Environment Impacts the Leadership Experience

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Laura Gibson, the Art Curator at the Center for Creative Leadership. It is a companion piece to her interview with Ren Washington, a Leadership Solutions Partner at the Center for Creative Leadership, on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Art, Leadership… and the Art of Leadership which aired on November 29, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

Whether on vacation or in professional development, at an office building or a home office, we intrinsically know that our experiences are shaped by our environment. What we don’t often realize, however, is exactly how that plays out. We rarely take the time to ask, what about our environment makes us comfortable? Uneasy? Relaxed? Tense? Things like the chair we sit in, the temperature of the room, and even the art on the walls can shape our sense of time and experience in a particular space.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people learned that feeling comfortable in their own space played a role in how they fared through a global lockdown. We took stock of our surroundings. We looked over our shoulders and made changes to what became our backdrops for virtual meetings. To make our time working from home more pleasant, we upgraded the things in front of us when we could.

As people now return to working in the office and continue to use home workspaces, employers are recognizing that, more than ever, environment impacts experience.

Connecting Artwork to Development

At the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), we recognize the interconnectivity between creativity, innovation, leadership, and purpose. To that end, we have embraced an element of our environment – the art on the walls of our physical buildings – and its impact on leadership development.

Art is baked into our programs. In fact, one of the exercises we often use with participants is asking them to select an image they feel resonates with where they are in life or represents how they’re dealing with change. Artwork is used as a tool for “mediated dialogue,” and putting pictures in the middle helps people illustrate, then articulate their feelings. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Our Greensboro, N.C., campus has taken this one step further and features the work of local and regional artists to help shape our visitors’ experiences. It began as simply filling a need – we were a brand-new nonprofit many decades ago that lacked art on the walls but had no budget to decorate – but has since become a key part of the culture of our global headquarters.

Art has become a way to welcome the community into our building and learn about what we do, with three local art exhibitions annually, as well as a permanent collection. It has kept the building fresh for employees and supported local businesses. And it’s also a reminder of our commitment to our broader community and the people within it.

What we didn’t realize, at first, was the impact the artwork was having on those who attended our programs. Our in-person program participants often show up on a Monday, not knowing exactly what to expect and usually not knowing anyone in the room. At the end of the week, they are asked to give us feedback on their time with us. Surprisingly, the art surrounding their experience is often at the top of their list. It contributes to a retreat-like environment that provides an opportunity for reflection and development.

One recent illustrative example was a call from a former program participant who wanted to know the name of an artist whose art we had displayed in our buildings during her time at CCL nearly a decade before. During that conversation, she commented on how the art made her feel at home as soon as she saw it, and that she would stand in front of it during breaks. The personal transformation she experienced in the program continued to positively impact her career over the next decade. Now, she wanted a piece of art to serve as a reminder of her time at CCL, the things she learned, and her continued growth. (Thankfully, we had records and could provide her with the artist’s name!)

The environment created with art positively impacts the experiences of our program attendees, during their time with us, and for years beyond.

The Impact of Artwork on Leadership

From altering mindsets and perspectives to creative problem-solving and emotional connection, art may offer aspiring leaders more than they realize and even more than perhaps they thought they needed.

  • Art is an act of perspective-sharing and community- and consensus-building. By taking in another person’s view through their creation, a leader can spend a moment reflecting on a different perspective. You don’t have to LIKE a certain piece of art, but you can certainly learn to appreciate its value as coming from a perspective that is not your own. You can loosen your grip on a single idea as you explore the color of a painting or the curve of a sculpture, and suddenly your mind opens just a bit more to that differing viewpoint. Especially in the equity, diversity and inclusion space, one of the ways we learn about organizations and its people are the cultural artifacts (e.g., the things on the wall in the office, behind our little boxes on Zoom screens) to see the tapestry that weaves us together and informs our path forward.
  • Art can provide a mental “break.” Stepping away from a routine or a problem that is becoming a struggle is important. Many get up from their desk and “walk it out.” Stretching your legs is a proven way to engage the body and let the mind relax. Artwork can serve the same purpose. It offers the brain an opportunity to take a detour, a chance to take in something creative and different. It might be a soft landscape that is a reprieve from stress. It might be a bright abstract that sparks renewed energy. Whatever the response, art can encourage a person to return to a task refreshed.
  • Art is an emotional conduit. Looking at art often creates an emotion. Executives are known to be pragmatic, and emotional reactions may be seen as weakness, although this is far from the truth. As our colleague and CCL faculty member Mike Mitchell, Ph.D., often notes, leaders who are in touch with their emotions can be more self-aware and able to recognize the emotional needs of others. Emotional intelligence is important for effective leadership. Being surrounded by artwork that evokes different emotions allows people the opportunity to recognize an emotional reaction, and deal with it in appropriate ways.
  • Art can be a connection – to your goals, and to others. One of the ways that we bring the hard work of professional and personal development to life is making our goals visual and visible. And by putting them in observable places, whether it’s an image or something that someone sees when they walk into the office, they can spur moments of connection or shared accountability.

Like an artist, a leader must draw on their own unique personality, values, social identity, and vision. As with art, organizations must arouse creative energy, provide inspiration, and promote self-expression and out-of-the-box-thinking by building an inclusive leadership culture of belonging.

Art is just one reflection of how an organization can inspire creativity within its environment to foster a nurturing space for learning, collaboration, innovation, and leadership to flourish.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Gibson is the Art Curator at the Center for Creative Leadership, having taken over the program in 2005. In her role, Laura secures artists for rotating exhibits and receptions open to the public, as well as managing CCL’s permanent art collection. She is passionate about the impact the art has on staff, participants, and the community.

Ren Washingtonis a Leadership Solutions Partner at the Center for Creative Leadership. In his role, Ren is committed to helping clients address their most challenging and complex issues around organizational change and innovation, equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), executive presence and image, influence, and resilience. 

 

RESOURCES:

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The Bonobo Sisterhood: Revolution Through Female Alliance

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week. This interview is part of the International Leadership Association Series.  This series features guests from the International Leadership Association 2022 Global Conference held in Washington, D.C. in October 2022.

This week’s article is written by Diane Rosenfeld, a lecturer on law and the founding director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School and author of The Bonobo Sisterhood: Revolution Through Female Alliance. It is a companion piece to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Bonobo Sisterhood: Ape Society’s Lessons for Your Leadership which aired on November 22, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

“Women’s leadership means doing what needs to be done without waiting to ask for permission.”

-Diane L. Rosenfeld

This was a quote of mine in Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World by Marie C. Wilson, President of the Ms. Foundation.

In my recently published book The Bonobo Sisterhood: Revolution Through Female Alliance, (HarperCollins, 2022) I make the case for women and girls to learn self-defense and to defend one another, like the our evolutionary cousins the bonobos do. It is the first book to apply the bonobo model of behavior to humans, and it is essentially a hopeful book that invites us to step outside of patriarchy and to create a more peaceful, harmonious social order.

I was invited to the International Leadership Association Conference through my close friend and colleague, Betsy Myers. She moderated a plenary panel on women’s wisdom on which I was honored to sit. The panel turned out to be an example of the power of female alliances; and hopefully we inspired the audience to explore the book to inform their own leadership initiatives, whatever those may be. At the conference, I had the chance to sit down with Maureen Metcalf and talk at length about the ideas in the book.

Having just returned from a two-week stint teaching in Italy, I am now vividly aware of how truly international The Bonobo Sisterhood is and will be. Below is the introduction. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it leads you to reading the book. Feel free to contact me with your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Excerpt from the introduction of The Bonobo Sisterhood: Revolution Through Female Alliance, (HarperCollins, 2022):

Bonobos are living proof that patriarchy is not inevitable.

Our most closely related evolutionary cousins, the bonobos, are peaceful, loving, food sharing, freely sexual, and xenophilic, meaning they love strangers, they do not fear them. Why? Be­ cause in their female-led social order, they have nothing to fear.

Here’s how it works: If a female bonobo is aggressed upon, she lets out a special cry, and other females-whether they know her, like her, or are related to her-rush immediately to her defense from wherever they are. They form coalitions instantaneously with remarkable speed. Together they fend off the aggressive male, biting his ear or toe, and send him into isolation. When he returns, in a few days or later, they all reconcile, and he does not aggress again. And here is the most significant takeaway: evolutionarily, bonobos have eliminated male sexual coercion.

This model of collective self-defense changes everything.

