Solid Connections in a Liquid WorldDr. Ralph Shrader, Chairman and CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton, recently stated that “we have to get beyond our human tendency to want a fixed certain state. It simply doesn’t exist.” To be effective in this kind of environment we need solid leadership and solid linkages with other people. While the typical response would be to demand more, he contends that less is more. “Less is more solid.”
“When it comes to leadership, I believe less instant is more thoughtful.” Leaders need to communicate a clear vision and clear set of priorities. This mean that everyone needs to not only understand where we are going and why we are going there, but what trade–offs should be made to achieve the most important priorities. When push comes to shove our followers “need to know what comes first—whether it is expediency, economy, or an overarching principle.”
Solid leadership in a liquid world also requires a common understanding and consistent measures of success. You can choose metrics that can position you in the best light, “but in reality, it only hurts [your] ability to build the institution because it can mask true performance.”
Additionally, solid leadership in a liquid world requires “informed—but timely and unambiguous—decision making.…Leadership attention is perhaps the scarcest resource in today’s highly networked world….Therefore we as leaders need to focus our attention on the most important matters. My strategy on focusing attention is to be minds on, but hands off. By minds on, hands off, I mean that leaders are responsible for everything important—but we don’t have to actually do everything important.”
This requires that we slow down to think. “Thoughtfulness and clarity cannot be compromised.”
Finally, Shrader brought out another important element in his speech for making solid connections in a liquid world—personal linkages. “Less virtual is always more personal and more powerful.”
We need to use technology for what it does best—store, retrieve, compute, and mine data—and use people for what we do best—imaging, design, dream, and relate. At the end of the day, one of us, not an information system must make all the big decision. We’re the ones who need to be minds on.
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