Innovate Columbus – Innovation Forecast

I attended the Innovate-Columbus event recently and the speaker Bob Johansen, from Institute for the Future, struck me as particularly interesting.  He is a ten-year forecaster and author of Get There Early – Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present, and Leaders Make the Future – 10 New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World.  A forecast is a provocative story from the future that provokes insight in the present.

He offered the following process to help us understand how to use the work of a futurist:

  1. Gain Foresight by sensing provocative futures
  2. Gain Insight by making sense of the foresight to inspire strategy
  3. Take Action

Because we live in a time of extreme uncertainty with the rate of technological change combined with the level of global interconnectedness, following a futurist gives me tools to prepare for different possible futures.  I generally create 3 – 4 scenarios, a best case, a likely case, a worst case, and possibly a wild card or highly unlikely event happens.  A skilled futurist will take a specific approach to scenario creation that is a combination of art and science and well beyond the scope of a blog post.   Understanding future forecasts is a key skill for an innovative leader.

Following are some of his forecasts:

  • Digital natives will create a very different world (young computer savvy kids)
  • Reciprocity based innovation in “the cloud” will be the biggest faith and innovation opportunity in history
  • Technology is just an amplifier.  What is most important:  they kind of organizations and super organizations that will become possible
  • New large scale commons will kindle more innovation and more people will get engaged
  • The more connected we become, the safer, the more powerful, the more free we will be – but the more dangerous it will be
  • Reciprocity based innovation will require faith in the future:  You will have to give things away in the faith you will get more in return
  • The next big economic driver will be biology and the global well-being economy

I would like to respond to the item in the list that struck me as most interesting personally, reciprocity based innovation.  While I have not used this term, as he described it, I do this in my life in a small way.  This blog is a reciprocity based tool.  I am providing information free of charge with the hope that it leads to future business for me.  Additionally, it is a way to return value for value in that I get a great deal of information from credible blogs.   So as a person who runs a business, I need to ask the question, how will this trend impact my business?  Can I gain an advantage?  If I do nothing, will I be hurt?  What scenarios will I build to incorporate this concept into my business?  One thing I know, a colleague writes a very successful blog and he recently got a book deal based on his writing.  He gave the information away and is now also able to sell it.  If you have not seen it, check out the thoughtLEADERS  blog.  I write and publish papers in an online leadership journal, Integral Leadership Review.  One possible scenario is that I will get great exposure and this will help meet my business goals.

In an era where many people struggle to find the larger meaning in life, beyond work and family and building a retirement account, the idea that reciprocity allows me/us to create a greater sense of meaning.  The flip side, what if the investment of time and talent does not come back to me in the way I want it to?  That could be one of my scenarios – people read my articles and think I do not know what I am doing or that I am too academic.

To keep the example short, we will work with these two scenarios.  Given what I have written, I realize I need to gather the feedback of my readers and learn from their opinions to ensure my investment in writing papers creates a positive impact on my business.

Do you see any trends in this list that resonate with you?  How do you use the data to make better decisions in your personal and professional life?

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative leader?  If so, take this free on-line Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale.  If you are looking for tools to help develop you ability to be an innovative leader, check out the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook.  Metcalf & Associates offers assessments, coaching and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative.

Photo credit:  Hobo

Mike Sayre – Leading with Purpose

In our ongoing series of blog posts about Inspirational Leaders, this post features Mike Sayre talking to a Capital University MBA class. Mike’s sense of vision and professional integrity has long provided a role model for many in the community. He is a regular speaker in my MBA class sharing his experiences with these emerging executives. Following is an excerpt from his inspirational presentation in his own words:

I only have one major point to make tonight…if you want people to follow your lead in and out of turbulent times, you need to lead consistently and decisively no matter what your business or the economy throws at you, and that all starts with tying why you work to why you live and your own personal purpose in life.

In March of 2006, I was asked to step up from my CFO role and take a bigger role in the company as its CEO, working arm and arm with the founder and chairman to develop and implement a new strategy for profitable growth. This was my first CEO job. And for all of my 25+ years of leadership experience starting and growing companies, I was not totally prepared for my new role! Somebody else had always been the CEO! Well, I learned an awful lot over those four years, in and out of turbulent times, while we achieved record earnings, expanded our operations into Europe and Asia and built a high performance organization highly acclaimed by some of the largest electronics manufacturing companies in the world!

