The Future of Your Business:
What You Need to Do Now

Future-of-BusinessI’ve been reading about what it takes for people to see what will be needed for the future of business. What can we do to open our minds to innovation? How can we be better prepared for all the rapid changes in technology and the way business is done? These three previous posts discuss different issues:

Every day, machines are getting better at doing our thinking for us. We’re a long way from being managed by robots, but then again, some say that machines will be capable of human-like interactions by the year 2030. Today, resources like Watson Anlaytics, Google Predict, and DataRobot are helping companies leverage data to provide insight to their customers. Read More »

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The Future of Work: Global Connectivity

Future-of-Work-ConnectivityWhat will the future of work be like for you? Thinking about the future is hard, mainly because we’re so mired in the present. One thing’s for sure, we’re all going to have to develop an eye for new trends if we’re going to survive. The pace of game-changing innovations is only accelerating. No matter what industry you’re working in, you can expect it to change radically over the next five years.

What can leaders do to develop an eye for future trends? We need to break out of our thinking routines and assumptions for one thing.

Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, observed that decision makers get stuck in a memory loop and can only predict the future as a reflection of the past. He labels this dynamic the “narrative fallacy” – you see the future as merely a slight variation on yesterday’s news.

This means that to be able to break away from this thinking trap, we need to question all assumptions and engage in extreme brainstorming. An interesting book on seeing future trends is Future Smart: Managing the Game-Changing Trends that Will Transform Your World by Dr. James Canton.
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Five Priorities for Future Leaders

Future-Leaders

How will future leaders be successful? How will business be conducted and what leadership development priorities will be required for future leaders to succeed?

To be sure, some leadership qualities will always be important: intelligence (emotional as well as cognitive), confidence, ability to articulate and inspire a vision, ability to motivate, unfaltering optimism, perseverance, resilience, and strategic decision making.

Recent company scandals have also shown that leaders need to have moral and ethical values to make difficult and even unpopular decisions that are beneficial to stakeholders in the long term.

In Global Leadership: the Next Generation (Goldsmith, M., Greenberg, C. L., Robertson, A. & Hu-Chan, M.; FT Prentice Hall, 2003), more than 200 executives were selected for their high potential for future leadership from 120 international companies. They were interviewed about what key competencies they felt were essential for leaders in the future: Read More »

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Leadership Skills for the Future:
Stay Ahead of the Robot Curve

Artificial-Intelligence-Leadership-SkillsCould you be replaced by a computer? Just because your leadership skills involve managing people and making decisions, don’t think you can’t be replaced by a machine. The competition between people and machines is not merely science fiction plot.

In February 2011, a three day marathon Jeopardy! game show pitted IBM’s “Watson” computer against two human champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Watson is an artificially intelligent computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language. It had access to 200 million pages of structured and unstructured content consuming four terabytes of disk storage including the full text of Wikipedia.

Even before the emcee Alex Trebec finished reading the clue, Watson’s 2,880 parallel processor cores began to divvy up the workload. At 33 billion operations per second, it could search 500 gigabytes of data, the equivalent of one million books, in the blink of an eye. It could also hit the buzzer in less than eight milliseconds, much faster than a human hand. Read More »

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How to Develop Better Noticing Skills

Noticing-SkillsOne of the things I try to do when coaching leaders is to help them to see what they can’t see, to develop their noticing skills. Everyone is prone to narrow vision when they are “standing too close to the blackboard.”

Harvard Professor Max Bazerman’s book The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See (Simon & Schuster, 2014) talks about how common it is for leaders to operate with blinders on. It’s really caused me to think deeply about how leaders often miss key data for decisions – either by ignoring it – or because of influence by others and attention to the wrong things.

In fact, some of the biggest failures could have been averted had people in key positions used their noticing skills: Read More »

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Leadership Decisions: Why We Don’t Notice
What We Need to Notice

Leadership-Decisions-Slippery-Slope

Why don’t we notice what needs to be noticed when making key leadership decisions? I’ve been fascinated by Harvard Professor Max Bazerman’s book The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See (Simon & Schuster, 2014). It’s really caused me to think deeply about how leaders often miss key data for decisions – either by ignoring it – or because of influence by others and attention to the wrong things.

If we’re going to be successful leading organizations we can’t afford to be narrow-focused. As I posted previously, getting leadership decisions right hinges on noticing what we need to see, even when it’s inconvenient.

When a situation doesn’t seem quite right, we cannot afford to ignore data that flies in the face of commonly accepted values. This is not the time to accept insufficient evidence, refuse to raise questions, be unwilling to badger people or avoid upsetting the apple cart.

Silence and complacency promote corruption. Nonetheless, we tend to wait. We hope we’re not being overly sensitive or alarmist. We trust that others will notice and speak up for us. Read More »

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Leadership Decision-Making:
The Problems with Oversight

Decision-Making-OversightThe best leadership decisions are never made in isolation. In public companies, government offices and non-profits, regulation and oversight is required to ensure maximum outcomes for all stakeholders. But auditors and boards of directors often fail in their designated purpose.

In principle, regulatory boards are charged with overseeing leadership decision making. In reality, they often take direction from the leaders who appointed them in the first place. Boards with even the most skilled, highly educated and experienced members all too often fail to meet their fiduciary responsibilities.

In The Power of Noticing, Harvard Professor Max Bazerman presents case studies of oversight irregularities that have had catastrophic outcomes, along with revealing why this will continue to happen. Read More »

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Business Decision-Making:
The Rule of WYSINATI

Business-decision-makingWhen it comes to making successful business decisions, what you see is rarely all there is. Harvard Business School Professor Max Bazerman writes about this in his book, The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

I’ve been posting about common decision-making errors here and here, and how leaders can improve the skill of noticing.

More than a decade of research shows that when leaders take no notice of critical, readily available information in their environment, catastrophic outcomes can occur. This happens when they have blinders on, focusing on limited information they’ve predetermined to be necessary to make good decisions.

Making successful leadership decisions require vigilance. Leaders often fail to notice when: Read More »

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Business Decisions: What Are You Not Noticing?

Business-DecisionsAs a leader, you’re responsible for making key business decisions each day. But how confident are you in your ability to notice all pertinent information?

If you’re like most leaders, you probably believe your perception skills are keen. As convinced as you may be, it’s possible that you’re overestimating your aptitude.

Leaders often fail to notice when they are obsessed by other issues, when they are motivated to not notice, and when there are other people in their environment working hard to keep them from noticing. ~ Harvard Business School Professor Max Bazerman, The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

What’s in front of you is rarely all there is. Read More »

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Business Decisions: Is There a Gorilla on the Court?

business-decisionsWhen you’re charged with making important business decisions, how good are you at noticing all details? If you play a sport, you’ve probably trained yourself to watch the ball carefully and to predict where it’s going. But do you focus so intently you miss other important data?

In several popular YouTube videos, people are entertained by social science experiments on noticing skills. In one, you are asked to watch a basketball game and tally up the number of passes made.

But the real question is not whether you get the number of passes correct, but whether you notice a man in a gorilla suit walk onto the court. (In earlier research, this was a woman with a red umbrella.) You can search for these experiments on YouTube with the terms attentional blindness, selective attention, or gorilla on basketball court. Read More »

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