Hot or Not? Understanding Innovation

One of the benefits of blogging is that it provides me with a steady source of new ideas. Over time, some of these ideas fade while others become even more poignant. One of my biggest ‘aha’ moments was the discovery of something called The Hype Cycle (even the name sounds sexy!). So what is it and what does it teach us?

The Gartner organization makes a living off the Hype Cycle. Figure 1: The Gartner Hype CycleTheir model helps us (and their clients) understand how new innovations move from inception to application. It identifies several distinct phases that an innovation morphs through as it progresses from an idea to something that is productive (see chart). In other words, it teaches us that good ideas take time before they actually become useful.

For example, my teenage son began speaking of the Oculus Rift several ago (the inflated expectations stage). This virtual reality (VR) system was an early leader in the development of VR headsets. However, almost three years after Kaden introduced me to Oculus Rift, we are just entering the zone where VR is becoming a relatively mainstream product (a search for VR headsets on Amazon reveals we are moving towards the plateau of productivity). Therefore, the Gartner Hype cycle equips us with information by which we can recognize the distinct phases that products go through before they are useful.

e-learningSo what does the Hype Cycle concept mean for you? While Gartner uses this model to assess innovations in technology, I believe that this idea is equally valuable with ideas or services as well. For example, the chart on the right uses the Hype Cycle to assess eLearning innovations in higher education. I use the Hype Cycle principle when I assess new businesses, new products, new pop music artists, election campaigns, new services, and even when I meet new people in my networking activities. If you have heard someone speak of an idea that ‘is ahead of its time’ you have also heard an indirect reference to the Hype Cycle. 

The Hype Cycle is a helpful way to help understand the pattern of acceptance for things which are new. While you may not have the science or research backing that an organization like Gartner does, I encourage you to use this model to begin to assess new things.

One can only wonder where hipsters fit on the Gartner Hype Cycle!

Postscript: The chart below outlines the 2016 Gartner Hype Cycle. It will introduce you to some ideas that you have never thought about. I can hardly wait until I can tell someone about smart dust!

Gartner Emerging Technologies 2016


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

Source: Gartner and WebCourseWorks

Courage: How Do You Fill Your Tank?

This week a client emailed me something that was refreshingly honest:

I am having ‘one of those days’! Do you have any ‘this is why we put up with this crap…the ultimate outcome will be worth it’ blogs that I could read?

I pondered this idea for a while before concluding that I didn’t have a magic blog which addressed this. However, I became fully convinced that we all need things that can get us through the tough times! As I continued to consider this idea, I found myself focusing on the word encouragement. We all need it and few of us receive too much of it. So where do you and I find this vital source of strength? Where do we go to build courage?

The word encourage is derived from two French words:

en (meaning ‘in’) + corage (meaning ‘courage’)

This simple etymology reminds us that encouragement is something that helps us build courage within ourselves. Have you ever thoughtfully considered your need for courage? We need courage to try something new. I need courage when I face uncertainty. You need courage when you are afraid.

I began to realize each of us has an invisible courage tank. Like your vehicle’s gas tank, the level of your courage tank will vary based on life’s circumstances. Sometimes it will be full, perhaps even brimming over. Yet at other times, it will be so empty that you feel like a hitchhiker with their thumb in the air begging for just enough courage to get you by. This metaphor reminds us that you and I must regularly fill our courage tanks!

Lesson 1: We all must obtain courage! You cannot thrive without it.

The next step in my mental journey was pondering where we obtain courage. If we all need it, where do we get it from? My conclusion was that the source of courage is both internal (yourself) and external (others). As an example, there are times when I alone muster the strength needed for a tough meeting or to make a difficult decision. I must draw courage from my own courage tank! There are other times when I rely on others for courage. My mentors, friends, spouse, and even authors I have never met have all made deposits to my courage tank. These deposits and their advice equip me with courage. In fact, my ability to make courage deposits in the lives of others is one reason that I am hired as a business coach. Therefore, in our quest for courage, we have two sources and we must learn to access both.

Lesson 2: Courage can and should be obtained from both internal and external sources.

Finally, I considered the different encouragement needs that I have, If we are having ‘one of those days’, what exactly will encourage us? I believe that a well-balanced courage diet is derived from more than one source. Just as my sources of courage are different (internal and external) my encouragement needs are also different.

Lesson 3: Courage development is fostered mentally, physically and spiritually.

If we only rely on only one source of courage, we will develop imbalance. During your time at the gym have you ever seen someone with a well-built upper body but the legs of a stick-man (I have!)? This same imbalance will occur if we only build courage in one area of our life. Education will build mental courage but it won’t equip your body to fight a heart-attack. Running each week will develop your physical courage but it won’t provide the same peace that time watching ocean breakers will. Like eating a nutritionally-balanced meal, we must also practice balance in our courage-development.

