In 1996, Ralph Stacey said “ At least 90% of textbooks on strategic management are devoted to that part of the management task which is relatively easy: the running of the organizational machine in as surprise-free a way as possible. On the contrary, the real management task is that of handling the exceptions, coping with and even using unpredicability, clashing counter-cultures. The task has to do with instability, irregularity, difference and disorder.” ( Strategic Management & Organizational Dynamics). I have taught now for over 15 years to managers and senior executives, and have found little evidence in business school of training that focuses on that skill. How can one help and train corporate executives to cope with unpredictability?
In this article, which I co-published yesterday with Martin Harrysson and Hugo Sarrazin in the McKinsey Quarterly, we discuss how social media is opening opportunities for companies to collect and hunt fresh strategic insight from social media and how social technologies can play a surprisingly central role in how information is sourced, collected, analyzed, and distributed. Social Media is not displacing current methods of intelligence gathering, but emerges as a strong complement. As it does, social-intelligence literacy will become a critical asset for C-level executives and board members seeking the best possible basis for their decisions.
Klaus Schwab from the World Economic Forum, opened one of the WEF's meeting last month by saying " Complexity, velocity of global issues means decision makers are always behind". From heads of state to corporate decision makers, everyone is struggling with the same challenge: too much - too fast. There is one profession however who has studied carefully decision making, and systematically trained thousands of decision makers to allow them to make decisions in minutes, often in very uncertain conditions : the airline and airplane industry. Managers and executives could learn from them.