Outcome-based planning seems to attract a different type of leader. I had the opportunity to catch up with a few of our biggest Milestone Planner advocates on the phone today. I always come away from those discussions energised – they are a very different crew to the majority of executives I rubbed shoulders with in the past. There were always a minority who were different, but I didn’t understand clearly why.

The Harvard Business Review blog has a post on “How To Ignite Creative Leadership In Your Organization” which draws on the IBM 2010 Global CEO Study. The report talks about the rapid escalation of complexity, and CEO’s doubts about their ability to manage it. It’s a time of rapid change for businesses, with global integration causing the world to operate in different ways. From volcanoes to volatile markets, business leaders are constantly being confronted by blind spots.

That doesn’t bother the kind of outcome-based, collaborative leaders we get to interact with. They aren’t phased. The Harvard post puts it like this:

Creativity in this context is about creative leadership — i.e., the ability to shed long-held beliefs and come up with original and at times radical concepts and execution. And this requires bold, breakthrough thinking. We believe, however, that this isn’t about having a lone creative leader at the top but rather about creating a “field” of creative leadership, by igniting the collective creativity of the organization from the bottom up.

We put it like this: Plan across the social networks that exist within your business. Let information and change propagate through them in real-time. Set milestones, aim for them, adapt them, adjust them, put everyone in charge. A “field” of leadership, rather than a point of leadership. In our world, people propagate the key information between plans and projects. People, with the right social tools, do a much better job of getting the right information to the right place, and innovating with it, than any of today’s computing power possibly can.

Creativity isn’t the enemy of good planning, it is its absolute best friend. Back to that Harvard post:

Creative leaders in these firms are more prepared and willing to make deeper business model changes to realize their strategies. To win, they take more calculated risks and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate. They are ready to upset the status quo even if it is successful and are committed to ongoing experimentation with disruptive business solutions.

Frank Kern: Senior Vice President, IBM Global Business Services talks about the background to their report: “We’re entering a pivot point…”

The 2010 CEO Study is here. Of course this isn’t new news. Dr Anne Marie McEwan of The Smart Work Company has been shaping our thoughts on what we can learn from the past for quite some time. What makes for good leaders hasn’t changed. What is different is that technology is moving from being a barrier to good leadership to being an enabler. Here’s to creative (and collaborative) leadership.