What pushes people to learn and adapt? What are the things that we can do as leaders to promote strategic thinking and learning? Imagining your future creates innovation. Dreaming creates innovation. Reinvigorating your spirit and stimulating your brain creates innovation. It’s about the possibilities. The smartest leaders understand the discipline of embracing and utilizing new information across industries to stimulate innovation in their own.
During turbulent times when the news is often disturbing, people get a sense that there is no hope and a certain malaise can form. However, leaders have a serious responsibility to engage in a discussion that acknowledges the frustration and pain while encouraging opportunities for the future. As an example, incorporating disruptive events like Brexit into your conversations are important. They put on display an important concept of people understanding the relationship between words, actions and consequences. In retrospect, even the leaders of the Opt-Out Movement, when questioned the day after the vote, acknowledged they had no plan going forward, putting on display a leadership model that has no responsibility and accountability for intelligent strategic thinking and strategic planning.
The Juno initiative is, on the other hand, a perfect example of elevating people’s spirits and thought-processes. The successful mission to orbit Jupiter fosters a perspective of hope and collaboration to create something greater than ourselves. The accomplishment of Juno creates a global sense of achievement that through technology and human brainpower working together, that an incredibly complex mission could be achieved. From this achievement will come new products and services that will impact our lives in climate change, safety, comfort and health. This opportunity to develop new products and services through the work of NASA , reinvigorates the spirit and stimulates the brain to possibilities never before explored.
As Bill Gates explains in his 2016 annual letter, the world emitted 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide to produce energy last year. To save our environment, this number has to go from 36 billion to zero and the only way to get there is through an “energy miracle.” Carbon reduction is paramount and we all hope to see a clean energy breakthrough that will save our planet and power the world. Bill Gates’s tenacity and belief in the human capacity is something we can all learn from. As he mentions in his letter, Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” We should all remember that nothing is impossible and we need to keep learning from others to succeed.
In Stephon Alexander’s book, The Jazz of Physics, he talks about the secret link between music and the structure of the universe. As both a musician and a physicist, he shares, “in our attempts to reveal new vistas in our understanding, we often must embrace an irrational, illogical process, sometimes fraught with mistakes and improvisational thinking.” As a physicist, he shares the fact that analogical reasoning is the key to innovation in theoretical physics, which uses analogy and metaphors to support conclusions that similarities exist between two systems. He uses music as the analogy to understand modern physics and cosmology. John Coltrane, Albert Einstein and Pythagoras all knew through using an interdisciplinary focus that the magical of the cosmos was based in music – crazy as that may sound.
As leaders, we are all involved in strategic planning which is the conversion of vision into actionable steps to realize that vision. Strategic thinking is where managers synthesize their strategic vision, using intuition and creativity. Leaders must create productive and high-level directions in which to stretch the organization to force renewal and reinvention to preserve and push competitive vitality. Although we all know that the future is highly uncertain and unpredictable, once you have the vision or strategic intent, strategic learning which is the organization’s ability to learn and adapt is critical.
So, I encourage you to expand your horizons, look upwards to find opportunities to connect the dots. Learn about things outside of your specific discipline. Push your thinking and be willing to collaborate with ideas that come from far-away places.