Let’s start with a provocative concept. Today, you can buy a $100 chip with the processing capacity of an insect’s brain. In 10 years, that same amount of money will buy you the processing capacity of a mouse. In 20 years, it will buy you the processing capacity of a human being. And, according to some futurists, in 30 to 40 years, $100 could buy you the processing capacity of the entire human race.
What does that mean for the next decade? How do you outthink and outsmart the competition? How do you learn to work faster? How do you tackle new tasks? An MBA doesn’t teach you how to handle mass delusion or disloyalty, or how to live a life without privacy — especially when every click on the Net leaves a footprint.
In a year or two, your smart refrigerator will be linked to your supermarket, and your smart toilet will analyze the state of your health or beep if you are pregnant. Gadgets will be integrated into your clothes. If one of your children cries, a washable chip in her handkerchief will send a message to your cell phone. If your heartbeat speeds up in an unhealthy way, your T-shirt will inform your physician. Everything will be connected.
But as we gain more connectivity, we will increasingly sacrifice security and privacy. The division between the virtual and real worlds is blurring. Business leaders today are managing within a sphere characterized by enhanced polarization and conflicting paradigms. Some areas in the world are cash-rich and time-poor; others are cash-poor and time-rich. While the world is becoming more connected and getting “smaller,” the Internet is growing. The marketplace is already hypercompetitive and will grow even more so. Customers have become vigilantes: well-connected, keenly alert, and attentive. Clients behave like IWICs: Incredibly Well-Informed Customers.
Change is the only constant factor for the future. Managerial skills that anticipate change and understand its velocity and density will be the tools necessary for guiding your company and insuring its survival in the next economy.
Grasp the overview. Cultivate out-of-the-box thinking. Take the long-term perspective. (Your young employees may live into the next century!) Understand that environmental and social issues have become more important; hybrid lifestyles are necessary. Don’t be myopic; think about the whole picture. Demonstrate a commitment to society’s values; do well by doing good.
Hans Ruinemans (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the chief inspiration officer of GloCorp NV.