Many leaders in organizations acknowledge that change is a constant. Nevertheless, only a small number of those leaders really understand the magnitude of the change happening around them. For that reason, we feel that in any discussion of leading change or strategic foresight, failing to get clarity as to what’s really changing leads to actions that provide little sustainment of the organization’s future. Therefore, we must first illustrate what’s changing.

Key trends at the macro level are creating disruption in every industry and are affecting everyone. These are the megatrends of technological progress, economic growth, improvement of health, increase mobility, environmental changes, and deculturation and globalization. Think about how the combination of these trends renders new opportunities.

Economic growth thrusts people into taking risks and bet on new ideas. Additionally, having the economic wealth and access to technology drive innovations that create opportunities.

Take, for example, the e-skin. A tattoo-looking device, the e-skin, acts as a sensor, measuring all important health parameters and vital signs of a person 24 hours a day, transmitting data to the cloud and sending alerts to medical systems, even predicting serious health conditions before they occur.

The combination of these trends has changed how organizations are formed and led. In the past, organizations were built locally and led hierarchically. They were formed, earned market share, and leaders made the decisions concerning market expansions. Think of giants like Walmart, Apple, McDonald’s, and the German grocery chain stores Lidle and Aldi. Leadership was clearly in charge and culture more easily defined.

The traditional model evolved into the connected firm. In the mid-2000s, organizations were built on the internet. In a matter of months, they became global. Think of Facebook, Instagram, and Singapore-based company Grab. These organizations connect people with people, people to services, people to organizations, and organizations to people. Here is when leadership decisions began to be heavily influenced by people outside the organization. Leaders needed to know more, to include being advised and savvy on the cross-cultural and political effects of the company’s technological reach.

The evolution is not over. Now, we see the platform organization. This is the space where the organization is built on open sourced, decentralized, and globally distributed technology. These organizations are born global and their growth extremely accelerated. Think here blockchain start-ups like Ethereum, Bancor, and Basic Attention Token. The last two are examples of extreme growth acceleration, raising over $150 million in three hours and $35 million in less than 30 seconds respectively.

The blockchain space is unique because it does not rely on the ecosystems of multinational enterprises. It creates its own, building decentralized autonomous organizations that purely exist on the internet with no real-world footprint. This adds yet another layer of leadership development: digital competency.

Still, despite technological trends and disruptive innovations, scholars recently predicted the leader’s main duty would be to adapt the organization’s culture, mindset, and competencies to a new digital way of working.

We need now, and certainly in the future, distributed, fluid leadership to achieve such “new digital way of working.” How would that look in our organizations today and in the future? What kind of thinking and acting will bring that distributed and fluid leadership to be?

Always motivated, lugo

©2018 LugoSantiago Enterprise Group

Notes and references:

Canton, J. (2015). Future smart: Managing the game-changing trends that will transform your world.  Boston, MA: Da Capo Press. 28-218; Cornish, E. (2009). Futuring: The exploration of the future. Bethesda, MD: World Future Society.

Twenty Medical technology Advances: Medicine in the future – Part II. The Medical Futurist. Retrieved from

Zalan, T. (2018). Born global on blockchain. Review of International Business and Strategy, 28(1), 19.34.

Murawski, M., & Bick, M. (2017). Digital competencies of the workforce – a research topic? Business Process Management Journal, 23(3), 721.