Trend Watch: Truthful Consumerism

The Trendwatching organization released a 4 minute video that provides helpful insights about emerging trends which are impacting our businesses. In it, they address rising societal concerns related to globalization, inequality, mass migration, and technology. More importantly, they provide some suggestions of how organizations should respond in order to succeed in this shifting environment. Watch the video below to find out some tips which will help you succeed in the future.


Head ShotDr. 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: Trendwatching.com

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Five Jobs Robots Will Take Last

Last week I shared a post called “The Five Jobs Robots Will Take First”. It reminded us that technology is eating into a job market that used to be done by us! In today’s post, we will review the opposite – jobs that robots cannot do! See if you can spot the common theme through these careers. Credit for the great content below goes to Shelly Palmer!

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1. Pre-school and Elementary School Teacher

Unless we are trying to turn our children into little computers, we cannot let computers train our children. (“Singularity” people, I know what you’re going to say. The Kurzweilian future is now estimated to begin in the year 2045. There will have to be a minimum age law associated with human/machine integration.) I can imagine a robot kneeling beside a sobbing five-year-old (who just figured out that his mom packed PB&J instead of a bologna sandwich) and offering comfort and a shoulder to cry on, but the robot is unlikely to provide an emotionally satisfying outcome. We teach our children to be human. If we want them to grow up to be human, they will have to be trained by their own kind.

2. Professional Athlete

Would football be interesting if it were played by robots? Maybe. Would it be fair to put human athletes on the field of play against robots? Probably not. Using today’s regulation clubs and balls, robot golfers would consistently shoot in the high 40s to low 50s. What’s the point? As long as humans strive for athletic excellence, humans will need to play sports. What about surgically enhanced, genetically modified athletes? That’s for another article.

3. Politician

Politics and humanity are inextricably linked. The complex mix of subtlety and nuance required to become a successful politician is not in the current purview of AI. It’s a training set that would require a level of general intelligence that is far beyond the reach of near-term technology. Machines do not need politics; they “live” in a meritocracy. Humans live in anything but. As long as fairness and equality are important topics, humans will be the only ones on the political scene. Some of you will remind me that all politicians have the same goal: to get reelected. And therefore, politicians should be very easy to program. Nope. Sadly, politicians will be among the very last professionals to lose their jobs to AI. (They are also in a unique position to legislate their own job security.)

4. Judge

Judges, adjudicators, arbitrators, and people who judge baking contests or Olympic sports or any type of contests that require both objective and subjective assessments have practically robot-proof jobs. Subjective judgment requires vast general knowledge. It also requires a thorough understanding of the ramifications of your decisions and, most importantly, a precise ability to play “I know, that you know, that I know” with the parties who are directly involved, as well as the public at large. If you can make a living judging baking contests, you’ve got lifetime job security (as long as you don’t eat too many pies).

5. Mental Health Professional

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals will simply be the last jobs robots can take. Sure, we could do a combination natural language understanding, automatic speech recognition system tied to a competent AI system that would make a fine suicide prevention chatbot. But there’s much more to understanding and treating mental health issues. Again, humans are better equipped to understand other humans. This is not to say that medical professionals won’t leverage AI systems to do a better job, but the ability to create a robot that could take the job of a trusted psychiatrist will be outside of our technical reach until we have functioning WestWorld-style robots. And even then, it will be a reach.

By this point you have likely noticed the common link in all of these careers – humanity. I encourage you to extend this same principle into your own career aspirations. Is your work humanity-based? If so, your job could likely be added to this list. However, if you find yourself in a career that is rooted in processes, you may want to begin training for a people-based profession.

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Head ShotDr. 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 – Shelly Palmer

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Podcast: The Importance of Culture

Today’s post is a podcast that I recently provided for the Lead This! organization.

Mergers and acquisitions consistently top the headlines, yet most of them fail. In this recording I explain the pivotal role that organizational culture has in mergers and acquisitions as well as how to strategically use it to foster a healthy organization. Just click the graphic below and enjoy!

 


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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

 

 

The Uberization of Leadership

Change is something we encounter every day. Sometimes it occurs quietly and we don’t even notice it. At other times it is loud and disruptive. However, it seems like we are usually better at noticing change than adjusting to it. As an honest individual once told me, “I love change…until it impacts me”.

