Leadership Strategies for the Era of Acceleration
It’s pretty certain that we’ll see more change starting in 2020 and through the next decade then we have seen in the last 100 years.
Futurist Jim Carroll uses the phrase “The Era of Acceleration” to describe the context of the speed of change which envelopes.
Fast change requires a different sort of leadership strategy – with that in mind, Jim has outlined 20 Leadership Strategies which will provide you the necessary leadership velocity to align to the era of acceleration.
Here’s the full video: and below, you’ll find a separate, short clip for each leadership trait!
#1 Check Your Speed
We live in the era of acceleration. The next decade will see unimaginable change to absolutely everything you know. Check your speed!
That’s the opening concept as I launch this video series for the month of 2020 – each business day, a new video clip, with insight, commentary and keynote clips, around the key leadership traits that you must focus on to survive and thrive into the 2020’s.
#1? Check your speed!
#2 – Don’t Fight the Future
Some companies, faced by the inevitability of change to their business model, seem to choose an odd path – fighting an obvious future rather than adapting to it.
Which goes to the heart of my second bit of guidance for aligning to the era of acceleration – don’t fight the future!
#3 – Commit to It!
Far too many organizations, when confronted by the need to align to the dramatic changes imposed by the era of acceleration, fail to move forward.
What they really need to do when it comes to the future is simple : commit to it!
What is the Era of Acceleration?
It’s an era in which everything you know is changing faster than you are prepared for – business models, product lifecycles, skill sets, competitive challenges and more.
#4 – Partner Up!
If you could do it alone, you would have already achieved what you needed to achieve! But in the era of acceleration, the world is far too complex to navigate on your own.
The only solution? Partner up! That’s leadership strategy #4 in my series of how to deal with the speed of change today!
#5 Imaginate More!
If you need to do anything to do anything to align to our faster future, you need to “imaginate” more – because you really don’t know what might come next!
Creativity should be a key cornerstone skill and leadership trait. Imaginate? Is it a word? If not, it should be!
#6 Boost ‘Experiential Capital
Do things that have a vague objective, unknown potential for success and an absolutely uncertain payback – simply to boost your ‘experiential capital!
That’s because this might be one of the most important leaderships strategies that you pursue as we go into the era of acceleration – because it will help to ensure you develop the required but yet unknown and undeveloped skills that you need for the future. It will enhance your balance sheet with real 21st century capital – unique experience – so invest in experiential capital!
#7 – Accelerate Your Ideas!
Great leaders know that great opportunities in the 2020’s come from their ability to accelerate and align their internal idea factory to the big global idea machine that surrounds them. They know that the essence of global R&D (research and development), the creation of new products and services, and the generation of new sources of revenue comes from the ability to tap into the big global knowledge network that surrounds us today.
Without knowledge creativity, companies wither and die. But with an accelerated idea machine, they thrive and prosper!
#8 Think Big!
Leadership is all about setting the direction, inspiring the team to achieve, and establishing the goals of the journey. What’s the purpose of it if you are only going to try to accomplish small things? People didn’t get to the moon by being small and timid, by pursuing the same old ideas, or setting extremely small expectations!
But thinking big is not just about figuring out your future – in today’s increasingly disruptive world, it also involves developing an understanding that the company you work for, the industry you work within, and the assumptions that you hold about the future are being subjected to dramatic, gut-wrenching change. If you don’t adapt, you’re gone.
#9 Keep Your Powder Dry!
re’s a big issue to wrap your head around – increasingly, your opportunity for future success will come from your ability to get the timing right!
As they say, timing is everything, particularly when it comes to the issue of getting involved in any particular trend. In the era of acceleration, it becomes even more critical. You’d better make sure you are ready with any trend of importance and relevance because the future might happen before you know it.
How do you do this? Learn more!
#10 – Shorten Your Story!
How do you innovate when everything is faster still – and when your customers aren’t really paying attention? How do you position your brand when no one is listening to what you have to say? How should you motivate your team when they tuned out 15 seconds after you start speaking?
The implications of collapsing attention spans are profound, and fundamentally changes how we sell, market, explain, position, reflect.
#11 Boost Generational Creativity
While the “youngsters” of today might be poking fun at the oldsters around them with their fun “OK, Boomer!” phrase, they really have no concept of just how unique a period of time those folks lived through and the profound impact that has on their change-psyche. On the other hand, Boomers are often quite guilty of letting that very attitude destroy the creativity and imaginative thinking of the young people around them. Here’s the thing – those boomers need the imagination of young people in order to get ahead!
Bridge the divide – one of the most important things you can do as a leader today is to avoid doing the damage that is done through the absence of generational creativity.
#12 Jump Forward
In the era of acceleration, one thing is certain : what worked for you in the past likely won’t work for you tomorrow. And all too often, that very thing you do might doom you in the future. That’s because all the assumptions that you might make as to how tomorrow will unfold are based on what you did yesterday – and they are faulty, out of date, and pretty much a path to guaranteed failure.
That’s the theme found in today’s key leadership strategy for the era of acceleration: jump forward. The key concept is found in two of the most popular quotes/observations that I run near the end of my keynotes: “Companies that do not yet exist will build products not yet conceived using materials not yet invented, with methodologies not yet in existence.” Closely followed by “Change your future, before the future changes you.” That pretty much summarizes your future and to get ahead, you must constantly jump forward.