My client’s question may or may not be answered by this blog. No matter, I value the personal lessons that her email evoked. As you seek to maintain a full tank of courage, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. If your courage tank had a full/empty meter, how much is in the tank right now?
  2. Do you intentionally spend time filling your own courage tank? How?
  3. Who are the people in your life that are equipped to fill your courage tank?
  4. Are you filling your tank with a well-balanced blend of courage (mental, physical and spiritual)?

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

 

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Five Questions to Diagnose Organizational Needs

As a consultant, a lot of my time is spent diagnosing matters related to organizational success. Sometimes as I listen, I discover themes about challenges that need to be addressed. At other times, I hear people provide insightful ideas about organizational opportunities. My goal is to help organizations clarify their needs and then help them act on them.

However, this process should not only be the domain of consultants. No matter who you are, you must learn to diagnose organizational gaps and opportunities. I have discovered five useful questions which can help you do this. Michael Watkins suggests that leaders should use them when they begin working at a new organization. However, I think they are questions which can be helpful to ask even if you are not new. Here they are;

  1. What are the biggest challenges the organization is facing (or will face in the near future)?
  2. Why is the organization facing (or going to face) these challenges?
  3. What are the most promising unexploited opportunities for growth?
  4. What would need to happen for the organization to exploit the potential of these opportunities?
  5. If you were me, what would you focus attention on?

In one of my recent blogs, Mr. Blanchard commented, “Many leaders are scratching their heads in the eventual decline phase of organizational life without a plan to launch a new service or product” (see Assessing Organizational Opportunities). This astute assessment summarizes the demise of many organizations! The five questions above are simply one way to overcome this problem.

But what about you? What questions have you found helpful in diagnosing the needs of your organization?


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

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Assessing Organizational Opportunities: The Sigmoid Model

In the past month, a surprising amount of my consulting discussions have focused on something called the sigmoid curve. This is unusual because the sigmoid is actually a mathematical principle, an area that is not my specialty! However, this math concept provides organizations with some rich insights about what they can expect on their organizational journey.

The term sigmoid means ‘S-shaped’. It is derived from the sigmoidGreek alphabet letter sigma which is in a shape that is similar to an ‘S’. The illustration on the right reveals what a basic sigmoid curve looks like. While this model has strong math applications, it has evolved in its use in many other areas of life. Specifically, my recent discussions have focused on how sigmoid ‘S’ shape reveals business insights about the life-cycle of organizations.

The core lesson from the sigmoid curve is that all good things end. For example, the chart on the right applies the sigmoid to business development. It reminds us that our organizations go through various phases. It begins with relatively Sigmoid Businessflat progress when a company is launched (the inception stage). However, over time, a well-run organization will eventually reach a period where growth occurs. This will continue as organizations reach maturity in their processes. However, at some point, organizational decline is inevitable.

Successful organizations learn to launch a second sigmoid curve when the company is in the maturity stage. Adding a new product, acquiring a competitor or shifting strategy are some common ways that this occurs. The chart on the right demonstrates what launching Sigmoid 4a second sigmoid looks like. In fact, successful organizations will launch several sigmoid curves over their lifetime.

For example, Kodak was once heralded as the global leader in photography. However, in 2011 they filed for bankruptcy after 123 years of operation. The key to their demise was an inability to adapt to digital photography. Their business model had quietly matured to a point of decline that could not be halted. Their inability to launch a new sigmoid curve during their mature stage led them to a point of no return. In contrast, their competitors learned how to launch another sigmoid curve before they hit the decline stage.

Once you are aware of this concept, you will find that our business world is full organizations that are launching sigmoid curves. Facebook has invested heavily in virtual reality as they believe that this will be a key to their future success. As I ordered my morning coffee at Starbucks a sign invited me to come back for a glass of wine and an appetizer after dinner – another sigmoid curve is being launched. In the 2008 election, President-elect Obama used social media to redefine the political campaign process and created a sigmoid that is still being replicated.

Sometimes sigmoid curves work (the Carl’s Jr. hamburger franchise began by purchasing a hot dog cart) and sometimes they do not (anyone remember McPizza’s?). However, you can be confident that your organizational plans will decline at some point. The key to avoiding the decline stage is planning change when things are going well. Unfortunately, the maturity stage often creates a false sense of security and an unwillingness to change. But as Kodak reminds us, not changing is even more costly than the pain of change.


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

E-Residency: How Estonia is Advancing Globalization

Estonia is a tiny nation in the European Baltic region. By airplane, it is about two hours north of Germany. With a population of 1.3 million people, it is the smallest member of the European Union (EU). However, despite its size, it is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU. And their progressive growth may be further fueled by a 2014 decision to offer e-Residency to you and me!

“The Republic of Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency — a transnational digital identity available to anyone in the world interested in administering a location-independent business online.”

