We’re preparing to co-create the LLEAD virtual learning environment. Taking the advice of Priya Parker (Art of Gathering) we’ll show each other a physical item in our working space that’s meaningful. For me it is a small poster of “The Obsolete”. It’s actually “the alphabet of the obsolete” I got in 2014 from https://www.globalnerdy.com/ by Joey DeVilla. I look at it all the time and think, “what’s disappearing that libraries – that leaders – that organizations – need to think about?”

Bryan Alexander talked with José Bowen today on Future Trends Forum. Bowen’s new book, Teaching Change: How to develop independent thinkers using relationships, resilience, and reflection, got me thinking about what’s becoming obsolete that hasn’t hit my alert button: Car keys! BAM! Like Bowen, I put the “key” in the driver’s door handle or in the back pocket of my jeans (and then forget where it is….sigh). Bowen explains that it is not a key – it is now a vehicle identification device or, if you think about it, a personal identification device. BAM.

I keep “the obsolete” next to a little sign “Getting People to Believe in Something They Can’t Yet Imagine. Those two conditions are symbiotic. And these conditions are part of the complexity for leaders. What is becoming obsolete in our sector, in our organization, in society, in our behaviours? What is emerging that we must enfold into our vision, into our practices, into our thinking – and that people “can’t yet imagine?” These questions shouldn’t keep us awake at night; these questions they should be our lunch conversations – our whisky talks – our evening walks.

So what’s Bowen’s book got to do with the obsolete? Lots.

  1. It’s about learning. When we stop learning and growing – especially through discomfort – we’re on the turn-off to the town of Obsolete.
  2. It’s about change, and for leaders in any place change ‘r us. As Mintzberg teaches us (I’m a huge Henry Mintzberg fan), change – or the action mindset – is one of the five mindsets managers must manage. Seems pretty friggin’ obvious. So why do we have to keep teaching and talking about change? Isn’t it just a fact of life? Each day we are fortunate to wake up, something about us and around us has and is changing. So, I need to see what a professor with Bowen’s creds says about this.
  3. Leadership demands independent, collaborative and collective thinking; we all need to think before we do – preferably 🙂 — I’m still trying to put that into practice. Thinking strategically and critically is so hard — it comes more naturally to some than to others, and it can be learned and exercised. It must be learned and exercised. I need to see what he says – I need new ideas. We all need new ideas – and to act on those ideas – together.
  4. Leaders rely on relationships (another Mintzberg mindset), resilience and reflection (yes, ANOTHER Mintzberg mindset. Any professor teaching change, thinking, relating, resilience and reflecting, has my attention. LLEAD incorporates reflection. Leaders, knowledge workers, hell – all of us – must reflect. Not just stare off into space, but keep a reflective journal, jotting down what we’ve done – heard – read – observed – experienced – and how we have experienced it, what it means, the implications, and the learnings.

Stay tuned for what I learn from Bowen.