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Leading in a Spiderweb World: Do You See the Connections? (Part 1)

June 14, 2010

Updated July 14, 2011

In an earlier post I talked about the forces of change, how events are more predictable than people wish to admit and the role of ethical leadership during tumultuous times. Today, I want to look at some of the main drivers of change and their inter-connectedness.

I’ve listed eight main change drivers, but they’re not definitive by any stretch. However, they account for a significant portion of the major issues and challenges facing government policy makers and corporate leaders. These eight drivers will be discussed over five separate posts.

1. Technology-enabling information sharing: Giving everyone a voice
2. Global Labor Markets: Bytes vs. Brains
3. Footloose Companies: Loyalty? What Loyalty?
4. Emerging Markets: Consumers on Steroids
5. Ageing population: Boomers Heading to the Walkers
6. Fiscal Overload: Time to Pay the Piper
7. Geo-Political Instability
8. Mother Earth: Oh Yeah, What about Stewardship for the Planet?

By understanding these drivers and how they’re intertwined, those wishing to exercise leadership in their organizations and communities, regardless of positional level, will have a solid foundation from which to contribute constructively to decision-making.

Today, we’ll look at the first one dealing with technology.

Technology-enabling information sharing: Giving everyone a voice

The democratization of the information sphere is of course not perfect. China, for example, censors what its citizens may access on the Internet. And then there’s North Korea. Google took the high road, in a way, by exiting China, though it had other strategic interests at stake, such as the desire not to have its systems continuously hacked.

A major reason why the Soviet Union finally imploded 20 years ago was the increasing availability of information combined with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s Glasnost (which included openness to freedom of speech). It was due less to President Reagan’s militaristic overtures, one of the popular myths among Right-Wing Conservatives.

In an amazingly short span of time social networking websites have exploded, leaving the corporate world trying to figure out how to Tweet in a meaningful (read profitable way). Facebook’s growth in just the past two years has been extraordinary. The professional networking site LinkedIn.com has become a much sought after site for corporate recruiters. The list goes on.

I recall owning a three watt Motorola bag phone in the nineties. My wife and I bought it so that we could stay in touch with our four kids while doing long distance commuting to work. If I were to show that to a Gen Y or Gen Z person today they wouldn’t believe that this was a state-of-the art cell phone not much more than a decade ago. Something for the Smithsonian. Indeed, the 37th anniversary of the cellular phone was just celebrated. Marty Cooper, who invented the first 2.5 pound cell phone, was recently interviewed on CBS 60 Minutes. Check it out.

Today, we’re awed with the power and compactness of wireless devices and the mind-numbing features they possess. That’s right, mind-numbing. As Marty Cooper says, current cell phones don’t do any application especially well since the engineers become too enthralled with the bells and whistles. I’m personally waiting for one that will toast my favorite bagel.

These devices, though a perpetual nuisance on the bus or train when having to listen to someone scream at their soul-mate, have also enabled real-time assistance when crimes are being committed. Their built-in cameras have captured our elected officials in compromising situations. They allow people to serve customers faster, and help job hunters nail that elusive job.

The growth of the Internet has been a double-edged sword. For example, while it has been a huge boost to researchers and helped to expose fraudsters, it has also reciprocally created a serious caveat emptor (buyer beware) when it comes to digesting news or buying goods and services.

As much as this is an exciting time in the accelerating growth of social media technology and the devices that permit the sharing of information anytime, anywhere, we’re very much in the infant stage in how we process the data deluge. This is one of Marty Cooper’s points in his CBS interview.

Where we’ll be with social media technology and tech gadgets in 2020 is anyone’s guess. Beware the futurists; they’re usually wrong. But pay attention to the emerging trends and how you can both contribute and benefit.


The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge.

– Stephen Hawking


Next Post: Global Labor Markets–Bytes vs. Brains


Click here to download my new e-book: Workplace of the Future.


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2014 4:14 am

    Very nice article. I definitely appreciate this website.
    Stick with it!

Trackbacks

  1. Footloose Companies–What Loyalty? Consumers on Steroids (Part 3) « ChangingWinds
  2. Global Labor Markets-Bytes vs. Brains (Part 2) « ChangingWinds

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