Exactly 15 years ago executive leadership coach Dr. Marshall Goldsmith wrote a self-help book for already-successful people, subtitled with the same how-to advice many genre titles promise: how successful people become even more successful.

And just like almost every business book of the past couple of decades, I didn’t read it. You probably didn’t either.

But that’s the way it is with business books. A few years ago as I was considering writing a book myself, I analyzed reader data published by Barnes & Noble suggesting Nook e-readers threw in the towel on the average non-fiction management genre title mid-way through chapter two. I’m told it’s even worse today.

High-performing, type-A executives have a reputation for impatience, but I think something deeper is happening. Business books just aren’t very much fun to read. Most business book writing has devolved into a prestige exercise designed to equip the author(s) with the credibility to charge higher consulting, coaching, and speaking fees. Their clients/readers know this even better than the authors do! It’s a game, and everyone’s in on it.

It probably didn’t help sales when one two-star reviewer summed up the lessons taken away from his book as, “How to be less of a jerk”. But you must admit, it’s a heckuva title.

So sorry, Dr. Goldsmith. We need a bit better answer than that.

PTSD is No Excuse Not to Move Forward

Whatever recalibrations you boldly made two years ago that equipped you to survive until now are about to be challenged again by the emergence of the next normal.

Your organization and your people probably aren’t ready for it any more than you are, and it’s not for lack of worrying. Most leaders give up and leave for greener (read: easier) pastures. Or worse, they give up… and remain on the job.

Leading your fellow survivors forward is not mere managerial acumen on your part, it is an act of will.

Reflecting on the start of the era we’re now exiting, back in February 2020, as we Aurorans were high-fiving each other on a 25-year track record of strategic, market, and competitive intelligence success for clients all over the world, we were forced to make the painfully prudent decision to cancel our annual flagship event – the RECONVERGE:G2 Intelligence Leadership Symposium. The highlight of our year was gone with no foreseeable future return in sight. (More on that soon enough… Now is not the time.) On the bright side, this difficult decision energized us in innovative new directions to deliver on the promise of value for the clients and partners who’d planned to attend.

As it became obvious no business conferences were happening anytime soon, by the time pandemic lockdowns swept through the rest of our civilization a month later we were fully underway on a deep corporate re-organization. Our third top-to-bottom re-organization since I started Aurora back in ’95 that would, this time, see the RECONVERGE learning business shuttered entirely as we launched Stochasm Studios – a business dedicated to helping client organizations connect (at a distance) with the people important to their success – their stakeholders. We’ve since done several hundred events for clients we’d never have dreamt of serving in the before times.

But that wasn’t all.

  1. A couple of months into the pandemic, I began hosting my own webinar series known as Close The Distance offering trends and technical analysis alongside conversations with CEOs and other leaders on how they were navigating their organizations and the stakeholders they serve through 2020’s crashing waves of pandemic uncertainty. After interviewing executives ranging from Culver’s restaurant founder Craig Culver to Mark Murphy CEO of the Green Bay Packers, we paused the show just before the Presidential election as we weren’t sure where to go with it. Now we are… more on that as well soon enough!
  2. Meanwhile, my brother Derek and I were busy launching our podcast – Running Into The Fog – which has, so far, interviewed 30 or so of the coolest people we can think of about the coolest work we can imagine. You should listen in sometime. We’re launching a live stream edition next Tuesday – subscribe to be notified when we go live.
  3. Finally, our various new collaborations coalesced into a new way of applying intelligence doctrine to diverse, decentralized stakeholder groups with online media, social networking, and community building. We began calling these Stakeholder Reconnaissance Communities (aka SRCs). SRCs observe that a motivational gap exists between the realities of the macro-environment and the forces powering stakeholder dynamics while seeking to dispel the myths sustaining this gap. SRCs exist to empower action by those who might win or lose as their agenda plays out.

If you’ve experienced your own epiphanies over the past two years, I suspect it’s been through the same process:  acts of will.

The Future is Decentralized

As we slowly emerge from the pandemic mindset of the past two years, we are about to shift into a different operating posture that I can’t help but notice not many of us are prepared for. To paraphrase Dr. Goldsmith’s title, what got us through the past two years won’t be what drives us forward.

To support these projects and many more, we’re busy creating an intelligence analysis-driven SRC for all of you, known as OpenRECON.

Our first two SRC joint ventures are progressing into launch mode from the platform in the weeks ahead: WeExist is closing the prosperity gap for professionals of color by dispelling the talent myth; and, NeighboringLife is closing the human connection gap by dispelling the relationship myth. We have several more SRCs in development and we’re now ready to start tying some of these pieces together for you.

This is my invitation for you to equip yourself and your stakeholders for the twists and turns in the road ahead.