Focus and Direction

The new convergence of technology is causing an avalanche of information to arrive on our doorstep every day. The skill of knowing how to deal with important or urgent will become even more critical in the life of every human being. Do I read my emails? Do I answer calls? Do I write blog entries? Do I read my Google alerts? My magazines and newspapers call daily. How much information can we take in and what is important to retain? Then there is still the human interaction. It will take real discipline and clear understanding of what road one is on to ensure that we do not all become basket cases with much information but of no use to any human being or organisation!!!!!!
A clear path for leaders when you are deep in the forest

One of the real challenges leaders face in business is seeing with helicopter vision. This is often very difficult when you are busy and involved with many projects and challenges at an operational depth within a business. A leader needs to find the time and space to remove themselves, understand the landscape and have enough time to think through the right possibilities for the business. We may often need to have a coach or outside strategist who questions our thinking and helps us to see clearly. I have experienced many leaders who never make the time to get out of the forest and lead all their followers into darkness.

The parable of the dinosaur and the chameleon

In the late 1940’s and 50’s after the Second World War a whole bunch of babies were born. These babies formed part of a large species called “baby boomers”. They caused a lot of upheaval in the world. Their parents were happy and excited about life after the war. Business was booming and the Americans even put a man on the moon. These children were growing up with a positive attitude and even believed that they could change the world. Schools and universities were built to accommodate this growing group. Radio was the main medium as they grew up. They would lie in bed at night and listen to programs like “squad cars” Television became part of life for some of these children but computers were not part of their vocabulary. These babies morphed into workers that believed they could change the world. Work became an obsession and for many this meant working long hours, putting work first on their priority list and mortgaging their families. During this stage of life, computers the size of houses started to appear and very quickly started to change the way people communicated and worked. The pace of this change has been fine for some but for most of these boomers it has been difficult to keep up and understand exactly how this is changing their world.

Otto von Bismarck brought in a great concept that many boomers have been looking forward to. After 40 years of working they can relax, play golf and enjoy all the money that has been invested for them over the years. They were all very sad in 2008 when these investments seemed to have disappeared down a deep black hole. They are not sure what to do now? Should they keep working and let go of the dreams? They are not so happy at work because they have X and Y young snots who seem to be able to work from a small mobile piece of technology and seem to not have any respect for the way work used to be. Why is change happening so fast? Why can’t things just stay the way they were? These young snots also seem to be happy to work for a few hours and then want to go home. There is a lot of tension in the office and they call us part of a “dinosaur” species. Are we becoming obsolete and bound for extinction?

There are some boomers who seem to be still doing ok. I am not sure why they have managed when most of us are so unhappy. They seem agile, move fast, have a tongue that flicks and catches a sense of all the wonderful things that the younger generation is experiencing. They are learning about some strange new media called Facebook and Twitter and engaging with these young snots. They seem to see the future as a place full of opportunity. They talk about working much longer than they had planned because they love what they do, feel healthy and want to make a difference. Some of them are even going back to learn new skills and are talking about a new career. They seem to be just like chameleons that have changed colour and adapted to this new world.

In time history will look back and we will be able to record which species survived.

“In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it… Throughout history, practically nobody had choices… Now suddenly a large number of people have choices. What is more, they will have more than one career, because the working life span of people is now close to 60 years – three times what it was in 1900”
Peter Drucker.

The world of WORK

Every day I get up to work. Sometimes I work for money and sometimes I work for free. At times the work I do for free adds more value to my life than the work I do for money. The worldview is that work = money. Do you agree? In South Africa we do not have a volunteering mindset. Maybe it is part of our history? The question is how do we change this? The world of work is changing. We now have more of a portfolio approach where work for money will be one of the components of the whole. Work for many is already not the 8 to 5 world that many of us grew up with. Technology allows work to happen anywhere and anytime 24/7/365. We can work in an office, face to face, at home, locally and globally day or night. If all of the above are facts that already exist, maybe the question we should be asking is what defines my life and how do I add value ?