So clearly stated – “humanity is screaming for change” says our IBM CEO Sam Palmisano. I sigh in huge relief and at this same time thinking “YES” – our leaders are getting this! Really! (Finally?….)

Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“We’ve been given this on a silver platter,” says Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM. “We might as well use it as an opportunity.”

Believe it or not, the leader of Big Blue is talking about the financial crisis and the prospect of systemic overhaul. As companies around the globe try to get ahead of the economic maelstrom by laying off employees, shuttering factories, and cutting R&D, IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) is headed in another direction.

In the face of a meltdown, Palmisano continues, “you can retrench, pull in your horns, protect the balance sheet, and preserve cash. Or you can realize that this is about humanity screaming for change.”

Sam Palmisano also spoke very persuasively to the Council on Foreign Relations on November 6th about the need to co-create a “smarter planet”. This is definitely worth a listen, including the Q&A…. We are at a very unique moment in time where there is both a compelling need for significant change, and the technology and insights emerging that can enable or accelerate that change.

Think about what’s happening in the world now… Complex systems are everywhere; in nature, in organizations. Whether we like it or not, these systems also interact with each other – often in a seemingly random cause and effect way – across organizations, industries, and geographies. Businesses and governments have primarily been focused on enterprise/intra-organizational effectiveness, and to a lesser and somewhat linear degree, up and down their value chain…

Yet the challenges we are facing today are bigger than enterprise scale! They are global – impacting multiple eco-systems, industries, and regions at the same time. Not enough water, increasingly intense weather events, the ripple effect of financial mismanagement resulting from perhaps a few myopic policies. What if we had the data, intelligence and insight to be able to model these complex “systems of systems” in order to predict and prevent or mitigate these challenges?

What if we had been able to monitor the fragility of the levees in New Orleans, and predict the various scenarios that could result in a breach? We are working on these smart levees and flood management solutions now – as part of Flood Control 2015 in the Netherlands. The parties participating in Flood Control 2015 are ARCADIS, Fugro, Royal Haskoning, HKV LIJN IN WATER, IBM, Deltares, ITC, TNO and the IJkdijk Foundation.

“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” (attributed to Albert Einstein, US (German-born) physicist (1879 – 1955))

It’s time for a new wave of innovation and leadership – humanity is screaming for change – and this poses incredible challenge and opportunity for our current and the next generation of leaders. And aren’t we all capable of greatness in times of great challenge? Let’s rise to the challenge…