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The Future of Africa is Now: How Disruptive Innovation, Demographic Explosion, and Dense Urbanization is Creating Revolutionary Development by Mind Map: The Future of Africa  is Now: How Disruptive  Innovation, Demographic  Explosion, and Dense  Urbanization is Creating  Revolutionary Development
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The Future of Africa is Now: How Disruptive Innovation, Demographic Explosion, and Dense Urbanization is Creating Revolutionary Development

Change is an interesting thing, sometimes it may look like it is light years away, even though we see signs of it everywhere we look, whether in Kenya, or California, Africa or America. We all hear the same old lessons from the same old people who still do the same old things how they were done in the same old days, days that existed before most of us, including the people saying these things were born, days that no longer exist, and than we imagine, the signs of change we see everywhere around us, in the world, through connecting on-line, amongst our group of friends by connecting off-line, we imagine these signs of change cants really be so close So we follow the old lessons and wait for tomorrows change and development, as if it is something that will be given in the future and not created today  But when we finally choose to trust our own, fresh eyes, instead of the expired words of others, we will see that the signs of change are actual not far into the future, we will see that they are right in our face, that the future is now, and not only Change, but revolutionary Change, or what I would call Revolutionary Development is what stands to be created  And the different aspects of what will make up Revolutionary Development is what my talk will be about Logistics Record with Video Cam Record with Audio Recorder Get copy of Sign in Sheet Work using Prezi--maybe use mind manager for presentation Use Slideshare for idea sourcing feedback n forward Nov 25, 2010 4:01 AM Safaricom"s offer end sees consumer backlash/on CIO reader  

My Contacts

Garcia Mavinga 0718750369/ twitter: @garciamavinga    skype:  garciamavinga Blog: The Future of Africa is Now: Organizational Consultant-Independent Researcher Organizational Consultant-work with NGO"s, Social, and Political Organizations, assist them in conducting outreach to their significant constituencies, utilizing ICT for netroots outreach, and traditional organizing principles for grassroots outreach Conducting Research in affiliation with Strathmore Universities Governance Center in Nairobi on the confluence of ICT, Youth, and Urbanization and the potential for Revolutionary Development 

The Future is Now

What does this mean? In my discussion I will be discussing specific trends occurring in the area of the world collectively known as "The Developing World", but will be looking at Kenya to make most of my specific points By the end of my talk, it is my hope that we will see that in all the areas of development, these parts of the world, with Kenya being our main example, have certain advantages compared to the developed parts of the world in Europe and America, which make them poised to experience Revolutionary Development.

The Three D's

The developing world has experience three key changes in the last 80 years which if tapped can create the foundation for a transformation into a new kind of society, which could bring about revolutionary development I call these key changes, the Three D"s

Revolutionary Development

Third Wave

Echo Vision 2030

Towards the goal of transformation, the Kenyan Government implemented Vision 2030 in 2009. Kenya Vision 2030 is the country’s development blueprint covering the period 2008 to 2030. It"s objective is to help transform Kenya into a, “middle-income country providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030” the Vision is based on three “pillars”: the economic, the social and the political. This Vision"s adoption comes after the successful implementation of the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation (ERS), responsible for the country’s GDP growth from a low of 0.6% and gradual rise to 6.1% in 2006.  The Kenya Vision 2030 is to be implemented in successive five-year Medium-Term Plans, with the first such plan covering the period 2008 – 2012. At an appropriate stage, another five-year plan will be produced covering the period 2012 to 2017, and so on till 2030 This Vision"s adoption comes after the successful implementation of the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation (ERS), responsible for the country’s GDP growth from a low of 0.6% and gradual rise to 6.1% in 2006. The Kenya Vision 2030 is to be implemented in successive five-year Medium-Term Plans, with the first such plan covering the period 2008 – 2012. At an appropriate stage, another five-year plan will be produced covering the period 2012 to 2017, and so on till 2030

Giant Step

But is Vision 2030 being aggressive enough or it is being to optimistic Does Kenya and other developing countries seemingly placed have what it takes to make a Giant Step beyond Industrial economies, of which they never developed, into ICT based economies. Some pessimist say that the prospects for such economic leap-frogging are not promising. Many argue that many of the scientists, engineers and production specialists necessary for these advances to take place no longer do not live in Africa. You can find them in America, France, England and other developed countries. Moreover, relatively low levels of literacy and government-caused disincentives to entrepreneurship and scientific innovation do not bode well for a technological renaissance. But with proper leadership, institutions can be developed to encourage scientific and technology innovation.  The Chinese and Indian miracles are not happening because of foreign scientist coming to their countries, but on their countries sending their youth to study the newest science and technology in the West and bringing them home.  But these are just the supporting factors as to why African countries with leadership can achieve a Giant Step into ICT based economies, and why in fact Africa is in a better position than the West--to seize the Future now  

