Many things will be different by the time we hit the middle of this century. Managers will be leading, thinking and problem solving at much deeper and more innovative levels. As technological advances in social networking, Big Data and artificial intelligence provide more insightful information and more reliable evaluative analytical tools, tomorrow’s managers will differentiate themselves through their generative and conceptualizing abilities.

With technological advances available to all competitors and offering only a temporary competitive edge at best, it will be the cognitive skills and abilities of managers that provide real competitive advantage. Effective use of large amounts of information and sophisticated decision support systems will require managers to be skilled in sensing potential trends, and capable of articulating the right questions to ask, and the correct queries to make. Rather than commandeering speedy hit or miss solutions, they will learn to save time and increase accuracy by following Einstein’s wise saying: “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and I would need only five minutes to solve it.” Rather than delegating solutions they have created themselves, tomorrow’s managers will need to be adept at handing off fuzzy problems to well-designed teams skilled in fact finding and problem definition, as well as the creation of  solutions capable of attracting the necessary consensus for implementation. In a world that demands innovation, the ability to integrate analytical and imaginative thinking – and inspire it in others – will become increasingly essential to success.