In our quest for progress, people have often crossed physical, legal, and moral boundaries. With the exponential rise in today’s risks, so too must we exponentially increase our responsibility.
Will our future planet remain livable? The United Nations has identified 17 goals which humanity should reach before 2030 in order to survive safely, fairly, and sustainably. The Sustainable Development Goals are essential for our survival– and they’re as measurable and attainable as the targets of a typical corporation.
A typical MBA student learns that progress comes from leaders who set a direction, map the risks, chart a course, and develop detailed plans to get from A to B. That approach is out the window for today’s challenges. There is no space anymore for linear thinking, for incremental improvements, or for controlling today’s complexity. Mid-term management with yearly reports and budgeting cycles, election cycles, and even the news cycle are remnants of the past.
What we need is a new strategy, a bipolar approach.
On the one hand, today’s leaders need to be more brave, to think bigger, bolder, and more long-term, embracing exponential change. At the same time, they need to be more iterative and transparent to discover mistakes faster, and be more cautious, opting to test with small scale experiments.
The exponentiality, increased scale, and interconnectedness of new technologies brings challenges and fear. We’re jumping of a cliff without a parachute. We hope to build one as we fall through the air – before we hit the ground.
The new leadership art is to think big and fail small.