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This Technology Era Needs Leaders That Fail


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95% of everything changes. Constantly. What is the most fundamental change of this decade?

Probably the blurring lines between functional and theoretical technology. A lot of theories that seemed unattainable in the past, are now being developed into – sometimes astonishing – functional designs, smart solutions. The transition time between theory and real life applications is becoming shorter. Our ecosystems are more or less enforcing this evolution to take place and society seems to quickly adopt the new developments that this evolution brings along. But are we able to live up to that accelerating cycle? Will the human capital of our businesses be up to speed in time? No, at this point not yet. We need to drastically modernise our education system, that incorporates the societal and entrepreneurial consequences of this technology era. After all, if the future is about talent, the battlefield will be the schools and universities.

We need to become as agile as the continuous change. Technology will help us simplify a lot of basic processes in life. It won’t take long before the windows in your room will become solar panels and telephones are turning into real time medical devices. Apps can be built on virtually all platforms. We will be able to schedule trains on demand, book taxis real time, easily request a ride share and order your fully briefed painter in a few clicks.

There is no way back. Some of these technologies are already seen as ‘normal’ today and are infiltrating in our lives. The latest developments like mainstream low-power chips andmachine learning in the cloud with Microsoft azure are examples of such developments that will only move forward. Hyperscale data centers are a fact and keep on growing. Enhancements will keep on changing our daily practise.

What are the consequences of this evolutionary perspective?

Innovation blurs the lines between industries

What do you think? Is Apple a technology company or an exclusive watchmaker? And Samsung, a technology company or a medical supplier? Is Google a search-engine company or an upcoming car company manufacturing driverless cars? Today you will probably answer these questions without any hesitation. Within a few years the answers will be doubtful or change completely. I’m even wondering what the next generation will have top of mind in relation to these companies.

Innovation opens doors for organisations enabling them to cross lines. With technology organisations can engage those possibilities due to compatible components that are processable in different devices or solutions. If you have most of the necessary knowledge in house, why not embrace these business opportunities?

Practise before you preach

These cross border approaches have implications for the way organisations operate. What does this mean for their leaders? These turbulent developments yield an environmental and social context that is uncertain, volatile, and complex; unpredictable forces that create a significant challenge for talent development.
So what do you need to do as a company executive? First step: you go out there. Try. Learn. Fail. Grow. Be the apprentice for a while. Hence, find out what talents need to operate successfully within your organisation, what skills are crucial to your business and its innovative horizons.

What approach will match talent management and development to this ‘fail-and-learn’ strategy?

Grasp talent in an early stage

The talent you hire need to do the same: try, learn, fail and grow. And who aren’t scared to do so? Indeed, young people. When will the first corporate hire a 13-year old? Maybe I’m more curious about what corporate has the guts to do this. Isn’t it strange that with soccer we don’t experience this as odd? Manchester United and FC Barcelona are hiring adolescents. Why are corporates so reserved to do this? I don’t mean those unofficial work groups you now and then hear about, where children have a careful say in how to deal with certain environmental issues. Really hire them, offer the young talents in house education. You’ll be surprised of the fresh outlook they will provide on many subjects.

Start intensive partnerships with universities

In order to provide adolescents with official education (fully licensed) large corporates should start partnerships with schools and universities. The innovative solution that learning methods are waiting for: alignment of education systems with the demanding criteria of modern society and ecosystems. What if partnerships fail the first time? Learn and try a new strategy that fits in this technology era.

In this perspective my last question; should we educate our next generation for free so they are granted the space to fail? Any ideas?

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