Why was I unprepared and what did I do to successfully lead the organization in these unprecedented achievements for PDSi? I began to get it when my executive coach back in 2006, told me “You can’t lead others if you can’t lead yourself.” Then he pushed me, kicking and screaming, into writing my deepest feelings, thoughts and beliefs all out.  In several 2-6 hour intervals over a couple of months, I wrote, unfettered by form and content, about why I lived and why I worked…pages and pages, streaming thought processes that no one will ever read. This was for me and no one else and I gained clarity about my personal purpose I never had before.

Weeks after, I was asked about a mission and vision for the company. So I used the clarity that had come from my writings and to develop a simple philosophy card. The card spelled out a mission to improve the lives of our shareholders, customers, associates, suppliers and communities in which we live, a vision to be the best in the business at developing collaborative technology solutions for leading technology companies, and operating guidelines based on the Golden Rule of treating others like we would like to be treated. This process of writing it all out and then organizing and reducing it all down to fit on a small card absolutely aligned my work and my life and gave me a sense of my own personal purpose I never had before.

My basic DNA did not change! However, my level of understanding and passion about why I lived and worked, how we should work together and with others, giving back to the community and the importance of the alignment between my life and my work (a lot less balancing!) became very clear.

That understanding and passion made me ever more fully committed to my life and to my work as part of my life. I immediately empowered myself to prioritize work and family time, events and challenges as time and events in my life without trying to constantly “balance” between my work and my life! Sometimes work gets more time than family and sometimes family gets more time than work…it depends on what’s going on, but I look at it all as my life, not my life and then separately my work.

Another advantage of the card was that I/we could use it as a tool for consistent communications and decision-making. “Treating others like we’d like to be treated” had a way of making very difficult decisions much easier and quicker, taking less of a toll on the rest of my life.

So if you’ve never done it before, set aside meaningful time (ASAP) and fully answer in writing the following questions, without concern for form and content (just write and spend some time on it…):

  • Why do you live? Then keep asking yourself why you gave that answer and continue writing your answers in great detail (a minimum of 5 “whys”) until you get to the real core of your beliefs and motivations.
  • Why do you work? Same process with the minimum 5 “whys.”

Then, if you can’t tie why you are living to why you are working today, figure out how you get those two more in alignment! Give your life and your work more meaning and collapse them into one co-mingled set of priorities and challenges, rather than constantly striving to “balance” between them…be committed to BOTH and prioritize accordingly.

Do you have a personal purpose statement?  Our leadership coaches are available to help you explore your purpose and principles.  This is often the fist step in our leadership coaching process.

End of Year – What Next?

As we approach the end of the year and you do your end of year analysis, look at the balanced scorecards, look at the trends for performance of various sorts – how did you do?  Did you meet your goals?  Exceed your goals?  Were your goals even relevant at the end of the year or had the game changed?  Were you so busy you did not even have time to think about goals?

One of the important qualities of successful leaders is taking time to reflect.  I know – most of us are running so fast and hard this seems impossible yet it is critical to your success and mine.   In preparation for my goal setting process I have done a few things?

  • Evaluated my performance against key measures this year – was happy with the results
  • Evaluated how I feel about the year outside of the numbers  – feel happy with my personal growth, development and general well being
  • Looked at the emerging trends to determine what I need to do to be successful next year – feel prepared to start the year on a positive note

Top trends:

  • Organizational complexity is increasing even more – within companies and between companies and in the business environment
  • Having a great team is critical to organizational success
  • Trust is critical to working with a team
  • Breakthroughs will come from using a comprehensive approach that takes into account: what I stand for as a leader, how I behave, the culture we are creating for our organization, the systems we put in place and how well they are aligned to deliver on our strategy
  • Monitoring trends will remain important to staying ahead of the game – Situational awareness continues to be critical
  • Managing cash flow matters – there is still volatility in ability to access cash and at what cost

With those trends in mind:

  • What do you need to do to shore up your foundation in this complex environment?
  • What do you need to keep an eye on to manage your risk?
  • Where can you innovate (in your thinking as well as your processes) to drive outcomes?
  • What do you need to invest in to create strategic advantage?

With those questions in mind, what are your goals for 2011?

Photo Credit:   By lululemon athletica