The Lead: Paving Roads with Plastic, Michigan Bans Flavored E-Cigarettes, Retailers Ask Customers Not to Carry Guns

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. 

Paving Roads with Plastic

In an effort to clear the ocean of pollution, engineers in Switzerland, India, and Australia are paving roads with plastic. The projects are preventing several million tons of plastic from pouring into the ocean every year and destroying vital ecosystems. Humans have produced an estimated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic, and seventy-nine percent of that mass has ended up in landfills or the ocean.

Our View: Creative problem solving is the foundation of innovative leadership, and its pinnacle occurs when one solution solves multiple problems and creates new value. The steps of creative problem solving are to clarify the problems, brainstorm ideas for solutions, develop the most promising options, align the necessary resources, and implement the best plan of action. Communicate with critical stakeholders and be receptive to their input at every stage. Balance divergent and convergent thinking to generate enough options while still narrowing them down to the most promising solutions. Avoid paralysis by analysis by breaking down decisions into smaller actionable items. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading Innovation: From Concept to Customer Value, Problem-Solving Results: Solutions, Improvements and Innovations, Leading Complex Decisions

Michigan Bans Flavored E-Cigarettes

In 2018, the US Surgeon General declared youth vaping an epidemic, and research shows kids tend to be drawn to flavored products. Michigan has become the first state to ban the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products, both online and in stores throughout Michigan.  Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the ban saying, “My number one priority is keeping our kids safe and protecting the health of the people of Michigan.” New York is set to become the second state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

Our View: Leaders must continuously adapt to keep pace with the rapidly changing world, and they must continuously adapt well to outpace it. Sometimes this means creating new recommendations, enforcing old standards better, or completely changing the rules. The best leaders bridge their strategic objectives to desired outcomes by using an adaptive strategy. The formulation and implementation of strategy go hand in hand in an adaptive strategy, as well as continuous planning, early adoption, continuous improvement, and a rapid, flexible response to change. (Adaptive Strategy is based on the philosophy and concepts of Agile Software Development.) Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading in the Digital Matrix, Bridging Strategy to Outcomes, Adapting to Constant Change

Retailers Ask Customers Not to Carry Guns

In open carry states, Walgreens, CVS, and Wegmans ask customers not to carry guns. The change in these retailers’ gun policy is sparked by several deadly mass shootings in the US. A Walgreens spokesperson said, “We are joining other retailers in asking our customers to no longer openly carry firearms into our stores other than authorized law enforcement officials.”

Our View: Leading by example is not a choice. Everyone by nature is setting an example through their words and actions. Ask yourself if what you do and say influences others in a positive manner or if it detracts from progress and collective priorities. Self-awareness and insight into how you lead by example is the foundation of a healthy culture of leadership development. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Profiles in Genuine Leadership

Digital ID in the Gig Economy

The gig economy is growing but not without security concerns. Gig platforms like Uber, Fiverr, Task Rabbit, and Deliveroo could build trust between gig workers and customers by using digital ID that includes information regarding the worker’s claimed credentials to verify their identity. According to McKinsey Global Institute, a good digital ID needs to be “verified and authenticated to a high degree of assurance, be unique and established with individual consent, and protect user privacy and ensure full control over personal data.”

Our View: In today’s digital age, cybersecurity is part of everyone’s job. Leaders are responsible for establishing effective governance controls that facilitate the management and mitigation of overall cyber-related business risks. A cyber-secure culture develops from prioritizing and resourcing cybersecurity programs, and everyone must take responsibility for their role in safeguarding sensitive information. Senior leaders are usually the prime targets for social engineering attacks, such as spear-phishing, but each and every employee must remain vigilant. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading in the Digital Matrix

Left-Handed DNA

While many mysteries remain regarding the connection between brain development and the dominant hand, scientists at the University of Oxford have found that left-handed people may have better verbal skills as a result of DNA that is linked to being left-handed. It has been discovered that handedness has a genetic component, but the best estimate is that it’s 25% genetic and 75% environmental aspects.

Our View: Understanding what causes things satisfies many aspects of the human experience beyond pure scientific curiosity. It helps people understand that they are agents, not passive observers, of the world. Understanding causes and how the springs and forces of nature are interconnected can help people change to prevent disasters and promote well-being. In The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect author Judea Pearl and DanaMackenzie explain that people will never get causal information out without beginning by putting causal hypotheses in. Developing well-supported causal hypotheses about the world is both essential and difficult, and more data is not enough for causal insight. Leaders must use clues and imagination to develop causal models, not just observed statistical regularities alone. Further Reading

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