Revolutionary Development versus Sustainable Development

Revolutionary Money

Mobile Banking


Peer to Peer Banking

Micro Finance

Revolutionary Media

new media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content. Another important promise of New Media is the "democratization" of the creation, publishing, distribution and consumption of media content. What distinguishes new media from traditional media is the digitizing of content into bits

If You want to Stay Relevant

Revolutionary Communications and Mobility

In East Africa, the mobile phone is quickly replacing the laptops and modems in terms of enabling workforce mobility. The mobile phone is an affordable tool that has a wide reach, and we now have a wide variety of low end smartphones that are equipped with apps that enable the phone to be more than a tool for making calls and checking office emails.

Smart phones and Apps


In Kenya, the move by the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) in 2010 to lower 3G license fee and lower calling rates was a benchmark towards achieving enterprise mobility. License fee was lowered by 60% from $25 million to $10 million while interconnection rates from Kshs 4.42 to Kshs 2.21. This saw Bharti Airtel and Telkom Orange acquire the license after Safaricom (already in 3G operation. Airtel and Telkom 3G to be rolled out this year). It also marked the beginning of an aggressive price war by these telecom giants. 3G or 3rd generation mobile telecommunications, is a generation of standards for mobile phones and mobile telecommunications services fulfilling the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT — 2000) specifications by the International Telecommunication Union.[1] Application services include wide-area wireless voice telephone, mobile Internet access, video calls and mobile TV, all in a mobile environment. To meet the IMT-2000 standards, a system is required to provide peak data rates of at least 200 kbit/s. Recent 3G releases, often denoted 3.5G and 3.75G, also provide mobile broadband access of several Mbit/s to smartphones and mobile modems in laptop computers.


The year ended on a high with the signing of the Mobile Number Portability in December by the four telecomm giants (Safaricom, Telkom Orange, Yu and Airtel), enabling subscribers to retain their telephone numbers when switching service providers

