Ten Lessions from the Future. CEO of Future World, The Global Bisiness and Technology Think Tank
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The worlds of Horus and Seth
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo houses a mind-numbing number of artefacts that shed light on the way people lived and worshipped in the Nile Delta some three to seven millennia ago. In one particularly dimly-lit corner of the museum, I found a little-known statue of a pharaoh being counselled by two deities.
On the left is Horus, the god of structure and predictability. On the right: Seth, the god of chaos and disorder. Even thousands of years ago, the conflict between order and chaos, and the dilemmas created for those in authority, were well recognised.
In a very real sense, today’s business executive is in the same position as that stone pharaoh. Everything we have been taught about business was crafted in the Industrial Age – in an economy where central authority, predictability and control were the touchstones.
We are the sons and daughters of Horus. But we are living in Seth’s world!
Take a look at this table…
Industrial Age ‘Culture’ Information Age ‘Spirit’
Learn a skill Lifelong learning
Job preservation Job creation
Capital equipment Intellectual capital
Status quo Speed and change
Hierarchical and regulated Distributed and networked
Zero sum Win-win
Measure inputs Measure outputs
Aanhalings van die skrywers oor leierskap
The great excitement of the future is that we can shape it
Tomorrows successful leaders will value principles more than they value their companies
The important thing is to try to…take control over your own destiny
The traditional concept of management is reaching the end of the road
We’re talking about changes in basic assumption…few traditional organizations ever go through the eye of the needle
The major challenge for leaders in the twenty-first century will be how to release the brainpower of their organizations
Do we have corporate cultures that are anchors on change? Or cultures that enable us to adapt to the changing environment?
Marketers will move from focusing on large segments to targeting specific niches. In niches there are riches.
My one-word messages for the twenty-first century is “Asia”
The dominant competitive weapon of the twenty-first century will be the education and skills of the workforce.
Corporations are starting to take on the complexity of biological systems. And at that point, they become out of our control.
An Interview with Wolfgang Grulke
by Sheridan Winn
Afgelaai by www.futreworl.org
Choose your future. Don’t just let it happen to you. And when you choose it, innovate within it radically. Wolfgang Grulke, founder and chairman of FutureWorld, talks to Sheridan Winn about his new book ‘Radical Innovation’ and his bestseller, ‘Ten Lessons From The Future’
Wolfgang Grulke isn’t a man for half measures. A huge bear of a man, he exudes real inner power and a massive, restless energy. Passion is a word he uses often, along with words such as radical, fractal individual, curiosity, choice, the warp speed world and chaos theory. His message is clear: take hold of life and your business. Choose your future. Don’t let it just happen to you.
I watched Grulke hold an audience of 1100 people spellbound, as he delivered the key-note speech at the Industrial & Financial Systems European conference in Warsaw last year, talking about his newly-published book, ‘Ten Lessons from the Future’. He spoke of a world in the 2020s, in which people will live to 140 years, a volatile world of fractal networks and empowered individuals. He foresees the end of the Information Economy, as it gives way to the Bioeconomy – an economy born from the fusion of molecular science and biotechnology, and a world which will require us to embrace biological and natural systems in business, government and schools.
At the heart of this change is the individual. “Never in the history of mankind have we had so much power,” says Grulke. “As an individual and as an employee, there is a massive degree of choice. You can work where you want, pay your taxes where you want. The problem, of course, is that having the power and using it are not the same thing. Whilst theoretically everyone has the power, in reality few people exercise it.”
His fundamental assumption in ‘Ten Lessons From the Future’, is that, in this ‘warp-speed world’, you can no longer learn just from experience. In fact, the more things change, the less valuable experience is. If you can’t learn from that, the only other place you can learn from is the future: in the sense that for a company or an individual to be successful in the long-term, they will have to anticipate and act on it before they have to.
