The Leadership Assessment Scan
Getting To The Future
Defining The Path
As we all know, getting anywhere first requires knowing where.
To be the most effective and successful on the trip means knowing how.
Knowing how is difficult when the conditions around us change all the time.
We call the change to each condition the dynamics.
Surfing the business dynamics is therefore the primary job of leadership in the future and also the best place to start.
Only by being able to to turn the dynamics to our advantage do we stand a chance of hitting our goals.
Only then can we achieve our vision. Only by knowing these things can we build our operations in the right way.
Only then will our people have the best opportunity to thrive.
Only with the right mindset and attitude will we be able to work this way and get prepared properly for the future.
The Leadership Assessment encourages us to pause and reflect on how we as the company leaders are thinking and responding to these things
Here’s one baseline for the world we are in. There are many. They are very likely to impact where your business is headed and will certainly inform where it needs to navigate.
Dynamics, Context Development & Future Scenario Exploration
In 10 years, 7 billion people will be seamlessly connected to each other and the entire knowledge of humanity. Q. What do we need to do now to take advantage of that?
Amazon is working on a version of its Alexa assistant that can understand emotions. Q. Armed with this technology (that can already call up our website) how should we design things differently?
A machine is predicted to join a corporate board of directors within 10 years. Q. How likely are we to embrace that idea and does the idea encourage or alarm us?
Gymnasts in the next Olympics could be judged not by people but by robots that instantaneously scan, plot and analyze the arc of the athlete. Q. It’s therefore totally likely that we can exploit that technology inside our business - how could/would we?
Children born today will very probably not learn to drive, nor visit a physician for a checkup when they are 20. Q. As they may we’ll be our consumers in the future are we prepared or capable of exploiting that notion? If so when should we start planning?
The concept of ‘going online’ will cease to exist, as we’ll be permanently and invisibly connected to an internet. This concept is an ever enveloping and ever-present fabric in our lives already. Q. Can we exploit this reality for the betterment of our customers and the wider society?
Our bodies will become our passwords, with biometric recognition ‘announcing’ our entrance to many environments. Q. Can we imagine new ways to develop our solutions that take advantage of these more seamless opportunities?
We’ll be surrounded by a cloud of data that can know our every preference, habit and behavior, and that tracks and scores aspects of our daily lives. Q. Can we imagine the future this proposes and develop solutions that are ethically and morally authentic and not exploitative or dystopian?
Distributed ledger software, or blockchain, will enable trusted transactions or contracts without any intermediary. Q. What are we doing to build these concepts into our future? Do we have the skills and capabilities or even interest in these ideas? Are we prepared to invest in these ideas? For how long?
Virtual and augmented reality will enable digital experiences that the brain can’t distinguish from real ones, for the price of an iPhone. Q. Do we have the appetite to engage in the creativity it will take to build applications of this nature in our own business?
Genomics, biosensing and bioinformatics will yield near-perfect information about our health. Q. Are there opportunities in our business that we can start thinking about that will position is to be involved constructively in this new world?
Business Dynamics Will Embrace The Major Trends Over 5-10 Years
Automation is expected to rapidly erode job security for entire categories of workers.
I’ve seen reports that expect automation to take nearly 50 percent of jobs and wreak havoc on value chains.
Retail businesses expect to see their physical business models disrupted by seismic shifts through digital and virtual technologies.
These technologies completely change what it means to shop - full stop.
Increasing transparency totally removes the opacity that exists in (siloed) vertically integrated businesses.
Scale-driven manufacturers will see 3D printing create decentralized and fragmented production, making many traditional factories obsolete.
Virtually no traditional business will be spared by exponentially accelerating change.
There’s never been such a high degree of possibility for innovation.
There’s significant opportunities for those who can envisage new solutions. For example blockchain applications will allow the goods we own to manage themselves to our budgets and preferences, ordering their own upgrades and repairs in advance.
Technologies are continuously improving our ability to predict future well-being, monitoring and intervening to improve it by the minute.
Emerging Themes That Need Tackling
People & Caring - Whether it’s leaders caring about the people or their businesses futures and the people caring about their work. How do we feel?
Understanding & The Marketplace - The business of the future is only about the meaning, the making and the managing. But first it’s the meaning and that’s marketing. Ignore excellence in that and die. Competitors are coming thick and fast and far more automated. So do we know where from - what’s our response and are we prepared to make significant investment in new knowledge and capability? Do we study the trends and markets in ways that inform our future product development and positioning? (((What is the businesses reaction to these trends in competition))) Can we predict the impact on the business of potential market disruption and innovation?
Partnerships & The Overall System - The future demands connection and meaningful engagement with others to deliver. Connecting with others to deliver overall capabilities is a strategy - what is our strategy?
Intelligent (enlightened) Investment - A major drawback for future strategy is the inability to shift investment quickly. And the investment is often far too narrow. The conversation quickly turns to risk and business cases and then there’s the mentality to overcome even when the case is made. The subtlety of this mindset problem shows up in tiny and often indiscernible ways. And then bang - the Business is out of the game!
