We were delighted last week to support “The Exchange 2013”, organised by Knowledge Peers at the Kia Oval. The event brought together an excellent mix of thought leaders, innovative businesses and case studies.  There were two themes for the day – “Innovative Finance for Growth” and “Building Value in the Cloud”. Both money and technology on the face of it initially seem far away from our Sheridan Resolutions world of Executive Coaching and Supervision, Leadership Development and Mediation. And yet the closer we looked, the more our curiosity was aroused by one constant in a fast-changing world.

New models of finance are evolving rapidly, we were told, as businesses seek alternatives to bank lending, with a clear emphasis on crowd funding and a fascinating panel on the evolution of the Angel investor. We had an excellent session on Cloud technology from Dr Will Venters of the London School of Economics and a superb case study presented by John F Kennedy (his real name) from the patent lawyers Wilbore & Gibbons on his business’s wholesale transition to a Cloud-based infrastructure.

The pace of change can feel bewildering. In the midst of all this talk of finance, technology and change, however, something enduring and rather reassuring shone through – the importance of people in making change work. In our excitement, we sometimes overestimate the immediate impact of innovation and technology in our working lives. Why? Precisely because we under estimate the importance of engaged, change-friendly individuals and teams in enabling that change.

And yet we go on under-analysing the people dimension to business success. During an investment decision, who does as exacting a due diligence on the workforce – and the opportunities and risks they present – alongside the well-trodden scrutiny of balance sheet, machinery and equipment? Who thoroughly assesses the leadership‘s capability to handle a merger or acquisition? And who runs the rule over an organisations’ silo mentality, its hierarchical attitude or its self-imposed cultural barriers to success?

Measuring people opportunities and risks will never be an exact science, but it has to be done and done better than it has to date. Progress is always exciting, but progress is nothing without people.