HAVING SPEN T MOST of the spring and summer
months head down in the office, I’ve been on the
road more recently. And I’ve been reminded of
how powerful an experience it is simply to be
“elsewhere,” especially in times of uncertainty.
We find ourselves in an unsettled and unsettling
era. Our politics are in turmoil; our economies
heave and sigh; technological change occurs at a
speed that makes even our robots’ heads spin. As
humans and as organizational leaders, our world
may often seem distressingly unpredictable. There
is so much beyond our control and so much with
which we need to keep pace.
If you’ve been following MIT Sloan Management
Review during the past several months, you know
that we — and perhaps I most of all — believe we
are on the crest of the next management revolution, one that is driven by emerging technologies
like artificial intelligence, big data, and analytics
that will fundamentally and permanently tip many
of the most sacred of the organization’s sacred
cows. People hired based on algorithms; machines
making strategy; marketers literally reading our
minds — one moment it all seems far-fetched; the
next shockingly near. And it’s all happening within
a global environment that shifts beneath our feet.
So what is a mere mortal to do?
You can begin by going outside. Get out of your
office and into the parking lot. Jump in a car and
take a former colleague to lunch. Hop on a plane
and go to a conference. Find a lecture to attend.
Pack up your laptop and head for a coworking
space. Cross state lines.
Put yourself someplace where something unex-
pected is more likely to happen. Give yourself an
opportunity to learn. But whatever you do, do
something that is not a part of your routine — and
then commit to doing so routinely. If your job
doesn’t have you out of the office at least a few days
every month, start blocking time on your calendar
and force yourself to be somewhere else once a
fortnight. Just as important, make it a top priority
for those you manage to do the same. That means
giving people the direction and the time to follow
The world is evolving in twists and turns, following patterns we do not recognize. Even if the
environment directly within your sights seems
relatively stable, the forces of change will find you
soon enough. The only question is how soon.
Whether fomented by technology, policy, or
broader socioeconomic forces, the transformation
of both your organization and your own role are
all but inevitable.
The good news is that we have time to venture
out into the less-known and see for ourselves what is
happening. We need to listen to what other people
are saying. We need to take a breath and imagine
how our own lives and circumstances might be
transformed. Reading MIT Sloan Management
Review is not enough — even if you read Wired and
The Economist, too.
We can’t control what the world has in store for
us. We can’t become masters of every new technology that sweeps across the horizon. We can’t wish
away changes already afoot. What we can do is
spend more time peering over our own walls. It
will make us a little less blind and maybe a lot less
likely to be blindsided.
Editor in Chief
MIT Sloan Management Review
Please Go Away