The Anticipant Organization – Tom Jenkins & Major Gen. (Ret’d) David Fraser – November 2021

As part of the 2021 OG100 Global Business, Tech & Trade Seminar, Tom Jenkins, Chair of OpenText and Honorary Chair of OG100, spoke to members and guests on how to prepare for the increased risk of an internal cyber crisis. The book, authored by Tom Jenkins and Major General (Ret’d) David Fraser, will be available in 2022.

New Rules for Leading in a Digital Society from the Boardroom to the Battlefield

We know the pandemic accelerated digitization. Many companies and industries that weren’t able to go digital, or at least significantly increase their digital capacity, likely didn’t survive. We’ve been forced to complete and increase digital investments in order to survive and we are now digital dependent – especially in our increasingly remote work environments. Our machines and software are doing a lot of work for us, and faster than we as humans could ever do.

Imagine a digital crisis where your machines and computers catch a COVID-like virus. The speed at which the machines work and communicate reflects the scale of speed at which a virus or crisis can spread, and that scale of speed is beyond our comprehension. As humans, we won’t see it in time to react or stop it. We’ll be dealing with a nanocrisis: a predicament or calamity whose origins lie in an organization’s dependence on a digital system, and whose speed and scale preclude immediate mitigation by humans. However, as leaders, we can’t be caught by surprise.

We have to see and assume it’s coming, take stock of our biggest dependencies, and make sure all the resources we have – including the machines – are part of the solution. Are you truly anticipant? How do you self-assess? What made you successful in the analog world? Will it serve you in the digital world? Think about your machines as equal players and equal resources in your response. Run through nanocrises scenarios that will affect your greatest dependencies. Like the military, you need to rehearse to be prepared to survive.

Especially now, in this digital dependent world, you need an inventory of all the processes and functions that your machines are running in your organization – from building automation to accounting to communications – and put that list in front of your management team. Machine-to-machine conversations are creating a magnitude of data that render human conversations much less important when it comes to an organization’s survival. As a team, you need to talk about, recognize, and rehearse the possible impacts of a nanocrisis on your organization. Ideally, have an external team run a crisis scenario to demonstrate the impact. The organizations that will survive will be those that best anticipate and prepare as a team across the whole organization.