Some mornings, I wake up and shake my head at the news headlines. Not just about the politics and the horrific results of climate change, but about the never-ending stream of new tech news. With an estimated 100 million startups in activity every year around the world and the breathtaking pace at which we experience our daily lives, it’s easy to understand why we can feel overwhelmed. There is a plethoric choice of technologies, competition is swarming and there’s relentless pressure on performance. Throughout this crazed existence, I have been on an earnest quest to make sense and to make sure that my professional life is fully aligned with my personal life.
In my book, Futureproof, How to get your business ready for the next disruption (Pearson Sep 2017), co-authored with Caleb Storkey, we felt it was important to decipher and curate the onslaught of new tech innovations. But, we also felt compelled to inject sense – at a personal level — into what we were doing and writing. While we carefully selected the twelve technological forces that will be most disruptive to your business, we are convinced that the biggest disruption lies in our mindset. In Futureproof, we identify the three key mindsets as Meaningfulness, Responsibility and Collaboration.
Why are we constantly running around so hard, getting up at all hours and, worse, forgetting the important people in our lives? If the answer to that question is “to succeed” or “to afford my standard of living,” it’s probably not just it’s the wrong answer, it’s the wrong question. The key to creating a sustainable business and navigating through the buffeting winds of change is to have a strong sense of your North and why your business is going to help make this world a better place. This sense of purpose provides meaningfulness and, aside from helping sustain your energy under the unrelenting pressures, it will be a guiding light by which to make the strategic choices you need to motivate your team and drive your business.
It’s not just about being socially or environmentally responsible, it’s about being personally accountable on four counts:
- Ethics – because the how does count when it comes to building trust and engagement
- Continuous Learning – because no one else is better equipped to know what you don’t know
- Personal Branding – because you can’t outsource your personality or your reputation
- Cyber Security – because no firewall is smart enough to protect against the rogue USB key that your kid gave to you to print out his essay at work
In each case, the responsibility lies at a personal level. When you read about the “moral blindness” as reported in the New York Times of many of the Silicon Valley companies in the headlines (or not yet as the case may be), the fault here lies in not bringing your personal values to work.
Collaboration – Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much
This lovely phrase (attributed to Helen Keller) could not be more appropriate today. In offices that have open space layouts, I have been unduly impressed by the staggering number of “broken” situations. The main culprit seems to be that the culture of sharing and collaborating was not installed or ensured in the first place. Making the switch to an open layout is, more often than not, motivated by the wrong causes: cost savings, trendiness, etc. Yes, open spaces can be a great solution, but with the wrong attitude, they often go sour. With some of the inner fighting that goes on within companies, you do wonder sometimes who the real enemy is! But, collaboration is not just about working together within the company. It needs to be beyond the company as well. With the diversity of services, platforms, languages and devices on offer, the way to leverage these disruptive forces generally always involves a cocktail of technologies. And, it’s near impossible to have all the necessary expertise in-house, at least at the outset. It is, therefore, frequently a far better idea to find and collaborate with partners outside to help master these technologies.
With each force — whether mindset or technology – at the end of each chapter, Caleb and I crafted what we call the Slice of the PIE (Personal, Internal & External), where you can immediately put in place a plan of action. After all, just like trust, it’s about taking words and ideas and turning them into behaviors and actions.
This piece was first published on Levo League but the site has been disbanded.