Mona Hatoum’s ‘Hotspot’ represents rather dramatically the exponential dangers and uncertainties of our times. With the war escalating in Syria, Europe recovering from an economic crisis, responding to increased migration as well as Brexit and the US presidential elections about to take place, we are being challenged to create a viable future for us all.
So too it is in business where uncertainty and risk are costly to all parties. In my book ‘The Enlightened Organisation’ I refer to the ‘Roads to Ruin’ (2011) and ‘Roads to Resilience’ (2013) research commissioned by the global insurance company, Airmic. Airmic is concerned with risk assessment. It wanted to use this research to investigate the origins and identify the key lessons associated with the failure of some significant global companies to prevent crisis, and thereafter manage the consequences.
What the research revealed was that the difference between those companies that did badly and those that did well was a ‘Wilful blindness’ about what was happening in their market place, with a resulting lack of direction and orientation and the absence of effective leadership. These were costly mistakes, with some companies not surviving and others suffering significant consequences for their shareholders and relevant taxpayers.
Since this research was commissioned, the world has become even more complex and unpredictable. Businesses are arguably therefore in even greater need of reality checking, clarity and orientation, as well as a whole new kind of leadership.
A traditional approach focussed on problem solving and planning, aimed at reducing uncertainty, will simply not work for our times. What is needed is values and a strong anchor upon which to orient and direct, combined with the leadership skills and competencies that enable agility and responsiveness to change.
We cannot rely on the past to perform in business in the future, any more than we can take our preconceptions of the globe, or even Mona’s installation, to navigate the complexities of the world in which we live. Instead companies must continuously distinguish themselves in response to uncertain and changing times and be agile enough to deliver to their promise.
At Enlightened Organizaions we are helping to shape the future by preparing the leaders of today for the world of tomorrow.
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