2016 – New Forces; New Frames


Mid-December, 2015

Listening to the Spirio Piano play itself at Steinway’s headquarters, I imagined I could see the musician on the bench and feel the emotions as the keys were softly “stroked” and then “pounded.”  But, no one was there.

(For those of you who haven’t followed this remarkable development: A few months ago, Steinway introduced the Spirio, a high-resolution player piano that uses software and a current-carrying coil of wire to activate the hammers and hence the notes. The result: concert-quality music with no concert artist.)

I thought about how Peter Drucker, who loved change, would have delighted in the Spirio. I also flashed back to my first visit to Disney Land, when realistic “ghosts” appeared in an elevator.  Bernard, the French horn player from the Canadian Brass put it best: “I’m glad I don’t play the piano.”

Late December

A friend was visiting from Europe and our conversation turned to Microsoft.  He was very positive about the new leadership.  Then I asked my son, do you think it is a good time to invest in Microsoft?   Will it soar the way Apple did over the past decades?  My son—who wasn’t bullish on Microsoft just last year — replied, “Microsoft is doing some things right now.   It will very much depend on how they handle the migration to Virtual Reality.  Virtual Reality is now real: Everything will change.”    He gave me his gaming magazine, with a section describing Virtual Reality and 2016. I began thinking about teaching a class with all my students virtually there, seeing their hands as they raise and so on.

So much is changing so fast. The rules, the assumptions of much of the world, are crumbling, so no one knows the new rules. The gatekeepers are being tossed aside, the gates are vanishing.   In business, the distribution channels that people built are in flux.  Country borders are not borders (except maybe to Donald Trump). I talked to people at the top of food chain and no one knows what the landscape will look like two years from now. The one theme that was prevalent — never before have people in their organizations been asking for leadership so loudly and never before has it been as difficult to provide a real vision and adjust it rapidly as the world you know changes.

It is intimidating. It is immensely liberating.

It is difficult to have bearings, much less a vision right now. And we must.

What would Peter Drucker, the master of questions, ask to help himself and others orient themselves and think with vision?   He might ask and we might begin a conversation with:

  1. When you look out the window, what do you see that is visible and not yet seen?  
    We are at something of an inflection point with capitalism and the industrial enterprise with a rising creative class, a new trust-belt, and hybrid communist-capitalists emerging with some wins.
  2. What needs to be done?
    We have to take care of this earth in a new way. Expectations of what we do when we grow up have to be shifted. Robin Chase, founder of Zip-car, goes so far as to say, if we have a stronger social network, expect to spend more time with our family, and build on platforms, are we not better off?
  3. What role can you play in addressing the needs?
    Help the millennials ask questions not about what they want to be but about how can they contribute, and help my clients ask questions about how they can build millennials in this new world. When servant-leaders are in the majority, there will be Peace on Earth.
  4. How do you want to be remembered?
    Today, my answer is different than six months ago. As a servant-leader – serving first and leading only when it helps me serve.
  5. What is your action plan?
    To write blogs this year updating and fleshing out these perspectives – building on your ideas.

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