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Posts from the ‘Business Models’ Category

Navigating Uncertainty

August 13th, 2016

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by John Reynard

We are living in a period of huge uncertainty. So how do people in business ensure they make the best decisions they can when there is so much confusion? John Reynard, author of ‘Spiritual Route to Entrepreneurial Success – From Harassed Sole Trader to Visionary CEO’, offers some advice:

1. Resist Blaming Others
Whilst it might be tempting to blame those who voted ‘Leave’ for anything that goes wrong from now on, it will serve no purpose. Blaming others justifies inactivity. It is the coward’s way of avoiding stepping up and taking responsibility.

It’s by asking ourselves honestly and sincerely what exactly it is we need to learn from what has happened and where we are now, that we move forward. Disasters occur only when we close down and block the learning that the ‘problem’ is asking us to embrace.

2. Time to Turn Inwards
When we feel confused, overwhelmed, pulled in one direction and then another it is tempting to switch off and do nothing, and ultimately that can be devastating. Instead we need to connect and listen to our own Higher Self, our intuition, to find solutions beyond the cacophony of all that is happening around us.

For me the best way to connect with my Higher Self is through meditation. It calms my mind, lessens the degree to which I get distracted by fear-based thoughts. There are many forms of meditation; find the one that works for you.

3. Follow Your Intuition
Intuition is the voice of our Higher Self. It comes to us spontaneously with an uplifting feeling, or voice and nudges us forward in our lives. It enables us to see behind statistics and forecasts, and make useful predictions in spite of incomplete information.

As with all skills, the more you tune in to your intuition, the better you get at recognising it and following it. We nurture our intuition by regularly absorbing ourselves in activities that take us completely away from our routine thinking, out of our heads, and into our bodies. For example, walking in nature, running, cycling or even dancing to music.

4. Ask Specific Questions
Periods of calm reflection or meditation often bring us fresh ideas and new ways of seeing situations. However, there are times when we need answers to specific questions. In such cases it is important to take a couple of deep breaths, close our eyes, and step back from any immediate emotional ties to the issue. Our inner voice is best at addressing questions that require a clear yes or no. Hence, we get the best results by formulating our inquiry in such a way that a yes or a no will give clarity. The right answer will carry more vitality and enthusiasm and the first answer is usually the best one. Anything that comes later risks being influenced by our customary limiting beliefs.


ReynardJohn Reynard is author of the ‘Spiritual Route to Entrepreneurial Success – From Harassed Sole Trader to Visionary CEO’ See: spiritedentrepreneur.com

The Academy for Chief Executives is a leading executive coaching and mentoring organisation working with business leaders and their teams throughout the UK.

Member companies collectively turnover £3.5 billion per annum and on average employ 75 people each.

academy8808.com & chiefexecutive.com

To find out more about membership of the Academy for Chief Executives contact us on: 07714 246509 or glenn.watkins@chiefexecutive.com

 

 

Image from istockphoto.com

Staying Ahead of the Curve

August 13th, 2016

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by Ian Price

The acronym VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) sums up the circumstances we are living in perfectly. In their book Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change, Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Soloman described a VUCA world as one in which organisations face constant surprises from all directions. “VUCA world is a bit like an amusement park: it’s full of thrilling rides – just not all of them are fun… a world where a political coup or a tsunami on the other side of the planet can disrupt markets in surprising ways.”While we can all recognise that description, there’s an alternative meaning for VUCA, one coined by Kevin Roberts, Chairman and former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. His take on VUCA is “Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Astounding” and his recipe for leadership success in this flavour of VUCA is also worth repeating.

  1. Create other leaders
  2. Provide rocket fuel in the form of responsibility, learning, recognition and joy
  3. Stay ‘in Beta’ – having lots of small ideas continuously
  4. Let emotion rip – it leads to action
  5. Make things happen

During this time of unexpected change, there will also be opportunities for transformation and growth and the Academy is here to help you to navigate this path successfully. Transformation and change can best be achieved with the support of others who can advise and guide you and can help you set the goals that you need to achieve. Having a coach, mentor and peer group who can be relied upon is also an established method of helping leaders successfully navigate through times of change.


Ian PriceIan Price became Chief Executive of the Academy in February 2016. He has a reputation and track-record for growing profitable businesses rapidly. His affable demeanour and relaxed style of working hides an exceptional talent at being able to focus on what makes a business tick.

