This afternoon Ellen Leanse of Eastwick Communications and I were talking about change. Change in how brands speak with customers. Change in how social media diffuses information. Change in how marketing effectiveness is created and measured.
We mused whether the pace of market and technology disruptions have accelerated to the point where there is no there. Where no longer can we say, “we are setting out to accomplish X” and create a meaningful plan to achieve this.
“North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa. Don’t forget Austraaaa-lia. Don’t forget Antaaaarc-tica,” chants my 5 year old to a tune learned in Kindergarten. Our little guy knows the shapes of each continent, but his 8 year old brother knows those coastline shapes will change – not 15,000 years from now, but by the time he’s an adult and an architect or comedian or whatever. He can see almost anywhere on Google Earth, but he does not expect anywhere to look the same by the time he gets there.
What will it mean to lead people utterly without the expectation of continuity?
We can no longer say, “do this, and it will lead to that.” We must rethink the fundamentals of how leadership is done.
- How will leaders inspire and align action, without committing to an unknowable future?
- How will networks of people collaborate when their common objectives are a moving target? (I suggest Nilofer Merchant’s The New How for insight into collaboration across organizational levels and boundaries.)
- Without the carrot of defined career levels and accompanying goodies, how will people be motivated to invest in building skills and depth of knowledge early in their careers?
- How will customers know what to expect from us?
As Ellen and I talked we centered on what we can say, roughly “We know who we are and what matters to us. We intend to engage a certain set of people in conversations and a stream of value. We will stay fully awake and nimble in serving them.“
I’d be glad to hear your thoughts.