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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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We live in uncertain, unpredictable times.

That may be one of the least controversial and most widely accepted statements I’ve ever made.

The world in 2016 is filled with “VUCA” – Variety, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. We face “wicked problems” every day.

However, as chaotic and dynamic as 2016 seems, this is hardly the first time the world has seemed out of control. In fact, that familiar phrase, “The future isn’t what it used to be” (meaning, the future won’t be like the past), was first used by the French poet and philosopher Paul Valery in 1937.

Indeed, for most of the last several hundred years the future has usually seemed unpredictable, if not uncontrollable. Ever since the Industrial Revolution we have experienced never-ending technological change, although clearly the rate of change has been accelerating at an incredible rate of its own. [click to continue…]

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mmm180x490pxsmallAre you ready to become a smart meeting leader?

I invite you to join me on Tuesday, April, 26, at 4 PM Eastern time, for a free one-hour online conversation focused on “Redefining Leadership for the Digital Age.”

You can register here:

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7124403613916859139
Webinar ID: 146-058-459

In this inaugural offering I will identify why a new mindset is essential, describe the “P4+” model of meeting leadership I’ve developed, discuss how it produces meetings that are both productive and popular, and offer practical tips for engaging your meeting participants in creative, constructive conversations.

Participating in this program will enable you to:

  • Understand how the digital age differs from the industrial age;
  • Know why collaborative leadership is so central to success in the digital age;
  • Describe the behaviors of collaborative leaders;
  • Ask questions that draw out the ideas, insights, and experiences of others; and
  • Bring your meetings to an effective ending that achieves your desired outcomes.

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David Coleman, the founder and executive director of Collaborative Strategies, Inc., has just published a highly complimentary review of Making Meetings Matter on CMSWire.

Here is a brief excerpt:

Collaboration and telecommunications company Fuze correlated data that shows “15 percent of an organization’s time is spent in meeting.” A Bain report echoed these findings. On average, 11 million meetings took place in the US every day in 2015.

Another study calculates that $37 billion is lost due to unproductive meetings every year. Our estimate, based on the 7 billion meetings in 2014, was that $70 billion was wasted in unproductive meeting time.

No wonder that bookshelves are packed with books trying to tell you how to make those meetings more productive, what tools to use, even proper etiquette. But they all fail to look at changing the “meeting mindset.”

That’s where James Ware’s “Making Meetings Matter, How Smart Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age” comes in.

David’s article is really much more than a review of the book; it’s a thoughtful treatise on the central role that meetings play in 21st-century organizational life, and how important it is for leaders to be much more thoughtful about how they design and conduct the meetings that fill so many peoples’ days at work.

Check it out for yourself at:

“Are You Sure You Want to Schedule Another Meeting?

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Special Note: You are invited to a special (and free) book launch party celebrating the publication of Making Meetings Matter. Join me for an hour of conversation about meetings and collaborative conversations on Wednesday, March 16, at 3 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

Just click on this link to register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4007501453093003777

Conversation


Last week I reported on my recent interviews with several smart people about what makes for a good conversation (“A Debate is Not a Discussion, and a Discussion is not a Dialogue“) .

Today let’s dig a little deeper into the underlying factors they identified. Here are the seven dimensions of effective conversations:

1. A good conversation is purposeful.

Sure, we often engage in small talk, or in conversations we know are relatively trivial. But when the subject is something we care about, and we have a clear and explicit goal (informing, learning, sharing, persuading) we tune in more intensely and we engage more deeply. [click to continue…]

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