Leadership

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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Happy new year!Welcome to 2017!

I am committed to making this year a positive one on many fronts. As I wrote last month, I am starting it off not by making “Resolutions,” but by committing to develop new habits.

And my first commitment is to pay more explicit attention to the future of work. Despite the headline above, I don’t claim to have any unique insights into what the future will look like. However, I do have some expectations – and some warnings.

Let’s focus first on expectations. It’s hardly a stretch to suggest that, long term, the future of work will be:

  • technology-dependent (duh!)
  • globally distributed;
  • hyper-connected; and
  • massively collaborative.

In addition, I am convinced that much of what we call work will become more and more invisible. That’s a more complex and less obvious idea, but let me briefly address those first four facets of the future before I describe what I mean by invisible work. [click to continue…]

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What a Wonderful World!

December 19, 2016

Chelsea Flower Show

We are living in troubled times. I’ve even seen recent references to Charles Dickens, hungry orphans, and the ghosts of Christmas past.

While it’s common at the end of each year to reflect on where we’ve been and vow to do better in the new year, I believe it is equally important to simply stop, take a deep breath, look around, and enjoy where we are.

Because no matter how grim things seem, we do live in a beautiful world. This is a great time to stop and enjoy it (and of course to commit to preserve it for future generations).

In fact, I urge you to take two minutes right now and enjoy every word of this version of “What a Wonderful World,” sung by Louis Armstrong (YouTube video published August 7, 2016, by Christophe Letecheur):

As a friend put it many years ago, “There’s a reason we call ourselves human beings and not human doings.”

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checklistEach December I try (with mixed success) to invest time during the last two weeks of the year to reflect on what I’ve accomplished personally and professionally over the past twelve months, what I’ve learned, and what I want to do differently going forward.

It’s a ritual we all go through to some degree, whether formally or not. This year feels more important to me than most, particularly since I am still celebrating (and leveraging) the publication of my book Making Meetings Matter last February.

It’s also important because 2016 has been unsettling for so many of us. The national election we’ve just completed, and all the continuing uncertainty (and anxiety) that event has created, made it a tough year not just for the United States but for the entire world.

Today I just want to suggest briefly three specific actions that you can take to put yourself in charge of your own future: [click to continue…]

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Disappearing Work - StuckyIn October my monthly Talking About Tomorrow membership program (“TAT”) featured former IBM researcher and current Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Stanford University – and Very Smart Person – Susan Stucky, who led the group in an important conversation about “disappearing work.”

But Susan wasn’t talking just about all the jobs that are being automated out of existence. She is of course highly aware of, and deeply concerned about, automation, but she asked the TAT participants to focus on another, often unseen, side of the emerging digital economy.

She opened with this statement by economist W. Brian Arthur, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, from a 2011 thought piece in McKinsey Quarterly:

Digitization is creating a second economy that’s vast, automatic, and invisible—thereby bringing the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution.

(from “The Second Economy,” October 2011) [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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Bake a Bigger Pie!

November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

On Thursday this week we in the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving – a holiday that began as a reminder of our good fortune in surviving another year and bringing in a bountiful harvest that would last through the winter.

Most of us remember hearing stories in school about the pilgrims who (supposedly) invited their native American “friends” to join them for a feast that (supposedly) included turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.

Of course we know it wasn’t quite like that. And unfortunately Thanksgiving has evolved into a day for stuffing ourselves as well as a turkey, for gorging on football and the Macy’s parade, and for gearing up for Black Friday and frenzied all-night shopping for year-end holiday gifts.

Somewhere along the way we seem to have forgotten that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, and about sharing our blessings. [click to continue…]

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Crystal BallYou don’t know – you can’t know with 100% certainty – what will happen tomorrow. Yes, you can (and we all do) contemplate the future with a good sense of what is likely to happen, although these days the future seems incredibly cloudy, uncertain, and basically unpredictable. And if tomorrow seems hazy, what about next week, next month, next year, five years from now?

And the less certain you are of what the future will bring, the more highly stressed you are likely to be. That stress comes from not knowing, and from being afraid that you won’t be able to control whatever does happen.

But what if you could “premember” tomorrow as clearly as you remember yesterday?

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peekingfear_000014658459November 8, 2016, is election day in the United States. This has been the most contentious, drawn-out, and, yes, tedious election in my memory. Everyone I know is glad it is about to be over. No matter what your politics or political values, I am positive that like me you are relieved we’ve finally reached the end of this unpleasant journey.

One inevitable result of this year’s electoral dysfunction (deliberate pun) has been rampant uncertainty about the future. And one of the best indicators of uncertainty is the stock market. The U.S. markets have been unsteady and volatile throughout the year, and foreign markets have generally followed suit. [click to continue…]

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