Five Emerging Key Trends
In today's emerging global economy, organizations have grown to understand and embrace the need to monitor and anticipate emerging global trends. Organizational competitiveness is measured by how well organizations address such issues as globalization, knowledge, innovation, emerging workforce, and the ever-growing energy crisis. These key trends will have a lasting impact on the emerging global economy of today. More importantly, how leaders navigate through these key trends will have a lasting impact on their organizations. We will address some key trends and the subsequent response of an effective leader.
Globalization: While the physical size of the planet has not decreased, the distance between two locations seems closer than ever. Technological advances have created a perception that the world is smaller because the inhabitants of the planet are more closely connected than ever before. This psychological distance gap is ever decreasing as innovative technological advancements increase. As cultures encroach on each other, there is a distinct need to understand cultural divides before they collide. James Canton, in his book The Extreme Future, points out "globalism is about a new synthesis of ideas, trade, communications, and collaboration that should promote future global prosperity, freedom, and opportunity."
Leaders face not just organizational culture issues but differing ideologies, ethnic, religious and nationalist movements. Leaders must recognize how these cultural issues such as patriotism, standards of living and even religion play into the risk factors of a given market. Additionally, leaders must understand that their own cultural viewpoint may create blind spots in their strategic planning. Globalization appears to have little tolerance for a myopic view of culture. Leaders who approach culture with a superior stance will likely create resistance in their workforce. Leaders must seek to understand that an approach to culture will always consist of one's interpretation of the world through their own eyes. Strategically, this approach could create a vast resistance to needed change if there is not a shared commitment of beliefs amongst the individuals of the organization. Members of a particular culture may resist change and default to beliefs that are common to the culture and have worked for them in the past. An effective strategic leader will work to understand these cultural beliefs and to work with the members of the culture to create a change that is consistent with their cultural approach.
Globalism plays a key role in the expansion of knowledge, innovation, the emerging workforce and even the current energy crisis. Understanding cultural norms is essential to the success of the strategic leader of the future.
Knowledge: Knowledge is arguably one of the most important non-tangible assets we own. The most important economic development of any country is that of their education system. Nations around the world have understood that the key to continued growth and competitiveness in the marketplace is in their ability to develop and grow their education system. With the advent of technology and an increasing globalize world, the boarders of education are no longer limited to the scholastic walls of higher education but have found their way on to the internet in the form of distance learning.
Knowledge has undoubtedly been influenced by the rapid speed and advances in technology. Advances such as satellite television, internet, voice over IP (VOIP), and secure video conferencing have all increased the knowledge base and connectivity of the world. The need to move information and knowledge at an ever-increasing pace has created the need for continual advances and improvements in technology. Organizations that understand the value of knowledge will seek to be innovators of technology to increase their knowledge share. Those organizations that do not embrace the knowledge economy will risk losing the competitive advantage and may risk falling behind in the global marketplace. Research has indicated that in the last decade of the 20th century there was a great emphasis on education and its impact on national economies. Organizations that seek to understand the importance of knowledge will likely focus their attention on those individuals who are more educated and have developed a sense of creativity and a broad set of skills.
Innovation: The global economy is fed by the rapid advancements in innovation. Much of that innovation is found in the form of tangible assets such as computers, smart phones and the like. However, innovation is much more than an electronic widget on your desk or pocket. Today's emerging economy is based on many intangible assets such as efficiencies, knowledge and operational systems. As previously noted, knowledge is an important factor in the growing pace of innovation and leaders acknowledge now, more than ever that the speed of which the world economies are moving have created a greater need for a models of organizational transparency and rapid decision making. Strategic Leaders must understand the implications of innovation in the global economy. Leaders understand that innovation is more about finding more efficient ways of competing. As the old adage goes, "work smarter, not harder." A wise leader will attempt to stay informed on the latest trends within their industry as well as the global world of business alike. Understanding innovation and its interaction with knowledge and the workforce will create a competitive edge needed in today's global marketplace.
The world is evolving into a knowledge-based economy where innovation is becoming center stage. Because of the emphasis on education, the emerging workforce will be increasingly more educated, skilled and likely to understand the need for efficiency and creativity. The emerging workforce will arrive educated in the nuances of innovation and technology. This new workforce is more culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. The challenge for organizational leaders is to continue to pursue their own educational advances in education, skills, creativity and cultural diversity. The emerging leader will be one who can lead the emerging workforce from a position of strength as well as humility creating a collaborative relationship with the workforce in an effort to remain competitive in today's marketplace.
The emerging workforce will be more educated. A good strategic leader will effectively utilize their workforce's abilities while continually upgrading their own education and experiences. Such leaders will understand that humility may play a role in their leadership of a more culturally diverse intelligent workforce.
Emerging Energy Crisis: No discussion of emerging trends would be complete without acknowledging the evolving energy crisis. As we move from a predominantly manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy, the demands on energy appear to be increasing rather than decreasing. An organization which develops innovative ways to deal with the growing energy crisis will certainly be able to stay on the competitive edge. The energy crisis has created an entire industry focused on the innovation of efficient energy delivering methods, which are not only environmentally friendly but cost effective as well. The world's dependence on petroleum based products and the volatility of Middle Eastern governments has shown rise in the cost of energy. Organizations that embraces innovative methods for controlling energy costs will likely emerge as the most competitive. Organizational leaders are growing to understand that they must find new ways to operate their organizations. Ideas such as downsizing organizational headquarters and allowing employees to work from home via telecommuting will not only decrease the carbon footprint of each employee as well as the organization, but will also minimize the need for buildings that consume large amounts of electricity, natural gas and water. The use of technology such as video conferences, VOIP, etc will be common in place in the office of the future and leaders will be required to learn how to lead employees from afar. The energy crisis is sure to grow as members of government haggle over the best viable options for a sustained energy policy. Organizational leaders of the future will need to take the lead on effective energy policies that limit the carbon footprint and dependence on foreign sources of energy.
While these five areas are not an all inclusive list of trends, they certainly are some of the more obvious emerging trends of our times. The most effective organizational leader will be one who not only has the ability to forecast similar trends but the ability to strategically plan how their organization will effectively answer the challenges of those emerging trends. It is imperative that organizational leaders embrace continued education as they prepare to lead the organization of the future.