Leadership in the Transformation Decade
In a column I wrote on 01-01-10 – interesting digital date- I called 2010-2020 the Transformation Decade. Not only did that blog post blow up in the blogosphere and Twitter, the underlying concept of it has become a highly useful metaphor for leadership in the years since. When leading corporate retreats or speaking to groups of CEOs, I find that transformation is a perfect metaphor for these times.
The dictionary definition of transformation is a “change in form, appearance, nature or character.” This means that in the decade 2010-2020 most of humanity’s institutions and thought will change in form, appearance, nature or character. So, if you are a CEO and you are not in the fully aware business of transforming your company, you may not have a company in 2020. If the entire world, your market segment and your competitors are in full out change and you are not, you put yourself and your employees at high risk.
If you are a CEO and you are not in the fully aware business of transforming your company, you may not have a company in 2020.
We live in a time when the speed of change has accelerated so much that it has become environmental. We live in an environment of change. To lead in this reality by definition one has to embrace forward thinking change.
In the Shift Age, and in the Transformation Decade, a company successfully brings about change by initiating collaborative, on-going reorganization. The entire company must be involved in a collaborative way. No longer can a CEO take suggestions, brainstorm with her board or strategy officer and then issue a dictate on a new direction; the entire company needs to be included as not only will full buy-in then occur, but there are always employees, particularly in product development and customer relations, who have insights that will prove invaluable to the entire enterprise. Change must be collaborative.
It must also be on-going change. A CEO or Managing Director cannot lead some major change initiatives and then smugly sit on those changes for a couple of years. It is not essential to have reorganizational change going on each day, but if there is a three to nine month period where it does not occur, in that short period of time, complacency could settle in. At the end of any year, leaders must now be able to look back on the prior twelve months and be able to see enterprise evolution and change.
A leader must, every day, think about how she is going to lead a change in form, appearance, nature or character.
Forget the three-year strategic plan! Back in the 20th century when change was incremental year-to-year, a three-year plan might have been an acceptable road map with some chance for success. No longer. Just think back to 2010 and think of all the changes that have occurred. 2G to 3G to 4G wireless connectivity, tablets and touch screen phones, massive debt reduction, on-going slow economic growth due to the Great Recession and Globalism. How could a three-year plan possibly stay relevant?
So, in the Transformation Decade of 2010-2020 a leader must, every day, think about how she is going to lead a change in form, appearance, nature or character. Both survival and success are dependent on doing so.
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