Mobile Phones

The cover story in the February edition of CIO magazine gives an indepth analysis of just how businesses in East Africa have integrated the mobile device in their operations to improve efficiency, increase customer base and enable businesses have a competitive edge in the market.  Setting the grounds . In January 2011 alone, we have seen Kenya Data Networks announce its explansion of the Strix’s System – Network Outdoor Wireless Systems, Indoor Wireless Systems and Edge Wireless System – to 16 countries in Sub- Saharan Africa.  (Kshs 10 billion) to upgrade its network, introduced an MPesa booking for travel tickets and hotel bookings as well as PesaPal, a partnership with Cooperative Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank and CFC Stanbic Bank to pay fees to schools via MPesa. In the region, Zantel (Zanzibar Telkom operator) relaunching ZPesa in April last year, to enable service utilities to be paid using the mobile phone. The African Business Review has this year published that 50% of the Tanzania population are now using the mobile phone. New report reveals widespread usage of mobiles is replacing traditional business structure. In Rwanda, the Ministry of Health launched a mobile-based public health information system – mHealth programme – of supplying mobile phones to rural health workers, allowing them to report difficult cases and get health information via SMS. Examples of how businesses in the region are leveraging the mobile phone for business advantage is endless. I want to focus on specific industry"s, showing in what ways they are using the mobile phone in their operations. Telecommunication sector: as early as 2000, Virtual City, a local developer of mobile solutions in the area of supply chain, knowledge management and interactive solutions, has been a steady player in the business mobility cosystem and has been able to curve itself as the market leader in the development, customization and implementation of innovative mobility solutions. Safaricom, a major player in this sector, launched its MPesa project in 2007 that was designed to integrate business process management and customer relationship management (CRM) technologies. Both companies have won international accreditation on innovation, reach and impact through their mobile innovations. Financial sector: equity bank’s MKesho Xpress phone solution launched in 2010 enables their registered agents to capture their customer’s details and upload the information to a central server for account opening. Madison insurance, also in the financial sector, has allowed their members to pay for their premium policy and receive claims using M-Pesa and ZAP (Zain, now Airtel, mobile banking product). The product has an interactive SMS facility with notification engine and capacity for bulk payments. The company further has an interactive web service that allows webchat and reporting claims online. Manufacturing sector: coca-cola began a mobile distributor initiative in 2009 where the sales agents are provided with a mobile phone with pre-installed applications that enables the placement of delivery orders, issue receipts, conduct market audits and so on. All information is is consolidated in a central server and synchronized via General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) over Virtual Private Network (VPN). The project won the Nokia Growth Economy Venture challenge in 2010 and received a US$ 1 million grant. The project has resulted in the elimination of out of stock, avoidance of lost sales among other advantages. Farmer’s choice, another company in the manufacturing industry, have employed a mobile ERP system using Microsoft Business Dynamic (off the shelf) product, linked with a meat processing module and a mobile invoicing module using Safaricom. Since its inception, the product has increased efficiency, timeliness and support of customers. Health sector: AAR health services introduced an SMS query system in 2008 that enables hospitals to query AAR servers to check member validity via the mobile phone. The process is so simple that it acts like checking balance on mobile phone. This innovation has reduced the number of false claims by hospitals and has shortened the time spent to query and verify a patients details.  “We have plans to make our sms query system interactive. Clients will be able to query the system and get response in real time,” says Wilfred Rono, AAR Group IT General Manager. Transport sector: Kenya Airways has empowered their sales force and senior executives to access information and make decisions while on the go using the internet, VPN and a variety of access devices that are within the reach of the user. Education sector: the Uganda education sector is vibrant in the areas of integration of mobile technologies and solutions in their education system. Ugandan Management Institute has a mobile learning system where students with iPods and any mobile phone can access online information, a virtual learning environment and send queries via sms. Kenyatta University’s Smart Card Project started in 2010 is used by students and staff as an identification card for accessing the various services in the university like the library and computer labs. The card is loaded with money via MPesa as one of the payment channels. The university has seen a reduced level in the cases of fraud and limited unauthorized access to the university facilities among other benefits. What does this mean for a CIO?  Properly deployed, mobility provides measurable top-line benefits.  These companies show that indirect benefits of business mobility such as customer satisfaction, retention and an increase in new customers, improved efficiency, time saving and reduced error rate ranked amongst the highest. “The mobile phone has enabled us to have a wide reach. We have been able to reach hospitals that did not have the capacity to invest in infrastructure like computers,” says Wilfred Rono, AAR Group IT general manager. Direct benefits like cost versus benefit element and Return on Investment (ROI) to convince CIOs to increase mobility budgets amidst shrinking IT budgets is an element yet to be seen. Also, there are unique management challenges CIOs are encountering as enterprises attempt to gain greater control over smartphones. On one hand, a growing reliance on those devices is creating serious headaches for CIOs. The most critical challenges stem from the complexity of the mobility ecosystem, a network made up of mobile carriers, device manufacturers, ISVs, distributors and other entities that contribute to an enterprise mobility solution. Without an understanding of how to work with the different players in the mobility ecosystem, enterprises will be unable to negotiate optimal deals for mobile devices or deploy them with the applications, tools and accessories, and security required for business users. As for the future of business mobility, Chris Sang, COO Virtual City believes that future trends will see a move towards personal mobility. “Personal mobility is an area we are moving towards. With cloud computing taking increased importance especially in mid-sized companies, we will see users being able to determine what kind of mobile device they want, with what solutions and for what costs. Then, mobile software developers like Virtual City will come up with a user specific product. This is a young area that is still developing.”  


Voice over Internet Protocol (Voice over IP, VoIP) is one of a family of internet technologies, communication protocols, and transmission technologies for delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. Other terms frequently encountered and often used synonymously with VoIP are IP telephony, Internet telephony, voice over broadband (VoBB), broadband telephony, and broadband phone. Internet telephony refers to communications services—Voice, fax, SMS, and/or voice-messaging applications—that are transported via the Internet, rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The steps involved in originating a VoIP telephone call are signaling and media channel setup, digitization of the analog voice signal, encoding, packetization, and transmission as Internet Protocol (IP) packets over a packet-switched network. On the receiving side, similar steps (usually in the reverse order) such as reception of the IP packets, decoding of the packets and digital-to-analog conversion reproduce the original voice stream.[1]. Even though IP Telephony and VoIP are terms that are used interchangeably, they are actually different; IP telephony has to do with digital telephony systems that use IP protocols for voice communication while VoIP is actually a subset of IP Telephony. VoIP is a technology used by IP telephony as a means of transporting phone calls.[2]

Revolutionary Government


Involving the public in decision making While the grass root has several innovative ideas that can improve the country and help in improvement of efficiency, such ideas rarely make it to policy makers or majority of Kenyans.  “Do we have a platform through which we can share ideas,” asks Mike Macharia, CEO of Seven Seas Technologies.  The firm has developed a national innovation forum through which one can share ideas and vote them up. Titled “Community Baraza”, one creates an account through which they submit their ideas or vote for other people’s ideas. Voting can also be done by sending an SMS with the idea number to 0717410705.  “It is easier for the PS of tourism to see ideas that many people are voting in from the grassroots,” says Macharia, adding that innovations need strategies such as incentives, processes and tools to measure them.   

