During a recent leadership group meeting in Washington, DC, Gene Gabbard responded to my question: what is the most significant development on the horizon that will affect or change our lives?
He answered in one word – graphene!
I had not heard of it, nor had anyone else. He described it as a newly developed or discovered material that has the potential to change everything we touch from our clothes to our computers. I did a little research and so was somewhat prepared for the article on graphene that appeared this week in the New York Times.
Bend It, Charge It, Dunk It: Graphene, the Material of Tomorrow
And then I came upon an April 16 announcement from the Outsider Club.
Graphene is the future. Plain and simple.
It’s 200 times stronger than steel, thinner than a sheet of paper, and more conductive than copper.
I learned form the NY Times article that graphene is a form of carbon only a single atom thick. One ounce could cover 28 football fields. While it was discovered a decade ago, in 2010 two physicists at the University of Manchester were awarded the Nobel Prize for their experiments with it.
In 2012, the American Chemical Society said that advancements in graphene were leading to touch-screen electronics that “could make cellphones as thin as a piece of paper and foldable enough to slip into a pocket.”
This is remarkable stuff. It is already here and it will change the future.
Which brings me to the responsibility of servant leaders to prepare followers for the future. That’s not predicting the future. As Peter Drucker wrote:
“Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.”
Dick Schubert, associate of the late Peter Drucker remembers that Drucker would insist that he could not predict the future, he could only observe trends and tell where things are headed.
Drucker also said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.”
While we don’t expect our leaders to be futurists, we do expect them to be aware of what’s going on and given the trends bring us together to create a better tomorrow.
Which makes me wonder how many other “graphene” like inventions, or movements are on the horizon that will provide the opportunity and the need to create our preferred future.