#13 Rethink Your Product
What you sell, how you sell it, the way you explain it, the utility it provides, the value it has, the manner by which you service and repair it – these are all changing quickly in the era of smart, hyperconnected intelligent devices. If you don’t align to that reality, you won’t keep up with your future.
With that being your reality, one of the most critical things you must do a as a leader today is to rethink the clarity of your product. It’s the bigger, more sweeping transformative aspect of a trend you know as the “Internet of Things” – and the impact is bigger than you think!
#14 Challenge Assumptions
Assumptions are the ideas that blind us to the reality that the future is bigger than we think! A belief that tomorrow will be much like today is one of the worst mistakes that a leader can make today – in the era acceleration, everything we know about what might come next is fundamentally challenged.
We are heading into a world of 24 hour farming rather than doing it only when the sun is up! A retail world in which most products come to us, rather than us having to go get them. The end of the era of oil and one of renewable, distributed energy and battery supremacy. A healthcare systems in which we Increasingly fix people before they become sick rather than afterwards. Construction processes based in factories, not job sites. We can assume one future and yet an entirely different future unfolds. That’s why you should challenge your assumptions!
#15 Look Forward, Not Back
Most organizations have built a structure, culture and leadership style which involves looking back in time to judge what might come next – the thought process being that what happened yesterday will be the best guide to what tomorrow will bring. And so we design accounting and financial systems that use past performance as a guide for the future; insurance risk and actuarial assumptions that use yesterday’s risk factors as a guide to future risk; and agricultural systems that use old data to try to identify new trends.
Yet the impact of technology and accelerated change is such that we can increasingly look forward based upon real time data, particularly as connectivity comes to take hold. That’s the theme in today’s leadership opportunity – to align to the era of acceleration, look forward, not back!
#16 Continually Reinvent
Product lifecycles have become shorter ; market longevity is not guaranteed; new competitors emerge faster; customers display less loyalty. These trends and many more mean that you don’t have any guarantee that the product or service that you are offering today will be in demand tomorrow – or even relevant.
That’s why you need to focus on the concept of continuous reinvention – a mindset that today’s line of products or services is not good enough – and must be refreshed and reinvented on a regular, continuous basis. Because as I will often point out on stage, Apple is in a situation in which 60% of it’s revenue comes from products which did not exist 5 years prior – and you are finding yourself in the same type of demanding future today!
#17 Challenge Methodology
Industry disruption doesn’t just involve the arrival of new competitors or the constant invention of new disruptive products – it also involves a constant race of changes to methodologies and processes based on new technologies, materials science, intelligent devices and more.
That’s why one of the most critical leadership opportunities today is to ensure that you are doing everything you can to challenge methodology – constantly adapting new opportunities to do old things in new and different ways. It might involve moving your world of manufacturing to mass customization instead of mass production; constructing homes in factories for final assembly on site; or changing the very nature of the way you conceive new products!
#18 Go Upside Down!
When thinking about new product or service development, don’t do it in isolation. Seek advice and guidance from your customers and business partners —or, even let them drive the innovation agenda. Turn your creativity and imagination engine upside down! Make your R&;D strategy less about what you see as opportunities – and more about what your partners and customer see. Adopt the mindset that ‘customer-oriented and partner-based innovation’ will be a key strategy – and you might find that solution to challenges come faster!
The very process of turning your innovation-engine upside down will accelerate your internal capabilities – and lead you further into the opportunities that come from the era of acceleration.
#19 Study the Edges
The future is being invented all around you – and sometimes you don’t know where to look! That’s why you need to ‘study the edges’ – as a leader, you need to learn to look all around you, in unique locations, for the trends and innovations that will redefine and disrupt your future. Here’s the key – those very same trends can be turned into an opportunity once you spot them.
Where do you start? Everywhere! The future today is being invented by a geek in a garage who has some unique insight into what comes next; by small startup organizations who can move faster than traditional large, legacy companies; through crowdfunding initiatives and new forms of global collaborative R&D; through the tinkering and hobby economy; by those who see a different future than the one you see.
#20 Study the Implications
Small trends that are ignored usually result in bigger trends with far more massive implications. A simple trend might lead to even more complex trends down the road. One trend that seems to have a certain impact usually ends up also having an unforeseen and unexpected impact.
These are the unwritten laws of the future, and you would do well to pay heed to them. That’s why one of the most important things you must do as a leader going forward is to always “study the Implications!”
#21 – Realize that the Future is Bigger Than You Think!
We’re moving from an era of gas and diesel cars that people drive, to vehicles with big batteries that drive themselves. A world of retail in which more stuff comes to us rather than us having to go and get it. Healthcare, where we fix people before they are sick, rather than later. A world mass, customized manufacturing based on the end of inventory and 3d printing, rather than mass production. The end of the era of oil as the result of the dominance of renewables, micro-grids and battery storage technology.
The future is bigger than you think – and so should your strategies. That’s how I will wrap up this series of key leadership attitudes and actions that are necessary to take you forward into a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast!
One day, you’ll wake up and realize that everything has changed. You’ll either be a part of it, or not. It’s your choice.