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Overcoming the fear of change: Fearless change

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Fearless change – taking your people with you on the journey
APM Conference jointly organised by People SIG and Enabling change SIG
London, 8 March 2023

Overcoming the fear of change
Prof. Stephen Carver (Keynote speaker)

Stephen opened the conference talking about how people and the world in general experience a fear of change. Stephen is an experienced speaker and kept the audience fully engaged with a series of illustrations that brought to life the positive results when fear is conquered. The opening quote was one that made people sit up and listen: It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent …… but the one most responsive to change.

This was followed by a couple of very pointed quotes:

"Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have."
Louis E. Boone (novelist)

"Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death."
James F. Byrnes (US Secretary of State)

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Stephen then went on to describe how America stepped up their efforts in the Space Race, firstly by putting a man on the moon and how this was achieved by using bright highly qualified young (average age 26) engineers. Followed by the shuttle programme. A very interesting illustration given was around the potential tragedy of the Apollo 13 mission; the team at NASA carried out an instant move from Waterfall to Agile. This was explained as “Agile – having a thorough knowledge of the ‘book’ and implementing the necessary.”

Elon Musk was next in line with Stephen giving vivid examples of the how this individual has challenged the status quo. A quote from Elon Musk clearly illustrates his mindset: "I don’t believe in process. In fact when I interview a potential employee and he or she says that 'its all about process,' I see that as a bad sign." His view is: "go fast, break things and then fix them."

According to Stephen "chaos is good: chaos breeds innovation and life when order breeds habit."

A key point throughout Stephen’s presentation was the impact of young, talented engineers have on challenging programmes – "we need to unleash the young talent, that group of individuals that don’t fear change but are willing to engage change."

As a final message we were informed that there is currently a small rotorcraft flying on Mars and attached to it is small part of the original Wright Brothers aircraft.

Creativity and problem solving is easy…just get intelligent people together… and let them have fun.









Ian Cribbes FAPM
APM People SIG committee member


Read the conference overview and view other presentation reviews.




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