• Karen Zeigler

Two Lies Deceiving Today's Executives About Leadership & Digital Transformation


A generational tale


Technology is a beautiful thing. I've been hooked on technology since I got my first PDA Device. I was an early adaptor then and continue to be so when I discover technology that improves my life (work or otherwise). Another thing I love about technology is the way it connects us. As the mother of a Millennial, I love getting texts from my daughter with the latest funny meme or TikTok. Usually, they are of the variety that makes jokes about our personality (hers or mine, bonus if it does both). We have a good laugh, check-in, and get back to our busy day. Just the other day, she shared a funny Tiktok about the parenting styles of the Millennials vs. Boomers. While, by a minor technicality, I'm Gen X, the Tiktok rang true to our life experiences. Here's the just of it if you're not on that platform.


Boomers as grandparents: Parents today are so lazy...they sit their kids in front of screens, so they don't have to deal with them."


Boomers as parents: Go outside and don't come back unless someone is bleeding or dead...I don't want to see or hear you today.


While I laughed 🤣 and identified 🙋🏼‍♀️ with the Boomer parent, the archaeologist in me (the person always digging for other perspectives and truth) paused. Both parents are looking to escape parenting children's constant chatter and energy-zapping reality. I'll leave that issue to mindful parenting blog posts. Yet two lies lurk underneath what initially seemed like a "funny because it's true" post.


Lie #1: Younger means more innovative, better


While this may not seem evident to some leaders, especially if you are in the middle of Boomer/Gen X and Gen Z. However, I see it both as a grandparent and as a businesswoman - the lie that somehow younger is more innovative and better, the lie is that innovation can only come from the 30 under 30 lists. When research clearly shows the opposite is true - Startups worship the young. But research shows people are most innovative when they're older. So for companies that aren't startups, it's not either-or but both-and.


Lie #2: Technology makes everything better


As an illustration, the TikTok example. Technology as a babysitter teaches group thinking, inaction, false dopamine addiction, and much more. In contrast, nature increases positive skills in children. Skills like improved attention, self-agency in reducing stress, increased physical activity, creativity, connection, etc. And truly enhances mastery in many of the top 10 skills the World Economic Forum says are needed for the future of work. So while experts debate whether technology is ruining our society, one thing it's not debating - nature's rhythms (which humans are a part of) beat technology hands down. This brings me to the inconvenient truth.


The inconvenient truth


Innovation is idiotic when it solves a problem but ignores the intricate needs of the human. - @KarenZeigler (Click to Tweet)

This banal approach to innovation is why the human-centered design thinking approach is taking the world by storm. Design thinking has evolved from a tool for product innovation (in the Industrial Age) to service innovation (in the Information Age) to now organizational innovation (in the Experience Age). It's a creative problem-solving tool that has stood the test of time and continues to traverse the terrain of VUCA challenges. It's why I believe leading by design (using the innovative principles of design thinking for leadership) is the future of leadership (see video for explanation).


In conclusion, where do you need to dig deeper to discover the truth of what's holding your company back from actual transformational change? Let's chat.

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