The Academy for Chief Executives is a leading executive coaching and mentoring organisation working with business leaders and their teams throughout the UK.

Member companies collectively turnover £3.5 billion per annum and on average employ 75 people each.

academy8808.com & chiefexecutive.com

To find out more about membership of the Academy for Chief Executives contact us on: 07714 246509 or glenn.watkins@chiefexecutive.com

 

 

Image from istockphoto.com

Post EU Referendum June 2016 – By Academy Economist Roger Martin-Fagg

June 28th, 2016

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The Prime Minister has just announced his resignation.

A Conservative MP who voted to leave said we must remember that nothing will change.

Everything will change and in ways which we cannot predict we cannot know what we cannot know. The economy is characterised by positive feedback. This means a small change in one part of the system is magnified by the systemic response.

As I write this, global stock markets are crashing, sterling has fallen to $1.30, and Moody’s have said the UK will lose its AAA rating. These are knee jerk reactions but they are destabilising: positive feedback has already been triggered.

The Bank of England has made soothing noises and will supply short run liquidity to prevent the wholesale market from seizing up. Boardrooms round the world will be trying to evaluate both the risks and the opportunities.

Everything will change, and it has already started.

Download the Roger Martin Fagg – Post Brexit Article

rogermartinfagg

Roger Martin-Fagg

rmfagg@aol.com

The Academy for Chief Executives is a leading executive coaching and mentoring organisation working with business leaders and their teams throughout the UK.

Member companies collectively turnover £3.5 billion per annum and on average employ 75 people each.

www.chiefexecutive.com

 

Brexit; Stop, Pause, Plan, Implement. Repeat.

June 28th, 2016

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What is your plan text is written on blue paper with a red marker aside.MEDIA RELEASE

Brexit; Stop, Pause, Plan, Implement. Repeat. 

“You are being watched. As a leader your influence has a magnified effect…

Your personal response to Brexit will serve you into the future… and develop resilience… unexpected events simply lead us to find unexpected solutions.”

Ian Price, CEO, Academy for Chief Executives

Ian Price, CEO of the Academy for Chief Executives emphasises the value and importance of a thoughtful plan and choosing our attitude before, as leaders, we respond to the unexpected and change:

“So it’s out then. I’m sure I wasn’t alone, rubbing my eyes in disbelief on Friday morning, digesting the result of the EU Referendum.

“It was, we thought, unlikely, unexpected and, as a result for many, unforeseen.

“Brexit has thrown a spanner in the works for business owners and managers throughout the UK.

“It will fall to each one of us to make good decisions in the hours, days, weeks and months ahead as we each, in our own way, make our contributions to keeping the economy’s wheel’s turning.

“We are facing, what most of us agree is, unexpected change. We know change is challenging.

“Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director-general summed up the feelings of UK plc on Friday morning: ‘Businesses are used to dealing with challenge and change and we should be confident they will adapt. We need strong and calm leadership from the government, working with the Bank of England, to shore up confidence and stability in the economy.’

“It’s not just our political leaders and senior bankers who need to be strong and calm. We’ve all had times when ‘landscape’ suddenly shifts around us – the shorthand we often use is ‘crisis management’.

“Over the years we have spent a great deal of time in the Academy for Chief Executives considering the characteristics of a crisis – ergo proven, effective ways to tackle and respond to unexpected change.

“I can think of few better moments to share our tried and tested collective views as we each embark on our journey to steer through the choppy waters ahead:

  • First; stop, take a deep breath, have a cuppa and be prepared in the immediate short term to do nothing. Snap reactions are often, not always, to be avoided in crisis situations.
  • Then gather your resources. Get your team and tools together. Establish the current status of the situation. What’s going on? What does it mean? And what courses of action are open to us?
  • Establish initial priorities and actions with input from as many relevant sources as possible.
  • Define your purpose clearly. Make it a cause that everyone can understand and rally around, each knowing their role and responsibility.
  • Maintain focus on this purpose. This may be a re-affirmation of your existing purpose or this ‘what’ may have been adapted or changed.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate! Remember – it’s the ‘why’ you need to keep foremost in your and your business’ mind. Businesses with a strong and clearly defined purpose survive and thrive.
  • Keep consulting, keep reviewing and keep communicating on where you are, your progress and where you need to get to. Involve everyone: your team, your suppliers your customers and your allies and keep on communicating. Listen to what they have to say to you too.
  • Make it real – track everything against your timeline, what needs to happen, who is responsible and by when.
  • Finally, be an ‘embracer’ of the change. You are being watched. As a leader your influence has a magnified effect. Your attitude will be critical. Choose your attitude carefully.

