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Here Be Dragons

Posted by BoardSource on Oct 29, 2013 9:31:50 AM

dragonBy Heather McLeod Grant, principal/founder, McLeod-Grant Advisors, and Will Novy-Hildesley, founder and CEO, Quicksilver Foundry

The ninth in our series of blog posts written by BLF 2013 speakers/presenters/sponsors.

We’ve crossed that line at the edge of the map — the line that tethered our expectations, while offering apparent security. We’ve stepped off the edge of the known world and left our comfort zone behind. For there are few fixed formulas — or strategies — in a world where more than 144 billion emails are exchanged daily. Here. Be. Dragons.

This means we can no longer know, predict, plan, or control the way we used to. We have to put away many of our institutional traditions, assumptions, and narratives in a box marked “nostalgia,” and learn to surf complexity instead. Whether we choose to embrace this reality as novel and exciting, or scary and intimidating — or simultaneously both! — the new normal is upon us.

In this brave new world, centralized authority, bureaucratic inaction, rules that inhibit, and plans that provide only a crutch in the face of uncertainty, represent flawed responses. And yet, these are the habits that we fall back upon, not really knowing that there’s another way.

The insight that “culture eats strategy for lunch” has been around for decades. But what exactly does “strategy” look like when you need to navigate a rapidly changing environment on a daily basis? It is possible that the only way to be strategic today is to ground yourself in a core identity, while cultivating a truly adaptive culture. Teams and organizations now need a “clear line of sight” from every level in the hierarchy, and they need efficient mechanisms for making decisions quickly.

Indeed, we are learning that teams and organizations that remain resilient in challenging environments share these characteristics: clarity of core purpose and an ability to innovate and adapt. We believe that such teams have evolved these habits in a demonstration of Darwinian “cultural selection.” They’ve been able not only to survive, but to thrive amongst the chaos that surrounds them. If we all want to create impact at scale in this brave new world, we need to learn their lessons.

We welcome others interested in our exploration to attend our BLF 2013 session — Core/Explore/Connect/Evolve: Agile and Adaptive Strategies for the New Normal — and join this conversation.


Topics: Board Best Practices, New Trends & Resources

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