Graeme Codrington spoke at 27 dinner about the third wave of [digital] technology. I won’t go much into the “waves” aspect of it. Think about the evolution of technology from, say, the industrial revolution. Consider the game changer of the assembly line in Ford’s factory. Revolutionary.
One of the things worth noting from Graeme’s talk was that innovation is only as valuable as the application of technology. That made me think about innovation in two senses:
1. Creation: this encompasses a completely new technology.
2. Application: This aspect of innovation is the one that normally brings about societal and cultural transformation. Technology is only as great as its application. Until someone can identify the relevance of technology by harnessing it, it cannot make any significant impact.
Another angle on innovation.
Exploration of the possibility technology presents is inherently forward looking. Graeme’s talk touched on the possibilities that might have seemed rather far-fetched for out time. For instance, augmented reality enabling low-level skilled workers to perform complex tasks. The driverless car could become the norm. In some places it might even be illegal to drive yourself.
An innovation frontier yet to be harnessed: a smart toilet that analyses your deposits and automatically updates your medical file. Perhaps even sends alert if something is wrong.
All the examples Graeme used made me think about how limited my view of the future has been. One of the dangers of the technological advancements of our time is belief that the only way to get to better or greater is to greater bandwidth for the Internet and faster processors. Not so.
In light of how technology is leaping, leaders need to be radical in their approach and outlook of the future. It is important to look beyond the technology and get to understand what it enables, or, will enable.
Foresight becomes a critical tool in any leader’s arsenal. It actually should be, but leaders need to be more radical.
Besides looking into what technology can enable, we must keep in mind the vacuums and opportunities technology creates. Graeme advocated understanding the “engine” of the new wave in order to maximize on it.
My prediction: one of the most significant things is really understanding, translating and manipulating data. Data is going to be the “blood” of everything going forward. In addition, to that, its security will be just as important. What does this mean?
It might just meant that the next most valuable people in organizations might just be data and security specialists.
Another implication, for leaders and their organizations is realizing that people will need to be multi skilled. The end of the pigeonhole era, where people where forced to only “be” one thing is seeing its final days. This means greater flexibility in individuals’ skillset.
This means we are going into an era of learning new skills. Those who lag will be left behind.
Flexibility is a critical ingredient for innovation. Innovation is the currency of securing the future [Click to Tweet]
Some of the advancements that will disrupt culture and the world, as we know it, are closer than we think. Leaders must not get too caught up in studying current trends that they fail to chart their own, radical paths into the future.
Leaders must not be afraid to be different. There will be criticism that will come with some changes that are deemed ahead of their time. There always is.
Leadership is inherently futuristic. It is about taking actions today that define and bring the future and people together. Thus, leaders must be looking at what technology presents and constantly looking look into what it means.
This means not waiting for people to adopt technology or find uses for it. Leaders, in this regard, need to lead. The danger of waiting for technology to be adopted by the masses first, means that by the time you are successful in making the necessary adjustments, you will be irrelevant.
The real value in technology is harnessing and contextualizing it. This the bedrock of innovation and great leadership.
[Photo Credit: dalbera]