I recently got my hands on the 2010 IBM Global CEO Study titled “Capitalizing on Complexity”. You can download your own copy of the study (PDF) here.
I don’t want to give away all the juicy parts but when the first page of content uses the term “wake up call”…you know this is a report to pay attention to. The report summarizes three shared beliefs by the 1500+ CEOs surveyed:
- Business complexity is not only increasing but accelerating.
- Organizations are not equipped to deal with complexity.
- Creativity is the single most important leadership competency to manage complexity.
The report goes on to talk about the changes happening in the global economy, the impact those changes are having on customer relationships and product development, along with predictions for future leaders.
When I look back on those times when I’ve had a complex matter to deal with, there were three things I found helpful in sorting out the issue:
Dedicated thinking time. Finding quality time to think is essential. I’ve discovered over the years that the better I am about carving out time to think, the more time I spend proactively working on challenges instead of reacting to them.
Critical analysis of the components. Getting familiar with critical thinking can help evaluate information and options. If you want more information in this area, check out Breanne Harris’ Critical Thinkers blog.
Understanding problem versus polarity. A few years ago I was introduced to Dr. Barry Johnson’s book, “Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems”. It’s a terrific read about drawing distinctions between a problem to be solved and a polarity to be managed along with ways to manage the polarities.
Each one of these topics has been written about many times over the years. And that’s exactly my point. Complexity has always existed on some level. Why aren’t we equipped to deal with it?
At some point, business and education have to establish a method for people to learn these skills. IMHO, it can’t completely happen in schools. Some of it needs to happen in the workplace. Right now, I’m not sure how much creative training is taking place in either.
If we want to get people back to work, we need to pay attention to what CEOs identify as the key skills for the future. Then we need to find ways – maybe even creative ways – to give people those skills.1