I first learned about bonobos from Richard Wrangham, a Harvard University anthropologist, when we were on a panel together in 2004. He explained that primates use male sexual coercion to control females as reproductive resources. For example, male chimpanzees batter fertile females; male orangutans force copulation with lone females; male silverback gorillas commit infanticide, abduct the infant’s mother, impregnate her, and add her to their harem. We humans hear about this violence and consider how brutal nature is, but we don’t question its logic because it fits with our expectation of male behavior. We think of male violence as our legacy, our evolutionary destiny. Bonobos invite us to think again. It might be that bonobos prevented patriarchy from ever taking hold. They might represent a “pre-patriarchal” social order that stopped violence from becoming the organizing principle of society. And it produced instead a harmonious, peaceful, cooperative, and joyful community. This book contends that such a society is not only possible, it is proven by the existence of the bonobos. Bonobos look very similar to chimpanzees, so much so that they were not recognized as a separate species until 1929. They are found only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are less studied and less well known than chimpanzees. Nevertheless, the fascinating and developing body of work being done around bonobos reveals possibilities for peaceful coexistence between males and females that we might never have thought possible.

To say I was riveted while learning about our bonobo cousins would be a wild understatement. At that point in my career, I had spent more than a decade as an activist legal scholar and lawyer searching for ways to end male sexual violence. I had tried to do this through asking audacious questions to expose the underlying inequalities of our legal system and social order: “Why Doesn’t He Leave?,” for example, became the title of my master’s thesis at Harvard Law School challenging the deeply flawed societal expectation that sending women to battered women’s shelters is an acceptable approach to domestic violence. But my new insights into bonobos opened a whole new world of possibilities to eliminate male sexual coercion and with is the underpinnings that cause, support, and perpetuate patriarchal violence.

Patriarchal violence is the term I use to describe the amount and type of male coercion necessary to preserve a male-dominated social order.

Richard and I were mutually compelled by our respective fields, so we created and cotaught a course on theories of sexual coercion to more fully explore the potential of bonobos to inform human law and society. Teaching this class with Richard gave me the opportunity to test the hypotheses about the power and potential of female alliances to change the world. The book you are now reading is the result of that inquiry.

That the idea of female alliance was born of a collaboration with a male colleague is not ironic – though at first glance it might appear to be. Female alliances don’t exclude males; quite the opposite. And we will see more of how and why in the coming pages, where I invite everyone to join in new coalitionary forces to thwart, once and for all, the power of violence to shape the world. I call these alliances the Bonobo Sisterhood. This sisterhood excludes no one, and all are welcome as long as they abide by the Bonobo Principle. It is a two-part principle, and if you agree with it, you are part of the Bonobo Sisterhood.

The first part, No one has the right to pimp my sister. With pimp I include any form of patriarchal violence from gaslighting to economic, emotional, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

The second part: Everyone is my sister.

For now, though, we have to start where we are, in a world saturated with patriarchal violence.

Every day in the United States, three to four women are killed by their estranged husbands or boyfriends. Black women are at a 40 percent higher risk of being killed.  LGBTQ people experience intimate partner violence at rates comparable to and even higher than their heterosexual counterparts.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) conducts a day-long survey once a year to offer a snapshot of domestic violence in the United States. Here’s the snapshot from a single day in 2019: Because of domestic abuse and the threat of domestic homicide, almost 43,000 women and children were refugees from their own homes. They were running for their lives, forced to seek emergency shelter, forced to go into hiding. They were escaping from domestic terrorists who had been holding them hostage with threats and violence. That same day, more than 11,000 requests for shelter services went unmet, and 7,732 of those were for domestic terrorism refugees. Perhaps if we recognized them as refugees, we could see domestic violence as a crisis.

This violence is the backdrop of our everyday lives. Part of why we view patriarchal violence as inevitable is that until now, we have not had a proven way to eliminate it. We’re taught to rely on laws or law enforcement to protect us. But the moment we delegate our safety to someone else, we give up our power to them. Bonobos show us that uniting with other females and allies, coming physically to one another’s defense in numbers, will shut down aggression.  We have a way out.

The anthropologist Amy Parish, a leading expert in bonobo studies, has said, “Bonobo females live the goals of the human feminist movement: behave with unrelated females as if they are your sisters.”

And everyone is your sister.

This approach excludes no one. It includes everyone.

The Bonobo Sisterhood is the missing piece that changes everything. And it’s possible that in a butterfly politics sense, Ashley Judd is the bridge that connects it all. When she courageously came forward publicly against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, she reignited the #MeToo movement. Women from all over the world came forth with their own experiences, showing the extent of the problem, and uniting survivors around the world. The Women’s Marches, the largest in history, showed our willingness to protest this untenable situation. What was lacking was a solution, and that’s what this book proposes: a collective self-defense to protect ourselves and our sisters. This would be unlike anything that has been tried or conceived of to date, at least on a large scale. And it is something we can begin to create tomorrow.

The energy of the Bonobo Sisterhood is palpable, tangible. I had the wonderful opportunity of giving a keynote speech at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in upstate New York. The night before my talk, my Bonobo Sisters and I went out to an Italian restaurant. The women knew one another only through me and had only just met the day before. You would never know that from the intense, ecstatic, joyous, hilarious bonobo bonding that took place at that dinner. We were all supercharged by the excitement of having a new theory of life; a new way to confront the status quo and make it so much better. Everything I learn about bonobos gives me hope, as humans with the capacity for sophisticated language, morality, law, and the ability to articulate rights backed by a collective self-defense. We can choose to be bonobo. We choose love over fear; abundance over scarcity; peace over war; sexual choice and freedom over coercion.

As we embark on this journey, please know that I am coming from a place of inclusion, love, and respect. The frame of patriarchal violence is premised on male supremacy over females. All our gender relationships take place against this background; and all will change when that changes. The Bonobo Sisterhood gives us the framework for comprehensive gender inclusion. And our new lens on equality among women allows us to transcend racial, ethnic, class, geographic, and other divisions. Through this change in focus, we consciously choose to be bonobo; to share in our abundance in creating a new social order.

I offer you this book with the hope that the bonobos light up your inner power to change the world.

Welcome to the Bonobo Sisterhood. Let’s begin.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Diane L. Rosenfeld, JD, LLM, is a lecturer on law and the founding director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, where she has taught since 2004. Rosenfeld has appeared in major media outlets, including ABC’s Nightline; Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall; Katie (with Katie Couric); CNN Headline News; Fox and Friends; the New York Times; the Washington Post; the Boston Globe; the Chicago Tribune; and NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. She is featured in the award winning documentaries The Hunting Ground; It Happened Here; and Rape Is…

Rosenfeld served as the first senior counsel to the Office on Violence Against Women at the US Department of Justice and as an executive assistant attorney general in Illinois. She is the recipient of multiple awards for her teaching, mentoring, and change-making legal policy work.

She lives outside Boston with her husband and their dog.

Her latest book is THE BONOBO SISTERHOOD: Revolution Through Female Alliance.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading during Disruption
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

 

Our Best Leaders Are Sensitive

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Dr. Ciela Hartonov, a futurist, organizational psychologist, human behavior expert, writer, and thinker dedicated to reinventing work. It is a companion piece to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Opportunity in Uncertainty which aired on November 15, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

Lessons on leadership in the wake of crisis

In the 17th century, the Great Plague of London sent Isaac Newton, then in his 20s, home from Trinity College in Cambridge back to the family estate. He stayed home for more than a year, doing some of his best work in mathematics and the study of gravity. He took the moment of pause to advance his profound and groundbreaking work. If Newton’s moment of reflection produced such genius then — given what we’re seeing in our own uncertain times — who knows what we can reimagine? How might we take this moment to see something anew?

I’ve been taking my own pause to look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on different leadership styles in ways no one, I believe, could have anticipated. The crisis will turn out to be one of the greatest change agents in our lifetime, giving us license to re-examine several aspects of the way we live, treat one another, and build flourishing businesses and communities.

In the past few weeks we’ve seen leaders rising up who give clues to what leadership traits we may want to embrace in our very near future: Jacinda Ardern with her empathy-driven clarity, Angela Merkel with her science-backed responsiveness. What do all these leaders have in common? They balance crisis management with a deep resonance for the human experience inside the trauma. They are demonstrating, in a word, sensitivity. Not just the emotional equity that is usually associated (and often disparaged) with this term, but the deeper ability to adapt and respond.

Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum says, “We need leaders who are emotionally intelligent, and able to model and champion co-operative working. They’ll coach, rather than command; they’ll be driven by empathy, not ego.” I couldn’t agree more.

