Weekly Research and Commentary on the Future of Business and Technology.
Goals, Values & Continuous Transformation.
Sep 19, 2022
The tech headlines this week were dominated by Apple’s release of the iPhone 14. I think I haven’t seen quite as much noise around an iPhone launch for a while — given that the device falls into the category of “sustaining innovation,” it makes you realize that the tech news cycle is pretty dry for a while. I guess we are all waiting for the metaverse to become real…
Read on for a deep dive into continuous transformation, our weekly reading and link list, and proof that cars are indeed better today than they were back in the day.
Practical Futurism // Decode. Disrupt. Transform.
When I was working in Silicon Valley in the 2010s, I spent a lot of time facilitating and leading workshops for executive education programs focused on emerging technologies and the disruption of established industries. Many of the executives in attendance experienced a low moment somewhere mid-program when they’d realized how much change the convergence of exponentially advancing technologies and powerful data network effects was likely to bring to their industries in the years ahead. Some left the programs clearly shaken; others, with a new sense of urgency and an engaged curiosity that might guide them in continued exploration.
And a few would finish our time together radically energized and convinced that they’d glimpsed the necessary future of their organization. One executive I remember sought me out to say that he’d been terrified early in the program at the realization of just how much he didn’t even know that he didn’t know, but that by week’s end, happily, he had a clear idea of what his company needed to do and how it would transform. He enthusiastically described an end state, complete with fairly detailed goals of a transformation that would require several years of tremendous work to realize but might – ultimately – be achievable.
“That’s fantastic,” I replied and waited for a beat. “And then, will you be ready to do it all again?”
I was only half teasing. We spent the rest of our conversation that evening discussing whether his organization might – in the process of transforming to pursue the goals he was already mentally setting – actually transform into an organization that would be more capable of executing future transformations. Part of this was about adaptability, but a key element was seeing a useful distinction between goals and values when leading into an uncertain future.
Discrete, measurable goals are particularly important in the short term to break down larger tasks and understand progress. Focusing on specific goals can become maladaptive in the longer term (especially in complex, evolving, or poorly understood environments). Research suggests that a longer-term goal focus can limit cognitive flexibility (when a narrow view of the destination can cause us to miss alternative, better paths toward reaching it) and resilience (when goal focus can produce a success/failure mindset that elevates outcome far over process).
Consider the difference here between “solve X problem” (goal) vs. “build a culture of experimentation more capable of solving problems like X” (value). Goals provide us with useful targets to aim for. Still, in the long run, and in navigating an uncertain future, a values-focus (oriented toward a purpose and manifested in processes that honor and reflect those values) provides the basis of a much more adaptable and sustainable system for leading and living. (via Jeffrey)
What We Are Reading
🤗 Emotions Aren’t the Enemy of Good Decision-Making The vast majority of us worry we move too fast when making important decisions, and we are concerned about the role our emotions will play. Now new research encourages us to actually consider our emotions as part of the decision-making process. Jane ⇢ Read
🧨 From Boom to Gloom: Tech Recruiters Struggle to Find Work Tech recruiter: once one of the most coveted jobs has turned into desperate recruiters looking for other jobs and cutting their rates amid tech hiring freezes and layoffs. Mafe ⇢ Read
💼 A Massive LinkedIn Study Reveals Who Actually Helps You Get That Job A huge study of LinkedIn data has validated and deepened our understanding of the value and power of the “weak ties” in your social network. Jeffrey ⇢ Read
😱 Bill Gates: ‘We’re in a Worse Place Than I Expected’ Regardless of how you think of Gates’ climate advice, this is a call for not just technical but systemic innovation for technology adoption. Julian ⇢ Read
👻 The Follower Artist Dries Depoorter uses open cameras and AI to look up how an Instagram photo was taken. It’s eerie, scary, and a good reminder that we do live in weird times. Pascal ⇢ Read
🧨 Disrupt Disruption: Here is our conversation with Cyborg Anthropologist Marques Anderson. In the conversation, we explore the fascinating work of a cyborg anthropologist, ancestral wisdom, and how to integrate this into one’s work.
Radically yours, take good care, friend!
— Pascal, Mafe, Vivian and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)
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