A Disney Dilemma – Fingerprinting at the Happiest Place On Earth

My teenage son recently joined me on a business trip to Florida. Our location afforded us the opportunity to spend a day at Epcot Center, a Disney theme park in Orlando. After purchasing our tickets and self-scanning them to enter the park (read The Move to Self-Service for more details on this trend), a smiling staff member instructed me to place my thumb on a sensor so it could be scanned. After two seconds, the light turned green and I entered the park.

It was at this point that I turned around in amazement and stared at line-ups of hundreds of people who Disney Scannerwere being scanned as they entered the park. It was a beautiful process – very efficient and simple. In fact, Mickey Mouse’s ears even turn green when your scan is complete! However, the great customer service didn’t quell the uncomfortable thought that was bouncing around my mind;

Do I want the Disney Corporation to own my bio-metric data?

You need to understand that I live under the assumption that privacy is dead (see The Death of Privacy). This means that I assume my Disney data will be hacked and/or shared at some point in my life. I am equally confident that organizations like Disney are doing their best to safeguard it from those who wish to steal it. However, I’m a realist. I’ve had too many stolen credit cards and received too many apologies about data breaches from Target & Home Depot to believe that my data is truly private.

In fact, my jaded attitude about Disney’s data security may be warranted. Susanne Posel writes that the Disney Corporation provides the US Department of Defense all of its customer data (as a result of the Freedom of Information Act). While I cannot confirm this supposition, it reminds us about the insecurity behind our security.

It must be noted that the death of privacy has both positive and negative aspects. Should a terrorist target a theme park, biometric data may help mitigate the problem. Or it may help track down a lost child or help Disney reduce counterfeit park tickets. However, it can also have a significant down-side.

So if we can’t trust organizations to protect us, this places the onus on us as consumers. How are we exercising our right to choose who gets our data? Are we doing what I did as I entered Epcot Center and mindlessly allowing organizations to collect our personal information? Or are we willing to ask the charming Disney host how we can enter the park without a finger scan?

Privacy is a critical issue which will significantly shape our future. Expect it to continue to grow more complex over time. We are already wary that our Smart TV’s are spying on us. How long until you have to give your fingerprint to use your Visa? In the information age, what do they really need to know? And why are you giving it to them if they don’t?


Head ShotJeff Suderman is a futurist, professor, consultant and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com




Photo Credit: Mark Goldhaber

The Future of Working: Dystopia or Utopia?

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Philip Foster. You can learn more about him and his work below.


Recently I read an article from The Verge by Rich McCormick (2016) regarding Mark Zuckerberg’s presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The focus of this article was a picture of Mark Zuckerberg walking past attendees who are wearing Samsung’s new Gear Virtual Reality headsets. Rich states that the image,

“…looks like concept art for a new dystopian sci-fi film. A billionaire superman with a rictus grin, striding straight past human drones, tethered to machines and blinded to reality by blinking plastic masks.”

Normally I would chuckle and move on, however this picture represents deeper insights about the future of our workforce and leadership. In fact, last year my colleague Dr. Jeff Suderman and I published a similar scenario in our paper “Envisioning Leadership in 2050: Four Future Scenarios.” In our article we presented four scenarios which depict how we might engage human capital by the year 2050. Two of these scenarios explored the possible dehumanizing effects or impact of technology in the future workplace.

One scenario focused on something we called Bio-Circuitry Leadership. It was represented by an image found in the movie Edge of Tomorrow in which soldiers were partnered with armored body suits. We imagined a scenario in which there would be “minimal separation between humankind and machinery/technology and very often, humans must adapt to the needs of technology instead of technology being adapted to meet our needs” (Suderman & Foster, 2015).  In this scenario, organizations and their leaders become “a complex blend of the best of both worlds: machines and humanity. The era of bio-circuitry leadership means that organizations have leveraged people and technology into a seamless system. It is difficult to distinguish between who people are and what they do because of how effectively human capacity is enhanced and blended with technology” (Suderman & Foster, 2015).

