Hopefully you read my recent article titled Leadership Skills in the Jetsons Era. The focus of this article was about the acceleration and utilization of automation and robotics and how that will require a new type of strategic business leader to emerge -- one who is less of a bureaucrat and more of a strategic integrator of humans and disruptive automation.

In that article, I shared that one of the leadership skills that will take on more prominence in the age of disruption and automation is "Collaboration and Networking." One example of these growing number of collaboration networks is the Technology Collaboration Center (TCC). The TCC helps connect members to one another with transferable technology solutions across multiple industries (including oil and gas, space and medical) which helps members share development costs and solve technology challenges. Bob Prochnow, the Executive Director of the TCC, describes the organization as an independent matchmaker (like a match.com for technology developers and implementers) and through Collaboration Concierge Services (one on one collaboration assistance). I am proud to be a member and am enjoying the connections I am making thus far.

I recently attended a workshop on Wearable Technology sponsored by the TCC. There were 27 presentations by researchers from academia, NASA and companies that are commercializing in this Wearables space.

Like most new disruptive technologies, some are in the early stage of development while others are already being commercialized. Not all technologies that sound the same are the same. There were a number of presentations on wearable monitoring for vital signs. Just because your Apple Watch monitors some vital signs, it doesn't mean it is as effective as other technologies that might be more accurate in their approach.

The following are 5 presenters and subject matter that I found both interesting and relevant for the future of wearables technology:

Kristen Todd of Aexa Aerospace presented on how they utilize Microsoft Hololens for their HoloWizard App. Microsoft Hololens is a mixed reality solution where a person can wear a transparent headset to see holographic images while still maintaining part of their real field of vision. I found it very interesting to see how the technology is evolving as a tool that can educate and align team members in multiple locations with holographic interactions about required procedures with holographic step-by-step instructional overlays on the actual equipment being utilized. Leaders of the future should consider options like this to improve technical training and be more effective at making procedural requirements more readily accessible.

Anupam Sengupta of Guardhat presented their integrated safety technology delivered through a smart hardhat. Guardhat provides assistance with alerts to prevent lockout violations, immediate detection/communication of a person down, toxic gas detection, monitoring of physiological conditions, etc. Guardhat is a personal data network and has audio, video and geo-location capabilities. Guardhat is a technology that could raise the game when it comes to incident prevention. In the future, leaders need to leverage technology solutions like this to improve industrial safety.

Brad Holschuh is an assistant professor from the Department of Design, Housing and Apparel at the University of Minnesota. He is co-director of the Wearable Technology Lab at the university. Their focus is on expanding garment functionality and streamlining the design/manufacturing processes of smart clothing and e-textile products. One area of research is the focus on "personal microclimate control." This project is about on-body heating which would reduce the wasted energy to heat large and empty spaces. I can tell you from personal experience this past winter getting in my cold car, I often would turn up the heat in my car's seats while leaving the heat to the car off, thinking to myself, "this is much more comfortable than heating the whole inside of the car.." Leaders will need to consider technologies like this for their working in harsh weather conditions in the field as well as in reducing energy costs of office space.

Nanshu Lu is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin focusing on research for e-tattoos. These imperceptible temporary tattoos that conform to the skin are ultrathin, stretchable dry sensors. These graphene e-tattoos are highly transparent, require no batteries and can be used to monitor blood pressure, skin temperature, skin hydration, etc. E-tattoo technologies like this are likely to be a platform for various applications in the future both inside and outside the healthcare industry.

George Lewis is president of Zetroz Systems, a provider of non-invasive medical devices to accelerate tissue healing. Their product, sam® (sustained acoustic medicine) are wearable devices for multi-hour continuous ultrasound therapy. The product accelerates soft tissue healing with pain reduction similar to Celebrex and helps patients stay off of dangerous opiods. As an amateur baseball player (that is not getting any younger), this is of great interest to me. Businesses and organizations should be looking for solutions such as this that reduce healthcare costs and the risks associated with pain medicine.


The five examples above are just highlights from this workshop. Leaders of tomorrow will not need to spend as much time leading groups of people doing repetitive tasks -- because of accelerating advances in automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. To be an effective leader in the future, leaders should be investing time in collaboration networks where partnering with those with non-competitive, yet common interests could result in a competitive advantage.

These collaboration networks are becoming more prevalent. Time invested in building these relationships and attending these events should get a good return over a period of time. Otherwise, exit the network and look for another one.

These collaboration networks should be be multi-industry and cross-functional to get the most bang for your buck (your time). As a leader, encourage your staff to attend these type of events and look for technology/ideas that could transfer to your business or function.

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If you thought change in business models and technology has been happening at such a fast pace which makes it difficult to stay current, then put on your seat belt because it may feel like you are in a race car where you don't have enough control. I don't necessarily recommend that you be first to adopt a new, disruptive technology but I do recommend that you are first to explore the risks and opportunities associated with potential disruptive automation impacting your business.

Patrick Bass (CEO of ThryssenKrupp North America, Inc.) gives us great advice, "Map out your business models... and be brave enough to disrupt yourself."

Mike Goodfriend is a Teamwork Engineer and, Leadership Coach. Book Mike Goodfriend as a speaker for your executive team, leadership conference or professional association meeting with his presentation (Being a Strategic Influencer in the Age of the Jetsons). Mike can be reached at 713-789-6840 or via email at mikeg@goodfriendconsulting.com.

© Goodfriend & Associates, Inc., 2018

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