We can thrive in uncertainty if we learn to embrace sensitive leadership. Sensitive leadership is the practice of building capacity for responsive action, by using the ability to attune to the nuances of a situation. Leaders with acute perceptual skills (including emotion detection) are the ones who are better equipped to manage through unexpected shifts.

Let’s return to Jacinda Ardern, who has received much press and praise and is a model of sensitive leadership. After the 2019 Christchurch shootings in New Zealand, the public went into a state of shock and uncertainty. Ardern responded with a radical combination of emotional empathy and direct action to an event that was unprecedented but nonetheless required leadership response. As Harvard historian Nancy Koehn stated: “Here is a leader who’s very conscious of both the emotional responsibilities of a leader — to help a nation heal and come together — and at the same time [saying], ‘I’ve got to act.” At this moment, there was no playbook, but Ardern detected what was necessary and took sensitive action.

The Value of Sensitive Leadership

Sensitive leaders understand that trying to control organizations, people or external forces is futile. They move away from a mindset of hierarchy and control to one of embracing the true nature of organization and human systems: they are made of interconnected, interdependent pieces that are always adjusting and adapting. As the saying goes, the sum is greater than the parts.

Our current times are thankfully helping us rediscover this interconnection; when we stay home, we protect others from infection. Our actions have an immediate impact on others. We are remembering that we must not act as individualists, because our fates are linked. Even when it is not blatantly observable, these interconnections are undeniable, both in organizations and society at large.

This is partly due to our biology. We have something called mirror neurons, which allow us to imitate others, reflecting others’ body language and emotions. Mirror neurons are the invisible tissue that are essential for building connections for social life. Part of the reason isolation is so difficult is that we are physically linked to one another. This moment presents the possibility that interconnectedness may not just be a necessity, but may even be our unique human advantage.

According to Yuval Noah Harari, a historian and the author of Sapiens, our species’ ability to adapt more successfully than others is due to our skill in leveraging human interconnection for cooperation. Sensitive leaders accept that this necessary reliance is not a deficit but an organizational truth. It is what can lead to outsized innovations and deep emotional connection at work, where we spend so much of our waking lives. Human wiring grants us the ability to band together, to make sense together, and to create progress.

However, our current organizational systems and traditional leadership practices are not designed to accept, let alone leverage co-creation. Sensitive leaders realize that organizations built on the industrial era tools of hierarchy, goal setting, and efficiency are reaching the end of their utility. This is because the world is increasingly unpredictable and complex. Never has this been more painfully obvious than now.

We are learning that the world works beyond direct cause and effect. A focus on binary ways of thinking — right, wrong; yes, no — have left us struggling to cope with a new reality, one where more unexpected challenges are likely to come. An ever-emerging environment requires increased awareness, consciousness, and cooperative action. These situations call for sensitive leaders: those who can nudge, who are comfortable following non-linear paths, who can make decisions in the absence of clear facts, and who can leverage interconnections to cooperate.

For those of us (leaders or otherwise) who have been told (and who hasn’t?) that sensitivity is a deficiency, this may come as a surprising invitation. The truth is that sensitivity has been associated with irrationality and over emotionality for far too long. Sensitivity can provide us with so much more than empathy. It allows us to more deeply understand a situation and to respond with care and decisiveness. In fact, original references to sensitivity from the 13th Century defined it as the capacity to gain perspectives. It is not a deficit, but rather a unique human super power.

COVID-19 has taught us that we can no longer ignore the presence and power of the unexpected, complex and interconnected. As technological conditions, climate change and interconnected forces are multiplying, we urgently need more sensitive leaders.

How to Build Sensitive Leadership Skills

Leaders can build sensitivity skills by developing the capacity to sense, reflect and respond. Based on my years in the leadership development field, I believe that cultivating and expanding sense-reflect-respond capacities is now the single most important obligation of leadership. Based on the science of managing complex environments, forcing a space between thought and action allows us to see fresh perspectives and ways forward. Practiced over time, we learn to attune to elusive dynamics and subtle clues in unfamiliar territory, to ask new questions to unlock possibility, and to make choices even in the absence of a “right” way.

Here is how the three steps work:

Sense: The first step is absolutely critical and often overlooked. This is the ability to notice weak signals. It may sound simple or trite, but when the world is moving fast and attention is scarce, we often ignore the small signs. In attention-hogging environments, leaders have to work harder to sense evolving dynamics. A sensitive leader notices changes in the environment, reacting to sights, sounds, and smells when others may not. They tune into subtleties with more frequency.

By looking at what is happening within individual thought patterns and also what is going on contextually in the environment, they are able to cue into the need for change before being forced into it by catalytic circumstances. The more we notice and examine, the more able we are to deepen our understanding and create more choices for action. This practice of noticing builds the foundation of sensitive leadership.

Reflect: This is the spot between noticing and action. It creates the necessary liminal space to determine next steps. Highly sensitive individuals process information deeply, which requires reflection and deep questioning. Asking ourselves different questions can reshape how we think.

In the emergent era, one cannot lead unless they are wise, and wisdom comes from integrating across multiple intelligences (rational, emotional, social). Practicing reframing helps us see something in a new light and disrupt our default solutions, coming up with new and creative solutions.

Respond: Responsiveness means altering behavior in the face of changes to the environment. This is not just action-planning; it is about being versatile. Responsive leaders evolve alongside the changing conditions around them and take action in face of uncertainty. We can see new possibilities for action when we break free from the chains of habitual thinking. Leaders who take action while accounting for multiple truths and stories are at once more inclusive and equipped for the future ahead.

This cycle of sense-process-respond can happen rapidly and it must be on repeat. Since the 1990s, brain researchers have come to realize that the brain — even the adult brain — is far more adaptable than anyone ever imagined, and this gives us a tremendous amount of control over what our brains are able to do. We now understand that there’s no such thing as a predefined ability. The brain is adaptable, and training can create skills that did not exist before. We can embolden our powers of sensitivity.

COVID-19 has reminded us, with shocking clarity, that our life and time on this earth are precious. It is neither infinite nor guaranteed. The dangers of today call us to move past complacency and focus on what matters most. We now have the opportunity to quickly prune away the normalized leadership practices that no longer serve us. Let’s take this moment to reimagine what types of leaders we want to follow: leaders who role model sensitive leadership, building the strength to embrace their own senses decisively, and allowing others to do the same.

Maybe this time will give us enough pause, just as it did for Newton, to have a breakthrough. Maybe we can reinvent our relationship to sensitivity — this long overlooked, deeply human, powerful trait.

Enhancing our innate human capacity for sensitivity is a way forward to ensure that our organizations, societies and communities are malleable, emergent and adaptive. We each can take the call to tune into our sensitive nature, so that life both inside and outside of the organization becomes more whole and humane.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Ciela Hartanov is a futurist, organizational psychologist, human behavior expert, writer, and thinker dedicated to reinventing work. She helps leaders create a revolution inside the modern workplace, one aimed at breaking a system that promotes work practices that have existed since the industrial era. She was part of the founding team of The Google School for Leaders and Head of Next Practice Innovation and Strategy at Google, where she developed projects designed to shape the future of leadership and work. She currently runs humcollective, a boutique strategy and innovation firm that helps companies, executives, and teams make sense of the forces shaping the future and prepare strategically.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading during Disruption
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

James Madison University, in partnership with the Innovative Leadership Institute, will begin The Innovative Leadership Certificate Program on November 1st.  The program prepares participants to understand their vision, values, and strengths as a leader and is a very valuable program for working professionals ready for promotion.  To learn more and register, click here.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

 

Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

In a Chaos. There Is Creativity. Welcome to VUCA MAX… Part 1

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future is titled Expecting the Unexpected:  VUCA in Action at Red Roof.  The interview is with George Limbert, President of Red Roof and aired on November 8, 2022.  

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

This week’s article is written by Chris Nolan, a multiple Emmy Award-winning director, creative director, marketing strategist, branding story expert and author.  It is part one of a two part series.

IN A CHAOS. THERE IS CREATIVITY. WELCOME TO VUCA MAX… PART 1.

OBLIQUE STRATEGIES

Brian Eno is a brilliant musician and producer of some of the most seminal rock ‘n’ roll albums of the last 40 years, He worked with David Bowie on “Heroes,”. U2 on “Achtung Baby” and “The Joshua Tree,” His work spans rock genres from DEVO to Coldplay.

His secret to catalyzing the greatest musicians to expand themselves and reach creative heights is “creating chaos”.

He is also famous for his Oblique Strategies: Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas” that shake up the creative process.

