Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large It may sound like a cliché, but it really is just being a ‘people person.’ There are just three simple parts to being Future Strong.

First, care about people’s needs. I’m empathetic. That’s the thread through everything I do. It’s the ability to always care, always have empathy. Always have good intentions towards others, always put good energy back in the universe. For me, that’s a great foundation.

About 40 percent of our jobs will be automated by 2025. Soft skills are going to become even more important – the things that machines cannot do. The people with these soft skills will be tomorrow’s leaders. For many years they weren’t. The connections between creativity, innovation, empathy, and collaboration will increasingly become more important.
—Source: Future Strong by Bill Jensen, Oct. 2015.

The second part is to always look for new ways to do things differently. Keep disrupting yourself, constantly. Get “uncomfortable” in everything you do. Leaders need to choose to be more comfortable with failure. Leaders need to make more long-term bets, and be supported by their boards in doing so.

The third part is to always be Creative. Try all kinds of different things. You may fail at a lot of things, but you’ll learn a lot, quickly. Do lots of side projects. Do things you know nothing about. Try creating a ‘comic book’ about OHA.

Photo: Courtesy Trustee Lei Ahu Isa

We need to reinvent engagement within our Administration. For decades, we’ve been doing annual reviews on performance and knowing full well that they created no increase in Productivity…. that cost a lot of money, and that no one liked doing it. We have to take a ‘creative’ approach to human resources and talent – more like design thinking, where we design from the needs of the people doing the work. We can design better experiences for each employee. Maybe we can prototype a new app for OHA.

What are the tough choices today’s leaders need to make to be Future Strong?

Leaders need to fi gure out what innovation means to them. True innovation needs to be built at the edge of the organization. Most organizations’ immune systems will attack and destroy innovation. Examples of this are Uber and Airbnb. Most organizations are not prepared or willing to take “risks.” Think outside the box…then burn the box!

So if you want to be and stay Future Strong, remember the connections between creativity, innovation, empathy, and collaboration will increasingly become more important.

The biggest “risk” is in doing nothing. As Professor Kaleikoa Kaʻeo said, “…better to do something than do nothing.”

A hui hou, Malama Pono, Trustee Leinaʻala

Note: Trustee columns represent the views of individual trustees and may not reflect the official positions adopted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees.