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Are we living in a new era defining a new context for organisations?

16th November 2017

Eras with different dominant characteristics always continue to develop and evolve. Successful organisations spot the shifts and characteristics of change that will likely have a profound impact on what they do (products and services) and how they do it. Creating the capability and capacity to be able to adapt is an obligation of the organisations leadership. Time to adapt is constantly removed and reduced. It is easy to say that we need to create an agile organisation (or supply chain) but really hard to achieve in practice.

This is another reason to focus on leadership capability. It is this skill that will create the adaptive organisation, one which will be able to respond to the rapidly evolving context of markets and technology. Much will happen ever more quickly.

However there is something even more profound about the current era. Increasingly referred to as the period of The Fourth Industrial Revolution. For a description and analysis of this read Klaus Schwab's book titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution shown below. (Penguin Random House Uk 2016). Because this so defines the Context of our times, quoted below is the foreword to this book by Marc Benioff a member of The World Economic Forum Board of Trustees. It is worth noting that CONTEXT and its influence on leadership style is another dimension of our Maven Leadership Vault 2-3-4 framework.

Marc Benioff writes:

We live in exciting times of fundamental technological change. The pace and scope of groundbreaking scientific and technological advances coming from research facilities, start-ups and large organisations never cease to amaze me. The science fiction of yesterday is today becoming a reality in new products and services that we won't be able to imagine having lived without.

These rapid advances in technology, however, are doing more than providing us with new capabilities - they are changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. As Klaus Schwab describes in this timely and insightful book, the convergence of digital technologies with breakthroughs in materials science and biology means that we are seeing the emergence of entirely new ways in which to live. In both subtle and explicit ways, technology is also changing what it means to be human.

As the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum and its internationally renowned annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Klaus Schwab is uniquely placed to synthesise the experiences and views of leading global economic and technological experts, leaders of the world's largest businesses and the perspectives of government and civil society representatives into panoramic views of the challenges ahead.

He points out that the three previous industrial revolutions all created major societal change and opportunity, but today's transformation is unique in terms of the great speed with which new ideas and technologies are spreading around the world. Every company across every industry is now compelled to reconsider their traditional ways of doing business to keep pace with rapidly changing technology and consumer expectations.

In the coming decades, the technologies driving the fourth industrial revolution will fundamentally transform the entire structure of the world economy, our communities and our human identities. These profound changes highlight the great responsibilities we face as a civilisation. We have to make choices and contribute as citizens, government officials and business leaders to design systems that ensure benefits and risks are carefully weighed and new systems arise with common values and clear purposes in mind that benefit everyone on our planet. In all cases, particularly with artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and other technologies that could conceivably escape our control, we need to take care in building systems that minimise risks and improve the human condition.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab