University Degrees of the Future

Futurist guru Thomas Frey recently posted a list of 52 university degrees that we will need in the future. His insights reminded us of two important leadership strategy lessons.

Leaders Think Forward

While this idea seems obvious, I believe we understand it much better than we practice it. To prove the point, consider these facts:

  • When Google launched, no one was teaching online search engine strategies.
  • When Uber launched, no one was teaching sharing economy business models.
  • When Apple first opened their App Store, no one was teaching smart phone app design (Frey).

Experience and history indicate that gifted future-thinkers are not typically the popular people at the table. They push boundaries. They identify problems with your business model (and are the ones who actually talk about it – over and over and over!). They are not content and often become isolated because they make us uncomfortable. However, in an era where we love buzz-word disruptive technology, we must embrace the reality that disruptive ideas are sourced from disruptive people. Disruptive leaders know how to think-forward.

Leaders Take Calculated Risks

In addition to anticipating the future, we must also discern when it is time to act in advance of a market need. Frey noted that the Colorado School of Mines has begun to offer a degree in Asteroid Mining. Yes, you read that correctly – asteroid mining. Since it takes 6-8 years to launch new degrees and train students, we must become adept at offering programs (or products or services) before they are in high demand. However, the term innovative and universities are often at odds. As a whole, universities tend to offer the tried-and-true (as do many other industries). We are more apt to copy what is working elsewhere than to boldly go where none have gone before. However, we will need more degrees like the groundbreaking asteroid mining program!

Imagine how educational and entrepreneurial effectiveness could change if they worked in tandem!

For your interest, here is an abridged list of the degrees that Frey believes we need to offer to prepare for the future:

  1. Space exploration: space tourism, planetary colony design, non-earth human habitats and space infrastructure.
  2. Smart cities: autonomous traffic and construction integration, next-gen municipal planning and mixed reality modeling.
  3. Autonomous agriculture: robotic and drone systems, supply chain management and systems theory.
  4. Cryptocurrency: digital coin economics, cryptobanking design and regulatory oversight, and forensic accounting.
  5. Blockchain: Design, systems and application, biological blockchain technology, and municipal blockchain design.
  6. Unmanned aerial vehicles: filmaking, command center operations, and emergency response systems.
  7. Mixed reality: experiential retail, three-dimensional storytelling, game design, and therapeutic systems design.

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. Contact him today to find out how he can help enhance your personal and organizational effectiveness – jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Thomas Frey

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

The Future of Sports – 19 Trends

Today’s blog provides several fascinating insights about the future of sports developed by the Shaping Tomorrow organization. You will find that these upcoming changes are rooted in several key drivers which include shifting demographics (Gen Y), technology invading markets which are not traditionally linked to tech (like sports) as well significant shifts in the economic priority of consumers. So, without further adieu, here they are.

  1. Broadcasts of virtual reality (VR) sports could become the norm.
  2. An estimated 27% of U.S public high schools will not be offering any sports programs by 2020.
  3. E-skin displays could become a direct competition or a replacement for sport watches.
  4. eSports revenues could surpass $1 billion as early as 2018. One Activision exec says it’s a potential Olympic sport.
  5. In the U.S there are more eSports fans than baseball fans and it’s predicted it will exceed any other sport in US.
  6. Millennials are projected to spend about half what all adults in the US and Canada spend ($50) on live sporting events.
  7. Adding sensors to sports equipment will continue to revolutionize the way athletes train and compete.
  8. Body sensor shipments are expected to increase from 2.7 million in 2015 to 68.0 million units annually by 2021.
  9. Parents will increasingly want sports equipment that helps protect their children from injury.
  10. Whoop is the first scientifically-grounded system designed for continuous wear that provides athletes with data to reduce injuries and predict peak performance.
  11. The activewear industry is expected to add $83 billion in sales globally by 2020.
  12. Demand will grow for products and services that help prevent or rehabilitate injuries in growing bodies.
  13. Sports-science insiders have predicted the imminent arrival of gene doping in sports.
  14. Annual smart clothing shipments will grow from 968,000 units in 2015 to 24.8 million units in 2021.
  15. By 2020, global shipments of VR headsets are expected to hit 64.8 million per year.
  16. A new app developed by Scottish start-up Sansible Wearables will let players and coaches track the intensity of a collision and the effect it has on the body.
  17. Similarly, a mouthguard with motion sensors can analyse concussion risks after a player contact.
  18. Rugby could find itself alongside American football as a sport fast losing support among a new generation of parents and young families.
  19. Intelligent robots will publish sports commentaries.

