On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, the Arts + Business Council, a Council of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia welcomed Beth Comstock, former Vice Chair of GE and one of Forbes’ Most Powerful Women, to World Cafe Live to address the difficulties and opportunities that arise when facing business transformation and to explore the necessary mindset needed to make change work in your favor.
The program opened with a quick workshop, an “Orchestrating Leadership” Arts Experience, led by Jeri Lynn Johnson, Executive Director, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra. This interactive opener offered insight and a different perspective into how to navigate even the most discreet changes as audience members were encouraged to take part in this crash course on what goes into directing a live, musical performance.
— Arts + Biz Council (@ArtsBusinessPHL) October 24, 2018
Afterwards, Beth Comstock took to the stage to participate in an interview led by Kathryn A. Himsworth, Principal, Head of Talent Development, Vangaurd. Throughout the conversation, Comstock offered her thoughts on some of the necessary attributes that make for effective leaders and innovators. Accountability and proactive thinking were among the top attributes, but an ability to embrace the journey and create a story are what Comstock emphasized most to create long-term innovation strategies.
— PhillyChitChat (@HughE_Dillon) October 24, 2018
“Story is what we think we do at the end. But story is strategy and strategy is a story well told. Change is a turning point in the narrative and story is how you know where you’re going in the world,” Comstock said of reclaiming your story in the midst of change, advice she expounds upon in her book, Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change.
Following this interview, Comstock was joined on stage by a Strategy Salon, which included fellow innovators Andrea Agnew, Executive Director, Change Acceleration, Comcast NBCUniversal; Kip Wetzel, Principal, Digital Transformation, Navigate; Petar Mattioni, AIA, LEED AP and Partner, KSS Architects; and moderator Tracy Brala, Vice President of Ecosystem, University City Science Center. Among the many gems dropped during this discussion, each speaker encouraged a commitment to authenticity, flexibility, and curiosity.
Mattioni added to Comstock’s idea of embracing the story by emphasizing that “innovation is not the end goal … the collaborative process with [your] team, partners, and clients is the real product,” with Agnew suggesting that the only way to manage relationships is “to meet individuals, as well as organizations, where they are.” These thoughts contributed to the broader message of the program, which was to never allow change to derail organizational or personal goals and to always adjust your mindset and actions in accordance with surrounding transformations.