“My final thought is this. Your personal response to Brexit will serve you into the future. Being prepared to challenge and be challenged is what keeps us fresh and successful. Businesses that embrace change positively develop resilience; they are fleet of foot and equipped to respond calmly and successfully to the unexpected.

“Remember unexpected events simply lead us to find unexpected solutions.”

  • ends –

#         #         #

For further information please contact

Glenn Watkins      glenn.watkins@chiefexecutive.com 07714 246509

Karen Gray            karen.gray@chiefexecutive.com 07976 841123

Nicola Hunt           nicola@nhpr.com 07976 934342

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Academy for Chief Executives is a leading executive coaching and mentoring organisation working with business leaders and their teams throughout the UK.

Member companies collectively turnover £3.5 billion per annum and on average employ 75 people each.

www.chiefexecutive.com

Round in Circles

March 29th, 2016

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Ever since the industrial revolution, our economic model has relied on using large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy in a linear, ‘take, make, dispose’ process. But this is a model that is reaching its physical limits.

But what if the things we throw away today can become the resources of tomorrow?  That’s the premise behind the idea of the circular economy – one that is one that is waste-free and resilient by design. This video from The Ellen Macarthur Foundation explains more.

For businesses, the circular economy represents a huge opportunity to re-think and re-design the way we make stuff as well as the way our economy works – designing products that can be ‘made to be made again’ and powering the system with renewable energy. And with creativity and innovation, this restorative economy need not be a pipe-dream.

100 Jobs of the Future

March 29th, 2016

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A new report from BrightHR, a ‘A Future that Works’ , investigates how workplaces will evolve in the future and key trends that are likely to emerge to affect all of us. Its key findings include the claim that a fifth of workforce tasks are expected to have an element of robotics in them by 2020 and that a third of UK jobs are under threat from automation.

But while job substitution by machines is always alarming for those caught up in it, we have always been able to adapt and find new roles for ourselves.  So looking forward, what sort of jobs can we expect to see in two decades’ time? A Future that Works suggests 100 new roles – some inevitable, others perhaps more fanciful. But all of them should give us food for thought about the opportunities these might represent.

Information &  communications

Personal Entertainment Programmers

Complexity Analyst, Gaiantologist

Psycho-Customizer

Human to Machine Interface Controller

Narrowcasters

Data Miner

Waste Data Handler

Social Network Analysts

In-House Simplicity Experts

Global Work Process Coordinators

Privacy Protection Consultants

Complex Security Integrators

Chief Networking Officer

Virtual Clutter Organizer

Machine Linguist

Off-the-Grid/off-the-Net Facilitator

Mind Reading Specialist

Quantum Computing Specialist

Media Ethicist

Designer of Advanced Interfaces for Ambient Intelligence systems

Knowledge Guide

Knowledge Broker

Professional VR Citizen

Virtual Lawyer

Virtual Property / Home Owners’ Association (HOA) Managers

Intelligent Agent Designers

Avatar Manager / Devotees

Network Relationship Counsellors / Therapist / Designer

Virtual Police

Virtual Personal Shopper

Cybrarians

Holographer

Virtual-Reality

 

Robotics

Robot Designers / Trainers

Robot Mechanic

Robot Counsellors

Dirigible Pilot

Alternative Vehicle Developers

Teleportation Specialists

Solar Flight Specialists

Infrastructure Specialists

Monorail Designer

 

Space

Spaceline Pilots

Spaceport Designers

Space Tour Guides

Space Architect

Terraformer of the Moon and Other Planets

Astrogeologists, Astrophysiologists and Astrobiologists

 

Demographics

Population Status Manager

Personal Learning Programmer

Societal Systems Designer

Social ‘Networking’ Worker

Intelligent Clothing

Designer / Engineer

Ghost Experience Assistant

Personal Branders

Socialization/Culturalisation Therapists

Enhanced Games Specialist

 