Change is quickly (and quietly) impacting how we develop leaders. Or more precisely, it should be impacting how we develop leaders. In an insightful HBR article, Jesuthasan and Holmstrom remind us, “as work changes [and it is!] our leadership development has to keep up”. They provide three important areas where leadership development must adjust to meet the needs of our changing organizations.

  1. Develop Digital Leaders: “‘Digital’ is not something that is happening to organizations, it has and continues to be the means through which work is accomplished” (Jesuthasan and Holmstrom). As a result, they suggest leadership development must involve digital mastery, agility, thriving amidst disruption and a readiness for change. Furthermore, we must use different methodology to accomplish this as we work with digital natives (those who were born with an electronic device in their hand) and digital immigrants (those who did not grow up in an era of ubiquitous technology).
  2. Move Beyond the Classroom: Learning has traditionally been delivered in two forms; on-the-job or in-the-classroom. In our current environment, effective learning outcomes are best achieved by blending these two methods seamlessly. Many forms of this symbiosis are still emerging but I believe organizations which effectively learn how to do so will find themselves on the leading edge of success.
  3. Utilize Coaching: Coaching is moving from a reactive strategy (it fixes a problem) to a proactive strategy (it helps solves problems before they occur). Coaches are an effective way for people to have a safe outlet and a accessible way to receive perspective on day-to-day issues. My coaching engagements often utilize my professorial teaching content, but in ways which apply these lessons to an individual’s unique work circumstances. Similar to just-in-time inventory management, effective coaching provides just-in-time leadership wisdom to those who need it.

In the past seven years, Uber has changed the way our taxi system works. This change has been rapid and dramatic. Similarly, our leadership development model is in the midst of a quiet uberization. The way we used to do things just don’t work in our business environment any more.

Your leadership development opportunities are abundant. However, they are not all relevant. As you look for ways to enhance your leadership ensure that your opportunities equip you to lead digitally, blend theory and practice and involve ongoing coaching opportunities. These are the leadership skills which will equip you to be a future-ready leader.


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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: HBR

Photo Credit: FreeImages/DebbieWogen

Foresight: The Organizational Alternative to Fight or Flight

It has been said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. While I believe this statement to be trite and overused, I am also annoyed by how true it is. Today’s post provides two examples of companies who prove this idiom contains truth you should heed!

The Bad – Failing to Plan

The story of a Nevada power company exemplifies what occurs when we fail to plan. When the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino completed installation of 26,000 new solar panels, they told their power provider (NV Energy) they were leaving the grid. NV Energy’s inability to foresee the impact of solar use (in the sunny desert!) led to them losing 7% of its revenue when Mandalay stopped using their services. And it gets even more interesting! This energy company took them to court and Mandalay ended up having to pay $87 million to NV Energy so their losses would not be passed on to existing NV Energy customers. “This is what happens when disruptive technology becomes popular: the monopolies fight back” (CBC).

The emergence of solar as a clean energy alternative is not new, especially in sunny desert regions! States have been legislating changes which require companies to use more clean energy for many years. However, many utilities have neglected to plan for these changes. As a result, this example reveals what occurs when we fail to plan.

The Good – Anticipatory Planning 

In contrast, UPS, known for their logistics solution, is branching into something unusual and new – 3D printing. While this may seem like a stretch, this decision is a result of intentional foresight work. Foresight is the ability to anticipate and respond to trends and key external forces which have the ability to disrupt the way we do business. Here is how UPS used foresight to respond to disruptive technologies in their environment:

‘Aside from its main package delivery service, UPS gets an undisclosed portion of its revenue from storing and shipping parts for manufacturers. If those customers were to switch to 3D printing their own parts, that business would face a drastic reduction. To counter that threat, UPS has chosen to get on board the 3D revolution, and is now looking to offer a service in which UPS will print out plastic parts – anything from nozzles to brackets to prototype soap dispensers or multi-faceted moving parts – around the world and deliver them’ (Freuters).

Foresight also explains why UPS is investing in companies that make drones and an upstart one-day delivery company (Frueters).