Furthermore, their promotional materials tell us that e-residents can:

    • Establish and administer a company online
    • Conduct all the banking online, e.g. make electronic bank transfers
    • Have access to international payment service providers
    • Digitally sign documents (e.g. annual reports, contracts) within the company as well as with external partners
    • Declare taxes online

At the heart of this landmark decision to offer e-residency is Estonia’s ability to effectively leverage technology. As a result of their free Wi-Fi, immense fiber-optic infrastructure and secure data exchange system, Estonians can electronically sign almost every document. In fact, it is purported that they are so integrated that citizens can file their taxes in less than five minutes. This competitive advantage provides Estonians with secure, seamless transactions and the ability to move information quickly. It also opens the door for people around the world to make use of this same system. For example, I can establish a business in Estonia as an e-citizen because I do not need to physically be present. Estonia has realized that digital information is borderless and built an immigration system that embraces it. Furthermore, they are hoping this strategy will stimulate the economy and broaden their tax base.

A few weeks ago I blogged about two counter-trends – globalization and tribalism (See Going Tribal: When Globalization Fails). In summary, society either seems to be polarizing to one of two extremes; we embrace the complex and messy aspects of globalization, or, we look inward and protect ourselves from outside forces. Estonia has clearly placed their betting chips on globalization. Their press release materials conclude by stating, “With e-Residency, you can become part of the digital society revolution taking place in our dynamic Northern European country. You can become an e-Estonian!

Perhaps you and I will have the opportunity to become an Estonian e-Citizen next!


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

Source: Estonian e-Residency

Photo Credit: Gadling

Leading Change Infographic

When I ask people to define effective leadership I get a wide array of answers. However, they often share a common them and it is something called change. Change is a catalyst that seems to require a bevy of leadership skills; communication, courage, concern for people and strategy (to name a few). This principle was recently revisited when I spent time with a talented group of people.

Last week I was privileged to spend a day leading a workshop for the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce. This newly formed entity is a result of the merger of three separate Chamber of Commerce offices in our valley. It is a progressive and logical decision to amalgamate three similar, small-sized enterprises. However, the logistics and leadership involved in this merger is no small feat! During their first formal post-merger board retreat, much of their time together focused on various aspects of leading change.

For many participants, a key ‘aha’ moment of the day occurred when I presented the chart below. It outlines five fundamental ingredients which are required to lead change. Similar to baking a cake, if an ingredient is missed, the cake won’t bake properly (see Baking a Cake with One Ingredient).  From a change leadership perspective, this chart helps us identify what will occur when we fail to include all of the necessary ingredients in a change process. It is also a simple means by which to diagnose change efforts that are not going well!

Leading Change Chart

While it is tempting to spend time describing the content of this chart, it really needs no explanation. This is why it resonates so quickly with people when I use it. However, the diagnosis is often easier than the remedy. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and lasting change will require a lot of time and intentional leadership.

I’ll conclude with a few simple questions. In your experience with change, which of these ingredients is most often missed? Which one is the most challenging to provide? Which one is your ‘sweet spot’ (the easiest)? Finally, which one is your ‘sour spot’ (the hardest)?

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

 

 

30 Things You Need to Know About the Class of 2019

Each fall, Beloit College provides an insightful overview of the incoming class of college freshmen. As the years fly by, it is easy to forget the unique worldview and history that shapes our students. A review of this list is a helpful read for all of us who will be interacting with this class in the year ahead.

I have edited Beloit’s list to 30 items. The original list can be accessed at the link at the end of this post.

Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1997. 

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Teresa.

Joining them in the world the year they were born were Dolly the sheep, The McCaughey septuplets, and Michael “Prince” Jackson Jr.

Since they have been on the planet:

  1. Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.
  2. Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.”
  3. They have never licked a postage stamp.
  4. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.
  5. Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.
  6. They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.
  7. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.
  8. Color photos have always adorned the front page of The New York Times.
  9. “No means no” has always been morphing, slowly, into “only yes means yes.”
  10. Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.
  11. Their parents have gone from encouraging them to use the Internet to begging them to get off it.
  12. If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”
  13. They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.
  14. Phish Food has always been available from Ben and Jerry.
  15. Kyoto has always symbolized inactivity about global climate change.
  16. When they were born, cell phone usage was so expensive that families only used their large phones, usually in cars, for emergencies.
  17. The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.
  18. Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online.
  19. Surgeons have always used “super glue” in the operating room.
  20. Fifteen nations have always been constructing the International Space Station.
  21. The Lion King has always been on Broadway.
  22. CNN has always been available en Español.
  23. Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.
  24. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have always been members of NATO.
  25. Humans have always had implanted radio frequency ID chips—slightly larger than a grain of rice.
  26. TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks.
  27. Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith have always been Men in Black, not their next-door neighbors.
  28. They had no idea how fortunate they were to enjoy the final four years of Federal budget surpluses.
  29. Vote-by-mail has always been the official way to vote in Oregon.
  30. The proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas.

This freshman class belongs to a group called Generation Z. If you are interested in learning more about this generation you can check out this interesting infographic.

 


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

 

Source: Beloit