your door down.
In the meantime, there are a number of things we could do to bring this on.
I’d like to focus on what I think is the first – sell the value of communication.
We’re very good at showing how communication drives engagement and reputation. But communication does much more than that.
I was reminded of this recently when I came across three surveys from McKinsey and HBR.
- The first found that shared vision and strategic alignment are the most important things an executive can do in their first 100 days.
- The second found communication is the number one contributor to success in transformation projects.
- And the third showed that 55% of middle managers can name only one of their company’s top five priorities. How can you deliver a strategy if nobody gets it? And how do you fix this? You fix it with communication.
No comms? No future.
All these surveys make one thing very clear.
You can’t run a modern company without outstanding comms. You can’t lead people. You can’t align people. You can’t embed good decision making. You can’t execute strategy. You can’t change or transform.
And, if you think you can, you’re in for a rude shock in the future.
What we do is really important. And it will get even more important in the future.
It’s time we made sure everyone knows it.
Wayne Aspland is an IABC Victoria Board member and Principal at The Content Factory.
 Rajiv Chandran and Hortense de la Boutetiere, McKinsey & Company, ‘Ascending to the C-suite’, April 2015
 David Jacquemont, Dana Maor and Angelika Reich, McKinsey & Company, ‘Hot to beat the transformation odds’, April 2015
 Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, Charles Sull, ‘Why Strategy Execution Unravels—and What to Do About It’, HBR, March 2015