It’s a deck of cards invented by Eno and painter Peter Schmidt. Each card offers a unique, disruptive strategy: “Honor thy error as a hidden intention.”, “Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them.”, “Make a sudden, destructive, unpredictable action. Incorporate.” Even, “Change instrument roles.”  That’s right –– drummer on the piano.

Eno found the more chaos the greater the creative breakthrough and the greater the masterpiece.

 

INNOVATIVE LEADERSHIP

A McKinsey & Company survey of executives found that more than 70 percent anticipate innovation will be a top driver of growth for their companies.

Yes, McKinsey also found that most of these executives have been disappointed by their company’s innovation efforts.

Now granted creativity is an enigma, and innovation can be a dilemma, so maybe chaos can tell us more about how to get under the hood of creativity.

As a film director for over 25 years and a former Creative Director at the some of world’s most prestigious advertising agencies, I’ve been at the helm of a wide array of diverse extremely talented, creative teams.

Yes, some people are just innately innovative, but I agree Edward de Bono and Steven Kotler that creativity and innovation–– the ability to connect different ideas in a novel way –– is also a learnable skill.

But it is more oblique than obvious.

De bono, regarded by many as the world’s leading authority in the field of creative thinking, also tells is that problem solving is an indirect process involving ideas that may not be attainable using step-by-step logic.  This mean embracing chaos, disruption and the unknown in the creative process.  de Bono called this “Lateral Thinking”. It deliberately forgoes obvious approaches in favor of oblique, outside the box ones.

Lateral Thinking also calls for leaders to give people the permission to contribute and the freedom to explore alternatives to problems without criticism.

 

AWKWARD STRANGERS

Disney is one of the most innovative companies in the world. And when I worked with Disney on innovative initiatives, we’d always included people outside the project team as part of the innovation group, even some contrarians, disruptors or people at different levels.

In his Ted Talk. Tim Hartford talks about the need to disrupt in the creative process and role of what he calls “the awkward strangers”. Eno deck of cards plays this role.

So, one of the ways to jumpstart robust ideation is diversity and different perspectives You want awkward strangers to disrupt the process.

Which is why. the world’s top business experts from Peter Drucker to Marshall Goldsmith tell leaders to flatten the pyramid and get more bottom-up ideation.

A more inclusive “leave no one behind” mindset that includes front line people.

it creates what we call Hero-Archies versus Hierarchies. And deliver Great Loyalty instead of Great Resignation by giving people more purpose and investment in the future.

After all, C-Suite does not stand for crystal ball. No leader can predict the future alone. To innovate for a future moving faster than we can think, we need all the help we can get,

 

ADVERSITY IMMERSION

Brian Eno made creative magic happen by busting comfort zones, flipping familiar habits and taking people to strange, unknown, chaotic places.

He immersed the rockers in adversity.

Now you may think that Adversity Immersion causes stress and stress thwarts creativity when in actuality –– it’s feeling out of control in a situation and not having creative choices causes stress. The key to avoiding stress is to accept that the creative process is chaotic, but you always have choices.

The stories of the greatest accomplishments always great conflict, obstacles and adversity, and they challenge us to make decisions.

In Star Wars, after the introduction of Old Ben Kenobi (the awkward strange), Obi Wan challenges Luke Skywalker to make a choice –– between the complacency of his dull planet and the call to help the intergalactic rebellion.

In innovation like stories, an unexpected inciting incident always disrupts the status quo and upends the familiar, leading to new challenges, problems and bursts of opportunity.

Understanding that chaos and adversity are essential catalysts for breakthrough innovative is important for leaders to understand as we enter the most disruptive era that humanity has ever experienced.

An era we call VUCA MAX.

 

WELCOME TO VUCA MAX

In the documentary IT’S VUCA: THE SECRET TO LIVING IN THE 21ST CENTURY, we set out to explain this critical inflection point in human history.

It’s a pivotal time when we literally face the possibility of two futures: A negative one with colossal consequences or a positive one with transformative opportunities. VUCA is also negative and positive.

The film features some of the world’s greatest VUCA experts: Generals, elite Navy SEALs, Delta Force commanders, Blue Angels, NY Times best-selling authors, neuroscience experts, leadership gurus, and world-renowned futurists.

VUCA is an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. It was coined by the military in 1987 to explain the uncertainty of the 20th century and is a very apt way of explaining the conditions and environment of the early part of the 21st Century, in which we were witnessing Moore’s Law – every 18 months the power of technology was doubling –– and transforming the world.

It’s why the smartphone in your pocket is now a million times faster, a million times cheaper, and a thousand times smaller than a supercomputer on the 1970s.

When we started filming IT’S VUCA in 2020, a phenomenon predicted by Ray Kurzweil, Google’s head on engineering started to kick in –– creating Massive. Accelerating. Exponential change.

To give you an idea just how fast the future is moving:  In the next 10 years, we will see 100 years of change. In the next 80, we’ll see 20,000 years.

VUCA is now on steroids. It’s VUCA MAX.

As futurist Jane McGonigal at the Institute for the Future, the world’s leading futures organization, tell us: This is a time for both urgent optimism and urgent innovation.

 

CHAOTIC INNOVATION IS NOT CREATIVE

On the flip side, when leadership pursues innovation in a haphazard, piecemeal, one-off fashion it is detrimental to creative efficiency. It has no plan and distracts from innovative momentum.

As Gary Hamel and Nancy Tennant said in their Harvard Business Review article, “IIt takes a systematic approach to build a systemic capability — whether that is Amazon’s logistics prowess or the near-flawless service you receive as a guest at a Four Seasons hotel. So, it is with innovation.”

Systematizing innovation means embracing chaotic principals, which beings a method to madness and the outcomes.

Companies cut their R&D and innovation budgets during the last great recession missed key opportunities. Companies that embraced VUCA and continued to invest in innovation 10xed their businesses and took a front seat in the post-recession economy.

Again, investing in innovation calls for leadership that thinks beyond genetic creativity and playful workspaces. It calls for a deep bench of innovators across your entire organization.

Yes, some people are innately more creative, but a surprising amount of people get more creative when they have intrinsic motivation.

When they think their ideas matter and they have permission to be creative. What’s most important is –– Purpose.  Purpose skyrockets innovation. It calls for strong leadership seeking transformative ideas with greater meaning for humanity and for the planet.

Stay tuned for part two of “In Chaos, there is Creativity”, we’ll explore “Messiness” and “Effective Serendipity”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, CHRIS NOLAN:

Chris Nolan is a multiple Emmy Award-winning director, creative director, marketing strategist, branding story expert and author. He brings 25 years of branding, writing, directing and production experience in both entertainment and marketing to his content production company, 90,000 Feet –– working for clients such Disney, Google and Toyota.

He recently directed and co-wrote with Mike Schindler, the documentary “It’s VUCA: The Secret to Living in the 21st Century”. Chris and Mike have followed up the film with a book and an extensive leadership and executive coaching program called VUCA MAX.

To preorder the book or for more information on the VUCA MAX program go to https://itsvuca.com or contact Chris at Chris@itsvuca.com.

 

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE, GEORGE LIMBERT:

George Limbert is the President of Red Roof, an award-winning leader in the lodging industry with over 670 properties in the United States, Brazil and Japan. George joined Red Roof in 2013 as the company’s in-house counsel. Recently, he led a financial and strategic transformation of the business and was appointed President in 2021. George guides an organization that serves millions of guests each year, delivering enhanced experiences and unmatched value. He is the cornerstone in driving long-term strategic planning, improved operational and financial performance, and greater value for Red Roof stakeholders, business partners and guests. George fosters collaboration in communicating brand values, driving business growth and profitability.

George is an Ohio native. He received a degree in business from The Ohio State University and earned his law degree at the University of Dayton. George is also an adjunct professor teaching Franchise Law at The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association, and a member of the Ohio Bar Association. In 2021 he was appointed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to the TourismOhio Advisory Board. He lives in Lewis Center, Ohio with his wife and daughter.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading during Disruption
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Are You a Great Change Leader?

This week we continue the Connex Executive Insights Series, produced in collaboration with Connex Partners, an invitation-only executive network that brings industry leaders together from the worlds of HR and Healthcare.

Connex Members are part of a cutting-edge community, finding actionable solutions to their most pressing business challenges via high-value peer exchanges and curated resources including tools, platforms, partners and c-suite networking opportunities.

Executive Insights Series features highly respected and engaging guests who share novel ideas and practices related to the latest leadership topics.

This week’s article is written by Ed Cook, cofounder of The Change Decision LLC, a change and culture consultancy focused on growing Joy at Work.  It is a companion piece to his interview with fellow cofounder Roxanne Brown on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Joy at Work! that aired on October 25, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

It’s a fascinating exercise to pose the question, “Are you a great Change Leader?”  The personae that tend to emerge break in one of two directions,  Lawyer or Scientist.