Head Shot

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 Credit: Bob Smith

 

Mobots & More: 21 Business Terms You Need to Know

Do you know what Peak Stuff, The Internet of Energy and eSports all have in common?

They are all new terms which Goldman Sachs believes that business leaders need to understand. These words signal changes in our industries which will impact how we do business. Take a look at the 21 terms and see how many you know (Bhattacharyya) .

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1. eSports

Organized, competitive computer gaming has become a mainstream spectator event (online or in an arena). Now it’s becoming a big business, generating considerable revenue for advertisers.

2. Mobots

Mobots are robots capable of changing positions autonomously. They’re a combination of an automated guided vehicle and a collaborative robot with sensing abilities that can work alongside humans. Demand for mobots is expected to increase in manufacturing, military, services, logistics fields and in hospitals.

3. Peak Stuff

We’ve accumulated so much stuff that some of us no longer want to buy any more of certain types of goods, including clothes and other household items — a drastic change from consumer-driven growth of the past 50 years. Goldman quoted Ikea’s head of sustainability saying, “in the West, we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak home furnishings.” In other words, we are spending more on experiences than physical belongings.

4. Bots

A bot, otherwise known as a chatbot, is a type of software designed to automate tasks over the internet that are ordinarily handled by humans. They often operate in conjunction with instant-messaging platforms, and got a huge boost this year when Facebook opened up Facebook Messenger to third-party bot development.

5. Athleisure

A portmanteau of the words “athletic” and “leisure,” athleisure is used to describe the fashion trend that’s seen clothing used for exercising increasingly worn in other contexts, including work and social settings. Athleisure has been called one of the fastest-growing clothing categories of recent years.

6. Yield-to-Worst

According to Investopedia, yield to worst means the lowest potential yield that can be received on a bond without the issuer actually defaulting.

7. Machine Vision
Machine vision allows a computer to use imaging-based automatic inspection to complement manual inspection for quality control, read bar codes to ensure parts are in the right area and to help orient robots. It’s becoming a part of the manufacturing process, from food and beverages to automobiles and pharmaceuticals.

8. OLED

OLED stands for organic light emitting diode. Developed by Kodak in 1987, it’s seen as an alternative to the traditional LCD (liquid crystal display) enabled by LEDs used in smartphone, TV and tablet screens. OLED is seen as superior to LED in providing better color contrast and faster response times. Although it is currently in early adoption, its market is expected to grow to over $33 billion by 2020, according to IHS estimates cited by Goldman.

9. 5G

5G is the next generation of wireless technology expected to be mainstream in 2020. It’s the next step up from 4G/LTE. “5G should provide 100x faster wireless with typical 5G speeds of 1Gbps compared to typical 4G speed of 10Mbps,” wrote Goldman analyst Simona Jankowski.

10. Net Metering

Net metering is a policy, implemented by most states, to compensate rooftop solar owners for excess power they generate and thus offset the cost of the power they draw from the grid. Currently, 44 states and the District of Columbia have a net metering policy, though the growth of solar has resulted in some debate over how much solar owners should be compensated.

11. Space Congestion

After 50 years of rocket and satellite launches, space is getting crowded. Debris from destroyed satellites and other space junk is piling up, and that shrapnel that can destroy other satellites and hinder access to space. This is creating complications for national security, satellite communications and GPS navigation.

12. Liquid Biopsy

As tissue biopsies are seen as costly, painful or potentially risky for the patient, the advent of the liquid biopsy allows DNA sequencers to detect cancer directly from the blood. This could be a $14 billion market by 2025, wrote Goldman analyst Isaac Ro.

13. See Now, Buy Now

Keep your wardrobe up to date without having to wait six to nine months from when an item hits the runway and makes it to the physical or online store: “Technology has democratized fashion and luxury. Purchasing decisions are no longer made in the VIP rooms of large stores by the few, but by a growing base of aspirational middle class consumers,” wrote Goldman analyst Carl Hazeley.

14. Craft

You’ve heard of craft beer, but producing other artisanal products in small batches is becoming immensely popular, particularly among the young. “Millennials, who represent the largest age cohort in the U.S., are more experimental, seek bolder flavors, and have a high propensity for things that are perceived to be more ‘authentic’.” The craft market now includes spirits, soda and other “farm to table” food items.

15. The Infinite Shelf

A concept that describes the vast advantage online retailers have over bricks-and-mortar retail stores. The virtual shelf can serve a broader range of customers and build demand for certain items that would not perform well in a physical store.

16. Immersion

Immersion, or immersive storytelling, is the idea of allowing virtual reality technology to mimic being physically present in an alternative environment. The technology is changing videogames, live events, journalism, video entertainment and educational experiences.

