Chapter 8: Organising for exponential change.

Simply, get everyone together. Decide what to do 😂. Only, it’s not simple. In organisations depending on many teams of people, the challenge is to focus everyone on moving in the same direction. And, of course choosing the direction.

Exponential change cannot sit on the shoulders of one person; there’s just too much to do. It sits on everyones’ shoulders. Each person may need a different explanation, may take a different approach to motivating others and will think of ideas and interpret their implementation differently. Nightmare for a leader!!

One of the best courses I have ever attended was run by Dale Carnegie. One of the techniques they suggested for inspiring exceptional results was to “Throw down a challenge.” So to create a seismic shift, why not make the challenge a huge one. For a person or a group who are ready, bored or passionate, this could produce something truly special. For those who are ready for something new, they embrace the chance to prove themselves and contribute to a greater mission. For those who are bored, they are ready to move to a more creative place, thinking up new ideas and approaches to a new style of business. And for those who are passionate about the cause and direction you choose, they will engender a constant force to push the changes through and maintain speed while increasing momentum across the organisation.

The ambition once voiced becomes the mission as long as the group accepts the challenge. Once your group is on board, pack behaviour begins to take hold. Passion creates more passion, creativity creates space for creatives, and momentum builds momentum. Make the mission rebellious and revolutionary and the people will invoke revolution and momentous change. To balance any unsettling tremours of doubt or inconsistency make sure that you incorporate a little fun! Life cannot all be serious, especially under pressure. With laughter, people are able to maintain the pace and remain motivated, whatever the problem, whatever the solution.

I would love the worlds’ leaders to routinely aim for the nirvana point, to make sure idealism is no longer a swear word. It’s a valid ambition and in many cases is actually an achievable destination. We have to start adapting faster, aiming higher and leveraging the possibility of digital collaboration to the maximum. We do this by fostering rebellious leaders, people prepared to stand for what’s right not what is easy. By the term rebellious, I am not talking about unnecessary dissension or disruption without cause. I’m talking about people who speak out against injustice and identify a new approach to diversity and inclusion. That is to speak for true equality in every regard.

In addition to speaking out, these leaders would suggest and encourage practical solutions. These solutions could be implemented elsewhere and by others, and can also be questioned to ensure they are operationally sound. They can also be added to as they start in motion and further down the line as the reality of the suggestion plays out. We need to maintain our flexibility of thought and continue to modify and improve our approach, while still actually doing something positive.

We want an environment ready to create radical change and propel an exponential shift in behaviour, collaboration and culture. I believe rebellious leaders will achieve it. They will encourage nonconformity. Encourage risk taking behaviour, and having the courage to stand out and break the cycle of needing to fit in, at every level for every issue.

In artificial intelligence systems, prediction is developed from historical data and outcomes. Human, conscious thought is different. Our thoughts are impacted by our emotional responses, our intuition and perception of others, events and circumstances. We are not robots. As sentient beings, we are able to define a set of alternatives that no machine could ever predict. No machine invented Spotify. No machine will invent the possibility of time travel, simply because no machine has seen this as possible before. The human race has a chance now to be incredible. We have the tools, the digital capacity, the opportunity to collaborate globally and with every level of experience and subject specialist. Amazing things are possible for us, for our generation, with imagination, determination and the open mindedness to think differently than the generations before.

I want to see radical change in my lifetime. I want to see the corpus of knowledge shared openly and globally. I want to see the education of every child to maximise their ability to succeed in their own version of their life. I want equality, to remove all forms of discrimination. To enable my friends in Ghana to contribute to the global views, socially, economically and with originality. For the orphan children who rely on generous communities to survive to actually live a decent life. For the children living on the rubbish tips in India to go to school, and live in an acceptable environment. For the children in orphanages in Romania not to scavenge for food, thinking that a used tampon applicator is a sweet! For no one in the world to be forced to drink water putrified with faeces.

In all honesty, none of these aspirations are rebellious. They are normal, humane conditions for life. However, the leadership style it will take to solve them is exceptional. The leaders for our future are the leaders now. These leaders are not always the obvious people. We have political leaders, business leaders, people who just happen to be famous for something else and act with social conscience. But what about the regular people? The people appalled by adverts showing emaciated children, with no hope of their next meal, let alone a healthy life where they can achieve their dreams. These people, the people who believe they are ordinary, can change the world. Ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things with extraordinary beliefs. As with Lewis Carroll writing for Alice in Wonderland, who proclaims:

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

If we all thought of six impossible things every day, where would the world be in a year!? Even better if everyone acted on even one of those impossible things… Exponential change comes from magnifying the weight of belief in seemingly impossible tasks. Preventing climate change. Reversing global warming. Relocating populations away from harm, away from war, away from disease. Relocating the vulnerable to less densely populated areas, to deserted housing in impoverished areas, to a space where they can thrive! It takes coordinated action, a Churchill style of leadership in refusing to admit defeat and having indefatigable faith in our ability to conquer, it takes global alignment in humane priorities.

Practically, we need multiple points of focus with multiple leaders and multiple communication strategies. We need leaders who obstinately plan together to deliver societal change on a global scale. It takes bravery and courage to try something new. It takes determination to bring back an old idea in a better way. It requires freedom of expression to invent a new way and a willingness to try. Some plans will fail. Some plans will succeed the second time around (with tweaks of course). Some plans will metamorphasize into a completely different plan before they ultimately succeed.

Let’s at least plan to be better. Plan to collaborate more, accept new views, implement radical ideas, and work as a global community with everyone’s wellbeing at the centre of our world. Let’s implement the reason that our soldiers fought in both world wars. Fight for the aims of the French Revolution of “liberté, égalité, fraternité” (liberty, equality and brotherhood) as a global population, not just within our own nations. Somehow we’ll be able to reach that nirvana point, somehow, even though at the moment we don’t know exactly how… Let’s just do something 😉.

This is Chapter 8 of my book, Leadership Now. Please contact me with any feedback. The chapter links are listed as I go along on my website: https://www.inventingchange.net/leadership-now-my-book.html

Love Ruth x

P.S. We are not snails and cannot just retreat to our shells when things look difficult…

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