Our inaugural Benchmark Blog considers the different perspectives offered in this edition and asks: “What must we learn and unlearn to unravel complexity?”
It’s a question we all grapple with daily: How do you stay on top of a changing world? The velocity at which everything now moves impacts us both personally and professionally. And with the rapid advances in technology on the horizon, it’s only set to move faster. Just keeping up is hard enough. So, how can we stay in front of the changes?
At UCLA Anderson Executive Education, we try to keep it simple. The more complex and interconnected our work world becomes, the greater the need for clear and concise framing. And that’s why we created the Bruin Benchmark. A straightforward approach to leadership.
This leadership frame – and now quarterly communication – was created to help share insights into how people at all levels of organizations are thriving at this volatile point in time. Drawing upon a wide array of perspectives within UCLA Anderson and the broad ecosystem of global business, we aim to offer a platform on which we can all learn from each other. For this inaugural edition, we tackle the topic of complexity in today’s world of work and offer the Bruin Benchmark as a frame for consideration.
In this edition…
Each from their own unique perspective, our contributors all stress that we must continually challenge ourselves to learn & grow. The ability to stay relevant in a constantly changing environment is in our own hands – if we’re willing to keep raising the bar on what we know about our products, our clients, our competitors and ourselves as leaders. Learning new approaches – and unlearning old ones – is the only way to keep pace. It’s also the best way to create and add value. As The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote, “Everyone has to bring something extra; being average is no longer enough. Everyone is looking for employees who can do critical thinking and problem solving … just to get an interview. What they are really looking for are people who can invent, re-invent and re-engineer their jobs while doing them.”
What are you learning or un-learning to stay on top of this changing world?
Mark Hoplamazian, President and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, discusses the complexities of leading a global organization and the Bruin Benchmark capabilities with UCLA Anderson’s Professor Jim Stengel.
Kelly Bean, Associate Dean, UCLA Anderson Executive Education, identifies key drivers of complexity in business and our response: The Bruin Benchmark.
UCLA Anderson’s Professor Iris Firstenberg explains how to combat complexity by bringing the future to the present. Learn more about Professor Firstenberg’s work as co-faculty director of UCLA Anderson Executive Education’s Creativity and Innovation in the Organization Program with Professor Moshe Rubinstein and their latest book: Extraordinary Outcomes: Shaping an Otherwise Unpredictable Future.
Larraine Segil, renowned executive, entrepreneur, author and educator, ponders the future of work and managing your career in the era of the Internet of Everything.
By Humphrey Gyde
Larraine Segil has started, grown, run, turned around and sold entrepreneurial businesses in financial services, health care, aerospace and professional services over a career of 40 years -- and recently launched a children's music and books small business. She serves on the board of a Fortune 300 company as well as multiple nonprofit boards.
LARRAINE SEGIL (LS): I think that the major complexity we're going to see is the impact of the Internet of Everything (IOE), which means we are connected to and accessing everything in our lives. For example, say that you live in Los Angeles and your mother lives in London and you're worried about her health. So, you hook her up to a wireless device that takes her blood pressure regularly and you monitor her blood pressure every day to make sure that she's not going out of control, because she's been known not to take her pills. Now, instead of calling your mother once a week, you are constantly in touch with her physical being even though you're not speaking to her. That's what the internet is going to be doing. You are going to be accessible to anyone anywhere through anything. You could be hacked through your refrigerator and every aspect of your behavior is now going to be under scrutiny. There is no privacy and it'll be very difficult to get off being connected. So, it's going to be work, it's going to be home, it's going to be work...there will be no down-time on any occasion. I think that's something that everybody is going to be adjusting to.
LS: I think there's tremendous positivity in it. But the negatives and the positives are highly integrated here. Data and computers and the internet are enabling a tremendous amount of work to be done remotely and automatically and the people who had performed those jobs will have to retrain themselves to align with the new world. Future generations coming in won't find things so difficult because they are already so computer savvy. But when you've got a problem facing the demographic of everybody-over-ten-years-old, then that's going to be a big political and socioeconomic issue. On the consumer side, you'll have a dichotomy of two very different kinds of worlds. The world that can afford and wants very, very high touch personal service and the world that doesn't want to have any service at all and wants to control everything from the laptop, the iPhone - the hand, basically.
LS: Simple or complex; I think that a lot of this becomes semantics. The availability of opportunities may mean that you can access, for example, a Chinese company that's manufacturing a particular chip or a crystal that may be very helpful to the company that you're running. But you still have to overcome the cultural and human elements - and sometimes the legislative and regulatory elements. The complexity, I think, is amplified and made much more difficult because of regulation and legislation - government involvement everywhere, throughout the world. I think digitization has made it easy to search for and access a partner globally; but actually partnering requires getting over a lot of manmade hurdles that are very protectionist or just plain stupid because they come from a four-decades-ago set of rules. Look at the whole idea of net neutrality. The legislation that's now being used to regulate the internet is based on the Communications Act of 1934. I mean, it's just laughable. But that's what's happening on every single level. You see it in telecommunications. You see it with energy. You even see it in healthcare. I think a lot of opportunity is lost because of state intervention.
LS: There are many aspects to it, I have an approach called the PFOR approach: Planning Formation, Operation and Review. Those are the four points that are involved in every partnership, and each one of those points involves a number of tools that overlap. Some of those tools would be: negotiation; strategy; organizational lifecycle analysis to understand cultural changes; global infrastructure and the impact of different global cultures. When you're thinking about being in business today, you can't think about being in business as a standalone organization - it doesn't matter what your size. You need licensing. You need joint ventures. You need distribution relationships. You need research and development relationships with others organizations and maybe even private equity. You need to bring in partners who are enabling you to enter new markets either geographically or from an industry point of view. You just don't have the time to do it all yourself. It's interesting when you look at Tesla. Tesla has basically taken an old industry and launched a brand new approach. But there are many aspects of what Tesla has done that utilize technology that was already designed. It wasn't like the battery idea had never been conceived of before. The reality is that every organization is standing on the shoulders of other enterprises; and to do that well requires a series of skills and a series of capabilities. Conflict resolution, negotiation, value analysis, strategy - all of those things come into partnering. It's something which I think should be taught in every curriculum. But it isn't.
LS: Well, the first thing I would say is you have to grab every opportunity to bend and stretch your mind, even if that may be uncomfortable on many occasions. It might be as simple as going to a conference in an industry you know nothing about just to see how they do it. So, if you're in the manufacturing business, go and benchmark how the hospitality industry does service. You may be lacking in knowledge about something technical. Go take a class in it. Now more than ever before, I think we are in control of our own destiny regarding educating ourselves. The Khan Academy, for example, which is basically free education online, is going to give you access to a world of mathematics and a variety of other topics that were never available before. I think we have tremendous opportunity in self-knowledge, self-education and self-development, which was really only available to a few in the past. Now it's been commoditized and it's globalized. Secondly, you need to understand that nobody's really looking out to manage your career for you. I think most millennials understand this, although not everybody in middle management does. You need to self-manage. You need to be a strategic and visionary thinker for yourself. That means constantly looking for opportunities to bring value to an organization or a community. I'm a huge networker. I believe very strongly that networking and developing human relationships are absolutely essential. So, I've joined a lot of organizations. I enjoy very much connecting with people and I keep those relationships going. I think that individuals who want to bring about change and be ahead of the game constantly have to think about how to connect with others to whom they can bring value or vice versa. It’s an essential part of work and becomes fulfilling fun – what could be better than that!