The Lawyer will begin with a recitation of presumably amazing evidence underlying their Change Leadership prowess — the project that landed well and the difficult situation that got smoothed over;   the success in personal conflict resolution and the time something else “amazing” happened.  It is all true and valid, an airtight case!

In contrast, the Scientist will pose a question: “How do I know if I am a great Change Leader?”  Evidence will be collected. But, even if done well, it’s not about proving a case but understanding the situation as informed by outside evidence, not inside justification.  That means asking others for assessments of your Change Leader skills.  The Scientist knows that understanding your own success at something can be difficult to judge.  Biases in self-judgment are insidious and difficult to eliminate fully.  The most insidious part? How do you know you are biased?

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Although the path of the Lawyer is tempting and potentially useful in some situations,  like a job interview.  The path of the Scientist will yield results that can be better applied to improving the capabilities of a Change Leader.  The Dunning-Kruger Effect bears this out.  In their 1999 paper, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the authors showed that people often do a poor job of judging their own competence at a task, particularly at the extremes of competence.  Revealed in their experiments was that those who performed at the low end of the performance scale judged themselves to be better at a task than they really were.  Meanwhile, those at the top judged themselves to be worse.  In a New York Times interview published on March 11, 2011, Dunning described the effect: “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent … The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”

The explanation was that the bias results from two different effects. For those at the low end of the performance scale, there existed an internal illusion of their ability.  For those at the high end, there was an external misperception of other’s ability.   In their original paper, they state that “the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.”  The solution?  Get an outside perspective.

In addition to simply asking others how you are doing, Dunning and Kruger in later work demonstrate that training in a task can increase the ability of people to judge their competence at the task.  The skill of judging your skills can be learned!  The first condition is understanding the standard of performance for a task.   To know if you have built the competency, you must know what “good” looks like.  For a Change Leader, starting with the purpose of the role is essential to understanding the standard of performance.

The Change Leader’s role is to create the conditions to make it easier for people to do things in a new way that will achieve the value of the change.  –The Change Decision

This definition implies that the role of the Change Leader is about more than just getting the project done or the change completed.  Making it easier for people to do their work is about culture.  To be a better Change Leader is to be better at growing the culture that you want for your organization.  A way of thinking about culture that has benefited many organizations is to grow a culture of Joy at Work.

So how do you grow Joy at Work?  First, a leader needs to lead change…which brings us back to the core question: “Are you a great Change Leader?”

Be a  Scientist

Applying the scientific approach means gathering data.  Following the advice of Dunning and Kruger means assess yourself and also ask others to assess you as a Change Leader.  The following outlines a useful start toward self-assessment for Change Leaders, and also, when recast as a set of questions, others can use the outline to give a Change Leader feedback on how they are doing so that they can improve.

Leadership Skills Questions

Situation Awareness Questions

  • How would I rate my skills in:
    • listening
    • communicating
    • encouraging
    • influencing
    • building partnerships
  • How well am I managing my mood and reactions?
  • How good am I at reading and interpreting the reaction of others?
  • How open and adaptable am I?
  • How self-aware am I?
  • What exactly am I being asked to do?
  • What’s the risk to me personally?  To my team?
  • What’s the ripple effect of that?
  • How confident I am in the initiative?
  • How confident am I in the people I’m dependent on to succeed?
  • What’s the opportunity?

 

After a leader goes through this assessment and gets feedback,  the answer to “Are you a great Change Leader?” will be clearer.  From there, it is a matter of continuing to use the Change Leader strengths that are revealed, finding just one thing to focus on improving.

An important element in this discussion is the use of the term, Leader versus Manager.  There is a broader discussion of the topic here, but in the context of becoming a great Change Leader, the use of “leader” is important.  To be sure, there is a role in managing change.  In fact,  an entire profession is driven by organizations like the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and the Change Management Institute (CMI)  that define the roles and responsibilities of a Change Practitioner.   A Change Leader is a person accountable for the success of an initiative.  Change Leaders define what success looks like,  and although they would be wise to rely on a highly competent Change Practitioner, they also need to contribute to the success of the change effort.  This is not something that can be outsourced or delegated.  Only the leader of the group can play the role of Change Leader.

One Thing

Being a Change Leader can be a daunting task but, with focus,  anyone can improve their competencies and become a great Change Leader.  To do that,  follow the advice that so many have given.  And focus.  Answer this question:

What is the one thing I can do to make my next change initiative easier?

The answer will lead to what you,  the aspiring great Change Leader, need to focus on next.  It might be valuable to find a Coach or Mentor to help guide you.  You can read more about the difference here.  Get regular feedback on how you are progressing and it will only be a matter of time before  you can readily answer  an emphatic, “Yes!” to the question, “Are you a great Change Leader?”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Edward L. Cook has over 20 years of leadership and analytical experience at Capital One and Corning as well as 10 years of experience as a navy pilot. Ed was mobilized by the US Navy and sent to Baghdad, Iraq where, as CDR Ed Cook, he worked in the Green Zone on the Commanding General’s Staff, at the time Gen. David Petraeus. Ed worked extensively on employment initiatives for the people of Iraq bridging across the US military, the US Embassy, and the Government of Iraq. For his efforts, Ed was awarded the Bronze Star. Ed has implemented large process and infrastructure changes. The culminating effort was in leading the program where Capital One built coffee houses (Capital One Cafés) across the country instead of traditional branches. Today, Ed is the cofounder of The Change Decision LLC, a change and culture consultancy focused on growing Joy at Work. Ed has a BS in Aerospace Engineering, an MBA, and holds a PhD in Systems Modeling and Analysis. He brings his expertise in Decision Analytics to the work of The Change Decision. Ed also employs his analytics expertise as a Visiting Professor at the University of Richmond in both the undergraduate and MBA programs.

Roxanne M. Brown has over 25 years of change experience with Capital One and other companies, focused on leader and team transformation coaching, large-scale change initiatives, culture strategy, communications and training. Roxanne has established a Change Leadership Community of Practice, helped implement the first change management practices, and set the program change management methodology and toolset for organizations. She teaches change management courses, leads discussion groups on the subject, and mentors practitioners. Her specialty is in creating high-performing teams by engaging the unique abilities of leaders and team members. As a result, Roxanne moves the organization beyond just implementation and into culture strengthening. Today, Roxanne is the cofounder of The Change Decision LLC, a change and culture consultancy focused on growing Joy at Work. Roxanne received her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, with a focus in Leadership Studies, from the University of Richmond. She brings her unique combination of leadership insight and coaching abilities to guide leaders through not only completing the change by improving their organization’s culture. She is also the past President of the Board of Directors for the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP).

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading during Disruption
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

James Madison University, in partnership with the Innovative Leadership Institute, will begin The Innovative Leadership Certificate Program on November 1st.  The program prepares participants to understand their vision, values, and strengths as a leader and is a very valuable program for working professionals ready for promotion.  To learn more and register, click here.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Protecting Innovation During a Downturn

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Greg Milano, Founder and CEO of Fortuna Advisors. It is a companion piece to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Curing Corporate Short-Termism which aired on October 18, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

Most companies are facing profitability headwinds as inflation drives up their operating costs and rising interest rates make financing more expensive.  Some have such strong brand differentiation that they are able to pass these cost increases along in the form of higher prices.  For example, Pepsico announced earnings on October 12 that exceeded analyst expectations for revenue and earnings per share (EPS).  Their revenues for the first 36 weeks of 2022 were up 14% and almost all of that was pricing, with a slight increase in aggregate volume.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t enjoy such strong product or service differentiation and would lose significant volume if they raised prices to fully offset the cost increases they face.  The managements of most of these companies feel they must resort to across-the-board cost cutting to have any hope for a decent profit result.  Many finance executives view this as a good opportunity to streamline work flows and eliminate excess waste.  As Winston Churchill (likely) said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

We should all be in favor of eliminating waste, but these broad slash-and-burn cost cuts often end up harming the long-term value of the organization. Back in the 1990s, a colleague and I were sitting off to the side of a life sciences client executive committee meeting, awaiting our turn to present, when the CEO called over to ask me my thoughts on his initiative to cut costs by five percent in every department. I’m sure he thought as the shareholder value guy I’d back him up. But instead I asked, “Why are you cutting R&D?”