As a futurist and strategic foresight junkie my heart is warmed when I read stories about companies like UPS. In contrast, my blood begins to boil when I read examples about the electricity industry (because I pay for their ineptitude on my monthly bill). So even though the statement may be overused, failing to plan is indeed planning to fail.

If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy. Alvin Toffler

In times of rapid change, a crisis of perception – the inability to see an emerging novel reality by being locked inside obsolete assumptions – often causes strategic failure, particularly in large, well-run companies. Pierre Wack


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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: Reuters, CBC

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/MalikBhai

Which Chart Should I Use?

As a consultant and professor I review or develop charts on a weekly basis. While many of them are fairly intuitive, few of us have enrolled in a Charts 101 class! So when I received a recent white paper from Tableau about different charts and when to use them I was excited! Below is a summary of some of their great work. Keep an eye out for the most misused chart style!

1. BAR CHARTS

Bar charts are one of the most common ways to visualize data. Why? barIt’s quick to compare information, revealing highs and lows at a glance. Bar charts are especially effective when you have numerical data that splits nicely into different categories so you can quickly see trends within your data.

When to use bar charts:  Comparing data across categories. Examples: Volume of shirts in different sizes, website traffic by origination site, percent of spending by department.

2. LINE CHARTS

Line charts are right up there with bars and pies as one of theline most frequently used chart types. Line charts connect individual numeric data points. The result is a simple, straightforward way to visualize a sequence of values. Their primary use is to display trends over a period of time.

When to use line charts: Viewing trends in data over time. Examples: stock price change over a five year period, website page views during a month, revenue growth by quarter.

3. PIE CHARTS

Pie charts should be used to show relative proportions – or percentages pie-chart– of information. That’s it. Despite this narrow recommendation for when to use pies, they are made with abandon. As a result, they are the most commonly misused chart type. If you are trying to compare data, leave it to bars or stacked bars. Don’t ask your viewer to translate pie wedges into relevant data or compare one pie to another. Key points from your data will be missed and the viewer has to work too hard.

When to use pie charts: Showing proportions. Examples: percentage of budget spent on different departments, response categories from a survey, breakdown of how Americans spend their leisure time.

4. SCATTER PLOT

Scatter plot Looking to dig a little deeper into some data, but notscatter-plot quite sure how – or if – different pieces of information relate? Scatter plots are an effective way to give you a sense of trends, concentrations and outliers that will direct you to where you want to focus your investigation efforts further.

When to use scatter plots: Investigating the relationship between different variables. Examples: Male versus female likelihood of having lung cancer at different ages, technology early adopters’ and laggards’ purchase patterns of smart phones, shipping costs of different product categories to different regions.

5. GANTT CHARTS

Gantt charts excel at illustrating the start and finish dates elements ganttof a project. Hitting deadlines is paramount to a project’s success. Seeing what needs to be accomplished – and by when – is essential to make this happen. This is where a Gantt chart comes in. While most associate Gantt charts with project management, they can be used to understand how other things such as people or machines vary over time. You could use a Gantt, for example, to do resource planning to see how long it took people to hit specific milestones, such as a certification level, and how that was distributed over time.

When to use Gantt charts: • Displaying a project schedule. Examples: illustrating key deliverables, owners, and deadlines. • Showing other things in use over time. Examples: duration of a machine’s use, availability of players on a team.

6. BUBBLE CHART

Bubbles are not their own type of visualization but instead should bubblebe viewed as a technique to accentuate data on scatter plots or maps. People are drawn to using bubbles because the varied size of circles provides meaning about the data.

When to use bubbles: Showing the concentration of data along two axes. Examples: sales concentration by product and geography, class attendance by department and time of day.

7. HISTOGRAM CHART

Use histograms when you want to see how your data arehistorgram distributed across groups. Say, for example, that you’ve got 100 pumpkins and you want to know how many weigh 2 pounds or less, 3-5 pounds, 6-10 pounds, etc. By grouping your data into these categories then plotting them with vertical bars along an axis, you will see the distribution of your pumpkins according to weight. And, in the process, you’ve created a histogram. At times you won’t necessarily know which categorization approach makes sense for your data. You can use histograms to try different approaches to make sure you create groups that are balanced in size and relevant for your analysis.

