The Decade of Doers

The last decade has transformed the world in many ways. The most important shift has been that the old way of thinking has had to make way for a new way of thinking.

Here are ten questions that come to mind, based on the ten most significant changes in the past ten years of our lives. I believe, the discussion around them and their subsequent answers is what will define and drive us in the next ten years of our lives:

1. Will the chip replace the heart?

2014 is being called the year of “the Internet of things” where “machines communicate with each other” to take care of “human tasks” automatically. We used to see this happening in old Science fiction movies, but this is now a reality. However it is increasingly evident that we’re not ready to roll over and let devices take over our lives – because no tech can ever replace what humans can do for each other, and their emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

2. What will be the premium on character?

2008 was the year of financial and character debacles for companies across the world, which had a deep impact on society and sentiment globally. As a result, a new level of scrutiny has emerged, and now companies and governments have to align their private behaviour, with the values that they publicly promote.

3. Why do leaders have to be adaptable in today’s environment?

Fast changes in society, markets, customers, competition and technology around the world are forcing organizations to clarify their values, develop new strategies and learn new ways of operating. Often the toughest task for leaders in effecting change is constantly mobilizing people throughout the organization to do adaptive work.

4. Why do businesses and brands need higher purpose?

Companies and brands need to stand for something, and they need to be accountable for more than the money they earn. Their products and leaders have to play a larger role in society, conscious of the fact that they do have a significant impact on our world today. This is what will build real character and real reputation for a sustainable future.

5. What is the new role of government?

The effects of the Arab Spring have been far reaching. And closer home, the sentiment that brought about a new political era in India only shows that Governments need to redefine their role and how they serve the public in a more transparent, open and facilitative manner. The public wants minimum government, maximum governance.

6. What is the new role of civil society?

Civil activists and the public have grown wings in the last decade, and played a significant role to bring down big government and big business. Therefore the greater need, for a more responsible civil society that plays the role of a conscience-keeper, is critical for the future of a good society.

7. What is the new role of business leaders?

From merely meeting financial targets, to driving business as a force of good, one of the biggest struggles for leadership today, is to play an inspiring role of guide and mentor to a young, demanding and highly aspirational workforce; and to facilitate their teams to high performance, with a purpose.

8. What is the role of the Media, in the emotional economy of society?

In a hyper connected world, the emotional economy of society is running at an accelerated pace. It is critical for media to play a role to temper this emotion in a constructive way. We need a more responsible media to play a role that will diffuse this charged up environment with fact based storytelling that is also aimed at inspiring the goodwill of society.

9. When are we going to understand the true value of creativity and collaborative behavior?

The fact is that creativity breeds when there is a mind set to collaborate with your people and partners. We need to create new ways of engaging and harnessing the power of the public in real time, through the multiple interactive channels and platforms.

10. Can we teach our society how to trust?

In a trust deficit environment it is critical to change the current levels of cynicism in society, and build trust-based relationships. We have to have new rules of engagement, which define the way forward for tomorrow.

Looking back, or looking forward, we have to adapt to the changing realities of the new world order, and find answers to some of these questions. The future will not just be driven by new ways of thinking, but also a new breed of doers.

Radhika Shapoorjee, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, President – India & South Asia

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