Revolutionary Incubators

We are all aware of think tanks and the type of work they are suppose to do Kenya is full of think tanks of the old industrial way of thinking, very centralized, hierarchy, and still stuck on the idea that foreign aid and NGO programs will be what saves Kenya and Africa But as they are thinking in the past, there are collectives of young people throughout Nairobi who are thinking in the future today. As incubators, they create a supportive environment for start-ups and SMEs in Nairobi.  These are places where young entrepreneurs can get together build their business ideas and structure.

Incubators for the Next IT Geniuses

There are a couple of incubators popping up to support techprenuers, in accessing a network and engaging potential venture capitalist, but more need to be created.  

Revolutionary Energy

Solar Power

For Africa’s poorest families, lighting is often the most expensive item in their budget, typically accounting for 10–15 percent of total household income. The energy poor in Africa spend about US$17 billion a year on fuel-based lighting sources. To put the full energy sector in perspective, independent estimates place worldwide spending on fuel-based lighting in developing countries at $38 billion. Beyond household use, commercial use of fuel-based lighting can have even more acute economic impacts. Fishermen on Lake Victoria in Kenya, for example, often spend half their income for the kerosene they use to fish at night. Yet, while consuming a large share of scarce income, fuel-based lighting provides little in return. Fuel-based lamps, such as kerosene lamps, are costly, inefficient, and provide poor lighting. The smoke they emit causes respiratory and eye problems, while the flames from kerosene lamps are responsible for thousands of severe burns among children every year, along with untold numbers of devastating house fires. But many African countries are making strides to put fuel-based power behind them. Kenya, for example, as I discuss in an article this week posted on InterPVNet, has one of the largest and most dynamic per capita solar PV markets among developing countries, with over 300,000 households having installed solar PV systems since the mid-1980s. Since 2000, annual sales for these systems have regularly topped 15 percent, and they account for roughly 75 percent of all solar equipment sales in the country. In addition, exciting and rapid developments in off-grid lighting with highly efficient long-lasting light emitting diodes (LED) lamps are also changing the set of options in formerly neglected markets. Kenya’s government having set 2017 as a deadline for the country to make significant advances in green in power generation, the stage is set for the solar PV sector to deliver household systems to a national market that is intended to be able to absorb a million of them a year, according to the International Finance Corporation. An education campaign has also been launched to encourage people living in rural Kenya to adopt solar lighting. Dubbed Zonga Mble na Solar (Stay ahead with solar), the campaign targets 13.5 million people, both households and small businesses, in rural Kenya. It shows how by switching from fuel- based lighting to modern, solar lighting rural people can improve their health, increase their savings. households typically spend about 10% of their income on kerosene and benefit from better lighting and more productive time in their homes, schools and businesses.


Revolutionary Education


Revolutionary Law


Revolutionary Wealth & Business

The next multi-millionaires for the foreseeable future will be Techprenuers or Those who rely on their support

Revolutionary Agriculture

Agriculture Source of Majority of Income and Largest Part of Economy Majority of Africa farmers are still on level of peasant low grade agriculture, with lowe grade tools can"t produce much  industrial stye farming destroys land, and environment, once cost of rehabilitation is included the benefits are not as large as they seem In the Agriculture Revolution the African Farmer will leap over industrial agricultural solutions  From Subsistence Sustainable Agriculture, past Industrial Agriculture to Science and Technology enable Revolutionary Agriculture  From muscle power of parents to brain power of the children

ICT Enterprise

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)

FDI & Capital


Crowd sourcing

Revolutionary Advisers

IT Solutions Provider

With ICT becoming a necessity for any business, NGO, or government to stay competitive, Kenya is seeing a rise in IT solutions firms.  Just a couple who have impressed me.