When to use histograms: Understanding the distribution of your data. Examples: Number of customers by company size, student performance on an exam, frequency of a product defect.

8. HEAT MAPS

Heat maps are a great way to compare data across two categories using color. heatThe effect is to quickly see where the intersection of the categories is strongest and weakest.

When to use heat maps: Showing the relationship between two factors. Examples: segmentation analysis of target market, product adoption across regions, sales leads by individual rep.

Happy charting!


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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: Tableau

 

Income Equality: 17 Things to Watch

A number of years ago I discovered a funny term called the GINI index. While it sounds rather technical, it is a fairly simple measurement which assesses the gap between the rich and poor. For example, if your country has a very high GINI score (like Brazil), the wealth of the country is in the hands of very few people (and we repeatedly heard this theme during the recent Summer Olympic broadcasts). In contrast, a nation like Austria has a very low GINI index. This means there is less income disparity between the wealth and the poor.

Beyond being a fascinating statistic, there is an important warning that the GINI index provides – it has proven to be a strong predictor of social and political unrest! When the GINI index is high a country is ripe for violence, rebellion and protests. The opposite is true when there is a low score. Today’s blog provides some great trend insights from Shaping Tomorrow about changes in global economic equality. Here are 15 inequality trends to keep an eye on!

“Growing wealth gaps are the biggest threat to global sustainability today and inequality can be expected to increase. Economic inequality will likely reach unprecedented levels. Here are some issues and potential solutions that we must all work to solve or suffer the potential consequences”.

  1. Total annual economic losses due to gender inequality in the labor market have averaged US$95 billion per year since 2010 in sub-Saharan Africa and could be as high as US$105 billion.
  2. Just because income inequality is rising doesn’t mean that “happiness inequality” will rise in tandem.
  3. The spike in income inequality will create social unrest.
  4. If wage differentials continue along their current trajectory, the UK will have returned to Victorian levels of income inequality by 2030.
  5. Differences in schooling and educational attainment are already the most significant determinants of income inequality in China.
  6. A glut of young workers, poverty, inequality, and urbanization-the most likely future is that informal employment will persist or grow in many or all economies.
  7. A growing share of the workforce could be left behind even as digital technologies increase overall income.
  8. AI will bring challenges in areas like inequality and employment.
  9. The absolute number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa could increase by over 50 million between 2011 and 2030 to 470 million people.
  10. The spread of robotics and intelligent computers will exacerbate social inequality across the globe.
  11. Simply expanding access to the Internet will not stem the tide of inequality it is creating.
  12. A new McKinsey Global Institute report finds that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.
  13. One may expect a counter-wave of right and left radicalism in the developed world.
  14. A minimum income could help reduce the impact of technological unemployment on further exacerbating inequality.
  15. The rise of digital technologies could possibly be playing a part in creating an extreme elite of the very rich.
  16. The rise of robots could depress wages.
  17. The publication of pay ratios will likely help to reduce pay inequality as a result of the outrage that ratios would produce.

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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: Shaping Tomorrow

Photo Source: FreeImages.com/AnatoliStyf

The Seven Stages of Innovation

In the past I have spoken about the process of innovation (see Hot or Not and Hype Cycles). These posts utilized the Gartner model to show how a product or idea progresses through several stages before it moves from an idea into a useful product (see chart below). This model provides a means to understand the technical stages innovation undertakes. However, what about the human side of innovation? How do we as people impact the innovation process? How do we respond to it?

Figure 1: The Gartner Hype Cycle

Figure 1: The Gartner Hype Cycle

Morgan Housel recently outlined the different stages people go through when we adopt a new innovation. He outlines seven steps which big breakthroughs typically follow:

  1. First, no one’s heard of you.
  2. Then they’ve heard of you but think you’re nuts.
  3. Then they understand your product, but think it has no opportunity.
  4. Then they view your product as a toy.
  5. Then they see it as an amazing toy.
  6. Then they start using it.
  7. Then they couldn’t imagine life without it.

