Leaders Take Imaginative Leaps

28 Jan­u­ary 2017 | Think­ing in New Ways

The lead­ers I most admire have the uncan­ny abil­i­ty to take imag­i­na­tive leaps. Con­sid­er Reed Hast­ings (@reedhastings), the CEO of Netflix.

Hast­ings is one of the pio­neers of alter­na­tive tele­vi­sion, and Net­flix stock has been on fire for a num­ber of years. Con­sid­er these words from Tomi Kil­go­re (@TomiKilgore) of Mar­ket­Watch on 19 Jan­u­ary: “Shares of Net­flix … soared 8.2% toward a record high … in the wake of a strong fourth-quar­ter report, which would add about $4.66 bil­lion to video stream­ing com­pa­ny’s mar­ket val­ue.… The stock has run up 24% over the past 12 months .…” [link]

So, every­thing at Net­flix is per­fect, right? Time to sit back and just let the riv­er of prof­its flow, right? Wor­ry about the future of Net­flix? Waste of time. Its future is guar­an­teed. Right?

For­get all that. Lead­ers are always think­ing about the future. It’s their #1 job to be able to answer (or, at least, try to answer) the core ques­tion: What’s next?

Thus, it was most curi­ous to see Hast­ings’ thoughts about Net­flix 20 – 50 years out. While at a Wall Street Jour­nal event, Hast­ings made head­lines by pro­ject­ing an astound­ing prospect. Of all the nov­el ways Hast­ings con­ceiv­ably could grow the com­pa­ny with sub­sti­tutes for what the com­pa­ny does now (online stream­ing), he prof­fered (are you sit­ting down?) — drugs. Report­ed Rich McCormick (@richmcc) of The Verge:

One such sub­sti­tute could be “phar­ma­co­log­i­cal”, he sug­gest­ed, bring­ing to mind an enter­tain­ment drug that view­ers could take to expe­ri­ence an evening of enter­tain­ment with­out need­ing to impact their month­ly down­load caps. The capac­i­ty for this kind of evening has exist­ed since ear­ly humans start­ed chew­ing weird mush­rooms they found in the for­est, but pre­sum­ably Net­flix’s imag­i­nary fun drug would be a lit­tle safer, and come with few­er side effects.

McCormick con­tin­ued, “Hast­ings did­n’t indi­cate his engi­neers were hard at work in the chem­istry lab yet, any­way, pre­sum­ably using the idea pri­mar­i­ly to illus­trate that the com­pa­ny could­n’t afford to get bogged down in out­dat­ed mod­els as pre­vi­ous com­peti­tors like Block­buster had — to their obvi­ous detri­ment.” [link]

There are many ways lead­ers leap the sta­tus quo and their com­peti­tors. One that should be at the top of your list is by exe­cut­ing a leap of imag­i­na­tion. I find the best lead­ers I encounter are well aware of what is hap­pen­ing inside their own organ­i­sa­tion today; how­ev­er, they are also eager to explore what is hap­pen­ing in the world at large. And they are more than will­ing to think cre­ative­ly about the future.

And lest you think this is a skill that one is born with (or lack­ing), there are many ways your imag­i­na­tion can be stretched just like your body mus­cles can be stretched. Quick hop now, if you will, to Katie Franke’s (@ideastogo) inter­est­ing set of exer­cis­es. [link] Try tak­ing 30 min­utes at your next team meet­ing to do these exer­cis­es. (Exam­ple: “What does ‘sur­prise’ taste like?”) 

Stretch your team’s cre­ative mus­cles. Who knows? After such exer­cis­es, it may be one of the most pro­duc­tive meet­ing you’ve ever had.

As Ein­stein said, “Log­ic will get you from A to B. Imag­i­na­tion will take you everywhere.”

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Our “New Next Now” blog posts [see most recent] have become very pop­u­lar, so I thought I would sup­ple­ment those full fea­tures with my own short list of mind-catch­ing items that should appeal to any fan of nextsens­ing. Let me start with some links that par­al­lel my note about Reed Hast­ings, above.

  • Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) of (@salsforce) pub­lished a super graph­ic show­ing the decline in tra­di­tion­al tele­vi­sion view­ing among those under the age of 50. [Read More Now]

  • Men­tal Leap? From (@verge), you should watch the short video regard­ing “This head­set lets you con­trol Star Wars toys with your mind. [See/Read More Now]

  • The world in 2045, accord­ing to Pen­ta­gon researchers is a tad dat­ed (Octo­ber), but it is rich con­tent that was pre­pared by the World Eco­nom­ic Forum (@wef) and Busi­ness Insid­er (@businessinsider). [Read More Now]

From that last link, con­sid­er this excerpt from the arti­cle author, Paul Szoldra.

Dr. Justin Sanchez, a neu­ro­sci­en­tist and direc­tor of Darpa’s Bio­log­i­cal Tech­nolo­gies Office, believes we’ll be at a point where we can con­trol things sim­ply by using our mind.

Imag­ine a world where you could just use your thoughts to con­trol your envi­ron­ment,” Sanchez said. “Think about con­trol­ling dif­fer­ent aspects of your home just using your brain sig­nals, or maybe com­mu­ni­cat­ing with your friends and your fam­i­ly just using neur­al activ­i­ty from your brain.”

Joseph PistruiJoseph Pistrui (@nextsensing) is Pro­fes­sor of Entre­pre­neur­ial Man­age­ment at IE Busi­ness School in Madrid. He also leads the glob­al Nextsens­ing Project, which he found­ed in 2012.

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