Energy

Biorefinery Operative

Wind Farmer

Battery Technician

Insect-Based Food Developers, Chefs, Nutritionists

Chlorophyll Technician

Fusion Engineers

 

Environmental

Resource Use Consultant

Vertical Farmers

Climate Change Reversal Specialist

Drowned City Specialist

Quarantine Enforcer

Experimental Petrologist

In-Company Sustainability Coordinator

Weather Modification Police

Consumer Energy Analysts

Water Traders

Desert Land Rights Trader

Climate Change Compliance Auditor

Business Consultant for Climate Change Compliance

Recycling Analyst

 

Medicine, biology and biogenetics

Genomics Developer / Architect / Baby Designer

Body Part Maker

Personal Enhancement Advisors

Nano-Medic

Synthetic Life Designer / Scientist / Engineer

Chief In-Company Health

Enhancement Officer

Telemedicine Technician

Farmer of Genetically Engineered Crops and Livestock

In-Company Gene Screener

Biometric Identification Specialist

Bioinformationists

Geomicrobiologists

Experimental Therapy Experts

Old Age Wellness Manager / Consultant Specialists

Personal Body Weight / Obesity Consultant

Memory Augmentation Surgeon

‘New Science’ Ethicist

Genetic Hacker

Longevity Providers

Cryonics Technicians

End-of-Life Planner

 

Download the report:

https://pages.brighthr.com/afuturethatworks-v2.html

About the authors

Lynda Gratton

“The Hot Spots Movement is a specialist research and consulting team founded by Professor Lynda Gratton of the London Business School, a leading expert in organisational behaviour and a world-renowned speaker on the future of work. The team works to identify where companies can future-proof their working practice, in order to foster innovation and enhance performance.”

David Smith

“A futurologist, and Chief Executive of GFF – a strategic futures research organisation, David Smith’s 30 year diverse business career has made him recognisable as one of the world’s leading futurists and strategic thinkers.David prepares views of the future on many topics including the Travel and Tourism industry, the world Insurance markets and visions of the future for government, the food, real estate, information technology and communications industries.”

The Rise of the Robots

March 29th, 2016

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by Leslie P. Willcocks

Too many organisations have chosen to displace workers rather than think through how technology and humans can work together symbiotically, a set of choices described as the automate or informate dilemma. In practice, automation can be deployed by either “automating”, “informating”, or both.So in the not-too distant future, we may come to see robots and automation as a way of augmenting human skills, with the ‘smart machines’ operating as collaborators in solving business problems and delivering service. We also see the future of operations as less pre-determined than many think. The big takeaway from our work so far is that automation will increasingly create workgroups comprising both human and robotic workers, and each will be assigned tasks for which they are ideally suited.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA), the automation of service tasks that were previously performed by humans, is just one technology that is changing the future of operations. Cognitive intelligence tools, like IBM’s Watson, are other soon-to-be game changers. In the near future, knowledge workers in the middle of a task could request a multi-tasking robotic co-worker to help — a robot on request. Contrary to today’s worst fears, robotics could facilitate the rise, not the demise, of the knowledge worker. But much depends on the imaginations of managers expanding as rapidly as their automation toolkits.

The economic implications of RPA are difficult to assess because the world does not sit still. But if clients are using robots for low-level tasks, fewer people will be needed for those jobs. What new job categories may emerge is a very interesting question. In Lights in The Tunnel and Rise of the Robots, Martin Ford writes about the drastic job loss that will accompany automation. We suggest a more nuanced future, and are testing this in present research, and a follow-up next year.

On a horizon of 1 to 5 years, we anticipate a mixed scenario:

1. Robotic Process Automation will begin to seriously change the delivery of services, substituting technology for people, which will alter the economics of service delivery, causing labour to be less of a factor and making labour arbitrage, which allows companies to switch between international sources of labour, less important.

2. The domestic/re-shoring/in-house tides will rise, with the superior “ease of engagement” and the need for the remaining humans to be near the action to handle exceptions, complexity and new services. Re-shoring (bringing production back to the home country) will rise. This will make domestic production more advantageous vis-à-vis most forms of offshoring, whether outsourcing or captive (through a subsidiary of the company abroad).