The second scenario presented a contrasting view and was titled Automaton Leadership. “By definition, an automaton is a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being. As a result of the relentless progression of technology, human capital will be shaped into a group of robot-like devices to accomplish the betterment of our world” (Suderman & Foster, 2015). As this scenario unfolds we find a world in which the “economic collapses of the early twenty-first century coupled with a decreasing full-time workforce led to a wide acceptance of technologies in everyday life” (Suderman & Foster, 2015). Under this scenario we imagined a world in which individuals of working age “…apply for and are fitted with docking harnesses which permit them to connect directly into the work grid. The Internet of everything now includes humans themselves. Individuals strap themselves into a work pod and the docking harness connects their entire body into the Internet” (Suderman & Foster, 2015). In this world the lines between “reality and virtual are merged as individuals spend most of their waking time connecting to the network” (Suderman & Foster, 2015).

Dr. Suderman and I recognize that our storylines are no more than best guesses about how our future will unfold.  However, the usefulness of scenarios about the future is not how accurate the stories turn out to be, but rather, how they help us shape the possibilities of the future. Twenty years ago few of us knew or even thought about the impact a smart phone would have on our lives. Today, we find mobile technologies impacting everyday decisions such as grocery shopping, taxi services and hotel accommodations. The seemingly innocuous introduction of ubiquitous technology has shaped a new economy right before our very eyes.

The idea of a future workforce strapped into some kind of technology may not be as farfetched as we would like it to be. In fact, most of us are already invisibly tethered to our smart devices. Laugh if you will, but the picture of Mark Zuckerberg and the audience of drones could very well be a glimpse into what is to come.



Philip FosterDr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.

Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman, E-mail: jeff@jeffsuderman.com.


Image Source: (McCormick 2016).

McCormick, Rich (2016). This image of Mark Zuckerberg says so much about our future. The Verge. Retrieved on February 21, 2016 from http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/22/11087890/mark-zuckerberg-mwc-picture-future-samsung

Suderman, J.L., &Foster, P.A. (2015). “Envisioning Leadership in 2050: Four Future Scenarios. A Case for relevant 2050 leadership – preparing for change.” Building Leadership Bridges. Sage Publishing.



How Leaders, Followers & Power Work Together (or Not!)

This week’s guest post is from Dustin J. Knutson. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University (VA) and lives and works with his wife and two daughters as an expatriate in the Middle East.


What kind of leader are you?

What kind of power do you have and how do you use it to influence?

What leadership environment do you create for others?

Understanding the answers to these three simple questions will equip you to lead more knowledgeably and more effectively!

What Kind of Leader Are You?
“Some people are leaders because of their formal position in an organization, whereas others are leaders because of the way other group members respond to them. These two forms of leadership are called assigned leadership and emergent leadership” (Northouse).

What Kind of Power Do You Have?
“Position power is the power a person derives from a particular office or rank in a formal organizational system. It is the influence capacity a leader derives from having higher status than the followers… Personal power is the influence capacity a person derives from being seen by followers as likable and knowledgeable” (Northouse).

What Kind of Leadership Environment Do You Create?
As you combine the two ideas above, your leadership type and power dynamic blend to create different working environments for followers. Think of these as the three different environments that you can create for others to work in.

  1. Compliant but Not Necessarily Motivated
    The first environment is where assigned leaders only utilize position power and thus create compliant followers. Followers are not necessarily motivated but do what they are told because of rank and status or the threat of rewards or punishment. Followers led by these types of leaders will typically only do the bare minimum. Morale can be low.
  2. Motivated by Charisma
    The second environment is where emergent leaders exhibit personal power to persuade followers to accomplish a task without any formal authority. Followers are typically motivated by the leader’s vision and contagious qualities. Individuals feel drawn to follow emergent leaders regardless of their rank or status. Assigned leaders who use only position power may feel threatened by the informal leadership of emergent leaders; however, these emergent leaders inspire innovation, teamwork, and positive corporate culture.
  3. Motivated and Committed
    The third environment is where assigned leaders are also emergent leaders. These leaders selective use position power only when needed or when personal power isn’t enough. They rely on their personal power to create a motivated following and are most effective when followers are asked or persuaded to act rather than told what to do. Followers of these leaders typically overachieve more often. They act both out of respect for the position of authority of their leader and because they feel led rather than managed.

