Better you. Better me. Better world. The leadership imperative of our time.

For us dyed-in-the wool optimists it’s hard not to acknowledge the breath-taking improvements in all facets of our life. Take any great city of the West and the benefits of exponential advances in technology, open borders, open minds and the diversity that feeds all is evident to most who live and work there. But journey just a short distance into the countryside and too often the benefits are far less evident, appreciated, understood – or desired.

Following on the heels of bewildering setbacks for reason in the UK and Columbia, today we stand too close to a populist victory in Washington – alarming testament to an abject absence of leadership. Though it is inaccurate, unfair and unhelpful to characterize that vacancy as born of incompetence or bad-faith, it is nonetheless a systemic deficit we are witnessing – as seen from our classrooms, our boardrooms – and our legislatures.

Where to look for the example of leadership that will reframe its practice? To the same people, structures and institutions that have proven themselves so unable to anticipate and adapt to the techno-socio-politico and economic winds of change? To the 62 people who in 2015 possessed the same wealth as half the world (down from 388 in 2010 according to the most recent Oxfam Davos report)? Or to the aggregate of the 7,461,380,063 humans alive at this moment in writing? Is there any read of contemporary events that suggests that now is the inflexion point at which humanity will speak and act with one reasoned voice?

Instead, I suggest that we look to you. And to me. And to the very, very many like us who believe that what we do for ourselves, for our families, for our communities, our nations and yes – our earth – occurs on a single plane, not in silos. That to attend to one need is not a zero sum exercise, but that indeed, to attend to all in balance is the new leadership imperative.

Hence The Leaders Expedition, a new global non-profit organization. We believe that the narrative and practice of leadership must be reframed everywhere. That to do so in one society or in one sector means nothing given the unparalleled intimacy of the Internet of Everyone. Fearing the future, communities of shared grievance (real and perceived) are being formed, empowered and mobilized to spread a contagion of ignorance and intolerance. Embracing the future, we believe that only a diverse community of the accomplished – the builders, makers, operators, artists and activists – can through their example drive the process of reframing leadership.

What distinguishes our effort from so many others is our conviction that the challenge demands a long view, and the strength and capacity to sustain a historic expedition. So as with any community, the well-being of the member – personally and professionally – is a foundational pre-condition for the eventual goal that unites us – realizing the full potential of all our futures. Your need for a Return on Impact must first be addressed if we together are to transform ourselves, our communities and the sectors that shape our world.

Please visit www.leadersx.org to learn more about our new movement. If being a founding member resonates with you, please reach out to me discuss your nomination to our diverse and quite remarkable community.

If not us, then whom? If not now, then when?

 

10 C-Suite Jobs Of The Future

10 C-Suite Jobs Of The FutureWith questions about the future of middle management, many believe that corporations will soon beef up their core leadership teams, allowing them to keep foundational business knowledge close to the top while delegating the increasingly complex attributes of the modern organization to in-house, executive-level experts. These changes are expected […]

 

A World Without Work

A World Without WorkThe share of prime-age Americans (25 to 54 years old) who are working has been trending down since 2000. Among men, the decline began even earlier: the share of prime-age men who are neither working nor looking for work has doubled since the late […]

 

Future of employment: why there’s no need to worry

Future of employment: why there’s no need to worryMike Hayward: “It takes optimism to change reality.” We are heading full speed towards a world where you will want for nothing. If you read some of the top technology predictions by leading tech luminaries — think Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google — you’ll quickly see that […]

 

The Job Of The Future Is Training Robots To Work With Humans

The Job Of The Future Is Training Robots To Work With HumansDecades of science fiction movies have trained us to fear robots: They will enslave us. Wipe us out. Take our jobs. In real life, humans and machines are teaching each other how to do more together than they could do alone. Here are six companies where robot training is well under way and the humans are getting valuable tech skills in the bargain […]

 

The Great Decoupling: An Interview with Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

The Great Decoupling: An Interview with Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfeeMachines, it seems, can do almost anything human beings can. Now cars are even starting to drive themselves. What does that mean for business and employment? Will any jobs be left for people? Will machines take over not just low-skilled tasks but high-skilled ones too? If […]

 

The Science of Traffic: Can IoT Help End Congestion?

The Science of Traffic: Can IoT Help End Congestion?Like most great ideas, they appear simple and logical once they’re created.  INRIX  is no different. When the company was founded nearly a decade ago, drivers and departments of transportation relied on expensive sensors installed in a few roads to understand real-time traffic conditions. Now INRIX is at the […]

 

Je Suis Charlie: You (and we) HAVE To Rethink Leadership

The infrequent visitor to this blog might be puzzled by the an apparent lack of coherence found herein. In the ‘Digest’ section I share many of the timely articles/stories that have captured my attention – all more or less speaking to the scale and scope of profound disruption, the forces that are ever faster shaping our existence.  Elsewhere in ‘Posts’ one will find the sometime chronicling of my journey over the past few years, and my thoughts on the changing nature of leadership.  Still elsewhere, the diligent reader will see that I’m applying myself to the challenge and reward of establishing a CEO Forum to better explore ways of building 15 or so exceptional businesses though peer mentoring and collaboration.

