We are about to conclude this year. The year of 2012
is almost over. The obvious question is have you achieved
your goals? Have you achieved your income goal? Have
you called the people you said you would call? Have
you lost the weight, or read the books or spent time
with loved ones? If you have, have you taken time
to celebrate? Be sure you and your coach are making
plans to maintain the momentum or making plans to
get back on track. Are you a leader or do you know
Rethinking the Future:
Leadership for the 21st Century
The industrial age of business was a system that operated
with linearity and logic— with vertical integration, synergy,
economies of scale, and hierarchical, command-and-control
modi operandi. This is giving way to new forms of outsourcing,
minimization of scale, an emphasis on profit centers, networks
and other diverse forms of organization. When an old paradigm
crumbles and a new one is not yet securely in place, we experience
frequent bursts of creative thinking. Accompanying this is
an equivalent degree of chaos and confusion, with feelings
of uncertainty. Moving into the 21st century amid such radical
change and confusion has proved difficult for business leaders.
We need to rethink our previous assumptions about where we
are going—in business, as well as our societal infrastructure.
This mandate is further underscored by a growing sense of
discomfort in the business community. What we have known and
depended upon for past successes is no longer sufficient when
preparing for the future.
Preparing for Tomorrow
How do we construct a framework to rethink the future? Many
leaders have written about the needs of the future, but they
do not offer a crystal ball. They do, however, provide a framework
for thinking about the decades ahead, posing questions that
we, as leaders, must consider. Three concepts emerge from
interviews and conversations with leading futurists, as revealed
in the book Rethinking the Future, edited by Rowan
- "The Road Stops Here." The
future will be different from the past, yet most of
us behave as though this is untrue. Today's leaders
steadfastly cling to the notion that what worked in
the past will work again. They also incorrectly assume
that when things go wrong, they can be fixed, thus returning
them to the way things are "supposed" to be. This, unfortunately,
is delusional thinking.
- "New Times Call for New Kinds of Organizations."
Organizations must navigate rough, uncertain business
terrains they've never before encountered. They must
be flexible and capable of handling the information
- "Where Do We Go Next?" Leaders
are finding it increasingly difficult to make confident
strategic decisions. They need a vision, destination
and point of view about the future, as well as a direction
to channel the efforts of the people with whom they
work. The problem with all of this? There is no roadmap.
Leaders will be forced to look ahead and explore for
themselves when making decisions.
We must challenge our assumptions at every
juncture in the decision-making process and unlearn the
past. This can be tricky, as assumptions are so ingrained
that we hardly notice them. Ask yourself:
Organizations as Biological Organisms
Why is the nature of competition changing so drastically?
- What is the new "network economy" How does it fundamentally
differ from the industrial economy?
- Is it better to be big and powerful or small and flexible
in the global economy? Should companies broaden their
product lines, or should they become more specialized
- Will technology make geographical location increasingly
- Will Asia's modernization shift the world's center of
economic, political and cultural gravity from the Western
to the Eastern world?
- As technology democratizes not just our workplaces,
but our societies and world, does it foreshadow the end
of government as we know it?
The new organization will resemble a biological
organism more than a machine. It will consist of a distributed
network of minds – people working and learning together, both
inside and outside company walls, with an invitation for customers
The challenge calls for radical change. Here are some questions
Many organizations are investing capital
in operational efficiency, as if it were a destination unto
itself. "Lean and mean" does not lead to success in the new
century. Winning organizations will stay ahead of the change
curve, creating new markets and reinventing the rules of competition.
How do we create a radically decentralized,
- Which principles will guide the successful
21st-century enterprise? Should top management give employees
a meaningful voice when it comes to ownership and running
- As corporations and their networks
become increasingly complex, how will we control them?
Will companies develop a bottom-up type of control, as
we find in a swarm of bees or flock of birds?
- Will the shift to a new management
model become a global phenomenon, or will there be different
rates of progress in distinct parts of the world?
Leaders will need to look forward, scan the landscape, and
spot trends and new opportunities. They will use advanced
technology to give them an interactive, real-time connection
with the marketplace, receiving feedback from sensors at the
Review the following questions so you can rethink leadership
and strategy for the 21st century:
Leaders are encouraged to think deeply about
the issues that will change how business is conducted in the
21st century. There are no easy answers. Serious thought and
discussion will help you stay in the game while the rules
are being changed.
Is your organization managing the present,
without thinking about creating the future?
- Who should be involved in developing
and implementing strategy?
- How important will technology be in creating
a competitive advantage?
- How can your company balance the need
for radical change with the need for strategic continuity?
When does it actually become necessary to change your
- What can you do to make the most of
emerging opportunities? How can you minimize risks?
What will be required to lead successfully
in a global economy?
- What can leaders do to ensure their corporate
culture will be a strategic asset, rather than a change
- Does the organization have a responsibility
to give people a connection with their purpose in life?
Do you know a leader who would find
these thoughts interesting and thought provoking? Please help
improve our world by forwarding this to your friends. Who
knows where these thought seeds might take root and grow.
Do you know someone who is ready to try coaching? I love to
give free "test drives" and help people find the right coach.
Enjoy 2013! Be sure you are taking good care of #1.
this to one of your friends, so they can become a subscriber
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For the last twenty-two
years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm.
Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal
coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality
of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits.
He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative
Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has
over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses
a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic
planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications,
Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business
development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores
followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers
and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry
has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers
Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International
and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.
Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit
boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest
Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive
Service Corps of Chicago. Jerrys ESC assignments have included
coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various
Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning
Pinney & Associates
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