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:

Source: Gartner and WebCourseWorks

Why Educate?

Education is important.

This societal norm is embraced by most people in North America. In fact, it is a foundational value of our social fabric. But every belief is quietly supported by a value. So why exactly is education important?

Our response to this question typically falls into one of the two following buckets:

  1. We educate to equip and prepare people for life.
  2. We educate to equip and prepare people for a job.

On the surface, these seem like simple statements. However, we must realize that our prevailing belief drive our day-to-day decisions related to education. To illustrate, consider these examples:

  • Your child is about to graduate from high school. She wants to take a year off (a gap year) to travel and take some personal development classes. You want her to begin her education degree right away so she can begin teaching as soon as possible.
  • Your rising star employee submits a request to go to a conference. The content of the sessions is outside their direct responsibilities. However, the content is helpful to their overall professional and personal development.
  • You are invited to attend a community lecture. It is on a subject that has no personal interest to you but is something that significantly impacts your community.
  • You have agreed to coach or mentor someone at work. You have a blank sheet of paper in front of you and have an hour to plan your content for the next two months.

Life preparation vs. job preparation. Our education choices are driven by one of these two motives (and occasionally by both). You have a bias towards one of these perspectives. Overall, I believe that our society places a higher emphasis on education to prepare people for work. This is validated by research that demonstrates 70% of employees do not feel engaged in their work (meaning we are more driven by the need to have a job than the need to be fulfilled).

I encourage you to draw a 1-10 scale in your mind with one choice on either end. If you have to plot your bias, where do you sit? Are you the parent pushing your child to pursue education so they can become self-reliant as soon as possible? Are you the boss who denies professional development that is broader than their job description? Are you the person who attends lectures outside of your sphere of interests just because? Or are you the mentor trying to provide both personal and professional development to your prodige?

Do you educate to prepare for life or to prepare for work?


Jeff Head Shot 3.jpgDr. Jeff Suderman an educator, consultant and pracademic 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

Developing High Performing Employees: The 70:20:10 Model

How do we develop effective leaders and managers? Based upon research, the answer is simple – experience!

McCall, Lombardo and Eichinger concluded that the source of leadership lessons for most managers is:

  • 70% from tough jobs
  • 20% from people (mostly their boss)
  • 10% from courses and reading.

These numbers are meant to be descriptive and not prescriptive so 70% is not a magic number. Rather, it is a guideline. This means the vast majority of our lessons come from doing versus observing or hearing/reading.

You can test this idea by thinking of a significant personal learning experience. Did you achieve this ‘aha’ moment by doing or by being in the classroom? I recently used this knowledge to change an assignment in a class that I am teaching. Rather than having my MBA students write about leadership, I changed the assignment so they had to interview a leader (learning from people). Furthermore they needed to provide that person with a 2,000 word consulting report about their leadership style and opportunities for growth (learning by doing a tough job!). My hope is that we moved away from a style that focused on the 10% to ones that helped encompass the 70% and the 20%. While I cannot quantify the learning difference, some students expressed that it was both enjoyable and difficult to put theory to work.

Charles Jennings, a leading 70:20:10 practitioner, believes we are moving from a know-what to a know-how society. As a result, our information rich environment is often interaction poor. To facilitate growth in our employees we need to counter this trend.

Education is important but the 70:20:10 principles teaches us that we must not rely solely upon formal learning. We must supplement book learning with heavy doses of hard work that provide deep lessons. We need to also surround our employees and future leaders with quality people who will invest in them.

So the next time your star employee asks to attend a workshop, think it over first. Perhaps you simply need to give them the lead on the new project as well as a few lunches with you to discuss how it is going.


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

Lombardo, Michael M; Eichinger, Robert W (1996). The Career Architect Development Planner (1st ed.). Minneapolis: Lominger
Jennings, C. (2011). The 70:20:10 Learning Approaches. Retrieved from

Educational Sustainability: Another Housing Crash in the Making?

Mark Cuban is never afraid to be controversial. However, his latest verbal diatribe aligns with other recent articles which are expressing concerns about the shrinking middle class and the value of higher education.

In a recent article he notes,

“For years the federal government has been subsidizing loans, much like they did with houses ahead of the 2008 crash. This has led to increased tuition costs and lending to individuals who will more than likely never be able to pay back their student loans. The end result, according to Mark Cuban, will be a bursting of the debt bubble, a significant drop in college income, and an outright collapse of America’s institution of higher learning. We saw a collapse in the price of housing and we’re going to see the same collapse in the price of student tuition and that’s going to lead to colleges going out of business.”

In a post earlier this month I noted the trend of the rise of the shrinking middle class (Five Forecasts for ’15). It highlighted that the top one percent of Americans enjoyed 95 percent of all income gains between 2009 and 2012. When we combine the trends of increasingly accessible loans and a less affluent middle-class, we have some of the ingredients required for a perfect storm.

This doesn’t mean that college education is not worthwhile. However, it likely means that every college education is not worthwhile! Future hot job projections, financial awards and alumni employment statistics are going to become the metrics which will increasingly be used measure educational return on investment

While both Cuban and the journalistic source of this article lean towards sensationalism, I believe that there is still truth to mine related to student debt. Debt is rising and at some point the risk versus reward ratio will be a negative one for higher education.

According to Cuban, it already is!


Jeff SuHead Shotderman is a futurist, professor and consultant 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
Slavo, Mark (Dec. 28, 2014). Billionaire Mark Cuban Warns Of Massive Crash That Will Wipe Out America’s Colleges: “You’re Going To See A Repeat Of What We Saw In The Housing Market”. D.C. Clothesline,  Retrieved from

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