Business as a Force for Good - we probably can’t use that phrase as that is the B Corps mission. But I think we need to bring in the importance of playing a role in communities, in society and environment. If not we risk tipping everything towards the more self serving ambitions, albeit more future proofed from a tech perspective
Enter The Leaders Self Assessment.
An invitation for leaders to reflect on things that we challenge them about.
Gathering perspectives, Understanding mindsets
We are keen to understand the leaders perspective of where they are against these things. Based on their answers we can provide a brief (automated) assessment of what this suggests and what we'd expect to see when we work with them. The first one would have to happen early - ahead of us doing any work with them - so that we don't influence them.
We could get leaders to retake this at different points in a program to see if their assessment of themselves was changing - and if so it would be good to find out what is changing that. In theory once we start facilitating discussions they will start to look at things differently.
The model for this one will be to ask them to rate themselves against the different questions that we ask. We will use Options in this way so no change to the structure. All new questions / options though.
Each of the following gets a score between 1 and 5 where 1 = very low and 5 = very high
ONE: All marketplaces are in a constant state of disruption.
New players, new business models, a wide choice of channels through which we can reach customers, completely different ways of delivering customers the experiences they want and expect, and one innovation after another. This a new and perpetually uncertain future.
“Is your business thriving in this world?”
KEYWORD: MARKET RELEVANCE
TWO: Technology developments are moving at the fastest pace we have ever witnessed.
Some of the big themes - Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Virtual /Augmented/Mixed Reality, Data Science and Blockchain (to name a few) are becoming fundamental to all businesses.
“How confident are you that you’re able to make intelligent decisions about how to exploit them for your business?”
KEYWORD: DIGITAL SAVVY
THREE: Data (and the insight it holds) is one of our most important assets.
Making full use of it means significant investment in the right platforms, capabilities and operating models so that the business can develop insights into a wide range of topics that help it to develop compelling products and services for its customers.
“To what degree are you data and insight driven?”
KEYWORD: DATA DRIVEN
FOUR: New technologies (and the data within) are the lifeblood of businesses today
It follows that they will be at the heart of any vision and strategy so that the Organisation is able to take advantage - as appropriate - of any developments.
“How big a role do technology and data play in your strategic thinking?”
KEYWORD: STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT
FIVE: So much of what we’ve done manually is now possible to automate.
Value chains are more complex and involve many more organisations with different capabilities and expertise. Everything needs to come together seamlessly and effectively for us to take advantage of opportunities and to let technology take the bulk of the burden.
“Are your systems designed for automation and interconnectivity?
SIX: Given extensive change to the way we can work (differently) we need to consider where we most need human intervention.
We can identify the situations where creativity is needed, where we need to design new systems of work and where we can make best use of all the data/insight that we now have access to.
“Are you recruiting the right skills to keep you business evolving with the times?”
SEVEN: Organisations and they way they are designed is changing.
The boundaries between ‘departments and divisions’ are increasingly blurred and less rigid. We are embracing the idea of broader collaborations, platforms and communities and working with diverse ecosystems. Partnership opportunities are more varied and dynamic than in the past.
“How easy do you find it to identify and leverage the right external talent and value?”
EIGHT: The seven dynamics above are leading many prepared businesses towards a more platform model.
Platformed models where designs are modular, where marketplaces are more open, where value is more distributed, where the consumer is far closer to the business and its process. These can be enabled but only where the business is prepared to embrace new technologies, new applications and new models.
“Where are you on the journey to a platform model?”
NINE: Without meaningful engagement (and the commitment of those who ultimately have to execute/deliver) - it’s hard, if not impossible, to realize a vision and implement the strategy
Everyone, especially the leaders in the future organisation will find the task increasingly complex to understand and challenging to deliver with so many more dynamics to take into account.
“How confident are you that you have their commitment?”
TEN: As leaders, you are the most important ambassadors and role models for your business.
What you do and say will typically drive the behaviors of others.
“Do you believe that the leadership presents the appropriate, consistent and positive image that is aligned to the company’s purpose, brand and values?”
ELEVEN: We are facing unprecedented challenges in society and our environment today.
These challenges are critical to our future as a planet and to the way society’s work. They are highly complex and interrelated. More and more leaders in businesses are waking up to the impact they have on these issues and the responsibilities they bear.
“Are you taking your business in an ethical, sustainable direction?”
TWELVE: Change is happening faster than ever and will only get faster.
The only way to keep up is to have structures and models in place that can easily pivot and adapt to new conditions, very much like nature around us.
“Are you equipped and able to lead your teams through rapidly shifting terrain?”
THIRTEEN: Investment is the raw material of any change and all progress.
Without investment in new technology, the correct talent, the changes to infrastructure, the repositioning of the business to new and broader markets the business will likely stagnate or perish completely.
“Is your business making the investments that are required to survive in the future?
KEYWORD: INVESTMENT MATURITY
FOURTEEN: The future leadership mindset is most likely to be the key capability to survive.
The attitude, mentality (the capacity) to operate in an uncertain world is vital. Leaders need to accept that previous experience may well be irrelevant in this new world. They need to practice an entirely different kind of thinking - a different way of thinking is paramount if they are to succeed in the very different future.
“Do you have the capacity to think differently enough to be successful in the uncertain future?”