Leadership Issues You Can’t Ignore As We Enter A New Decade, Part 1

By Michael Gale


It is effortless to put out words or ideas about what could happen in the next ten years, by 2030. Leaders need to be able to put these potential patterns into play for their companies, people and futures far earlier than when the final patterns become revealed. It’s that combination of stargazing and map making that will make leaders of the future ten year’s highly successful. We cannot sustain a healthy world or work environment where equal pay (devoid of gender, race, or color) is not the norm or where sub 0.1% of the world’s population owns 90% of the world’s asset bases.

Only 19% of Americans think about the world of 10 years into the future, even just once a week, although 95% of us will be alive to experience it. If you begin to think and act on our world in 2030 now, it will give you a competitive advantage when we get there.

Think of one very simple fact: successful CEO’s now invest 17.4 hours a week on average, digitally transforming their organizations; but in all likely hood the digital transformation game will be over by then, so what will occupy the mind of a CEO for those 17.4 hours by 2030?

Over the next three weeks, I will be highlighting 10 areas from a forthcoming book, entitled FLATCAP, how to re-imagine capitalism for a flat planet that comes out in the fall of 2020 with my co-author.

Here are the first three listed in alphabetical order:

Actively navigating is the new role of the CEO.

Every single one of these way points in the future will change how you should be thinking now about how you lead your group, division, and or company to that developing world of 2030. Each will attach themselves in differing ways by 2030. Imagine that there are hundreds and maybe thousands of combinations of decisions, consequences that come from these. Starting to navigate that set of future worlds is a vital component for successful leadership no matter what the size of a group or company you run and no matter what industry you work in. All the research we have done for and since the publication of the Wall Street Journal bestselling, The Digital Helix in 2017, illustrates one simple truth: If as leaders we do not practice for the new future worlds of 2030, then the chances of success by 2030 diminish successfully. MIT Media Labs Fellow Michael Schrage and I discuss this in more detail here.

It’s not just the idea of growth mindset put forward by Carol Dweck and best illustrated by how Satya Nadella has handled the CEO position at Microsoft. It is a deeper need to recognize that the formula for success in the future is not fully defined yet.

Leaders in successful, digitally transforming organizations invest 17 hours plus a week about their digital transformation journeys. Failing ones invest less than 5 hours. There is a correlation here.

AI & 5G are more than technology transitions. They present a whole new set of worlds.

While 96.25% of CEO’s believe in the idea of AI, a paltry one in four are getting to us AI in a very compelling way. The 70%+ not thriving with AI may well be investing in the same technologies as the 28% who are thriving. The results are not coming for the failing companies. The digital thrivers are organizing fundamentally differently for success than those failing. By 2030 we will all be living in an AI, automation, and 5G prescient world. However, it will have nothing to do with what technologies we use, but how we organize for success. The DNA of 2030 will, by definition, be very different from the DNA of success now. Technologies like AI or 5G will be way points in that future.

Organizing for future success starts right now. As leaders, we need to bring people, ideas, and new models for success to the forefront. While we will all live in a 5G, AI-driven future by 2030, we will not thrive in it until we change the way we organize for that success with these technologies as they are not just the normal technology transitions. AT&T’s senior executives, Mo Katibeh (CMO), and Roman Pacewicz (Chief Product Officer) and I discuss this exact topic on Forbes Insights, Futures In Focus podcast and dive deeper in to these technologies and the needs to organize and think differently.

Climate rights = civil rights

Greta Thunberg represents elements, if not a complete picture of the anxieties we all have around the future of climate change on earth. It’s surreal that I could write this with the complete comfort of knowing that this is not an extreme view once put forward by James Lovelock in the 1970s. Climate rights are increasingly equating to the idea of civil rights. The question for leaders of companies can no longer ignore what our role in this process is. Asking things like, how is our supply chain helping or hurting the environment? Asking how the company can and should make a positive shift in support of the climate right now should be a frequently debated element of many big meetings.

I sat down with Bruno Sarda, (President of North Amarica) for CDP, a company charged with measuring and helping companies and communities manage carbon footprints around the globe,to discuss in details what he is increasingly seeing globally. It was fascinating, and provided so much information I split it into two parts. Part 1 Part 2

For a different look at the same topic find and watch the new documentary “Anthropocene,” with Alicia Vikander, on how humanity has been able massively to re-engineer the earth.

A companies positive or negative effect on the environment, a government’s effects on the climate is no longer a peripheral conversation. Governments and companies have to work together. It should be part of the daily discourse because climate change and how we can grab this opportunity for more comprehensive changes is a moment that will define our health by 2030.

As leaders, we can no longer afford to ignore this moment because there could be huge upsides with the inevitable downsides. Who would have said that in 2000 or in 2010? How that conversation is sparked may well come the bowels of your more youthful Millennial workforce. How that conversation is amplified into resources, broader discussions, and your leadership imperatives are in your hands.

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