I knew it was out there! I could feel it, I just could not quite see it.
What I could not see was the back-end of a semi-truck trailer. I was driving on the Alaska highway in near whiteout conditions, and its lights were frosted over and its trailer was grey – the camouflage was perfect. I could not see it but I could feel the risk that was just out of sight.
Sure enough, when it was about fifty-feet away, its outline appeared out of nowhere. I could finally see what I had sensed was coming.
I think many organizational leaders have the same feeling these days. They feel the risk, they know something is out there, but they just can’t make out what it is. In this metaphor, clouds are the challenging nature of day-to-day business combined with the relentless change we are all experiencing. As an example, last year I was buying new servers for my company and today I am pulling them out of moving everything to the other Cloud.
Work environments are changing too. In many cases workers are becoming physically untethered from their employers as remote work becomes the new normal and supervisors are struggling to adapt to a new style of workflow and management. Collaborative technologies designed to support these changes often feel like an additional burden; they are simply more things to learn and manage, more disruption, more expense.
Our metaphorical cloud is thick and we have not even seen the truck yet!
So what is the truck? What is that thing we can sense but cannot see?
It is all of the other changes that are coming but that are still just out of sight.
The exciting, or unfortunate fact, depending on your perspective, is that the changes are just getting started. I don’t have the space in this short post to list them all even if I could, but here are a few of get you thinking:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Virtual Reality
- Self-Driving Vehicles
Yes, these are all a reality.
When I sensed the threat just beyond my view, my natural reaction was to slow down, which I did. It was a good thing too; I was not in the market for an oversize hood ornament that day. When we sense a threat or simply just have a case of Disruption Fatigue, it is our natural instinct to slow down or at the very least stick to our old ways.
Unfortunately, when it comes to business success, slowing down or adhering to the safety of the status quo will likely spell disaster for your organization.
I do not profess to have the answers or a road map to a future that has yet to be defined. I am actively engaged in trying to address these challenges for my own company, The Chariot Group. However, what I do have is a ringside seat as to how organizational leaders of all types are managing these cloudy conditions and the contrast is striking. Some are acting in a purely reactionary manner and doing the minimums, clearly being dragged forward by their competition or their concerned staff. Others are showing tremendous vision and creativity, implementing pilot projects and persisting when road blocks appear. They know the road to the future for their organizations will be paved by their efforts.
We are in a time when every organization, large and small, needs deliberate, purposeful and visionary leadership to navigate the path ahead. There are, without a doubt, a lot of moving parts to keep our eye on. The road ahead is certainly filled with a host of shiny objects that will draw our attention but offer little value, hence the reason I am calling for deliberate and purposeful leadership. It is the business leaders career experience, vision and feel for the road that will make the difference between the success and failure as organizations evolve into this new paradigm.