3. We predict a backlash against the impacts of automation, especially in terms of threatening jobs — which will become a symbol for the workforce and economic health generally, in both domestic and offshore locations.

4. Domestic and offshore outsourcing will continue to grow globally at anything between 5% and 12% a year depending on the function or process outsourced. Leading providers will increasingly seek automation as a core capability for delivery of services. Advisory firms will shift capabilities from assisting clients with outsourcing decisions to optimizing service delivery that will increasingly rely on automation and may or may not involve external sourcing.

On a horizon of 5-10 years these factors will kick in and be game changing in impact:

5. Through automation, there will be much more in-house, domestic outsourcing and re-shoring of IT and business services. Automation will move from routine manual and cognitive tasks to non-routine manual and cognitive ones. Automation will breed further automation, as humans will no longer fit into the new systems and processes.

6. Through automation, providers competing against clients (in-house sourcing) and other providers (outsourcing) will use automation to reduce costs and improve process metrics – e.g., responsiveness, timeliness, quality, defect levels, ease of use.

7. Through automation, issues around socially responsible sourcing/outsourcing and work design will rise in importance and profile, raising internal issues of management ethos and external issues of reputation management in the marketplace.

8. There will be changes in client-supplier relations and types of contracting.

9. At the same time, automation will not stop the rise in offshore and domestic outsourcing, as there is still so much work that will be open to outsourced options. Providers will work hard at making these options attractive. We anticipate a continued growth in the global outsourcing markets for information technology and business processes.

Wilcox

Leslie P. Willcocks is Professor of Technology Work and Globalisation at LSE’s Department of Management. His research interests include technology, work and globalisation and social theory and philosophy of information systems. Mary C. Lacity is Curators’ Professor of Information Systems and an International Business Fellow at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. They are the authors of the forthcoming book, Service Automation Robots and The Future of Work (SB Publishing).

They are the authors of the forthcoming book, Service Automation Robots and The Future of Work (SB Publishing).

 

All ideas are made of old ideas

March 29th, 2016

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by Max McKeown

When we think about the sort of world that might exist in 100 years’ time, it’s easy to be seduced by sci-fi style flights of fantasy.  But very often, it isn’t radical innovations that fuel progress so much as a mash-up of ideas that have come before.

In about 460 B.C., for example, Greek philosopher, Democritus, asked: If you divide a piece of matter in half and then in half again, how many breaks will you have to make until you can break it no further? He concluded that everything was made of various arrangements of atoms or átomos, “the smallest indivisible particle of matter” or something that cannot be divided.

Naturally this idea was ignored – partly because Aristotle, who was very good at selling ideas, dismissed it – and partly because Democritus didn’t write his ideas down.

And so it remained until the early 19th Century, when an English chemist, John Dalton, showed that (broadly) everything was made of atoms. Then, in 1897, the physicist, J.J. Thompson described an atomic structure complete with a nucleus of protons and neutrons surrounded by constantly moving electrons.

And so it turned out that Democritus had been right all along. Everything and everyone are made up of atoms which behave in very different ways depending on how they are combined. Including, of course, the blueprint for life, DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid – arranged in the now-famous double helix molecule composed of two ribbons with a backbone of alternating sugar and phosphate residues, which is then connected by rungs of hydrogen bonds and four bases.

The point here is not the chemistry but the notion that life, evolution and innovation can only ever rearrange what already exists. Mice and elephants, sharks and penguins, the blue whale and the flea, the chimpanzee and man, all share the same atomic composition – the same stuff – but their dramatic diversity in weight, size, colour, texture, and behaviour come about because of microscopic differences in their DNA.

Even between humans, who of course share DNA, we find differences that we would all agree are significant. Part of this is down to differences not in DNA itself but in the combinations of DNA in the two sets of chromosomes gifted to us by our parents.

So the component parts of Robert Pershing Wadlow, the world’s tallest man at eight feet 11 inches, and Nelson Aquino de la Rosa, one of the world’s shortest at 20 inches, are the same. They are just organised differently.

Early man observed the benefits of naturally occurring forest fires and learned to control it perhaps 1.8 million years ago. By 3,500 BC, the old idea of fire was added to fallen tree trunks to create a new idea – log canoes.