Avoid Wasteful Spending

To be sure, there is often wasteful spending in R&D, sometimes to an even greater extent than other departments.  We worked with one life sciences client where almost 40%of their current R&D budget was devoted to projects that, over their full life-cycle, were projected to have a negative net present value—i.e., the present value of all cash outflows was higher than the present value of cash inflows.  Once we eliminate sunk costs, many of these projects appeared to add incremental value on a forward basis. Yet the fact that such a large proportion of current spending was concentrated in these projects indicated two big problems.

First, the company was not proficient at selecting and executing value-creating projects. Admittedly, life sciences is a tough business and, by default, many projects will not succeed.  Second, and of bigger concern, was that the company seemed to struggle with admitting failure. So they kept funding projects whose odds of success looked marginal at best, even when project managers were able to achieve their forward projection, which was a rare occurrence.

The company would have been better off “failing fast” on many of these projects, defunding them, and reallocating more financial and human resources to the more promising initiatives. The pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, asserts that roughly 80% of value comes from 20% of businesses’ activities.  And in every R&D organization I have worked with, the pareto principle seems to hold true, whether or not managements embrace its implications.

The smearing of capital, innovation and marketing resources evenly across business units and projects is often referred to as “peanut buttering,” as if we were smearing spread across a slice of bread.  Most executives know, at least intuitively, that they should concentrate the resources where they create the most value—the expected (value) benefit of placing fewer bigger bets is not lost on them.  But this rarely happens.  It seems as if management is unsure where their best opportunities lie, so they disperse resources across the portfolio to be sure they don’t mistakenly defund a winner.  Another obstacle can be the strength of office politics, which is often one of the most value-destructive attributes in an organization. Thus boards and other company leaders should also seek out objective frameworks for resource allocation to avoid this unfortunate drag on many corporate cultures.

Ownership Culture

Before considering how to protect innovation during a downturn, consider the culture of the organization and whether management’s actions are aligned with the long-term interests of shareholders. When this is the case, we observe what we at Fortuna Advisors refer to as an ownership culture.  In such corporate environments, leadership of the organization thinks and acts as if they owned the company.  There are five key traits of an ownership culture that are important, and leaders would do well to assess how well their organizations represent these traits:

  1. Act like the money is yours
  2. Extreme prioritization
  3. Willingness to experiment, and fail
  4. Less talking and more doing
  5. Focus on both short- and long-term

Leaders in innovation areas should embrace these principles, especially during tough times. When they act like an owner, they don’t tolerate wasteful spending because they act like the money is theirs.  By defunding marginal innovation projects, they free up resources to prioritize more important projects. They are willing to experiment and try new ideas, but when they don’t work out, they fail fast and avoid throwing good money after bad.  With a true bias for action, they avoid “analysis paralysis” via endless meetings without decisions. The drive to deliver results in the current year should be very strong, but thoughtful business owners would never get there by cutting vital investments that drive future success.

Still, when asked to slash an innovation budget, don’t blindly fight it.  Acknowledge there may be some wasteful endeavors that should be eliminated.  Try to reduce more than you need so you can increase investment in the best opportunities, at least somewhat, to achieve more with your real winners.  In one client, for every dollar we moved from marginal projects to the high-priority initiatives, the net present value of the company increased by three dollars!

Better Accounting for Value Creation

Another obstacle to innovation comes with standard conventions around financial accounting.  Traditional investments in assets such as property and equipment are capitalized and amortized over their useful lives. But according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), R&D and other important value drivers such as brand building, are typically expensed in the current year. The result is to discourage investing in these vital value drivers. And in tough times, it makes them the first areas most executives look to cut.

The problem has become especially pronounced in recent decades as the amount of investment in intangible assets has surpassed the investment in tangible, suggesting they have become a bigger source of value than traditional brick-and-mortar. And while thoughtful business owners (and managers) are fully capable of looking past accounting quirks to make the right decisions for the future of the business, the incentives of most public company executives decidedly discourages investment in innovation and future value creation. The first step in correcting this accounting problem is to examine how well your incentives align with share price and intrinsic value creation, and then to consider capitalizing investments like R&D and brand-building over the long term.

Those with questions or who are interested in learning more are encouraged to reach out to the author at gregory.milano@fortuna-advisors.com.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gregory Milano is Founder and CEO of Fortuna Advisors, a thought leader and trusted advisor in helping clients transform their value creation potential through bold improvements to managerial insights, decisions, and behaviors. Greg is a recognized industry leader in financial performance measurement and valuation, capital allocation and incentive compensation. He is the author of Curing Corporate Short-Termism: Future Growth vs. Current Earnings. His work is regularly published in The Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, CFO Magazine, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal, amongst others. He earned an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading during Disruption
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

James Madison University, in partnership with the Innovative Leadership Institute, will begin The Innovative Leadership Certificate Program on November 1st.  The program prepares participants to understand their vision, values, and strengths as a leader and is a very valuable program for working professionals ready for promotion.  To learn more and register, click here.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Understanding Employee Experience in Real-Time with Aware

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy, and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience. It is a companion piece to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled What Your Team REALLY Thinks…in Real Time! which aired on October 11, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

Current Challenge

Most companies have no way of understanding how topics, messaging, internal/external events are truly impacting our employees and culture. According to Gartner, 82% of employees agree it is important that their organization sees them as a person, not just an employee.  In order to illuminate this topic, ILI has asked me to provide an overview of Aware’s approach to addressing the challenge of listening and giving a voice to employees.

Why This Matters, Now.

Gartner recently stated that human-centered work design can increase employee performance by as much as 54%. The market is quickly shifting to leverage human analytics to inform practices like performance management, building engagement, enhancing culture and experience, and improving retention.

Current Gaps

Traditional engagement questionnaires and pulse surveys only provide point-in-time insight on specific questions or topics. Without additional solutions, companies will continue to fall short in their ability to understand employee experience in a fully comprehensive and real-time manner. In order to drive faster response and more proactive change, companies require new solutions to close these gaps:

The challenges with a survey-based approach:

  • No comprehensive understanding of what employees are currently talking about and how they talk about specific topics.
  • No ability to look at toxic or disgruntled behavior separately from sentiment (negative sentiment is not always a cause for concern in the enterprise).
  • Lack of data to inform an approach to employee experience
  • Inability to capture a silent majority or know if an issue is brewing before it turns into a larger distraction.

How Innovative Companies are Closing the Gap

Forward-thinking, global companies go beyond pulse surveys, performance reviews, and focus groups. They augment the information derived from traditional sources with a real-time, continuous understanding of employee voice and experience. These companies use technologies that derive authentic insights from conversations already happening naturally within platforms like Slack, Workplace from Meta, Teams, and others.  In the words of one of Aware’s customers “The ability to understand and listen to our partners, and look at sentiment differently, be clear on where we’ve missed something and where we need to lean back in has been incredibly important this last year.  Giving this glimpse into how [employees] are humanly responding to things … has been really supportive of a broader enterprise goal of ‘it’s not an us and them’ piece.’ This is a way we can help them see each other as people.”

The Aware Solution

Your company needs a system in place to understand real-time employee engagement, so you can authentically say, ‘We hear you’. Innovative companies who do this well are adopting platforms such as Aware, which offers best-in-class technology to understand and make sense of employee signals:

  • Derives continuous, authentic insights from conversations, without relying on surveys
  • Understands and treats sentiment and toxic behavior independently
  • Offers automated reporting and alerts that fit within your existing business review framework
  • Provides controls to align with existing data privacy and compliance frameworks
  • Does not require IT resources for implementation and can integrate within minutes

What’s in the Box?

Aware offers a robust platform that solves additional challenges you may face across your business, including eDiscovery, retention, legal holds and compliance monitoring. Aware is committed to providing leading security, compliance, and analytics for collaboration, no matter which tool you use to get work done, now or in the future.

Intelligent Data Fabric

Aware’s data fabric is built to capture unique collaboration characteristics. Securely “listening” to all posts, messages, and shared files, and preserve revision and deletion histories.

Data Retention and Destruction

Reduce the liability of litigation by systematically purging stored conversation data.  Apply records retention policies and automatically purge select content from both the collaboration platform and the data fabric.

Data Holds and Search & Discover

Preserve and protect data from spoliation. Create legal holds, quickly search held data by custodian, date range, and/or keyword.

Privacy and Compliance Monitoring

Confirm that employees remain compliant with industry regulations when communicating on your collaboration platform. Easily fulfill data subject access requests and the right to be forgotten.

