The Lead: AI to Combat Climate Change, Justice Dept Announces Big Tech Anti-Trust Review, Ice Bucket Challenge

Welcome to The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights. This curated content will provide you with quick clarity into relevant headlines and provide straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques. 

AI to Combat Climate Change

A recently published paper called “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning” addressed how machine learning and AI can help address climate change through areas like energy production, CO2 removal, education, solar geoengineering, and finance. Machine learning can improve energy-efficiency in buildings, create new low-carbon materials, better monitor deforestation, and make greener transportation. Machine learning can improve climate predictions in everything from predicting extreme events like hurricanes to climate modeling using the massive amounts of complex climate simulations for long-term forecasting.

Our View: Ethical leadership can come from anywhere in your organization, and it often takes leaders at all organizational levels to combat the tension that sometimes occurs between corporate objectives and ethical issues that pertain to AI and the climate. Ethical leadership has far reaching talent retention and recruitment implications. ISS, one of the world’s largest and most influential firms advising investors in companies like Amazon and Google, shared reports that 64 percent of millennials would be reluctant to work for a company “whose corporate social responsibility record does not align with their values.” Further Reading

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Justice Department Announces Big Tech AntiTrust Review

The U.S. Department of Justice announced an antitrust investigation of major technology companies to determine whether their online platforms have hurt competition, suppressed innovation, or harmed consumers. The review will address concerns about social media, search engines, and online retail services.

Our View: Leading in the digital age presents new complex challenges, and the problems may boil down to the “problem of purpose.” As opposed to a lack of purpose, big technology companies’ scope of purpose often remains too narrow and doesn’t stretch to elevate the society it is inevitably shaping. These challenges already extend to everyone, and every business in the future will likely become a technology company in some way. A great question to ask your team is “given who we are, what societal challenges are we well equipped to address?” and “how might our products be intentionally misused by others?” Further Reading

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Ice Bucket Challenge

Philanthropists often find creative ways to raise money, and the Ice Bucket Challenge for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research is a great example. Donations were made when volunteers posted a video of a bucket of ice water dumped on them to raise money to fight ALS, a fatal disease that currently has no cure. The ALS Association suddenly raised nearly twice as much as it raised in a typical year and had $115 million in hand from the Ice Bucket Challenge. Charities must be ready for the global spotlight and stay in touch with donors and prospective supporters with continuous updates so there is an ongoing dialogue before and after peak moments hit.

Our View: Unexpected business growth is exciting, but it’s not without its unique challenges. Leaders who have a growth strategy (prior to its immediate need) build in the appropriate amount of flexibility into their operations so it’s easier to scale. They also lead expansion by thoroughly vetting new hires to ensure they are able to handle constantly evolving roles and responsibilities as customers’ needs and demands alter. Further Reading

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Africa’s Largest Wind Farm

To take advantage of high winds in Kenya’s remote areas, an international consortium of lenders and producers installed 365 wind turbines, which cost around $700 million and was the largest private investment in Kenya’s history. The turbines now form Africa’s largest wind power farm and will help the country of Kenya meet its ambitious goal to have 100% green energy by 2020.

Our View: “Glocal” is a term used to describe when global and local issues are considered. Starbucks’ former CEO Howard Schulz helped build Starbucks on the foundation of going glocal. He explains “Companies should not have a singular view of profitability. There needs to be a balance between commerce and social responsibility… The companies that are authentic about it will wind up as the companies that make more money.” Further Reading

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The Smart Diaper

The internet of things (IoT) movement continues to hit more industries in multiple waves, and the baby industry is no exception to the ever increasing amount of new connected products. Everything from onesies to diapers are evolving with corresponding mobile phone apps. This week Pampers announced a line of smart diapers that can track a child’s urine and sleep, and Huggies released a similar diaper in Korea last year.

Our View: Our increasingly connected world requires leaders to respond quickly to adapt. While leaders can get caught up in new and exciting technology, they must reevaluate the value of IoT projects multiple times during the product’s lifecycle to confirm that it is reaching its planned business outcomes. Unexpected complexity in new IoT products can lead to high costs and makes continual reassessment necessary. IoT processes should include steps for iterations and verification that IT and business objectives are in sync. Working backwards can help initiate new solutions, and iterations may include any combination of identifying new IoT use cases, developing new IoT pilot processes, and establishing new business goals. Further Reading

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