What CEOs of the Future Need to Know

Question: What does the CEO of the future need to know?

Blair Sheppard: So the Indra Nooyi just said at the Washington Economic Forum, that the CEO of the future needs to know public policy as well as they know business, needs to know health as well as they know business, and so they're the same thing. Firms need to be creating people who are multi-civilizational [sic] and multi-disciplinary.

The phrase she uses draws on a classic philosopher that says, we need to create foxes not hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are very, very deep in one domain of knowledge. Foxes know a lot about many, many things, and therefore can, in a sense, keep themselves alive in the kind of world we find ourselves in today.

Question: How can leaders thrive in economic crisis?

Blair Sheppard: You have to be engaged in two mindsets, which are mutually contradictory. The first is clean the closet, the second is reinvent your wardrobe.

Put in business terms, get rid of all those things that are no longer making money, that are no longer productive businesses, and engender innovation.

One of the things that worries me a lot that's going on in United States is that we're doing a great job of the former. We're shrinking, we're re-cutting deals, we're laying-off employees, we're doing all sorts of stuffs. But I don't see us investing in innovation. So where is the money that's going into creating new VC [venture capital]? At the same time we've got this huge stimulus package, what portion of the stimulus package is being put against innovation? I don't think it is basically; there's a little bit in energy. But mostly what we were doing is investing in things we know work.

The nation needs to behave like a company in this case, which is, we've got to trim, we've got to take the fat out. That means we're going to have all sorts of social consequences, but the same time, we've got to invent the future. Firms need to do the same things.

So the question of, should I control from the center or should I encourage collaborative innovation from the periphery, the answer is yes.

 

Dean of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University Blair Sheppard cites PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi in this video on progressive thinking for the 21st-century. Hint: You need to be more like a fox and less like a hedgehog.

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

Sponsored
  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.