“Learning from experience is actually acting after you have to,” says Grulke. “I find that more and more people are saying, ‘I have this choice too, and not just in my business.’ In other words, I can choose my future and make it happen. It’s choice, not chance: an act of choice as individuals.”
His message is clearly effective. ‘Ten Lessons From the Future’ has recently been published in Chinese and Spanish. His books are readable, amusing, challenging and packed full of stories. On the eve of the publication of his second book, ‘Radical Innovation’, Grulke criss-crosses the globe, talking to an average of 30,000 people every month, as chairman of the FutureWorld Network of gurus. He is a Director of the Deloitte and Touche Innovation Board and teaches regularly at the London Business School, on its flagship Senior Executive Programme.
Grulke grew up in Essen, Germany and when he was 12 years old his parents moved to South Africa, where he lives today. He dropped out of a degree in quantum physics, before dipping into advertising and having a stint as a DJ. His first ‘proper’ job was with Prudential in South Africa, which he left to join IBM in its new services division. The company sent him to the UK and for next 15 years he travelled widely within IBM International, gaining the IBM Outstanding Innovation Award.
He was then offered a position in IBM South Africa, but within two years of starting, the company disinvested in the country. Grulke and two colleagues put together a package for an employee buy-out, splitting their new company into three parts. Eight years later they sold the companies back to IBM, who promptly consolidated them back into one. The employees, however, all did very well, as IBM paid “many thousands of times the price paid”.
“I didn’t want to be part of a large organization anymore,” says Grulke. “Once you realize the power of the fractal organization, the excitement and passion which you have for your own business, you see also how that passion can die.”
Instead, he started to work on strategy and business plans for venture capital firms. He found that, once their businesses were established, the innovators he was working with were looking for new projects. So, with a “few rules in place”, he began FutureWorld in 1987. The exact opposite of IBM, this new business wasn’t to have any employees, nor a head office. It would be a network of powerful individuals who chose to work together, to pool their knowledge and to change peoples’ lives and businesses.
The FutureWorld Network has grown organically and, in the last year, has doubled in size to 50 gurus. There is also a hugely expanding network of people who wish to be associated with FutureWorld, who connect electronically. Their views provide the network with instant data. Every six months the gurus develop a new theme, which will be presented to organizations such as Deloitte and Touche, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Bayer and Mercedes Benz.
“We call ourselves a Technology Think Tank,” explains Grulke. “Our members are all practitioners: they’re not consultants who are just talking about it from a theoretical point of view. They’ve done it and are now helping to translate their success back in to other businesses.”
But for whom does Grulke write his books? “In a sense for my clients, the companies I’ve worked with, who would love to have their experiences documented in some way,” he replies. “The books are not theory. They’re the experience of individuals who’ve made a success of things or not – or ways we’ve found of help them choose their future.”
“I think at first they are probably profoundly unsettling. But, once you realize that the nature of control has changed – that you’re part of an economic system that is so volatile, that not even the president of the biggest nation in the world can control it, – then you realize you can capitalize on the nature of this thing by acting differently. You must harness the energy of this chaotic system for your own benefit – for your family and business. You begin to realize that this chaos and volatility is actually a good thing.”
Which brings us to the essence of Grulke’s new book, ‘Radical Innovation’.
“The term ‘Radical Innovation’ is used to differentiate routine innovation – better products, better markets – and making the point that everybody is trying to do that,” explains Grulke. “Routine innovation has become a commodity. So how do you take the quantum step up? The book gives you a structure for looking at radical innovation and some ways to achieve it within an organization.
“It’s a constant re-evaluation of your business against future markets. There are two dimensions: the innovation may be to use your existing technology in a radically different way, or to market to your existing markets in a radically different manner.
“We’re saying that you have to take this innovation out of the box to the next quantum level, using technologies you’re not using today, into markets you don’t have today, or to customers and services you don’t yet have. When you take a leap on both these dimensions, that’s radical. But the risk increases exponentially. You have to be sure you can live with the consequences of that.”
