Confession:

I used to think the world would be pushed into a dystopian future due to a manmade virus that would infect 99% of the human race, turning them into flesh eating zombies.

Mmmm….brains.

I realize now that’s irrational.

The world will be taken over by robots and then the zombie apocalypse will ensue. How do I know robots are in our near future?

Signals

Signals are defined by futurists as:

“A small or local innovation or disruption that has the potential to grow in scale and geographic distribution.”

They can take the form of a new technology, product, strategy policy, or even practice. Sometimes they start off small or fringe, but in the end they signal change and what lies ahead. And for us, that’s robots, AI, automation, and sensors (among many other things).

The signals of the aforementioned technologies are everywhere. Take for instance the Chinese manufacturer that replaced 90% of it’s workforce with robots. Or the use of artificial intelligence and deep learning in the surveillance industry.  These signals point to a change in how we will live and work in the future.

In fact, Price Waterhouse Coopers conducted a study that says, by 2030 up to 38% of jobs in the US will be displaced due to automation. That’s in 13 years…13.

So given all these signals, what are you, a leader or manager, supposed to do in order to keep up and thrive?

Think like a futurist

Yep.

You must think like a futurist and master the leadership skills your company and team need you to master in order to achieve success. You can learn about these skills by listening to the interview I had with distinguished fellow, author and futurist, Dr. Bob Johansen. He and I chat about signals and his new book, The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything. And he provides details of the literacies, which are:

  1. Forecast likely futures so you can “look back” and make sure you’re prepared now for the changes to come,
  2. Use low-risk gaming spaces to work through your concerns about the future and hone your leadership skills,
  3. Lead shape-shifting organizations where you can’t just tell people what to do,
  4. Be a dynamic presence even when you’re not there in person, and
  5. Keep your personal energy high and transmit that energy throughout your organization.

Now you may think it’s odd or silly to think like a futurist, but some of the largest organizations in the world such as Apple, Amazon, IBM, and Google consult with futurists like Dr. Johansen to monitor signals or trends and adjust their business accordingly.

This futurist approach keeps the top companies on the cutting edge and allows them to not only compete, but thrive in the face of digital disruption. And many of them get to the point where they are shaping the future. This is counter to their competitors or other organizations who solely focus on the present. They, in contrast, only react to disruption and change, meaning they will always be behind the curve and eventually pushed out entirely.

Those large companies don’t have to be the only ones growing during this era of disruption. It’s time for leaders to up their skills and start taking a proactive approach to business.