Watching the dialogue around Donald J. Trump’s inauguration as 45th President of the United States unfold globally over the past few weeks, one thing is clear: Millions of people are grappling with the impact of disruption at a geo-political, social, organizational and individual level and seem to be un-anchored in the face of extreme ambiguity. Beyond the protests and commentary, there is an underlying cry of concern around how we will create positive outcomes in the face of disruption.
This is not surprisingly dissimilar to the sentiments we hear from senior leaders around the world, where the globalization of information and access, new technologies and new business models are disrupting the landscape almost daily. For the many leaders that we coach and develop, disruption ultimately means that they must make decisions and lead people who are thinking, acting, and relating in entirely new ways that “interrupt” their company’s predominant ways of doing business. The very system within which they must lead is undergoing a transformation. This is not only happening at a business model and strategy level, but it impacts the way their companies are organized, how employees grow, learn, adapt and innovate. For many leaders today, they must accelerate and transform their thinking and behavior in exponential ways.
At a higher level, all this disruption means our lives are moving forward at exponential and sometimes incomprehensible speed and complexity. Much like Moore’s Law, which states that the computing power of integrated circuitry doubles each year, the pace of change today is accelerating by exponential rates, sometimes by powers of 10 magnitudes, driven by the confluence of cutting-edge technologies. To our human brains, this is simply incomprehensible. Sustained exponential growth becomes so big and inconceivable that we lose all sense of the possibilities and variables. There is no particular, predictable guide about what will happen next.
Every week, we work with dozens of leaders around the world who are grappling with the same incomprehensible amplitude of change, and the exponential rate of disruption. In the face of inexhaustible change and disruption, it begs the question: Is the human mind capable of processing at this intense speed? How can leaders cope and reinvent how they lead in these exponential times?
Karen Walch and I in The Key to Conscious Reinvention for Exponential Times explore this reality. We believe there are accelerator beliefs and practices that can help us re-train our brains to respond to the current waves of disruption from a deeper place that connects us to the emerging future rather than reacting against the patterns of the past, perpetuating them.
Our paper is part of a series focused on navigating through the Era of Disruption and the Dawn of Exponential Times. The aim is to illuminate the opportunities available in this extraordinary era and to clarify the unprecedented transformations needed at the organizational, leadership and individual level to meet the challenges at hand and thrive. Other papers in this series are available here. We welcome your thoughts and comments!