Bloomberg BusinessWeek recently posted an article describing the Global Fertility Crisis. As we look at the forces likely to shape our future, we spend a lot of time and media cycles analyzing the exponential progression of science and technology. This powerful force is having a profound impact on society. But the opposite is also true: society is influencing the path of innovation. Societal Factors play as big a role in establishing the path of our emerging future. I placed societal factors in the middle of the visual I use to connect an overwhelming number of dots. The two curves that surround them are the science and technology foundation; and the future scenarios that it spawns. Societal tension happens in both directions; out towards the curves, and in from the curves.
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.