How Do Leaders Keep Pace In Such A Fast-Changing Environment?

When Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”, he noticed that until 1900, human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II, knowledge was doubling every 25 years.  

Today, things are not as simple. Different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every 2 years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build-out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.  

So, with knowledge drastically increasing and the half-life of skills diminishing, how do leaders possibly keep up with changing times while still being required to do more with less? This is a large dilemma for organisations and for leaders.  

Today, we’re used to getting our information in small, digestible, bite-sized portions. The days of week-long leadership programs are over. So, information needs to be presented in meaningful, quick, and impactful ways.  

Personalized and High-Quality Content

According to findings from the High-Impact Learning Organization study by Bersin by Deloitte, employees find it most difficult to learn not because there isn’t enough content, but because there is too much of it, and they cannot discern what is most valuable.  

It’s critical for the Learning and Development departments to curate content that is personalized and linked to a validated assessment. It’s also important that content is high-quality and addresses different types of modalities (video, book summaries, blogs, books, articles, simulations).  

On-the-Go and Reflection

As the world continuously and rapidly changes, learning on-the-go is critical. It’s imperative to find content that both has a large, immediate impact yet also has meaning in leaders’ everyday lives.

One suggestion is for leaders to keep a journal on their key learnings and reflect on this once a week. It could be a physical book—yes, writing does help the brain cement the learning— or it can be a note section in their smartphone. Either way, leaders are committing themselves to be life-long learners.  

Sharing and Experimenting

We sometimes forget that learning is social. It’s good for leaders to share their new learnings with colleagues and, especially, their team. This allows others to experiment together and reduces the risk of looking stupid and failing when trying out new skills. 

Mindset Shift

Look for experiences and content that challenge leaders’ current mindset and beliefs. We call this “mindbending.” If leaders want to keep expanding their comfort zone, challenging their minds to think differently and constantly challenging their assumptions is critical. 

Virtual Learning

Bringing virtual reality into leadership development encourages interaction with colleagues, from the comfort of home, while still using a multi-sensory experience in a risk-free environment.

Growth Mindset

The last and most important is having a growth mindset. Leaders need to believe that they and their direct reports can learn new skills with the appropriate effort and focus.


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