Ubiquity for leaders

Ubiquity – a key focus for 2014. In my last post I outlined some of the features of ubiquity and why it is so important. I want to take my ideas a little further, considering the impact for leaders and why it is important to consider what is happening at the fringes. I’ve put some of my thoughts on ubiquity for leaders into the following slidecast.

2014 is the year of ubiquity. As a leader it is important to come to grips with what this actually involves. It means that technology is present in so many places it becomes harder and harder to ignore. In the diagram you’ll see that the grey area contains some examples of ubiquity in action. I’ve commented on each of these in a recent blogpost, so follow the link if you want more information, or click on the YouTube video for an explanation.

It’s really easy for leaders to focus on the business and not take time to step to the edge, to view the organisation in the context of the wider world. When I’m looking at trends I step to the fringes and explore the signals. I’ve coloured the middle area of the circle in grey because ubiquity isn’t necessarily good or bad, but neutral. We need to explore the space, and consider what ubiquity might look like in our context. This is the role of the adaptive leader.

An adaptive leader can stand comfortably in the grey space, considering multiple ideas and possibilities. It’s from this space that we view the black and the white and work towards understanding the complexity of the and-both.

The black area at the bottom of the circle is my attempt to show the dark future. These are some of the risks of ubiquity. I’m sure you’ll have some others. It’s important to consider the ‘what if’  so we can be more prepared for various scenarios. An adaptive leader will keep options open.

Lets take the example of loss of privacy. I might decide to lock down all the information in my organisation, trying to prevent leakage. But the trouble is, when I did deeper into the grey space, I find out that by 2020 it is expected that shadow technology will make up 90% of technology in my business. Shadow technology is the technology that isn’t part of my business, It comes from the outside. It ties in with the growth of bring your own device and wear your own mind, which I talked about in a recent blogpost. So while I may develop a strategy to try to prevent privacy leakages, I know I will also need to have a strategy for mitigating the risk when privacy leakage happens. It’s an and-both approach.

Let’s turn now to the preferred future. From my view at the edge of the circle I can also explore the possibilities that ubiquity creates. I’ll explore the ones of most relevance to my context and develop some strategies that will move me closer to achieving my preferred future. This acknowledges that small drops can lead to ripples of change, as well as steps backward and dead ends. Let’s take self regulation as an example. There are huge opportunities for people to think for themselves, when leaders create a culture where people are encouraged to fail safely and to contribute in their unique way.

I reckon a leader’s role is to regularly move to the fringes, explore some of the global trends and make links back to their context. Leaders need to stand comfortably in the grey space and managing the polarities of the dark and the light. It pays to be agile and adaptive in order to thrive in the future.

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