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The CDO is dead, long live the CDO

Hierarchy appears to be the only option to pull a large group of individuals together toward a common goal. Many insects did it well before humans, but over the last 10,0000 years, humans have moved from decentralised clans into centralised nation-states consisting of hundreds of millions of people.  From the pharaohs to Max Weber’s 20th bureaucratic management structure, we can now exist only in such a system because as a society or organisation grows beyond a few dozen people, the hierarchical pyramid is seen as the only option for the organisation.  The justification is that it is nature and natural.  The “ideal organisation” was defined by Max Weber as a clear and strong hierarchy underpinned by the division of tasks based on specialisation. A fundamental assumption was that each unit takes care of one piece of the chain and the division of tasks within the unit is clearly defined, work can be executed much more efficiently. Weber envisioned this as a “superior structure” becau

What has the executive team already forgotten about hard-fought lessons about leadership learned in COVID times?

Crisis situation are characterised by being urgent, complicated, nuanced, ambiguous and messy. The easy part is acknowledging that crisis presents exceptional and unprecedented challenges for organisations and leadership teams. In such periods, the stakes appear higher, and the decisions made can have far-reaching consequences.   The question of whether a leadership team should think, act and behave differently during times of war, conflict, and crisis is undoubtedly open for debate. But what did the last global pandemic (crisis) teach us, and what lessons learned have we forgotten in the light of new wars?  Pre-pandemic leadership framing about how to deal with a crisis. The vast majority of how to deal with a crisis pre-pandemic was based on coaching, training and mentoring but lacked real experience of the realities because global crises do not happen at scale very often. Whilst essential to prepare, thankfully most directors never get to work in a crisis and learn. Pre-COVID, the

We are on the cusp of AI developing traits or adapting in the same way living organisms do through evolution.

Mothwing patterns, often including structures resembling “owl eyes,” are a prime example of nature’s adaptation to survival. Mothwing eyes are intricate patterns that have evolved over millions of years through a process of natural selection. Initially, moths developed cryptic colouration to blend into their environments, evading predators. Over time, some species developed wing scales with microstructures that reduced light reflection, helping them remain inconspicuous. These structures eventually evolved into complex arrays resembling the texture of eyes to deter predators, a phenomenon called “ eyespot mimicry .” This natural error-creation adaptation likely startled or confused predators, offering those moths an advantage — precious moments to escape. The gradual development of these eye-like patterns underscores the intricate interplay between environmental pressures and biological responses, resulting in the remarkable diversity of moth wing patterns seen today. Critically, moth

The unintended consequence of data is to introduce delay and increase tomorrow's risk.

The (un)intended consequence of focusing on data, looking for significance, determining correlation, testing a hypothesis, removing bias and finding the consensus is that you ignore the outliers.  Hidden in the outliers of data are progress, innovation, invention and creativity, and the delay is that by ignoring this data and the signals from it, we slow down everything because we will always be late to observe and agree on what is already happening with those who are not driven by using data to reduce and manage today's risk.  Our thrust to use data to make better decisions and apply majority or consensus thinking creates delays in change and, therefore, increases future risk.  ------ In our increasingly data-driven world, the unintended consequence of data often manifests as delay. While data is hailed as the lifeblood of decision-making, its sheer volume and complexity can paradoxically slow down processes, hinder innovation, and impede productivity. This phenomenon underscores

Why finding purpose feels impossible and why we should be talking more about balance

Overview Balance is a necessity in every aspect of life.  Knowing if we are in or out of balance directly affects our ability to survive and thrive; therefore, this thought piece brings something new to understanding balance and by association purpose.   Adaptation and homeostasis are the natural world's way of creating an unstable equilibrium. This dynamic system is unpacked and repurposed to present a solid argument for leadership teams and boards of directors to shift questions to ones that understand how to balance two powerful opposing forces.  Balancing the development of the new whilst maintaining and preserving the existing has always been challenging, but here is a model that makes it easier. In nature, we observe that organisms with little or no adaptation to ever-changing environments struggle to survive, whereas those that are pushing the evolutionary envelope and mutating into more suitable candidates for their ecosystem thrive. We also know that homeostasis and memor