Around 4000 BC in Mesopotamia (what is now Iraq, Syria, and Iran) the old idea of log canoes was added to flat potters wheels and wild horses to create a new idea – the horse-drawn cart.

In 1672, Ferdinand Verbiest, a member of a Jesuit mission in China, added the old idea of carts to another old idea, steam power, to create a new idea – the first automobile, albeit a toy for the son of the Kangxi Emperor. And at 4:17:42 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, July 20, 1969 the old ideas of ships, fireworks, and science fiction were added together to enable the first landing on the moon.

The difference in success between individual lives, or companies, relies not on creating something from nothing, but in combining existing ideas and materials. At its best this process meets existing needs with new ideas or even creates new needs from old ideas.

In 1955, Walt Disney combined three old ideas – the fairytale, notably those collected by the Brothers Grimm; animation, developed from stop motion techniques discovered accidentally by French filmmaker Georges Méliès; and the ornamental garden, something dating back to Ancient Egyptian and to Arabian pleasure gardens. Together, they combined to produce a new idea – the Theme Park.

More recently, Nintendo took the old idea of Kokeshi, traditional Japanese wooden dolls, and developed software that lets you create digital avatars – uncannily accurate cartoon characters (Miis) of yourself, friends and family who become characters in Mii-oriented games. The result is a kind of ‘virtual family’ play room.

New art, literature, and music are constantly recycled from existing works. William Shakespeare started with traditional dramatic structures and often borrowed his themes. (Romeo and Juliet came from a poem by Arthur Brooke and was retold in prose by William Painter). He adapted the language of the street as well inventing at least 1,700 new words of his own, not to mention a swath of new dramatic techniques.

In her Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling takes a little bit of Enid Blyton’s naughtiest school girl, a dollop of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch at School, and Dicken’s Oliver Twist. She prefers to avoid discussion of influences, yet they are there – the raw materials, literary atoms and molecules with which she has created the Hogwarts universe.

Elsewhere, mash-up, bootleg, smash-up, blend, or bastard pop combines the music from one song with the singing from another. Ideally, as Wikipedia puts it, “the music and vocals belong to completely different styles/genres generally considered to be incompatible, yet skilfully and artfully combined into a pleasurably euphonic hybrid”.  Understanding that everything new is made from something old and studying how what we enjoy is the result of this new-for-old mash-up allows us all to do the same.

Nature has mixed and remixed matter to arrive at our current universe. Mankind has mixed and remixed ideas to arrive at our current global society. And it is to new combinations of old ideas that we must look to for innovation – to make our lives better.

 

Maxmckeown

Max McKeown works as a strategic adviser for four of the five most admired companies in the world. He is a well-known speaker on subjects including innovation and competitive advantage. His latest book, The Strategy Book is now in its second edition.

Top Tips: Surviving the Future

March 29th, 2016

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by Patrick Dixon

Here is a five step guide to future-proof any business, based on my new book The Future of Almost Everything.

 1) Bring in outsiders to challenge your world view

The greatest risk to any business is institutional blindness.  The greatest risk to any leader is being seduced by one’s own world-view.  The greatest risk to any marketing department is believing your own slogans.

When too many bankers spend too much time with bankers, the result is a sub-prime crisis. Too many generals playing too many war games with too many other generals in the same nation, and the result can be disaster.

So seek out advice from experts, consultants, innovators – people who think very differently to you and others in your company.  Take them out to dinner. Include them in key strategy discussions.  Hire them into your teams.

 2) Listen to your customers – but don’t believe them

Always take what your customers tell you seriously. Fix their problems. Make life easier. Thank them for their feedback. But don’t believe them when it comes to predicting the future.

Get to know your customers well, with deep insights into how they think and feel, and then try to imagine how they may behave in a very different kind of future world.  Take online banking for example:  in many nations most customers told banks a few years ago that they were not interested in online banking or making payments using a smartphone – and if banks had listened to them, they would have missed one of the greatest transformations in retail banking for decades.

One of the best ways to find those insights is to pretend to be a customer in your own business as a “mystery shopper”. Every senior manager should do that at least once a month.  Mystery shopping is often shocking to business leaders – not so much how they are treated as customers, but what it feels like to be that customer.