Who would you name in your organization that you would consider an assigned leaders but not an emergent leader? Vice versa? Both? Consider why, and then examine those qualities in yourself.

What category would your followers place you in?

Are you leading and following as effectively as you could be? Why?

If you’d like to increase your personal power and emergent leadership, try courageously asking your followers for honest feedback. Ask them to provide you with their insights about leadership styles or traits they prefer, or would like to see more of in you. Then consider the feedback, communicate the changes you’re willing and committed to make, follow through, and follow up. While difficult, you’ll be glad you did. You’ll likely become more influential and powerful as a result – but for all the right reasons!


Head ShotJeff Suderman is a futurist, professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman, E-mail: jeff@jeffsuderman.com.


Northouse, P. (2007). Leadership: theory and practice. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Why Businesses Need to Keep Social Media Social

While social media began as a social phenomenon, it quickly moved into our business and corporate lives. Whether it is Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or a bevy of other options, there are some very useful ways we can use social media to help our businesses thrive.

However, I have observed a troubling social media trend. It is something I call “media masquerading as social media”. Let me explain.

We are used to the constant presence of media in our lives. Magazine & television advertisements, billboards and flashing coupons at the grocery store are constant reminders that media is vying for our attention. There is a quiet but important premise about media – we understand and accept that companies are trying to get our attention by telling us something! And it is one-way communication.

However, social media operates on a different premise. By definition, social media is about a social exchange between two parties. The term ‘social’ means that communication is not meant to be a one-way exchange. While media is one-way, it is my belief that social media must be two-way. However, I believe that the business use of social media is becoming increasingly one-way. Here are some recent examples from my life which illustrate this point.

  • On a recent Halloween, my daughter created and wore a Pippy Longstocking costume. It turned out wonderful but it ended up looking even more like Wendy from the Wendy’s burger franchise! I snapped a photo and posted it on their Facebook web site to see what they would do. In short, they did nothing at all. This taught me that their social media outlet on Facebook was simply media.
  • A local golf club regularly posts photos to my Instagram account. They are typically pictures of their amazing lunch plates and a description of their weekly special. This week I decided to treat a business guest to lunch on their patio. Below this week’s photo of their lunch special I posted, “I’ll be there tomorrow. What time do you close?” I never received a reply. Once again, this social media feed was merely media.

While I lament this misuse of social media by some organizations, I have also experienced some effective ‘social’ experiences with organizations through their media channels as well.

  • After our recent half-marathon, I snapped a photo of my wife stretching her tired muscles and posted it to Instagram. One of the comments was from a company called GetStrechy. They have an exercise program that could be a very good fit for us based upon my social media post. In contrast, the like by the company that sells marijuana obviously has not taken time to understand my social profile.
  • During a recent layover in Riga, Latvia, we had time to leave the airport and grab dinner in their fantastic Old Town district. While we waited to board our flight from Prague to Riga, I found a restaurant that was highly recommended. I then accessed their Facebook page and sent them a direct message (DM) asking for reservations at 8. When we landed in Riga, my Facebook account pinged with confirmation that our table would be ready. Now that’s media that remembers to be social (great work MILDA!).

Perhaps you view social media differently than I do, but I don’t mind the media aspect of it. That is, as long as it stays social and doesn’t merely become media. I suspect that social media outlets that drift into media-only feeds will have a short shelf-life.


Head ShotJeff Suderman is a futurist, professor, consultant and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com