Revolutionary Tools

From Satellite to Fiber-Optic Cable

Kenya now exceeds South Africa in available sub-marince capacity. South Africa was leading 3 years ago .  Over the past year, the African telecoms market has been transformed by the launch of new, private submarine cables. International wholesale prices have fallen by more than 50% in many markets, bandwidth supply has risen by nearly 300% in 2010, and some countries have raised their international bandwidth intake nearly tenfold. .

Revolutionary Associations

Social Capital

Social Science research has shown one of the fundamental variables to the development of a society is social capital.   The more individuals are connected with each other, especially through ICT connectivity (broadband) and in urban setting, the greater the fertile ground for the creation of social capital

Revolutionary Culture

Hip-Hop Culture

Revolutionary Change and Challenges

Ways of Organizing People and Ideas

Cyber Crime

Social Consciousness


Political: Now Anything Can Happen

Revolutionary Leadership: What is it

martin luther king un sung ku shee Leadership -quiet leadership--tihis is the majority of leaders--the department head, teacher, parents, each and every one of us -heroic leadership--the ones we have most information about  Will discuss both The sum of quiet leadership is a 1000 x strong than the acts of those who receive wide acclaims UNDER MORALITY OF LEADERSHIP The quiet acts of an untold amount of leaders that have come before us are the ones whose unhistoric acts have allow us to live our lives todays with less ills, with just a little less rough edges and sickness, just a little more dignity and freedom of mind and choice.   Many rest in unvisited tombs, but there contributions are no less significant them those who rest in official government protected pyramids   


What is at Stake

The Alienated yet Educated Youth

Not everybody can be an entrepreneur, the majority of any population, even educated ones, are employees  The current economy"s in the developing world, cannot employ all the young people who will be coming out of university will degrees and the millions more who will follow them in the next 10 or so years The labor force in the developing world (minus China with its one-child policy) is set to increase by 50% by 2050. In sub-Saharan Africa it is set to double Unless Revolutionary Development is embraced countries like Kenya will be faced with millions of unemployed and underemployed young educated people, alienated and disconnected from the dreams they had for their life and career while studying, frustrated with their lot in life.

Questions and Thoughts



Thrid Wave, Alvin Toffler

Revolutionary Wealth, Alvin Toffler

The Future of Technology in Africa Jasper Grosskurth

The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell

The Prepared Mind of a Leader: Eight Skills Leaders Use to Innovate, Make Decisions, and Solve Problems, Bill Welter Jean Egmon

