Themed It is Not Enough to Disrupt!—Strategy // Core // Future, SIM’s SMF 2018 motivates leaders to revisit what it means to be human in a tech future.
Success in management practice is the effective management of efficiency and change. However, achieving success can be difficult in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world that constantly interferes with the global economy, technology, and mindset.
World expert on competitiveness, Professor Stéphane Garelli shared a competitiveness outlook for 2019 and beyond at the Singapore Management Festival (SMF) 2018 by outlining present interferences in terms of an enigmatic United States (US) dollar, destabilising currencies in emerging markets, technological revolutions, and inflation, with protectionism damaging world economic growth and impacting key determinants of competitiveness.
He explained that the material economy can be assessed by over 100 criteria like gross domestic product (GDP), inflation, and productivity. But in an immaterial economy (comprising Facebook ‘likes’ for instance), people’s beliefs, emotions, and opinions matter more than hard facts. An economy which anticipates the anticipation of others makes this even more nebulous and intangible to grasp.
Unlike the four big technological revolutions of the past (agriculture, writing, printing, and the steam engine), the four technological revolutions of recent years (personal computing, the Internet, mobile telecommunications, and artificial intelligence, i.e. AI) are taking place within a shorter space of time―leaving people with less time to digest and get accustomed to change. Technological revolution makes life different, but not necessarily easier. The type of problems we deal with are different, but the amount of problems remain the same.
Being Present Now in the Innovative Future
Futurist and technologist Mr Ben Hammersley says that anything that can be turned into a mathematical problem or a computer-programmed flowchart (jobs included) can and should quickly be given to computers. However, rather than lament the threatened loss of jobs or view technology as a messianic solution to all of life’s problems, we should instead consider how technology essentially frees us up to refocus on what humans do best. “Pay attention to every single thing you do, and what you are doing by this action. Ask ‘If I am solving this problem today for the first time, how would I use modern technology to solve it?’ If you are mindful about everything, you will find that many things are habitual and the tasks can be done by machines. The question refines your role to what only you as a human being can do.” Mr Hammersley adds that we need to reprioritise skills security (such as empathy, meta-cognitive, social, entrepreneurial, and leadership skills) over job security as precisely the things we need to practise and concentrate on.
Six Secrets of Transformational Leadership
Transformation guru and former chief executive officer (CEO) of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Dato’ Sri Idris Jala touched on six secrets of transformational leadership. In (1) The game of the impossible, setting an impossible target must be one that you yourself cannot achieve as it challenges you to think about doing things in an entirely different way. It transforms you in the process even if you don’t manage to achieve your target. (2) Anchoring on key performance indicators (KPIs) involves focussing on i) profit and loss (P&L) statements and ii) revenue growth. (3) Discipline of action means to act on implementation instead of wondering or debating about it. (4) Situational leadership is a directive leadership style that gives way to an empowering style as change leadership style transitions through four phases based on team development. (5) Winning coalition is all about managing polarities in conflicting shareholders’ requirement (i.e. government versus investors; business versus politics), investor relations, staff engagement, and collaboration with competitors. And recognising (6) Divine intervention involves humility and realising that certain outcomes in life are beyond our control.
Building Asia’s Largest Global Sports Media Property
Sports unites. With its 5,000 years of history and tradition, martial arts unites more than four billion people across the region. ONE Championship’s chief commercial officer Mr Jack Lim shares that values, heroes, and stories are at the heart of what they do.
Values: Values We Celebrate
ONE Championship seeks to celebrate Asia’s greatest cultural treasure (martial arts) by promoting deeply-rooted Asian values of integrity, humility, honour, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion. An example is the way ONE Championship’s athletes imbue these values: After her defeat, Ms Mei Yamaguchi graciously embraced Ms Angela Lee and told her that at 19 years old, she is going to be a role-model for many young people.
Heroes: Celebrating Heroes
ONE Championship’s mission is to unleash real-life superheroes who ignite the world with hope, dreams, inspiration, and strength. Mr Aung La N Sang left Myanmar as a refugee, came from a minority region, was denied entry into his own country, and exiled in the US. When he faced off with Mr Vitaly Bigdash from Russia, Mr Aung La became the first world champion in any sport crowned for Myanmar. The views of a fragmented nation and dreams of millions of children across Myanmar were reignited. A national hero was born.
Stories: Telling their Stories
Born in the slums of the Philippines, Mr Eduard Folayang grew up in a family of nine siblings; five of whom died of malnutrition because his parents could not afford basic medical care. However, a gym in the Philippines that taught wushu saved his life and gave Mr Folayang courage and determination. He became the first in his family to read, write, and attend high school. He later went on to represent the Philippines in wushu in the Southeast Asian (SEA) games, win a gold medal, and a world wushu championship. The rest as they say is history and Filipinos living in extreme poverty remember how Mr Eduard Folayang was one of them.
Embracing Challenges with the Attitudes of Adventure
From battling -40 degree winters in Siberia to flooded rivers in Papua New Guinea and back to London, author and Nat Geo adventurer Mr Rob Lilwall shared how his cycling escapades translate to life and business lessons. He highlighted four takeaways:
(1) Nurture a Growth Mindset
People think that one has to be ultra-fit and outgoing in order to achieve such a feat. However Mr Lilwall had no special physical training and was undermined by his students due to his shyness (when he was a high school teacher). When his friend invited him to ride his bicycle across Asia with him, it occurred to Mr Lilwall that he could either live his life determined by circumstance, or do something new with his friend. Psychologists term this the fixed versus growth mindset: believing that we cannot improve our skills through effort and practice versus believing we can. Nurture a growth mindset about your abilities and grow your courage.
(2) Harness your Fears (With Understanding)
Mr Lilwall feared freezing to death, being eaten by bears, and being taken advantage of by bad people in the wilderness. But he kept his body temperature up by constantly moving, realised that bears hibernated in the winter, and approached a miner’s home where he was helped by a kind, hospitable stranger. Even though fear keeps us safe from real dangers, false fears can be crippling. To harness fear, one must understand one’s fear, name it, realistically ask: “What is the worst that could happen?”, consider the opportunities beyond one’s fear, and talk about the fear with trusted friends.
(3) Grow Resilience (Rest and Reframe)
When making his way through Papua New Guinea’s mountains and jungles, Mr Lilwall was forced to turn back when a river he was trying to cross started to flood due to torrential rains. Exhausted and discouraged, he felt like quitting. Instead, he opted for a short break, a good night’s sleep, and took the next day off. Resilience is the ability to keep going in difficult conditions or recover quickly from setbacks. To nurture resilience, one must rest and refocus, reframe and remember that setbacks are neither rarely permanent nor all one’s fault. Instead ask: “What can I control right now? What is the right next action to do?”
(4) Don’t Try to Make it on Your Own
Very occasionally, Mr Lilwall met with bad people and was robbed twice in three years but 99.9 per cent of the people he met were kind, helpful, and friendly. So develop your social and work relationships, and remember that “givers” do better in the end (but always beware of the “takers”).
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