Leadership information superiority is the path to opportunity

7 mins read

Holy moly, that’s a mouthful of a title.

Ok, let’s simplify it. If you have superior information, you’ll have more opportunity.

As the future is uncertain, the only thing relatively clear is that much of what we will experience in the future will be different from the past.

“The one thing we can be sure of is that the world that will emerge from the present rearrangement of values, beliefs, social and economic structures, of political concepts and systems, indeed, of world views, will be different from anything today imagines.” – Peter Drucker in “Post Capitalist Society”

We must understand it is not information or even technology that will produce this unprecedented change, but the impact of information and technology on all aspects of human life; not computers or even bits and bytes, but the ability to apply and integrate rapid technological change.

The focus must not be on the data, but instead on how the information influences values, beliefs, social and economic structures, politics, our view of the world and the way we think and behave.

Any deep investment in market opportunities and the supporting supply chain and value delivery operation must be justified by our rationale. Altering any organization takes time and resources. So the larger the organization and scope of change, more validation is necessary. As executive leaders, our decisions require far more validation, and the high stakes game of satisfying our shareholders becomes a delicate balance.

Futurist John L. Peterson forewarns that, “We are living in a period of time that will produce more change for humanity than any previous era in history.” Peterson and other visionary futurists like Raymond Kurzweil believe that wholesale change is and will continue to take place in every segment of the world and that the pace of that change will continue at an unprecedented rate, gaining momentum with time.

If the futurists are correct, the coming decades will have staggering implications for the environment and present both hazard and opportunity for the strategic leader. If senior leaders want to take advantage of this fast paced, changing world and avoid the pitfalls associated with it, Peterson believes they must understand at least three things.

  • A broad understanding of what this new environment is all about.
  • The major forces that are driving this monumental change.
  • How leaders can think and see the world differently than they have before.

Using Big Data To Become An Agile Leader

How can leaders influence a fast changing environment to their organization; and how can they also focus on creating an adaptive organization that will adjust to meet the fast changing environment?

What will be the new demands and pressures placed on senior leaders of the future?

How can leaders ensure the availability and means to leverage the vast amounts of information needed for the complex, fast moving, decision-making environment?

Can systematic approaches be developed for leadership to quantify, access, and process massive amounts of information quickly and efficiently for competent decision-making in the strategic environment?

Is the leader of the future going to control technology or is the technology going to limit the leader?

The Third Wave

Alvin and Heidi Toffler have written about the emergence of a “new civilization” where humanity advances a quantum leap forward to a future fraught with deep social upheaval and massive restructuring. The Tofflers call this new civilization the “Third Wave.”
If you consider a wave in a large body of water and you will begin to see Toffler’s model of change. Multiple waves may exist at the same time, one following another, building momentum and crashing into the shore across many fronts. Often one wave will crash into others creating a violent and chaotic milieu. The global environment also can be turbulent, full of currents, eddies, and maelstroms which conceal deeper, historic waves. Conversely, a wave may cancel out another.

In the real world, crests and crosscurrents created by waves of change exist in work, family life, attitudes and even morality. The human race has already undergone two great waves of change, the Agricultural and Industrial Ages.

The third, Information Age, wave suggests a new civilization, new ways of working, living, and competing. It will produce new economic structures, new politics, new security issues and new ways of thinking and decision making.

It is important to understand the impact of not only just information and technology on industry or the economy, but about change in all aspects of human life. This “New World” will have its own distinctive outlook, its own way of dealing with time, space, logic, and causality.

Big Data or Bust

As society continues to march into this new age, it will become abundantly clear that our leaders must not only embrace information and big data, but will be required to leverage information strategies as a mere means of existence.

Would-be leaders finding themselves on the side of information and information technology weakness will no longer be eligible for leadership positions.

  • As a leader, where do you find yourself on the information spectrum?
  • Are you a casual bystander who relies upon other people’s understanding of information technology to provide you with the data and information?
  • Or are you able to identify and access data and information yourself?

Consider your answer carefully, your relevance as a leader is probably at stake here.


Michael Hiles

CEO 10XTS, INTJ, chaotic good, PDP/11 in '79 (THAT kid), info architect, Milton Friedman, data science, semantics, epistemology, coffee snob, OG hip hop

Previous Story

No, you probably don’t need startup investment right now

Next Story

First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

Latest from Michael Hiles