By interesting interview with Anders Indset business philosopher, author and investor based out of Frankfurt, Germany, who will be on the stage with us at DES in Madrid next week. Digital Enterprise Show Join Digital Business World Congress next 23-25 May 2017

The Digital Maturity Journey, key concepts in digital transformation at DES – Digital Business World Congress

You are very interested in change and reinvention?

The only constant we have is change. Heraclitus already knew that 2500 years ago. We live in times of permanent revolution and our future will be improvised. You need to constantly reinvent yourself over and over again, without being driven by the forces of change from the outside.

Did I reinvent myself? I keep discovering new characteristics about myself and move one step closer every day. In order to reinvent yourself, you need to know yourself, at least have some idea. With every
reinvention, you become more and more what you can call “yourself”, your personality, even though we believe we have more control than we actually have. I have learned how to create better versions of myself. May it be a new career that I am aiming for, creating a new future, or simply changing interpersonal relationships — change is always hard work. That said, it pays off!

Reinventing oneself means to confront oneself with the own weaknesses. Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity and innovation. And the most important thing is to never stop learning. Every day, I learn something new. „If you want to be remembered, you need to reinvent yourself.“

How do you manage to keep track of your own path and purpose?

I always remain true to myself because I know when I am playing. Let’s be honest, don’t we all play roles every day? Expectations in our jobs, men fulfil their clichés most of the time, others are playing different roles in private life — to please others, to provoke, to get attention. But we are only authentic when we know which role we are playing at the moment.

Otherwise, we run into the risk of losing ourselves in all our roles, and as we know, no one wants to lose. In this aspect, our society did not change enough, especially in the boardrooms of larger corporations. It will become one of the major challenges in future as everyone is a „leader of change“ and a „maximizer of empathy“ in today’s world. However, science and technology will, in terms of AI and artificial emotional
intelligence, change so fast and much that machines will soon know more about us than we do ourselves. I feel the loyalty to myself most intensively when I live out my curiosity in everyday life and pursue continuous learning.

You focus on the art of thinking, yet at the same time, digitalisation and algorithms drive business increasingly. What does this mean for a modern philosopher?

In my opinion, there is no modern philosopher as philosophy describes the love for wisdom today as it already did 2500 years ago on the streets of Agora. What drives us is the search for plausible explanations. Philosophy is like an addiction — an obsession for questions but at the same time for answers. For me as a business philosopher, the challenge lies in harmonizing the theories of the fundamental provisions and structures of life, the world, technology and the universal knowledge. The only thing that is left for us humble human beings, are the major philosophical questions. These questions now become reality, meaning they become technical questions, and they must be answered. Let’s take the current issue of self-driving cars,
for example. Do we continue with our „customer is king“ approach? Does that mean I can decide whether I want to drive an egoistic or a humanistic car? What about the millions of “useless” human beings that will be left out as AGI and automation marches on. How do companies and society cope with these challenges? These questions now occur on the agendas of top-level managers and philosophy will help us to find

These questions now occur on the agendas of top-level managers and philosophy will help us to find
solutions, or at least new questions, for these problems. But coming back to the question: Yes, digitalization drives business, but we still influence the direction it shall take. Therefore, we need to ask the new questions and deal with these topics TODAY. If we do not act, this will be the end of our species, or at least the homo sapiens, the “wise man” – whoever that is – as we know him through 75,000 years of evolution. And by acting I say “YES”, we most definitely need to embrace technology! Yet, I don’t regard technology as an enemy of thinking. Quite the contrary! Only through thinking, coming up with new questions and contemplating
about new scenarios, will we be able to survive. We will surely not tame digitalisation, as we did with previous epochs and technologies such as the Stone Age, Iron Age and industrial revolutions, but we need to deal with other questions. We will merge with technology, our brains and our bodies, and we must try to understand, control and accompany this process as good as possible. Technology does not disrupt industries. It does not have a mind or a soul, but it does what we as humans do with it. Through technologies and the exponential development, we cured and fought almost all diseases, we do not die in wars anymore and absolute poverty is defeated. Humans die from too much food rather than too little, and we are aiming to crack the code for living eternal lives. All this is possible thanks to our technological development. However, it also has consequences. Everything that is applied for positive things also has a negative side.

The challenges that are now ahead of us are all global. We need to stop thinking about the boundaries of our nation states that we built (in our mind). What we need are global structures, we are all connected, we need to rethink and reimagine the global governance system. Patriotism and cheering for national teams? Yes, but politics and economy today only work globally. We are all in it together. It will be decisive how we deal with our global challenges. Hand in hand, we need to search for new questions. Otherwise, we will migrate with technology blindly and ultimately turn into cyborgs controlled by technology or a new species that would probably treat us like we are now treating animals further down the food chain.

To put it differently: If we don’t start thinking now, we will experience a brutal awakening, a catastrophe. History teaches us that we only learn from crises, but this time the catastrophe will potentially not offer any option for what we call “errorcorrection”. We need to dig out some treasure from the past hidden in plain sight, and project them onto the 21st Century. Therefore, I believe that soon we will be seeing
philosophers on the pay roles of all large organisations.

 You have spoken about rebels, others and normals. What roles did managers play in the past? And what are the ones they need to take on today?

I believe there is no general answer to this. It depends heavily on the industry and also the culture of the organisations. One’s way “up-the-ladder” as a leader has little to do with the handling of the role itself once you reach the “CxO-Level”. As a manager, it is mostly about politics and execution, getting things done, and this becomes even clearer today. Once “at the top” it is all about leadership and people, it is crucial whom
you work with and how you treat the people.

Of course, leaders need to surround themselves with ‘analytical wizards’ and ‘digital gurus’ to master the fast pace and chaos while at the same time striving for stability. Further, they must see the „big picture“. They must be visionaries with an eye for the future exploiting new questions and new possible scenarios. The leaders need to have “a digital mindset” and be “leaders of change”, but furthermore the challenges today
are to be “maximizers of empathy”. Today, human relationships and exploiting the potential through cultures of participation builds the foundation of every solid organization. Finding, supporting and
maintaining talents has become the core task of leaders.

Put together, the “new” leader today needs to:
• get to know themselves better and understand the big picture.
• act as role model for continuous learning and development.
• search for, build and maintain talents. A diverse mix must be ensured.
• have a team of „analytical wizards“ to create value from „big data“, „right data“ or „smart/connected data“ and have “digital gurus” onboard leading the way.
• adapt new technologies and embrace a digital mindset.
• be a „leader of change“ who shapes change from the inside.
• act as decision maker in a politically uncertain environment.
• strive for simplification through demanding IT to focus on a reduction of complexity where applicable.
• develop NEW and the RIGHT questions.
• be a “maximizer of empathy”.

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