At the heart of this is the entrepreneur, whom Grulke defines as somebody who is “constantly dissatisfied with the state of play – every day. Even if you change something today, the day it will need changing.”
But, just how open is the average company to thinking differently and to operating within a constant state of change?
“It’s a generalisation, but a successful business, even if it’s kicking along growing at 5-10 per cent a year, is typically not suddenly going to start saying, ‘We could be growing at 50 per cent'” replies Grulk
e. “But that’s, of course, what leadership is about. Great leadership is about creating pain before it’s necessary. It’s what Jack Welch of General Electric has been doing all the time. Saying, ‘Sorry, this is not good enough: it could be twice as good’.
“Some people will say, but why should we? We’ve been growing well, we’ve been doing this for 13-14 years. Why now suddenly do we want to grow to 50 per cent a year? Radical Innovation introduces risks and volatility and a lot of people feel uncomfortable with it. Many people don’t actually want to be innovative. All we’re saying is that, as an investor, would you invest in a company that doesn’t innovate?”
What exists in the middle, I wonder? Is it possible to have some elements of radical innovation along with stability?
“Stability in a market that is volatile is impossible,” replies Grulke. “There is only birth and death. You are either growing or you’re in the process of dying. A volatile market demands constant innovation, constant checking. Where are we? Are we doing the best? Are we capitalising on it? Should we be getting out of this business? That, by the way, is one of the most difficult decisions. Not, what new business should I create, but what existing business should I get out of?
“One of the conclusions is that, no matter what size your business, you should be taking 10-20 per cent of your effort and turnover and putting it into radical innovation. R&D spend is typically between 1-3 per cent. We’re saying you have to actively innovate – create a new part of your business that is different from what you do today.
“The Radical Innovation matrix in the book is there to encourage you to formalise the process. Give it money. Allow it to have a different culture. Allow it to be fractal, and, if it works, allow it to change the way you do business. Don’t fence it off or you’ll kill it.”
Another aspect of the book is its Strategic Thinking and Strategic Actions™ chapter. These skills help you to define your ideal future and initiate five strategies you need to get there, through a process of working backwards. “The Strategic Actions™ will be the groundwork for your ideal future,” explains Grulke “If you can’t do them, then change your ideal future: they have to be in sync or your future is just a dream.”
Increasingly Grulke receives letters from people whose lives have been changed through his ideas. “There’s a deep satisfaction in knowing that if I die tomorrow, there are some people out there who have taken their life by the neck as a result of reading my books, and said, “This is what I want! I actively choose to do that.”
“I meet so many people aged 40-50 who are thoroughly miserable in what they do,” he muses. “They’re earning a lot of money, but they’ve actually forgotten what they love. A 15 or 20 year old doesn’t have that problem: they know exactly what they love. Do what you love and be passionate about it!”
‘Radical Innovation’ and ‘Ten Lessons From The Future’ are published by Financial Times/Prentice Hall.
Opdrag aan die leiers:Groepsbespreking oor leierskap
1. Kyk na die aanhanlings en neem tien minute om te se watter van die aanhalings het iets te se vir die kerk en watter ons liefs moet ignoreer.
2. Kyk na Gulke se paradigmas as ‘n inleiding. Skryf nou saam met die groep ‘n defenisie vir leierskap vir die finalejaarklas van 1983 op ‘n blaaibordvel
en dan een vir die die klas 25 jaar later: 2008 op die blaaibord
3. As julle hiermee klaar is kan julle op die meeste 5 dinge op ‘n blaaibordvel neerskryf om met die groter groep te deel. Less is more
Doel van die oefening:
a. Is om ons te laat nadink oor leierskap
b. Is om te leer by wat in die wereld om ons aan die gebeur is tov van leierskap
c. Isom begrip te ontwikkel dat daar ‘n groot verskil is tussen die styl van leierskap van 25 jaar gelede en vandag.