Are the Next Generation of Government Executives more Comfortable with Complexity?

As government leaders do you believe the world is getting more complex? More volatile? If so, you’re not alone – – Sixty percent of the CEOs surveyed by IBM in our 2010 CEO
Study thought the world was getting more complex, and even more, 69%, felt the
world was getting more volatile.

For the first time, we also posed a similar set of questions to college students. These future leaders viewed the world as even more complex than the CEOs we surveyed. But they saw
less volatility, and significantly less uncertainty than the CEOs (65% of the
CEOs, but only 48% of the students). Could it be that the students are more acclimated to economic boom/bust cycles and feel more
comfortable with the uncertainty of today’s world?

Or could it be that in the instrumented, interconnected, collaborative world that they are used to (most of the students never knew a
world without web browsing and many don’t remember the pre-Facebook era), they
feel more comfortable dealing with this complex world? As a student in France put it, “We will have more information, so it [the world] should be more

We found that students who had the greatest sense of complexity put much more emphasis on analytics and the predictive capabilities
of information. They were 50% more likely to expect significant impact from increased information than peers who did not have the
same sense of complexity. And they were 22% more likely to believe that organizations should focus on insight and intelligence to enable
their strategies. Also, interestingly, students in China were significantly more likely to prefer a fact- and research-based style of decision
making than their peers around the world. Does that indicate that the Chinese students have been trained to feel more comfortable
dealing with data than their peers?

With the baby boom heading towards retirement in the coming years, does this mean the government workers who replace them will be
more comfortable using information and analytical techniques to handle the
world’s problems? Or could it be that complexity will always rise to be just beyond our ability to manage it with our current level of

Click here to see the IBM Report: “Inheriting a complex world”

Click here to see the IBM Report: “2010 Global CEO Study”

More on Analytics for Government here: www.ibm.com/ASCdc

Do you think our future leaders are inheriting a more complex world? And do you feel they are more prepared to manage it?

Comment on this blog or write to me at [email protected]

(I’ve cross-posted this entry from my blog Analytics4Gov since I thought it may be of interest to some of you here on GovLoop.)

– Frank Stein, Director of IBM’s Analytics Solution Center, Washington, D.C.

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