ATC: Kevin Wheeler

Kevin closed out the final day of ATC with a great look at the future, getting the audience to really think about what is next. His theme retrain, redeploy and refresh. We are currently experiencing significant change across many areas:

  • Economic sea change
  • The end or beginning of the end of traditional media, schools, large organisations
  • Rise of cultural & economic salads
  • Terrorism/oil/energy/flu/pandemics
  • Shift to virtual worlds
This period of extreme change where extremophiles, things that survive by bring polar opposites together, will be the only organisations that survive. Organisations need to change as we are moving into the era of the free agent, “the future belongs to small organisations that build on creativeness and adaptability”.

Kevin sees five key themes in the future:

  1. Talent strategy is becoming the CEO concern
  2. Creative class employees will dominate
  3. Sustainability will be the focus
  4. Gen Y values will be mainstream values
  5. Virtual will increasing replace F2F interactions

I am going to skip the first item as to me and many of you this is not new, instead let’s look at the last 4 items.

Creative Class

Composed of scientists, engineers, architects, designers, educators, artists, musicians and entertainers whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, or new content. Approximately 38 million people in the US today. Kevin feels knowledge workers are old school and the world will be driven once again by the creative class.


  • Reuse/Recycle/Retain/Refresh
  • Use only what is needed
  • Hire & retain for broad based competences not specialisation
  • Retrain and develop through cross-functional & rotational experience and through informal networks
  • Redeploy and retrain constantly
  • Remove barriers to learning

Gen Y Values

  • Transparency is everything
  • Authenticity is expected
  • Teams define themselves
  • Tasks are chosen, not assigned
  • Contributions count more than credentials
  • Rewards are intrinsic as well as tangible

During 20th Century is was about transactions, routines and efficiency, 21st is about relationships, personalisation, and communications


  • Social media is now core to the internet
  • Search is being automated
  • Profiles are starting to replace resumes (finally!)

Kevin intorduced a few emerging applications: JobVite, Entice Labs, YuMe and Adchemy. Finishing up with seven tips on surviving with extremophiles:

  1. Recognizing how polarities create strong networks
  2. Ongoing context sensing (beyond episode)
  3. Capacity to innovate or hibernate
  4. Support workers with empathy (not sympathy)
  5. Bring in and neutralise your treats
  6. Creating symbiotic relationships
  7. Develop self-replicating memes
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