In their now popular book on The Second Machine Age Andrew McAfee and Eric Brynjolfsson describe one of the forces behind our accelerating pace. This force could be key to understanding the dynamics of our environment; the number of potentially valuable building blocks is exploding around the world, and the possibilities are multiplying like never before.
A key message in the Reimagining the Future body of work is that our growing digital world challenges every aspect of how we do business, how we govern and how we live. It will drive significant strategic, tactical and structural changes and fundamentally alter our long-standing beliefs, success strategies and institutional constructs. We’re already seeing it. Just look at companies like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Tencent, Google, Alibaba and Facebook. They are rewriting the rules and redefining how value is created and captured, using digitally-centered platforms and ecosystem-enabled business models.
At the Health Summit in D.C. two weeks ago, I was asked to articulate those things that leaders should consider as they navigate the complexity of our emerging future. The three that always top my list are:
- Resetting our intuition and belief system for a new era – think differently
- Shifting to a hybrid profit and purpose orientation
- Seeking a balance between innovation that enhances society and mitigating the risk of unintended consequences.
This two minute video captures that portion of our panel discussion.
I was honored to deliver the opening keynote at the SIM Women Executive Leadership Forum on Thursday May 5th. SIM Women Founder Kristen Lamoreaux did a wonderful job organizing the program. I met some fascinating leaders that selflessly give their time to their communities and society in general. As we look at the challenges that face our world, these are the type of leaders I want to stand with. In a room full of outstanding women, I saw the leaders of our future. As our exponential pace accelerates, a gap widens between exponential progression and our linear and incremental progress. This gap represents disruptive stress or opportunity – and increasingly, it is our right brain characteristics that help determine which.
Creativity, imagination, big picture vision, emotional and social intelligence, empathy, and other human characteristics are critical to navigating in an exponential world. As automation accelerates, these human traits become even more critical. In a recent report by Citi on Technology at Work, the authors point to our propensity for social interaction, communication, and empathy being something machines can never replace. Women excel in these areas, positioning them as leaders of our emerging future. In a different Citi report on Women in the Economy, they highlight the importance of women in the labor market, where a 50% reduction in the gender gap can lead to a 5% increase in global GDP. Women are uniquely positioned to play a critical role in the digital economy.
At this SIM event, I focused on our emerging future and the unlearning that it requires. The last time we faced a similar scenario was a century ago, as a shift occurred from the steam engine era to the electricity era. That transition did not go well – something I’ll explore in future posts. We find ourselves approaching another transitory point in history. Will we learn from history? My focus remains on this transition and the mindset shift so crucial to navigating the change. This time, I believe women leadership could be the difference. You can view the presentation Here.
Some time ago, I did a series on the enablers required to propel organizations into the future. With the passage of time, and after considerable dialog, the time has come to update that point of view. In continuing with this future of business series, the next several posts will provide an updated list and perspective on these enablers. Leaders must effectively manage the exponential forces that drive them on a path to viability. In the absence of a burning platform, the growing gap between these exponential forces and the linear constructs of our day should spur leadership action. Continue reading