To learn more, please visit www.awarehq.com

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Greg Moran is a C-level digital, strategy and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience. He led corporate strategy for Ford and designed the plan that Alan Mullaly used to turn around the company. Greg held C-level IT positions in app dev, infrastructure and core banking applications at Ford, Nationwide Insurance and Bank One/JPMC, respectively. He began his career in consulting with Arthur Andersen Accenture, working across industries with 100 companies over the course of a decade. He is passionate about leadership and culture and teaches part-time on the topic at Ohio University.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading during Disruption
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Join Maureen at the International Leadership Association’s 24th Global Conference in October to explore wisdom and its role in times of crisis. Discover cutting-edge practice and theory, and meet and connect with the people whose work will inspire you — including successful business executives and public leaders, thought-provoking authors and researchers, experienced educators, game-changing coaches, and organizational development professionals.  The conference takes place online October 6-7 and in person in Washington, D.C. October 13-16. Learn more at https://ilaglobalconference.org  

James Madison University, in partnership with the Innovative Leadership Institute, will begin The Innovative Leadership Certificate Program on November 1st.  The program prepares participants to understand their vision, values, and strengths as a leader and is a very valuable program for working professionals ready for promotion.  To learn more and register, click here.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Your Grit (Perseverance and Passion): 4 Levels

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Jim Ritchie-Dunham, president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity and co-author of Ecosynomics:  The Science of Abundance. It is a companion piece to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Power of Passion & Perseverance:  Four Levels of Grit which aired on September 20, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

 Link to the entire interview:

In this podcastFreakonomics UChicago economist Steven Levitt explores “grit” with Grit UPenn psychologist Angela Duckworth. Characterizing grit as perseverance and passion, they explore different ways people think of their own grit. Listening to this podcast, having reading Duckworth’s book, I realized that you could think of grit from an ecosynomic perspective from four different levels.

Noun level, where I focus on agreements based in what is already finished. At the noun level, grit (nGrit) is about my own node, the immediate space around my own self. I have an executable goal that I can achieve with my existing capacities. I have enough grit to read a book today, or climb that mountain this week.

Verb-noun level, where I pay attention to agreements based on what I am developing in relationships and capacities (verbs), as well as the outcomes (nouns). At the verb-noun level, grit (vnGrit) is about my own node and its links to other nodes. I have an intermediate-level, developmental goal, that I achieve as I grow. I have enough grit to strengthen my capacity to read more and more deeply, or climb that mountain, coming out stronger than I started.

Light-verb-noun level, where I focus on agreements based in my beingness, my potential, what I am becoming as I develop relationships and capacities, and the outcomes of that tangibilizing process. At the light-verb-noun level, grit (lvnGrit) is about my node, links to other nodes, and the centers of the circles of linked nodes. I have what Duckworth refers to as a top-level goal, often a deeper shared purpose to which I have the grit to contribute, that is in my potential to grow into being able to achieve. I can see that I will be able to read ever-more challenging books, and even begin to write books. I can see that I could climb ever-more challenging mountains, and maybe in different ways.

Ecosystems-of-sacred-hospitality level, where I focus on agreements based in the deeper purpose I feel called to serve. At the ecosystems-of-sacred-hospitality level, grit (eshGrit) is about the liminal space generated by the double pull of transcendence away from herenow and immanence completely in herenow. In my grit, I have an existential-master goal, which defines and guides every aspect of who I am and what I do. I am in service to reading or climbing, continuously in the process of cotangibilizing my service to that purpose, evolving what I understand is in my potential to realize along the way.

Grit. Perseverance and passion. What that means to me depends on what I see as my reality. Nouns only. Nouns and verbs. Nouns, verbs, and light. Ecosystems of sacred hospitality. Each level of reality engages orders of magnitude more grit, all which is inside of me to choose.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jim is president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, affiliated with Boston College, Harvard, EGADE Business School, and UPMadrid, co-author of Ecosynomics (2014) & Managing from Clarity (2001). He blogs regularly at jlrd.me. He has a BSPE (UTulsa), MIM (Thunderbird), MBA (ESADE), and PhD Decision Sciences (UTAustin). Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance shows (1) you prefer abundance-based agreements to scarcity-based ones, (2) lots of people have figured out how to live this way, for decades, with far better results and experiences, and (3) you can choose to shift your agreements, experiences, and outcomes to abundance-based. [Get the book at https://bit.ly/ecosynomicsbook.]

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading during Disruption
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Deeper Waters: 9-month intensive cohort experience linking leadership development with personal and spiritual work hosted by ILI Certified Facilitators: April Blaine and Dan Mushalko.

Join Terri O’Fallon’s 12-Month Immersive Group Experience applying the STAGES model to your life.  See how your life experiences have shaped you, understand your influence on those around you, and make peace with the evolving being that you are.  You can learn more about Terri’s work through her podcasts with Maureen.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

New to Foresight? Start Here.

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we strive to bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Rebecca Ryan, is a top 50 professional futurist, economist, best-selling author and entrepreneur. It is a companion piece to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Future Is Yours to Create which aired on September 13, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

The most common question I’m asked is, “You’re a futurist? What is that?” Here’s my attempt to break it down in everyday terms.

 

What do futurists do?

Professional futurists think deeply about what’s coming to help clients prepare for multiple, plausible futures. Ultimately, we help clients shape the future they want. “Strategic foresight” is a formal term for this work, looking into the future and figuring out what’s coming, so you can be ready. Most of our clients think in 10-year horizons. Some more, some less.

 

Wait, you said futures with an ‘s’ as the end, plural?

Yes, professional futurists speak in terms of futures. There is no one single future, not for you and not for me. No one can predict the future. Anyone who tells you that is not, IMHO, a professional futurist.

Every person, organization, and system has multiple, plausible futures. Futures are a dynamic blend of “outside forces” (things you can’t control that happen to you, like a hurricane, an economic collapse, or a rare health diagnosis) and “inside forces” (things you can control that will also shape your future, like how well you take care of yourself and how you use your time.)

What’s more, strategic foresight is not a crystal ball or a woo-woo process. Done right, strategic foresight has guts. And data. (Lots of data). And heart. And meat. And creativity. And compelling calls to action.

Spoiler: when people learn how rigorous strategic foresight is, some freak out. “I don’t have the time do to this!” Let me push back and ask, “You don’t have the time to prepare for the future? You’d rather just do what you’ve always done, and hope for the best?”

 

Okay, so how does a futurist do what they do?

Many futurists use a set of tried-and-true tools (like sensemaking and scenarios). Some futurists specialize in one sector (my firm has a niche in the public sector), and some develop deep expertise in one or two foresight techniques.

My team structures our work around four phases (see image below). Each phase asks important questions to help clients see what’s coming (Sensing); how their organization might look in the future as a result of what’s coming (Imagining); what they can do to shape their preferred future (Defining); and how to develop momentum to work on their future in the midst of all the “regular work” (Doing). For an audiovisual deeper dive into these phases, check out this episode of Futures Friday here.

 

My organization does strategic planning. Is this the same thing?

Not quite. Strategic planning and strategic foresight are different in several important ways:

  • Strategic planning starts with today (usually a SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Foresight starts with the future — what’s coming? My team generally uses a STEEP trend analysis: what social, technology, economic, environmental and political trends will shape your future? (Sensing)
  • Strategic planning focuses on near-term plans of three or five years. Foresight looks at 10-year and 20-year horizons (sometimes longer!) before developing plans. (Sensing, Imagining)
  • Strategic planning focuses on one hoped-for future. Foresight considers several plausible futures ranging from challenging to surprisingly successful. (Imagining)
  • Those in the C-suite generally do strategic planning with a trained facilitator. My team recommends using a blend of leaders plus Red Teamswho respectfully ask tough questions.

 

How do organizations use strategic foresight?

In my experience:

  • During disruptions, organizations use foresight to anticipate what changes may still be looming and adjust their strategic plans accordingly.
  • Communities use strategic foresight as a community-wide visioning process.
  • Cities use foresight before they start their 10-year comprehensive planning process.
  • Organizations use the foresight process to develop their 10-year or 20-year vision and then build their five-year plan based on the vision.
  • Organizations use strategic foresight and include different voices (or all employees) instead of traditional strategic planning to change things up.

 

Here are some characteristics of future-ready organizations and communities. Do you live or work in a place like this?

  • Their leaders are visionary and sometimes seen as “weird” or unusual because they don’t have a herd mentality. They’re willing to look farther into the horizon and ask tough questions (Is what we’re doing working?)
  • They can make adjustments. They’re not so attached to how things are, and they can roll with the punches.
  • They are constantly investing. In people. In training. In technology. There’s a certain “eustress” (positive stress) in future-ready places, a certain unease with the status quo. That’s because these people are restless about complacency. They know that “watch and wait” is not a viable strategy.
  • They are genuinely interested in different points of view, because they know that having multiple perspectives is valuable and “group think” stinks of complacency.

