Leadership 2030: A book review by Bob Morris

Leadership 2030Leadership 2030: The Six Megatrends You Need to Understand to Lead Your Company into the Future
Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell
AMACOM (2014)

Valuable lessons to be learned from six megatrends and their possible/probable implications

I am in substantial debt to Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell for sharing their thoughts about unprecedented disruptions that will continue to occur in what has become a global marketplace. They wrote this book in response to questions such as these: “Exactly what is changing? What are the implications for organizations and their leaders in the immediate and longer term? How will this affect the way that leaders lead? What will leadership look like by the year 2030?” They and their colleagues at the Hay Group set out to identify the main drivers of change. “How could we systematically analyze these drivers and their implications? What would be the right framework for such a study?”

The Leadership 2030 Research Process consisted of eight steps: Determine methodology and conceptual framework; identify current megatrends; select most impactful megatrends; survey business leaders; analyze each megatrend and the implications; analyze the effects of all megatrends in combination; draw conclusions on consequences for leaders; and identify how leaders should respond.” The answers to the aforementioned questions are provided in this book.

Vielmetter and Sell focus on six megatrends in terms of time, reach, and impact:

1. Globalization 2.0 (Pages 13-32)
2. The Environmental Crisis (33-55)
3. Individualism and Value Pluralism (57-75)
4. The Digital Era (77-96)
5. Demographic Change (97-115)
6. Technological Convergence (117-137)

As the nine mini-case studies Vielmetter and Sell include correctly indicate, the nature and extent of a megatrend’s significance — potential implications and consequences — can vary from one organization to the next. They also have a great deal to say about the unique leadership challenges that these megatrends pose. For example, with regard to technological convergence, “Scientific progress in fields such as nanotechnology and biotechnology will transform many areas of our lives, the great advances resulting from the combination of these technologies. This wave of innovation will create untold new product markets. It will also place huge demands on companies to stay ahead of the curve and to collaborate closely with competitors on complex R&D programs.”

I commend Vielmetter and Sell on their skillful use if various reader-friendly devices during their examination of each megatrend, to which they devote a separate chapter. The devices include “Implications of [insert the given Megatrend]” and “The Demands of [ditto]” as well as “At a Glance” chapter introductions, “Five Questions That Business Leaders Should Ask,” and dozens of mini-commentaries relevant to the given megatrend, or to some dimension or aspect thereof. These devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the wealth of information, insights, and counsel that Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell provide. However, I hope I have indicated why I think so highly of their book. At best, speculation about what will happen during the next 15-20 years can only suggest what is probable rather than certain. And even then, we are well-advised to keep in mind the Hebrew aphorism, “Man plans and then God laughs.”

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