Leaders who embrace change will be better able to anticipate what comes next

Thinking about the future in times of great change can lead to some anxiety, but I think there’s a lot to look forward to. We’re just starting to tap the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), which I believe will help drive progress and innovation in almost every aspect of our lives. And at Riverside, we’re striving to increase prosperity for more workers.

So, count me as one embracing the future. This year’s Riverside Leadership Summit (RLS) left me buzzing with new ideas. Each year, we gather leaders from across Riverside and our more than 140 portfolio companies for two days of intensive learning and networking. This year was remarkable.

The summit focused heavily on how to leverage AI to speed growth, drive efficiencies and make companies more successful. Portfolio company executives joined some of my Riverside peers to share case studies demonstrating how the companies were using AI and how to translate that work more widely.

Breakout sessions emphasized practical approaches for making the most of AI, offering tactics for putting it to work immediately and effectively to boost sales and marketing and drive efficiencies.

We also heard from some leading luminaries in the field of AI, including Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab, who explained how the pace of change with AI is offering opportunities to not just innovate but to transform companies. He predicts that machine learning will lead to the rise and fall of massive companies, and shared insights on how to be on the right side of this tsunami of change. Brynjolfsson strongly believes the most creative people capable of rethinking paradigms in our new AI reality are those who will benefit the most.

Dave Nelson of Dialog Consulting provided some practical tips on motivating top employees to use AI to help perform even better. Along with some how-tos, he shared examples on the use of generative AI today, potential applications and how to avoid pitfalls of this powerful technology. This extremely practical session was a bit of a mind blower even for those who have been tracking AI. There is so much available right now on your keyboard.

Other speakers discussed how all the changes happening today and into the near future can help drive exponential change across an array of technologies that will touch the lives of everyone in ways that will lead to better things. I believe progressive leaders who embrace change will be better able to anticipate what comes next, helping gain strategic advantage to drive profitability and growth.

We also showcased some initiatives designed to make the future better at Riverside, including our ongoing efforts to align interests by spreading wealth more broadly, with the goal of delivering better outcomes. This work is highlighted by Ownership Works, a nonprofit organization that partners with companies and investors to provide all employees with the opportunity to build wealth at work.

We have rolled out Ownership Works at three of our portfolio companies and are working to add others. Ownership Works excites me both because it helps reduce inequities and because I believe that giving all employees an ownership stake can help drive improved results. Our launch video from PFB Corporation shows how exciting Ownership Works is for every employee at that company. We believe in democratic capitalism, but it only works when everyone can benefit from it.

The future is coming quickly. Those who embrace the many changes reshaping how we live and do business will be poised to thrive. I’m looking forward to it.

Stewart Kohl is Co-CEO of The Riverside Company

Stewart Kohl

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