To illustrate this Housel showed that some of the greatest innovations of the last century – the telephone, the automobile and flight – were all unheralded and criticized widely at the genesis of their innovation cycle. However, over time these steps have come to fruition and we now view all of this list as things we cannot do without.

While these seven steps focus on products, I believe they also apply to ideas. As leaders, we need to anticipate that new ideas will result in skepticism and opposition. After all, “we’ve never done it that way before”. However, this model shows that successful ideas will require determination, perseverance and communication.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, provides a perfect summary:

“Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood. You do something that you genuinely believe in, that you have conviction about, but for a long period of time, well-meaning people may criticize that effort … if you really have conviction that they’re not right, you need to have that long-term willingness to be misunderstood. It’s a key part of invention”.


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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: Morgan Housel

InfoGraphic: Two Skills Which Increase Your Employability

Advances in technology and automation are making many jobs obsolete. Driverless taxis are now operating in Singapore, algorithms determine which web ads we see and our cars are built by robots. In fact, as I watched some US Open tennis matches, I regularly saw human line judges overruled by an electronic line judging system when players appealed a call. So should you and I be worried or is it just hype?

Research by the World Economic Forum informs us that this change is real: “The Future of Jobs study predicts that 5 million jobs will be lost before 2020 as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and other socio-economic factors replace the need for human workers.” However, this study also teaches us that, while some skills are becoming obsolete, others are in even higher demand. Therefore, staying relevant is a must for the 21st century employee.

The chart below provides more details about what is changing. By assessing job growth and decline over the past 30 years, we are offered a glimpse into the future. In short, employees who have strong social skills and math skills possess the attributes needed in growth occupations. The graphic below shows that the highest job growth occupations (the green dots) occurred when both social and math skills were present. Furthermore, all occupation growth required strong social skills and all job loss occurred in areas with lower social skill areas (pink dots). The largest job losses occurred in areas with low math and social skills.math-and-interpersonal-skills

The report reveals that many jobs which rely solely on math skills have been automated. Furthermore, jobs which rely solely on social skills are typically lower paying positions. This is a result of a surplus of the workforce who are able to fulfill these increasingly competitive roles.

To be competitive in the future workforce we need to develop strong social skills and strong math skills. For some of us, that will mean updating our skills or pursuing further education. For our children, it means they need to be immersed in curriculum which does this from a very early age.


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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: World Economic Forum

Selecting the Right Leadership Style

At some point, all of our children received tools from their grandfather. These thoughtful gifts were a great way to equip them with the tools they need to begin to learn how to build, fix and create. However, I often found myself chuckling as they learned to use their tools. I have seen hammers used to drive a screw into a two-by-four. Conversely, I’m also seen them use a screwdriver to drive a nail into the wall. However, with practice and a bit of teaching, they learned to use the right tool for the right task.

This simple metaphor contains a profound lesson. As leaders, we must be able to recognize what tool is needed to get the job done. This is the premise of Michael D. Watkins STARS leadership assessment model in his book The First 90 Days. Like using different tools for different tasks, Watkins outlines five different leadership strategies for five different types of situations. While his book is designed for leaders who are in new roles, they are equally applicable for almost any leadership situation. Each of the letters in the STARS acronym outlines how each type of situation requires a different style.

STARS Leadership Model

There are a several lessons which we can learn from this model. First, we must understand that there is more than one tool in the leadership toolkit. Our inability to use multiple styles will hinder our performance. Second, we must remember to use different tools for different reasons. Many new leaders have failed because they relied on past skills (styles that previously fostered success) in an environment that needed a different approach! Third, leaders must equip themselves to read-and-respond to new opportunities. Similar to a game of chess, our game plan must be contingent upon circumstances. Finally, we must be cognizant of the strengths and weaknesses of our own style. Few of us will excel at all of the STARS categories but I’ll bet most of us are really good at one or two of them!

In conclusion, I encourage you to consider the following questions:

  1. Do you know your preferred tool from the STARS model?
  2. What is your weakest tool in the STARS toolkit?
  3. In which STARS category have you experienced the greatest success? The greatest failure?
  4. Who can you utilize to help assess a situation and/or your leadership to ensure you are using the right leadership tool?

To take a closer look at Watkins book you can click the photo on the right.


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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

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/RonitGeller