The Death of Privacy: Life in a Post-Private World

Imagine if privacy was dead. You know, like absolutely nothing was private. As I see it, we don’t really have to imagine it.  Here is newsworthy support of this premise from the past few weeks:

Ray Rice Abuse | Facebook Messenger Tracking | The Snowden WikiLeaks | Jennifer Lawrence Photos

To further prove the point, each of these stories are archived for our viewing for…well, presumably forever! Privacy is dead. We just don’t live and act like it yet.

As a futurist, I work to identify trends which could significantly change our lives and our organizations. About four years ago I first saw the term “Death of Privacy” on a  trend-map. The concept resonated deeply with me, not because I liked it, but because it seemed to be true. As time progresses, I see this trend continuing to grow in significance and impact.

As a reader, you may be asking, “So What!?” Here are five implications of the death of privacy in our personal and organizational lives.

1. The rise of going dark. Traditionally, going dark refers to unplugging from our electronic addictions. In the future going dark will be a means for us to engage in life without fear of being tracked. How will your workplace change if people believe that they are only free off-the-grid?

2. ‘Free’ will become increasingly costly. We live in a time of free apps and software. However, we are learning that ‘nothing-free-is-free’ as these programs monitor our habits and sell our data. As a result, watch for a movement of people being willing to pay (perhaps pay a premium), for products and services that provide assurances of privacy.

3. Privacy and secrecy will become synonyms. A Google search provides us with robust information about most people we want to know more about. In an open information society, those who become adept at keeping their lives private will be viewed with suspicion.

4. A new multiple personality disorder. Have you ever joked about that person on Facebook that has a life that is too good to be true? We can create on-line identities which are different than our real selves. As we adapt to a lack of privacy, we will spend increasing amounts of time curating our on-line personas. As a result, expect there to be confusion between Avatar-Joe and Real-Life-Joe.

5. Insert your insight here.  I invite you to add your own ideas in the comment box below!

At this point, it is tempting to rant about living a life without a modicum of privacy. However, I prefer to focus on things that I can change and I know I cannot change the diminishing nature of privacy. Instead, thoughtful readers will identify what they can do. For example, why don’t we require job applicants to submit their social profiles instead of sneaking around their backs and looking at their Facebook pages. We could proactively teach staff how to create healthy digital profiles which would benefit both themselves and their organization. Or we could educate our children about integrity so they understand that having separate private lives and public lives is a myth.

Privacy is dead. However, life after privacy is not.


Thanks to the following author for his thoughtful insights about the death of privacy which influenced this article.

Preston, A. (August 2, 2014). The death of privacy. The Guardian/The Observer. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/03/internet-death-privacy-google-facebook-alex-preston

Live|Die|Repeat: Thinking Like Gen Y/Z

Sometimes, popular culture provides us with unexpected insights about life. This recently occurred during family movie night when we watched Edge of Tomorrow. This futuristic science fiction thriller was not only an entertaining movie, but it helped me understand aspects of how generations younger than my own think (I’m a Gen X’er).

live die repeat

SPOILER ALERT: Content below will spill movie details!

In the movie, Tom Cruise is unexpectedly caught up in a fight against aliens who have invaded earth. However, the aliens are almost invincible and Tom and his partner find themselves regularly being killed only to wake up the next day to relive the same sequence of events. As a result of what they learn from their recurring identical experiences (like the movie Groundhog Day), they get closer to their goal of killing the mother-alien each day. This is more succinctly summarized by the movie tag-line: LIVE. DIE. REPEAT.

MAXIMIZING GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES

The idea of repeating a task and doing it more successfully a second, third or twentieth time is a fundamental premise of most video games. As a result, ‘do-overs’ are a normal part of life for a generation raised in homes with multiple gaming consoles. Since they think, study, work and live differently, employers need to equip themselves to work with Generation Y & Z employees who enter the workforce with different mindsets. It is critical that we do not label these differences in negative ways. Instead these differences carry both positive and negative components, just like the prevailing set of characteristics that any generation possesses.

At this point in my blog, I typically cite research which supports my insights. However, this weeks research won’t be found in any academic journal or book. Instead, it is based on 38 cumulative years of observations of my three children. As a result of this research, here are a four principles and implications of a Live, Die, Repeat mindset which characterize many who make up Generation Y and Z .

1. Perfection is less important than trying.

The upside: They are willing to fail. Since innovation requires that we try new things, comfort with failure is important!

The downside: They are not perfectionists and often do not expect to get it right the first time. Perfectionist bosses beware!

2. Jumping-in vs. planning ahead is encouraged. Most video games are fast-paced and encourage doing and then thinking (see my recent blog post  Do–>Think or Think–>Do).

The upside: They are people of action.

The downside: Extensive listening is slow death for them.

3. Experimentation is required.How many times did it take to beat the final level of The Legend of Zelda? Many!!

The upside: They are taught to think creatively and try things that may seem illogical.

The downside: The journey may become more important than the destination. 

4. Motivation is intrinsic.Since games teach them to live, die and repeat, the motivation to beat the challenge comes from within.

The upside: They need a deeper reason to do something than “because I said so”.