In today"s complex business climate, people—no matter what their role in the organization—need to make informed decisions and learn how to think flexibly. A leader"s most important asset is the ability to anticipate changes in the environment and adapt to them quickly. The Prepared Mind of a Leader presents an original and effective way to think more flexibly about innovation, strategy, change, and problem solving. Throughout the book, the authors include triggers for exploring how these ideas apply to an organization"s unique circumstances. The Prepared Mind of a Leader helps readers prepare for the future by laying out a program for developing, maintaining, and mobilizing the key mental skills that define Prepared Mind leadership. These eight skills can be applied in a wide range of settings, from large-scale organizations to small entrepreneurial firms: Observing—search out confirming and non-confirming information about your world view Reasoning—clearly explain why you are following a course of action Imagining—visualize new ideas for your company"s policies and practices Challenging—question your organization"s assumptions and test their validity Deciding—make or influence decisions that will propel action to progress Learning—master the information you need to keep you moving forward Enabling—offer the people around you the knowledge, means, and opportunities to progress Reflecting—invest time thinking abouttrade-offs and the consequences of those trade-offs that result from our decisions These skills provide a framework that the thoughtful leader or manager can use to approach issues of strategy and innovation. The authors also show how to develop the skills further and apply them in everyday life. Biography Bill Welter is the managing director of Adaptive Strategies (, a firm specializing in business education and consulting. He has more than thirty-five years of varied military, engineering, consulting, and teaching experience. Jean Egmon is a faculty member in managerial economics and decision sciences at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and director of the Complexity in Action Network at Northwestern. She is also the president of Third Angle, Inc. ( From the Publisher Praise for The Prepared Mind of a Leader "The Prepared Mind of a Leader provided me a road map for thinking more deeply, differently, and effectively across a wide array of issues. It will be impossible to read this book without coming away with several practical concepts and tools that can be applied immediately." —Neal Kulick, vice president, Global Talent Management, McDonald"s Corporation "Easy to read and understand, this book offers leaders at all levels practical tools and a newway to think about leadership that will help you survive, and even thrive, as a leader." —Jon Peters, president, The Institute for Management Studies "Anyone running a business, a team, a work group, or simply trying to better manage his or her life will benefit from The Prepared Mind of a Leader. It"s a great model for accelerating leadership readiness in today"s hypercompetitive markets." —Thomas A. Gebhardt, president, Panasonic Factory Solutions Company "For leaders who need to unleash the human capital locked within their organizations, this insightful and pragmatic read offers realistic solutions to these universal issues." —Jon Atchue, vice president human resources, REXAM Beverage Can North America "The Prepared Mind of a Leader is the best kind of business book—it provides a timely and practical framework for how to think, not what to think. This is a must-read for the next generation of leaders, and those who are preparing them to lead." —Clark Callahan, executive director, Tuck Executive Education, Dartmouth "Welter and Egmon have identified key skill-building exercises for strengthening your leadership effectiveness. Like athletes who train to build muscle memory, these repetitions build the Prepared Mind muscles. The authors show you how to do it using behavior-based theories that lead to practical workouts." —William J. White, retired chairman and CEO, the Bell and Howell Company, and professor, Northwestern University Features - Prepared Mind of a Leader Table of Contents Read a Sample Chapter Table of Contents Introduction : chance favors the prepared mind11The only foundation we have112Frameworks for intentional preparation253Observing : seeing beyond the obvious434Reasoning : moving from the known to the undetermined685Imagining : envisioning the future before it arrives956Challenging : pushing for higher and deeper thinking1207Deciding : choosing with consequences in mind1488Learning : keeping a developmental mind-set1739Enabling : exercising leadership from the outside in19810Reflecting : looking backward, forward, and inward22611Conclusion : preparing for tomorrow252 Read a Sample Chapter The Prepared Mind of a Leader By Bill Walter John Wiley & Sons ISBN: 0-7879-7680-6 Chapter One The Only Foundation We Have People and organizations have been prepared and unprepared throughout history, yet businesses continue to run, decisions and problems continue to be dealt with, and innovations continue to break through. So why is the need to have a Prepared Mind more critical than ever before? To answer that question, we need to start with what we know. Contrary to the "clean sheet of paper" recommendations from the heyday of the reengineering movement, we humans do not start with a "clean sheet of paper" when we are constructing new knowledge and understanding in our minds. We build new knowledge and skills by appending new information to existing knowledge and skills and by recombining the old with the new in new ways. We thus start with some of the important things we already know as business practitioners. These, combined with new information we gain from reading, listening, and experiencing business for ourselves with the application of the Prepared Mind skills, will set the stage for a new way of thinking. We have no choice but to build on today. It"s the only foundation we have. Six Givens We offer the following as what we know about the context for building a Prepared Mind. These are the givens, the context in which we operate: We know we operate in a system; we are not alone. We know that we are in the midst of multiple life cycle curves. We know that life cycle clock speed is accelerating. We know that progress requires us to actively sense and respond to the changes around us. We know that leadership is important during times of change. We know that every organization has a cascade of strategies, whether they know it or not. As you think about these givens individually and then consider the connections among and between them, you will see a picture, a mosaic, of an evolving future that requires us to be more prepared than ever before. There are more givens unique to you and your organization. What would you say they are? Are you listening to others in your organization who see connections you may not? Are you painting the picture and bringing others along the path of seeing the connections? We Know We Operate in a System When we investigate