Business in the digital age has become a seemingly never-ending series of “next big things.” Whether it’s e-commerce, search engine optimization, social media, big data or something else, the pattern of firms struggling to adapt is as predictable as Gartner’s hype cycle.
Many times when people walk out of a meeting and look happy it is because they have achieved consensus and can now move forward. I always question if this is a sign of a good outcome or not. While having everyone on the same page and sharing the same vision is without question a good thing, arriving on a strategic decision based on consensus may not.
It’s easy to get depressed about the world these days. Watch the news for five minutes or more and you’re bound to see signs of the apocalypse. War, poverty, climate change, a new pandemic, there always seems to be new trouble arising somewhere that threatens our health and security.
Jeremy England, a rising star in the world of physics, has made quite a stir with his ideas about the meaning of life. In a nutshell, England argues that while disorder in the universe tends to increase over time, living things harness energy around them to create order from randomness.
In 1904, the great sociologist Max Weber visited the United States. As Moises Naim describes in The End of Power, travelling around the vast country for three months, he believed that it represented “the last time in the long-lasting history of mankind that so favourable conditions for a free and grand development will exist.”
Almost all companies at some point face some serious crisis. Sometimes it is clear that the end is near or coming and no one can see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least not until you see it. Sometimes you know there is a way out but not sure how.
In a classic Harvard Business Review article, Abraham Zaleznick contrasted two very different styles of authority. Managers, he argued, take a rational approach and seek order and control. Leaders, on the other hand, are more emotionally driven and seek to drive change.
These days, the future comes at us faster than ever before. We live in an age of accelerating returns, in which technological advancement moves at an exponential rate. In ten years, no industry will look like it does now. In twenty years many, if not most, of today’s jobs will be completely obsolete.