The downside: Sometimes they simply need to do it “because I said so”.

An important caveat must be included at this point – this generalization is not fully true for every person and every situation. However, the themes of these behaviors are regularly observed in our family.

How does the LIVE, DIE, REPEAT mindset manifest itself in your personal and work lives? What observations would you add?

 


Family photo cropped.docx

I provide consulting solutions which help organizations achieve their mission. Organizational improvement occurs by developing leaders, fostering organizational alignment and blending strategic planning with foresight. The sample group for this article are proudly displayed in this recent family photo.

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Are you Do–>Think or Think–>Do?

The ability to understand the unique ways people think, act and learn allows us to be more effective in our work and personal lives. As I consult, one of my favorite filters to help me do this is determining whether people demonstrate a preference for thoughtfulness or for action. I have dubbed this the ‘do–>think or think –>do’ test.
This concept was developed while listening to a presentation by Robert Moran (Brunswick Group or @robertpmoran). As he discussed an organizations strategy, he used think/do or do/think to define the two strategic options of the company. I have borrowed and extended this principle as it also applies to human and organizational behavior.
Think of some of the people that you interact with regularly (including yourself!) and ask yourself which one of these two categories fits best:
1. Do–>Think: These people are action oriented and like to get their hands dirty. They get to it and are comfortable working with an imperfect plan. Once things are underway or completed, they assess what they have learned and how to improve it.
Example: As I taught a board game game to a group of people this weekend, Ryan interrupted me two minutes into the rules and asked, “can we just begin playing and learn it as we go?” He demonstrated a strong do–>think tendency.
2. Think –>Do: These people prefer to begin by thoughtfully considering what needs to be done. They consider options, line up their priorities and then systematically work their way through them. They are not afraid of action, they just want to spend time on the best ones.
Example: I am teaching some on-line Master’s level courses this fall. The think–>do students in my class are sending me emails in the first week asking for clarification on paper requirements (and also sending in a draft for review prior to submitting the final paper).
We fluctuate between both of these modes of operation each day. Certain circumstances lend themselves more naturally to each of these styles. For example, contrast the difference between the development of a five-year strategic plan versus assembling your child’s new toy. Or perhaps at the height of your busy work season you may not have time to think/do. Sometimes circumstances will dictate our preferred method.
However, I believe that each of us also has an innate bias. I need to tackle large problems with time to think and ponder. In contrast, some industries move so quickly that they often need to be more do/think (think of technology and apps). This filter has helped me understand that I need to shift my preferred style at times in order to work more effectively with the do–>think people or to get work done on a tight timeline.
Here are some ways to apply this principle:
  • Assess the members of your team and identify their tendency.
  • Discuss this model with them and ask them to identify their own tendency? Is it the same as your observation?
  • Identify the person you often conflict with at work. Could your conflict stem from a different do–>think or think–>do orientation?
  • Review whether you identify the style which is different than your own as ‘wrong’ or ‘different’?
  • Determine how having different styles will help you and your team.

There is no single filter that helps you understand a person perfectly. However, the do–>think or think–>do is one tool which is easy to use and often provides you with quick insights about how to best work with a person.


 

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Six Priorities for University Recruitment Efforts

The expressions of anxious mothers, too-cool freshmen and a steady train of boxes into residence halls this week heralds the arrival of thousands of new students to our universities. Having recently returned from work with a university in Europe, I can report that university orientation norms like these are very similar wherever you go.

As recruitment offices, we are quickly shifting to efforts to recruit our class of 2015. As you do so, I thought that a quick summary of the 2014 Noel Levitz E-Expectations survey would be a helpful way to refocus your efforts. While a full read of the report is highly advisable (E-Expectations Report) , here is a quick list of the insights which should influence your efforts:

  1. Parents are important. VERY important! About 3 out of 4 high school seniors list their parents as having the greatest influence on their college choice.
  2. Web sites are critical! As the most important recruitment resource, the importance of your recruitment web site is paramount! Programs, costs and financial awards are the top three things they look for. Furthermore, mobile-friendly browsing is important as 40% of student state that they use their mobile phone browser for nearly all of their web browsing. Less than 10% of students rarely use their mobile device for browsing.E-Expectations
  3. Texting is becoming acceptable. About half of your recruits are fine with texting as a means of college communication. Similarly, 55% of parents are willing to receive college texts.
  4. Use many social media channels. Prospective students are active on Facebook (74%), YouTube (73%), Instagram (49%), Twitter (39%) and Snapchat (39%).
  5. Invest in your campus visit program! Three out of four students and parents agree with the statement that “schools should put more effort into getting prospective students to campus for visits and admissions events”.
  6. Tie education to careers. Students and parents want to see that their program has career value. Ensure you provide stats on job/graduate school placement, testimonials (current students, alumni, and faculty) and have robust program information.

I wish you success in your recruitment efforts this year!


Noel-Levitz (2014).  2014 E-Expectations Report: The Online Preferences of College-Bound Seniors and Their Parents. Available at https://www.noellevitz.com/papers-research-higher-education/2014/2014-e-expectations-report