Welcome to 2022! It’s a good bet this new year will fly by even more quickly than the past one just did. Recently a key retail executive forecasted that their industry will change more in the next five years than it has in the past 50. Another executive believes society will change more in the next 50 years than it has in the last 300.
And Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering and co-Founder of Singularity University, has said that there will be 14 internet-size revolutions in the next decade. Summing this up, a recent headline declared that, “We are approaching the fastest, deepest, most consequential technological disruption in history.”
Whichever way you look at it, things are shifting—fast.
Think about the visionaries and entrepreneurs actually building the solutions of tomorrow, including everything from on-demand retail to vertical farms. When you ask them how far into this new era we are, almost universally their reply is: “Only one percent.” Imagine then, where we will be 10 years from now? How about 50?
Major industries, from medicine to energy to retail to entertainment, are radically transforming, putting pressure on others such as manufacturing, construction, transportation, finance, food and education—frankly all of it. And many of the decisions we make during the next few years will have far reaching implications for decades (and generations) to come. What an extraordinary opportunity this presents.
How to enable better decision-making
To do so, however, we need to cultivate the mindset, capacities, and internal compass that enable much more sustainable and powerful decision-making. Through years of work helping organizations and teams embrace and build a thriving future, I have come to clearly appreciate that we don’t need to change what we think as much as we must change how we think.
Our conventional version of leadership – the traditional one practiced de facto in most organizations today – was built to fit the demands of the Industrial Revolution. It is ill-equipped for the challenges of our increasingly digital and quickly transforming world. Leaders have been taught to think and operate in centralized, siloed, hierarchical structures, to focus on efficiency and predictability in order to scale reliable, consistent delivery of products and services. These old approaches are now actually creating very real vulnerabilities.
As such, I propose that using the word “industrial” to describe this exponentially digital future is part of an outdated mindset we need to change. As we are moving away from a society of manufacturing and consumption to one of innovation and sustainable value exchange, I offer the “First Productivity Revolution” (1PR) as the more accurate description. This concept will put us on a much steadier, more inclusive, and sustainable path.
And this means we must ditch the 20th century playbook and old style of leadership that we’re used to, and instead adapt to today’s mandate for breakthrough, responsive action. We need to shift to a dynamic set of practices that support continuous learning, experimentation and innovation and which are committed to human-centric innovation, regenerative solutions, and the creation of long-term value.
Why? Well aside from losing relevance, applying old mindsets to new, exponentially more potent technologies can create damage at a scale we never considered. The consequences of 21st-century mistakes will be even more difficult to clean up than the 20th-century ones we are dealing with now.
So how can we get better at discerning what is necessary evolution versus what we fear are business-ending decisions? Thriving under changing conditions demands we cultivate a mindset that can sense and respond more quickly, act with greater confidence in the unknown and be guided by a clear purpose. Last year I introduced this as “Leadering,” which reframes the practice of leadership from a static noun to an active verb.
I now have a book full of examples, statistics and stories demonstrating that—by thinking differently—we can use the power of these advances to build a better, safer, more inclusive “next.” Visionary leaders are showing us that that caring can replace “winning at all costs” as the path to continued relevance and profitability. That to enable radical change, we need radical solutions. And that accepting radical solutions requires a radical openness of mind—and heart.
A new mindset in action
The future needs and demands that we approach all we do now audacity and ingenuity as well as by compassion and humility; the innovations and technologies of the future will demand nothing less.
We are standing in a unique moment in time in which we have huge opportunities to impact our world in far-reaching ways. If we are only around one percent of the way into this next economic, technological and cultural evolution in productivity—and many of the things we thought we couldn’t do we’re realizing we can—then it’s time to dive in and create the future we really want.
Let’s ensure we are taking good care of the planet and each other. Now is the time to put care and curiosity into action and build a future we are really proud of. For everyone.
Thank you for all you are each doing. I wish you an extraordinary and safe new year!
Strategic Futurist, Speaker, Gatherer and Founder of Play Big Inc.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org