Life can only be understood backwards; backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
- Sören Kierkegaard – Danish Philosopher
My fellow safety professionals, we have been in the midst of a business revolution the likes of which we have never experienced before. It is imperative that we quickly recognize the characteristics of this revolution, or we will continue to be pushed to the curb when trying to become a part of this revolution. We need to rethink our purpose looking forward in the context of the dynamic world in which we work and live today.
The business revolution I refer to can be summed up in one word - COMPLEXITY.
In May 2010, the IBM Institute for Business Value published its biennial CEO study.1 The study interviewed 1,541 CEOs, general managers and senior public sector leaders in 60 countries across 33 industries. This free, 71-page booklet is a must read for all safety and health professionals.
So what did these 1,541 CEOs have to say?
Seventy-nine percent stated their primary challenge is Complexity and that “they operate in a world that is substantially more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and structurally different.” More than half “doubt their ability to manage it.” Sixty percent of the CEOs cited Creativity as the most important leadership quality. Creativity comes in the form of “experimentation and innovation, significant changes in strategic business models, more calculated risks, seeking new ideas and innovative means to lead and communicate.”
Regarding the top focus areas for CEOs, “88 percent stated ‘getting closer to customers,’ 81 percent stated ‘people skills,’ and 55 percent stated ‘risk management.’” “Getting closer to customers” focuses on the ability of consumers to easily research purchase decisions. Consumers have become even more fickle when it comes to price, quality, and value. CEOs expect to “co-create products and services with customers and integrate customers into core processes.”
A majority of CEOs are managing complexity by “simplifying operations and products, and increasing dexterity to change the way they work, access resources, and enter markets around the world.” “Dexterous leaders expect 20 percent more future revenue to come from new sources.” So, Jim, what does this business mumbo jumbo mean?