 

This sounds kind of exciting. How should I get started?

Woohoo! I’m glad you’re intrigued. Below are some of my favorite resources. I also recommend practicing some techniques to soften your mind and begin thinking like a futurist, by practicing noticing and setting up a signals and sensemaking practice.

 

Resources for the Foresight-Curious

  • Our blog offers ideas, techniques, and deep dives on foresight and leadership. Check it out here.
  • Institute for the Future’s “Ready, Set, Future” online coursevia Coursera. Learn more here.
  • Speaking of IFTF, their Executive Director (and my spirit animal), Marina Gorbis, wrote a great article, Five Principles for Thinking Like a Futuristhere.
  • If you are serious about using foresight with your team or organization, let’sfind a time to talk.
  • To find a professional futurist near you, check out theAPF Directory.
  • My newsletter is for those in the trenches trying to make the world better for future generations. Sign upor read one of the most popular recent issues.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Ryan is a noted top 50 professional futurist, economist, best-selling author and entrepreneur. She is the founder of NEXT Generation Consulting through which she partners with private and public sector leaders across the country. Looking a generation ahead, she outlines strategies in urban planning, economic development, and workforce development to ensure communities are well equipped for future trends and challenges. Rebecca is a graduate of Drake University with a certificate in Strategic Foresight from University of Houston; she is on the Executive Committee of the global Association of Professional Futurists. For more info: https://rebeccaryan.com

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading during Disruption
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Deeper Waters: 9-month intensive cohort experience linking leadership development with personal and spiritual work hosted by ILI Certified Facilitators: April Blaine and Dan Mushalko.

Join Terri O’Fallon’s 12-Month Immersive Group Experience applying the STAGES model to your life.  See how your life experiences have shaped you, understand your influence on those around you, and make peace with the evolving being that you are.  You can learn more about Terri’s work through her podcasts with Maureen.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

We’re at a Pivotal Time in Human History: Welcome to VUCA MAX

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we strive to bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Chris Nolan, is a multiple Emmy Award-winning director, creative director, marketing strategist, branding story expert and author.  It is a companion piece to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Facing Uncertainty:  It’s VUCA which aired on September 6, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

In the mockumentary/rockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap”, the lead guitarist character, Nigel Tufnel, tells the director of the film that he’s gone beyond the loudest setting on guitar amps. Instead of level 10 “these go to 11”.

This, of course, sounds a bit ridiculous. How do you go louder than the loudest setting? But it’s an apt analogy for the crazy world we now live in. A world we call VUCA MAX where the intensity of life has been boosted from 10 to 11. And it’s exponentially accelerating and increasing every day. Both the downside and the upside!

In our recent documentary, called IT’S VUCA: THE SECRET TO LIVING IN THE 21ST CENTURY, we went on a journey to discover the answers to “what you are going through” and to help the everyday person overcome the overwhelm and thrive today and tomorrow.

It features some of the world’s greatest VUCA experts: Generals, elite Navy SEALs, Delta Force commanders, Blue Angels, NY Times best-selling authors, neuroscience experts, leadership gurus, and world-renowned futurists.

VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. It was coined by the military in 1987 to explain the uncertainty of the 20th century and is a very apt way of explaining the conditions and environment of the early part of the 21st Century, in which we were witnessing Moore’s Law – every 18 months the power of technology was doubling –– and transforming the world.

It’s why the smartphone in your pocket is now a million times faster, a million times cheaper, and a thousand times smaller than a supercomputer on the 1970s.

Small wonder, VUCA provided a paradigm for the converging forces of technological disruption and quickly became an essential for leadership strategy in business and the military.

 

VUCA MAX vs. VUCA

When we started filming IT’S VUCA, right in the middle of Covid, we began to notice the speed of change pick up even more.

A phenomenon predicted by Ray Kurzweil of Google kicked in –– as technologies converge, we must factor in the extraordinary power of exponential growth.

AI, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and devices across all industries are exponentially leaping ahead and disrupting society.

As New York Times multiple best-selling author Steven Kotler said in the film “The future is moving faster than you think”.

Way, way, way faster than yesterday’s VUCA.

A world that was already insanely Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous is now on steroids.  Today, the convergence, speed, and disruption are MASSIVE, ACCELERATING, and EXPONENTIAL. Hence, VUCA MAX.

This Hockey Stick graph below says it all:

As a result, and as Ray Kurzweil famously predicts, we will see 100 years of growth in the next 10 years. So, buckle your seatbelts.  And if you think that is warp speed, in the next 100, it’ll be more like 20,000 of growth. For those of you who doubt, Kurzweil has a documented 86% accuracy rate in his technological predictions. Even if he’s off a few thousand years that’s still head-spinning.

It means every major industry on earth is going to be reinvented over the next 10 years. It means there’s more opportunity for people who can master these VUCA MAX conditions than ever before. Which is why, we’re going to see more wealth created over the next decade than ever before in history.

Unfortunately, our evolutional brains have a problem with exponential thinking.  We think linearly, 30 steps = 30 steps. Exponential growth doubles each step. Two (2) becomes four (4), and eight is around the corner; then 16, 32, 64, 128, etc. –– Thirty (30) exponential steps take you to the moon.  In the blink of an eye. change will race ahead beyond our comprehension and imagination.

 

FORK IN THE ROAD MOMENT

We are now at a pivot point in human history when change will challenge and push the envelope of our linear biased minds to master this new world.

What does this mean for individuals and organizations?

Firstly, we all need AWARENESS that VUCA MAX is skyrocketing.

As recent stats from the World Economic Forum inform us, since COVID, the crises, uncertainty, and risks have only accelerated. It’s a huge list – from geopolitical, economic, social and climate upheaval, to threats to democracy and to mental health deterioration.

But, along with these mega issues we must keep in mind the mega opportunities.

As my friend, futurist Gerd Leonard explains, “This is a fork in the road moment”.

This uncharted territory calls for a new frontier of human evolution in order to develop our highest human faculties including Vertical Knowing superpowers that are beyond knowledge like creativity, imagination, intuition, empathy, purpose, higher values, beliefs, and greater global consciousness.

Think about it. Your smart phone’s operating system continuously updates while you also upgrade you phone at least every few years. But some people haven’t upgraded their mindsets for decades. We need to keep upgrading our human algorithms as often as we do our technological algorithms.

Since the IT’S VUCA movie, people have inundated us with requests about how to apply the revelations in the film to create new models and stories to keep up with change, gain anti-fragile resilience, higher performance capabilities, foresight, and courage in their lives and leadership endeavors.

People want to know what to do. How do they prepare, upgrade their mindsets and potential in order to succeed in this new human evolution?

As we experienced during COVID, chaos, complexity, and uncertainty can stop us in our tracks and send us into a passive default victim mode. But that’s the opposite of what you need in a VUCA MAX world.

You want to be in creative mode, on the offensive, and super conscious of the abundance and creative opportunities ahead. You want to be able to handle more and more complexity without anxiety and doubt and become anti-fragile as you embrace change and the unknown.

To empower you to thrive in these demanding times, we’ve created an entire VUCA MAX program with specific tools and practices especially designed to help you embrace change and adversity and evolve into the greatest version of yourself.

In a VUCA MAX world, all of humanity is counting on us. And on YOU.

Image from the documentary “It’s VUCA: The Secret to Living in the 21st Century”.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chris Nolan is a multiple Emmy Award-winning director, creative director, marketing strategist, branding story expert and author. He brings 25 years of branding, writing, directing and production experience in both entertainment and marketing to his content production company, 90,000 Feet –– working for clients such Disney, Google and Toyota.

He recently directed and co-wrote with Mike Schindler, the documentary “It’s VUCA: The Secret to Living in the 21st Century”. Chris and Mike have followed up the film with a book and an extensive leadership and executive coaching program called VUCA MAX.

To preorder the book or for more information on the VUCA MAX program go to https://itsvuca.com or contact Chris at Chris@itsvuca.com.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading during Disruption
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Deeper Waters: 9-month intensive cohort experience linking leadership development with personal and spiritual work hosted by ILI Certified Facilitators: April Blaine and Dan Mushalko.

Join Terri O’Fallon’s 12-Month Immersive Group Experience applying the STAGES model to your life.  See how your life experiences have shaped you, understand your influence on those around you, and make peace with the evolving being that you are.  You can learn more about Terri’s work through her podcasts with Maureen.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.