Innovation

The Future Exit SignAs I say almost every week:

Smart leaders in 2017 don’t design good conversations, they orchestrate them.

I’ve also commented often that organizational leaders spend very little time thinking or talking about the future beyond the next quarterly earnings report.

In their classic book Competing for the Future, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad reported that most senior executives spend less than 40% of their time focused on the world outside their own organization, only about 30% of that future-focused time thinking about the next three to five years, and no more than 20% of that time talking with their colleagues about the future. In other words, only about 2.4% of management time (40% x 30% x 20%) is focused on building a shared corporate view of the future (Competing for the Future, p. 4.).

I’m convinced this inability (or unwillingness) to pay attention to what’s around the corner is the major reason the future seems to surprise us so often. [click to continue…]

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What’s in YOUR Future?

April 24, 2017

These days it feels as if there is a story about another new technology on every other page of every other newspaper or magazine, or – more appropriately – every other website or tweet.

We all know how big an impact technology is having on our lives, and it sometimes (all the time?) feels impossible to keep up.

The future is arriving at an ever-more dizzying pace. In most ways, our collective vision of the future holds out the promise of a higher quality of life, though there are also many challenges ahead (like the prospect of widespread unemployment as automation impacts more and more jobs).

I remain an optimist. However, I do worry that we’re not very good at sorting out the consequences – both good and bad – of new technologies. [click to continue…]

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If you don’t “get” what digital disruption is and means, I guarantee it will “get” you.

I recently came across this excellent short article in Digitalist Magazine, a free weekly ezine from SAP:

How Digital Transformation Is Rewriting Business Models

I subscribe to the magazine so it arrives in my Inbox on a regular basis. If you want to be well-informed about the future of work, I recommend it to you without reservation. It’s one of the few online publications that I actually look forward to reading.

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Sell Holes, Not Drills

April 17, 2017

children's fire truckThere’s an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle that made me remember a cute story about sharing – or not:

Tommy and Johnny were four-year-old twins. One day they were playing on the floor when Tommy asked Johnny, ‘Do you want the big red fire truck right now?’ To which Johnny replied, ‘Not unless you do.’

The underlying idea, of course, is that we don’t come into the world wanting to share.

Indeed, most of our economic, social, and even military history is based on a world of scarcity. In a capitalist or free market society, the economic value of goods and services is determined by the balance of supply and demand; when something desirable is scarce, we are willing to pay more for it. And when something is plentiful, or in abundance, its price typically drops.

Of course, none of us lives in a pure free-market world, though most of us pay homage to that concept all the time. It also turns out that we are using up many things we’ve always thought were just there to be shared to our hearts’ content – like clean air and water.

But this is not about to become a political rant.

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The Future Exit SignI’ve written many times about the challenges we all face trying to predict the future. Just last week I offered “Seven Principles for Taking Charge of Your Future.” None of them involves predicting anything.

I gave up making predictions many years ago.

In the immortal words at that great American philosopher, Yogi Berra,

It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.

[A quick Google search suggests that Nobel-prize-winning physicist Neils Bohr may have said that first, but it’s more fun attributing it to Yogi Berra]

I prefer to approach the inherent uncertainties about the future with a radically different mindset.

[click to continue…]

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The Future: Next ExitThere 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’m just getting started, but I want to build on a few insightful comments I’ve already received about that first question:

What aspects of the future of work are you most excited about?

As you might expect, the people I’ve listened to so far are excited about a wide variety of developments they expect to see, ranging from improved – and personalized – education and health care to increased cross-cultural collaboration and much more efficient generation of energy using non-fossil fuel sources like wind power, solar power, and even geo-thermal (accessing and leveraging the heat emanating from the earth’s center.

I am most intrigued by the almost-universal expectation of much greater personalization – the ability of technology to handle the complexities arising from individual differences like personal educational backgrounds (we’ve all studied different topics and have differing levels of knowledge about anything and everything we can think of). [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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I recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with an old (not old – just long-time) friend and colleague – Teri Flynn, the founder and principal/design guru at Flynn Architecture, based in Oakland, California.

Teri and I first met back in the mid-00’s, when I was studying and writing about what I then called “business community centers” but which have since become widely known as “coworking” facilities.

She was the architect behind the Berkeley and San Francisco coworking centers known as The Impact Hub (both are thriving, and they’ve been joined by Teri’s third Impact Hub design, at The Hive, located on Broadway in the Uptown part of Oakland, and right next door to her own studio).

Teri and I met for lunch in The Hive neighborhood, at a delightful restaurant and brew pub (Drake’s Brewery) with an outdoor garden seating area that was enclosed by a delightful old brick wall but open to the sky on a mild January day (that’s not an oxymoron, we do live in California!). [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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