Sadly, the coherence is to be found in the shadow of the tragedy we’ve all just witnessed this past week in Paris, where the forces of ignorance struck out at a society wrestling with just the initial consequences of profound politico-socio-economic disruption driven in turn by exponential technological growth.  I have previously observed that orthodoxy generally can be regarded as a reaction to change – be it in our religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism etc.), our cultures, our legislatures, our institutions, our organizations – and our businesses.  As the complexity of the world becomes more indecipherable to some, many within our societies are clearly falling back on simpler answer sets for comfort and guidance – a disenfranchised (or perhaps more accurately unenfranchised) population that is growing at an alarming pace.  That this is happening speaks to a leadership deficit that is equally alarming – in our religious leaders of course, but so to in the leadership of our politicians, our community leaders and our business leadership.  When young men (and now women) take up arms against their homeland, there are a great many ‘leaders’  who have failed them, and more to the point, their victims.

If you’ve read this far, you must – MUST – take a few minutes to watch Jeremy Howard’s recent TEDx talk in Brussels – The Wonderful and Terrifying Implications Of Computers That Can Learn.  If you do so you will see that the stuff of science fiction is shaping our world much, much faster than most of us realize – with the attendant consequences (good and bad) on the entities that we lead.  It is not hard to imagine that those seeking a simple and simplistic  understanding of life and their role within it will join the ranks of the ignorant to our collective peril.  In short, if we want a world where each human has the opportunity to be a constructive and participative citizen and is motivated (and incented) to be the best ‘them’ they can be, we need a leadership cohort that is much, much better at making sense of their environments, with the consequent capacity to apply enlightened leadership to the reality of profound disruption.

And who provide the greatest numbers to the global leadership cohort?  Those who run businesses.  Those who are responsible for inventing things, making things, making things better, organizing things, creating employment.  Like it or not, our businesses have been given a societal license to create and distribute wealth and power a prosperous, healthy world.  Our businesses, like it or not, are the engines of societal growth.  On the whole – and as a cohort – we’ve done a pretty inadequate job, taking refuge in the laissez faire POV that ‘it’s not my job’ to think of the bigger picture.  “My job is to  run my business”.  The reality is, if we as a society are to realize the benefits – for all citizens – of profound disruption, then its our business leaders who need to step up and assume the responsibility of true leadership, or else inevitably others will (that societal license I referred to is ‘use it or lose it’).  And where product life-cycles are increasingly measured in months, successful businesses are adapting to a world of constant flux – something government and public sector leadership are structurally prevented from doing.

Simply put, to defeat ignorance we need to create happy, healthy societies that engage their populations – failure to do so will have terminal consequences.

What does it mean to be such a leader?  I have no idea.  But I do know that it’s less about where you look for answers as much as it is with whom you frame the questions, and share in the exploration and discovery of objective solutions.  I know that leadership isn’t found in the self-serving ‘how to be a winning CEO’ lists/articles we are all subjected to, but rather that leadership is nurtured from within.  And I do know that the place to start is at the ground floor – within the businesses that drive our societies.  Every business has the capacity to be an incubator for equitable wealth generation and distribution.  Every leader has the capacity to be an exemplar of enlightened leadership – accepting that when they seek the mantle of leadership they are joining a global community of world makers – who are party both to the defeat of ignorance and the victory of enlightenment.

We are all Charlie.

 

 

From photography to supercomputers: how we see ourselves in our inventions

From photography to supercomputers: how we see ourselves in our inventions

Back in 2008, the technologist Ray Kurzweil estimated that the processing power of the human brain was in the region of 20 quadrillion calculations per second and that, as soon as we developed a supercomputer fast enough, simulating the brain would just be a problem of getting the software right. It was announced last month that the world’s fastest supercomputer, China’s Tianhe-2, can carry out almost 34 quadrillion calculations per second, meaning that, according to Kurzweil, we have the potential to simulate one and two-thirds of a human brain inside a single machine.

The idea that we could fit “one and two-thirds” of our brain function in a computer may seem a little flippant but it is not an unreasonable conclusion if you think of the brain as primarily a calculating engine. If this seems a little distant from your everyday experience, the idea that the mind is this “computation at work” is an assumption so embedded in modern neuroscience that it’s almost impossible to find anyone arguing for a non-computational science of the brain.  […]

 

Future of Work: What Skills Will Help Us Keep Pace?

Future of Work: What Skills Will Help Us Keep Pace?

From Elon Musk’s tweet that artificial intelligence may be more dangerous than nuclear weapons to the growing clamor of voices warning robots will take away our jobs, it is clear we are focusing more on the problems of AI, robotics, and automation than the solutions. While the problems are […]

 
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