One thing everyone agrees with is that the world is getting more complex, everyday! You don't have to look far outside and inside the business world to see evidence of our rapidly changing and interdependent world. This brings up the next question, what can leaders do to navigate this increasing complexity?
Here are three ways you can capitalize on complexity (image is from IBM's report):
- Embody creative leadership– Facing a world becoming dramatically more complex, it is interesting that CEOs selected creativity as the most important leadership attribute. Creative leaders invite disruptive innovation, encourage others to drop outdated approaches and take balanced risks. They are open-minded and inventive in expanding their management and communication styles, particularly to engage with a new generation of employees, partners and customers.
- Reinvent customer relationships– In a massively interconnected world, CEOs prioritize customer intimacy as never before. Globalization, combined with dramatic increases in the availability of information, has exponentially expanded customers’ options. CEOs said that ongoing engagement and co-creation with customers produce differentiation. They consider the information explosion to be their greatest opportunity in developing deep customer insights.
- Build operating dexterity– CEOs are revamping their operations to stay ready to act when opportunities or challenges arise. They simplify and sometimes mask complexity that is within their control and help customers do the same. Flexible cost structures and partnering capabilities allow them to rapidly scale up or down.
According to the IBM Global CEO study which is based on face-to-face interviews conducted with over 1,500 CEOs spanning 60 countries and 33 industries. IBM's CEO Sam Palmisano sums up his insights from the report as follows:
- The world’s private and public sector leaders believe that a rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting them.
- They expect it to continue — indeed, to accelerate — in the coming years.They are equally clear that their enterprises today are not equipped tocope effectively with this complexity in the global environment.
- Finally, they identify “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity.
And I liked how HBR framed up the new leadership imperative around creativity in this post, Why are Creative Leaders So Rare?. See the post for the eight tenants of creative leadership.
“To thrive in this turbulent world, Dr Kalam argued that corporations as well as nations desperately need what he calls “creative leaders,” a new breed of visionary and empathetic leaders who act less as commanders and more as coaches, less as managers and more as facilitators, and who foster self-respect rather that demanding respect.”
Underlying all of this is the ability for individuals and organizations to COLLABORATE. In our leadership research here at BLI, we see a major shift from Command & Control to Connect & Collaborate. The IBM study is itself an example of connecting and collaborating with their customers (and potential customers) as they engage over a thousand global CEOs in face to face interviews about the future.
You can download the full report at this landing page (registration required to get the full report) which I highly recommend!
Innovation = Creativity + Connection + Collaboration. Period.
What do you think?