3) Read widely – and be curious about all you meet

I wrote The Future of Almost Everything as a one-stop guide to the future of every industry, region and market. Many of the insights came from reading everything I can get my hands on – unfamiliar magazines in airports, blogs by influential people, newspapers like the Financial Times, and other key publications like the Economist.

The key is to challenge your own views on the future, rather than just absorb the forecasts made by others.

When did you last have a conversation with someone that really changed how you think?

One of the fastest ways to stay ahead of change is to be constantly curious about the lives of those you meet. For example, when you arrive in a new city, talk to your taxi driver who will likely be a very reliable guide to what is really going on, if the local economy is picking up, who is spending what and where.

Every person has unique insights and personal experience. Their own way of viewing the world.  High school students, mothers with children at home, people who are retired, shop assistants, bus drivers, car mechanics, journalists, pharmacists and so on.  And in each town or city, in every nation, the answers such people will give will be different.

4) Review your strategies every year

The world is changing faster than you can hold a board meeting, which means that you need to have more than one strategy. Bring your team together regularly to think again. Develop contingencies to stay ahead of constant change. What are you going to do if….

The smartest corporations and teams all have multiple strategies. They already know more or less exactly what they will do if a particular event takes place.

Focus on major long-term trends, which change relatively slowly and you already understand most of your future. Things like demographics, growing life expectancy, the relentless fall in price of most technologies, rapid pace of globalization, rise of emerging markets and so on.  These things form the foundation stones of every corporate strategy or government policy.

The rest will be driven by Wild Cards – low probability, high impact events – but there are a huge number of them, and in a hyper-connected world, their combined impact can be awesome. Remember that in every risk or challenge there is a new business opportunity.

5) Be agile!

And finally, prepare for rapid change, by developing more agile teams. That means simplifying decision-making, giving more power to local teams to innovate, diversify and respond to events rapidly. Recruit and promote leaders who cope well with ambiguity and uncertainty, who enjoy taking initiative, have courage and are great collaborators.

It is shocking how many organisations still have a very top-down culture, where managers basically do as they are told, and where many leaders are reduced to mere implementers of someone else’s business plan.  Part of agility is encouraging innovation:  creative thinking, new solutions to old problems, radical steps to serve customers better.

Agility is so much easier when you have completed steps 1-4 above. When you have a dynamic view of your future and have mapped out different possible directions depending on what happens around you.

Patrick Dixon

Patrick Dixon is a futurist, keynote speaker author and adviser to boards and senior teams on strategic impact of global trends, innovation and risk.  His latest book, The Future of Almost Everything, describes hundreds of key trends which will impact your business and personal life, and explains what it all means for our wider world. http://www.globalchange.com

 

Look to the Future but Don’t Forget the Past

March 29th, 2016

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by Ian Price

It can be all too easy to forget what we’ve learned from the past as we try to future-proof our businesses and plan for what comes next.  In my new role as Chief Executive, I am aware that the Academy has an important heritage based on our twenty years of history.  So it seems appropriate that the Academy will celebrate its 21st birthday – and its coming of age – in 2016, which is set to be an important year as we decide our future in Europe.

There was much talk at the World Economic Forum at Davos last month about the potential impact of artificial intelligence. Will robots eventually take over from humans or will they herald a world where people can instead focus on adding value and being creative? It’s a moot point, but it’s worth remembering that even in today’s digital world where virtual communication has become the norm, that direct human contact remains far more powerful than a pixelated experience.

That’s why the opportunity Academy members have to meet in person each month and share their issues in a trusted environment is more important than ever. It’s so much easier to deal with the challenges we face as business leaders when there is a supportive community on hand to help navigate the change.

As I reflect on the legacy of the Academy and look to the opportunities ahead, it is clear to me that we must continue to build upon the solid foundation already in place and our philosophy of `leaders learning from leaders’. At the same time, we need to challenge the status quo, identify new opportunities and approaches, embrace innovation and expand our horizons. This means combining the best of both worlds as we look ahead, but without forgetting the past.

Ian Price

Ian Price became Chief Executive of the Academy in February 2016. He has a reputation and track-record for growing profitable businesses rapidly. His affable demeanour and relaxed style of working hides an exceptional talent at being able to focus on what makes a business tick.

Contact Glenn Watkins to learn more and experience the Academy for Chief Executives.