organizational successes and failures, the question of responsibility is often focused on the person in command. However, the system in which that leader is operating is just as powerful a determinant. Consider the realities of business life. Collectively, companies are part of a system called "business." For much of the twentieth century, we followed the mechanistic thinking of the industrial revolution and considered ourselves to be part of a massive industrial machine (a "cog," with a specific role in a specific part of the machine, so to speak). By the end of the century, we changed the metaphor to that of ecology, which is more complex because the chains of cause and effect are co-evolving, they are much longer, and they are more interrelated. Your business is part of a business ecosystem. As with nature, if the ecosystem dies, all of the inhabitants die. Think of the airline industry as an ecosystem. Just how healthy is that entire ecology? Like any other system, the system called business is a network of components, among them the human components or stakeholders: managers, executives, employees, competitors, suppliers, customers, and others who have relationships with one another. Both the components and relationships can change over time, and the strength of the relationships will wax and wane over time. In addition, any category of stakeholders can have multiple relationships. For example, competitors can buy from companies, sell to them, and also compete against them: same company-different relationships. Changing any component or relationship can cause a string of other changes, which are not necessarily tightly linked in time or space. For example, when a competitor makes an improvement in quality control, a company"s relationship with its own customers will change. What was good enough may no longer be so. Now here is the tough part. In a complex system like business, we often do not know all the components. What people or organizations might affect or be affected by your decisions? Furthermore, we often do not know the type or strength of the relationships between and among those people and organizations. Which relationships are becoming more or less relevant in your own ecology of business? For example, do your employees recognize themselves as having a contractual relationship or a loyalty relationship with the company? Will that loyalty relationship still hold after the latest round of layoffs? The bottom line is that being prepared for the future is more complex than ever before. The leaders and companies that will succeed in this climate are those that appreciate the requirements of its many relationships, are able to change as they change, and can do so more quickly and more intelligently than their competition. Prepared Mind leaders are those who know how to work within the system while getting the system to realign or evolve in the direction they have imagined. To get any system to change in a business ecology, we must first start with the people or stakeholders of the system: the decision makers behind other system components such as budgets, policies and governance, technological choices, and customer preferences. The Prepared Minds of successful leaders strive to understand what is on the minds (and in the hearts) of the stakeholders of their business ecology, and they design strategy and change from that understanding. Prepared Mind Question How do we make progress in a dynamic system with unknown components, unknown relationships, and unknown strength of relationships? We Know We Are in the Midst of Multiple Life Cycle Curves Most of us are familiar with the standard product life cycle terminology of introduction and growth and maturity and decline (Figure 1.1). These are the stages that all products traverse from creation to elimination. We also know that the same-shaped curve can be used to describe the life cycle of a business or an industry. And for those of us with enough years under our belt, we can see the same happening for most, if not all, management tools, techniques, and fads that have passed through our lives. Do you remember when Total Quality Management was hot (and then rapidly cooled off)? Do you remember the meteoric rise and fall of Quality Circles? How about the concept of employee empowerment? Is it mature, or on the decline, or already dead in your organization? We live in the midst of simultaneous industry changes, company changes, product changes, technique changes, and fads-and all are at a different point in their own life cycle. There is so much evidence of the life cycle curve in our environment that we no longer take notice and consider it. We are like fish that don"t see the water. The hard part of all of this is that there is a big difference between knowing the cycle exists and knowing how to deal with it in a proactive manner. The curve is crystal clear when we look back on what has happened but almost impossible to anticipate as we look forward. We know the shape of the eventual curve that will play out, but we don"t know how long the current phase will last and therefore when the curve will change direction. We also don"t know how abrupt the change will be or to what degree the curve will change. And this is critically important when we think about the curve in the light of developing strategy. Prepared Minds work within the current curve while thinking ahead of it. They also start seeing and helping others prepare for the new curve so the shift is truly evolutionary rather than a jolt to the system. Through skills such as imagining, learning, reflecting, teaching, and deciding, they determine when and how to ride the current curve and when and how to act beyond it. Consider this. Would Motorola have lost the lead in cell phone technology if it had been prepared for the shift from analog to digital technology? We can look back and see that analog technology was in a decline long before Motorola did anything about it. It may have noticed the shift but clearly acted on it too late. What if Motorola leaders had noticed the curve in time to "jump the curve" to the digital life cycle? We can be sure that someone was jumping up and down and worried about the analog life cycle, but we have to ask why didn"t they do anything in time to avoid the sudden maturing of the analog cycle. The Prepared Mind senses changes in the direction of the life cycle curve before it"s in full force and prepares the business for the new fundamentals while continuing to operate in the old fundamentals. Andy Grove, the cofounder and chairman of Intel, referred to these changes in direction of the life cycle curve as strategic inflection points, describing them as "a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change." This often means seeing the connection of something new in the greater environment, beyond our own industry. We have to learn to think through or imagine the possibilities of these out-of-industry changes on our own business"s market, our organization"s competencies, or other key factors in strategic decision making. For instance, have we truly thought through and begun to jump to the next