Research

Last week I announced a new research project focused on gathering insights and ideas from a wide range of smart people (that is, almost everyone I know, plus many of you who I don’t know – yet).

There are four questions I’m asking everyone I know these days – and that includes you:

 

  1. What aspects of the future of work are you most excited about?
  2. What are you most uneasy about?
  3. What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the way we work and live in the next five to ten years?
  4. If you could change one thing about the way you work right now, what would it be?

I am pleased that I’ve already received thoughtful responses to those questions from several people, including Robert Buss, Graham Jervis, Bob Leek, and David Fleming. You can read their  responses, posted on my blog last week, at this link: “Let’s Talk About Tomorrow[click to continue…]

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Let’s Talk About Tomorrow

February 6, 2017

I’ve spent a lot of time the last few years investigating the future of work and doing my best to interpret it for you – especially the “So What?” questions that breakthroughs inevitably produce.

But I have also pointed out on many occasions that, obviously, the future doesn’t exist – yet.

We, together, create the future, one day, or one moment, at a time. The actions we take, the assumptions we hold, and the expectations we create about Tomorrow all add up to new experiences that become The Present and then The Past.

I like to talk about “premembering” the future in the sense that the more we can anticipate what might happen, the better prepared we can be for whatever does happen. Besides “So What?” the most important question we can ask is “What if?” [click to continue…]

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The way we work these days is very different from the past, and we produce value in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

Early in my career I worked for a large mid-western textbook publishing firm. I have never forgotten a conversation with one editor, a brilliant, well-educated woman, who told me in tears that she had just been docked a full week’s vacation.

My friend was supposed to be at her desk and at work every morning at 8:30 AM; her supervisor had been tracking her arrivals and had documented that over the past twelve months she had accumulated almost 40 hours of tardiness (10 minutes one day, 5 minutes another, and so on). [click to continue…]

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The Future - Next ExitI often start reading new books in January (or in the holiday period just before the New Year). It’s a time of year when most of us are renewing our business plans and looking ahead optimistically to new beginnings.

This year I’ve focused in on two books about the future and the future of technology. One is “old” – first published in 2011 but still incredibly relevant – and one is much newer, having just become available in 2016. Both are stimulating and provocative; I’ll mention them briefly today and then share their lessons here a little bit at a time over the next several weeks. [click to continue…]

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Toolbox

Last week I described five dimensions of the future of work as I envision it (“Oh, the Things I Know about the Future of Work!”). I don’t claim to have any special or unique insights, but I do believe there are patterns visible today that help us anticipate what the future of work will likely include.

But never forget that we don’t discover the future; we invent it.

Yes, there are events and conditions outside your control that certainly impact your future, but it is your reaction to those “uncontrollables” that determines whether the future works for or against you. And what matters most is how proactive you are about both anticipating those “outside” factors and developing plans for coping with and/or leveraging them for competitive advantage.

I’ve just returned from a powerful two-day experience that convinced me more than ever of the power of applying an activist, designer mentality to the future. [click to continue…]

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Telescope_to_Right2016 is coming to a close; this is the time of year when most organizations and their leaders focus their energy and attention on the future. It’s a time for visioning, strategic planning, goal-setting, and sorting out how tomorrow will be different from today.

But how many times have you completed a strategic planning exercise, or a visioning effort, with high energy, high hopes, and exuberant optimism that the effort will finally – finally! – produce meaningful change, only to see everything evaporate in the face of organizational resistance and/or apathy?

Pushing a rock uphillAchieving lasting and meaningful change in large organizations often feels impossible. It’s like Sisyphus rolling that boulder up the mountain, only to see it cascading back down to the valley, and having to start pushing it uphill all over again – and again, and again.

One of the best ways I know to avoid that kind of frustration and stagnation is a Future Search Conference.

 

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For the last several weeks I’ve been making the case that you can improve the quality and productivity of your meetings with relatively little effort. Rethink the basics, offer a simple training workshop, and improve the way you measure the cost and quality of your meetings.

All well and good – but I’ve just realized that I’ve been thinking mostly about the “regular” meetings that happen in every organization and every business unit on a daily basis – the 20 million-plus meetings that take place every day in the United States.

That’s a lot of meetings, and a lot of organizational time and money.

But the meetings that really matter are those infrequent occasions when leadership teams actively explore their organizational future and chart new courses for their business. [click to continue…]

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office-buildingIs Facilities Management Strategic? What does it mean to be a strategic business resource?

Those questions are crucial to the future of the Facilities Management (FM) profession.

Please contribute to an important conversation and research project addressing the current state of the FM profession by helping to answer those questions. If you are an FM professional I invite you to participate in a brief global online survey about your FM organization and its current role and relationships, as well as your views about current challenges and opportunities for FM leaders. [click to continue…]

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Social PhysicsOver the just-completed three-day weekend celebrating Labor Day here in the United States I started reading Social Physics: How Social Networks Can Make Us Smarter, by Alex Pentland, Toshiba professor at MIT and a co-creator of the MIT Media Lab.

Dr. Pentland also directs MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab and co-leads the World Economic Forum Big Data and Personal Data initiatives. In 2012, Forbes Magazine named Pentland one of the seven most powerful data scientists in the world. In short, he’s a very smart guy.

I’ve only read the first two chapters so far, but I can tell already that this is an important book filled with valuable insights (I’ve been aware of it for over a year; shame on me for waiting so long to finally pick it up).

Social physics is “a quantitative social science that describes reliable, mathematical connections between information and idea flow on the one hand and people’s behavior on the other.” In my words, it is the study of networks and relationships – of all the interactions, information, ideas, and emotions that flow between and among people. It utilizes “Big Data” to develop new insights into how ideas form and spread, how and when people communicate with each other, and even what they pay attention to.

For me, the first “Big Idea” to jump out from the pages of Social Physics is this: [click to continue…]

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Sigmoid1Last week (“Ignore the Sigmoid Curve as Your Peril”) I described the Sigmoid curve, also known as the technology assimilation curve and the “S-curve.”

It depicts the way many new technologies, new products, and new ideas grow in the marketplace; they begin slowly, and then if successful reach what Malcolm Gladwell dubbed the Tipping Point, followed by rapid, almost out-of-control growth. Inevitably, however, even the most successful products/ideas eventually experience slowing growth, which is often followed by decline as even newer technologies and products begin their own new growth curves: [click to continue…]

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