curve that the flood of baby boom retirements will bring to bear on almost all industries and social systems? Prepared Mind Question We know we are in the midst of many life cycles. We know that shifts in their curves will herald new fundamentals for products, services, and businesses. But even in the fast-paced world of high technology, nothing happens overnight. There is always some sign of the changes about to hit, or even creep into, a company or an industry. Talk to some of the people who work with suppliers or customers. What new trends or technologies are they seeing? Are you paying any attention to them? We Know That Clock Speed Is Accelerating In the early 1990s, we were besieged with articles, speeches, and books addressing the topic of managing change. It was not a question of whether organizations could change, but whether they could change fast enough (or thoroughly enough) to get the benefits they needed. Most important, did leaders and workers change their mind-sets so they were more prepared and more agile to meet future changes, or did they simply survive one change after another? Whether you embraced or fought the change movement, the reality is that thinking well and doing more, more quickly and more frequently than before, is an important variable in making progress. Move too fast, and your organization may expend resources as it moves down blind alleys: markets that will never materialize, problems that will self-resolve, and so on. Move too slowly, and problems may become too big to handle or opportunities may fall into the laps of competitors. Look at Sears Roebuck and Company or Howard Johnson restaurants and ask yourself, "Is it what they did that got them in trouble-or is it what they didn"t do?" Prepared Minds know how to engage in thoughtful, real-time observation, analysis, and decision making in the midst of time-sensitive, resource-constrained, high-risk situations, and they know how to keep themselves and those around them focused on their core purpose and ultimate goals as they are making sense and deciding what to change and what to keep. They know how to walk the thin line between thinking and doing, between responding and reacting, between planning and experimenting. Also, they know how to engage others in continuous strategic iterations, understood as part of their normal course of doing business, and becoming smarter in the process. They don"t hesitate to use tools such as scorecards and forecasts, but they don"t just react or jump on the next new fad. They learn and change as they go. Prepared Mind Question What do the people in your organization believe about your ability to "lead faster"? What values do you and they have in common? We Know That Progress Requires Us to Actively Sense and Respond to the Changes Around Us Survival and progress have always depended on the ability of the person or the organization to sense changes in the environment and then to respond in a timely and appropriate manner. Consider the early leader in electronic calculator industry, the Bomar Company (a manufacturer of LED displays), and its calculator, the Bomar Brain. Bomar had the lead and then lost it. What didn"t the company adapt to? Individually, we have all experienced the fight-or-flight syndrome. Something sudden happens, and we respond; in days gone by, this often was the difference between living and dying. Today, problems arise; we roll up our sleeves and attack the problem and feel tired, but satisfied, at the end of the day. We also know, but don"t usually admit, that while we are often adept at handling "something big" that happens to us, we are lousy at dealing with small, slow changes. So we slowly let our relationships dissolve, or we slowly get out of shape. And the same conditions happen in our business organizations. While some changes are fast (such as technological capacity), the impact on our day-to-day lives may feel slow or ambiguous unless we are, by nature, early adopters or unless we are prepared to see the change and its implications for our business. We go from being a hard-charging competitor to a company with bloated overhead expenses. We go from knowing our best customers to having a profile of a typical customer (which does not actually fit any particular customer). Margins slowly shrink, and we blame the dynamics of "the industry" instead of making the changes we should make in our organizations. One of the dangers of being strictly results driven is that we can spend so much energy "doing" and keeping up that we don"t take the time to think ahead, until the inevitable is at our door and we feel compelled to react. It seems so simple, yet we manage to mess it up time and time again. What step or steps in the process were missed or delayed and caused Polaroid to miss the shift to digital photography? Our guess is that its leaders sensed it and made sense of it, but could not "pull the trigger" and decide to change the emphasis of the company. What food companies or restaurants missed the huge impact of the low-carb craze in 2004? Did Apple Computer possibly cause a shift in consumer electronics with its iPod music storage device? Time will tell. Prepared Minds watch for anomalies-warning signs, surprises, new developments on the horizon-and ask if they fit their view of the world. If they do, then all is well. If they don"t, then action must be taken. The danger in this simple scenario is the temptation to force-fit the anomalies into an existing view of the world and set of assumptions. To avoid this danger, they must continuously question the assumptions they and their organizations are making and ask for input from those closest to the action. Prepared Mind Question What can be done in your organization to help it slow down and take the time to make sense of new data and information? Is there a tie back to the organization"s core purpose and ultimate goals and getting decision makers to think through the new situation in the light of those? We Know That Leadership Is Important During Times of Change The business scandals of the past few years have raised the need for better leadership of our businesses. Changes in global business conditions raise the need for global leaders. Changes in the technologies underlying our products and business operations raise the need for leaders who can transform our organizations. And yet, at the same time, we see the need to drive leadership lower in the organization to reduce response time, improve service, and deliver better value to customers. (Continues...) Excerpted from The Prepared Mind of a Leader by Bill Walter Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.  About the Author Bill Welter is the managing director of Adaptive Strategies (, a firm specializing in business education and consulting. He has more than thirty-five years of varied military, engineering, consulting, and teaching experience. Jean Egmon is a faculty member in managerial economics and decision sciences at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and director of the Complexity in Action Network at Northwestern. She is also the president of Third Angle, Inc. (