17. Synthetic Biology

This branch of science allows genetic engineers to develop apples that don’t brown when bruised or breed salmon that grows faster than normal. Despite the technological advances, consumer acceptance of these products has not yet been tested.

18. V2V / V2X / V2I

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology allows cars to communicate with other road users, infrastructure and even pedestrians and cyclists. It could be used by both human-driven and autonomous vehicles, and could allow for wireless toll and parking payments. It would also allow autonomous vehicles to “see” what the human eye could perceive.

19. Ayurveda

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has shaken up the Indian consumer goods market. Ramdev’s company, Patanjali Aurved, markets products from toothpaste to consumer healthcare based on Ayurveda, a system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. Patanjali generated $1 billion in revenue from scratch and has beat out multinationals like Unilever, Nestle and Colgate.

20. Internet of Energy

The “Internet of Energy” means the process of upgrading, digitizing and automating electricity infrastructure, leveraging advanced hardware and software. The concept has taken off in China, the world’s largest energy market and biggest investor in renewable energy.

21. Basic Income

The concept of basic income is about introducing a universal benefit that everyone receives, regardless of income or employment status. It has been touted as a means to reduce income inequality. Although the idea was rejected in a referendum in Switzerland, analyst Sumana Manohar notes that it is gaining interest elsewhere.


Head Shot

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: TEFL

Source: Bhattacharyya 

MegaTrends: 16 Things to Watch for in the Decade Ahead

Whenever I receive an email from the trend-watching organization called Shaping Tomorrow I get excited! Yesterday’s content was particularly insightful and I wanted to share some of the highlights with you in today’s post! I trust you will enjoy them as much as I did.

  1. More change will result from advances in technology in the next five years (by 2021) than has occurred over the past 50 years.
  2. Electricity generation will become a new small business.
  3. By 2030 the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants each (there are currently 30).
  4. By 2025, more than 70% of Africa’s population is expected to be living in cities.
  5. Facebook’s aggressive move into publishing will disrupt many marketing plans and jeopardize the traditional inbound marketing model (inbound marketing produces interesting content that draws customers to your business – like this blog!).
  6. Human-induced climate change will increase storm intensity by between 2 percent and 11 percent by the end of the century.
  7. By 2022, one in every 10 people will be wearing clothes connected to the internet.
  8. Drones will increasingly do many delivery, security and measurement jobs.
  9. Hydro, wind and geothermal energy could see Africa leapfrogging other continents by developing thousands of small-scale “virtual power stations” that distribute electricity via mini-grids and would not require transmission lines.
  10. Mankind will need to get much better at recycling agricultural inputs (like animal feeds and fertilizers) and growing food more efficiently.
  11. Three concepts of urbanization will emerge: megacities, mega regions and mega corridors. [Note: A megaregion is a large network of metropolitan regions that share several of the following: Environmental systems, topography, infrastructure and economic links. A megacorridor is transportation links between large cities, megacities or megaregions].
  12. Greater information flows will enable more people to become aware of opportunities for work both nearby and in distant places.
  13. Some of today’s large global managers will become mega-managers. A mega manager has the capacity to manage a much high level of complexity than traditional managers.
  14. The global production of battery EVs (electric vehicles) will grow from 273,000 in 2015 to 1.3 million in 2022.
  15. By 2050, the world’s urban population will have increased by some 72%.
  16. By 2020, 40% of existing jobs worldwide will be lost but many new ones will be created in the high-growth industries.

What megatrends would you add to this list?


 

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 Future-Readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Sources:

Michael Jackson (March 24, 2016). Megatrends report. Shaping Tomorrow.

Image Credit: Jarling-art

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.

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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.

References

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.

 

 

Fast Forward – Six Forecasts for 2016

Now that the New Year is underway, it is time to use my futurist skills and make some forecasts about things that I think will become prominent in the years ahead. So here it is, my second annual Six Forecasts for 2016! Those who wish to critique my 2015 version of this second annual blog can review it here.

A simple way that futurists develop balanced insights about the future is through the use of the STEEP methodology. This acronym simply stands for Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic and Political factors. By default, each one of us tends to gravitate to one or two of the STEEP categories. However, robust future insights are a result of considering more than what we look at naturally. This also helps us avoid biased or unbalanced views of the future. So here they are, six forecasts for ’16!

  1. Environmentalism 2.0 – As the reality of a globally changing climate takes hold of our consciousness, I believe we are going to begin acting differently as individuals. Things such as disaster preparedness home kits, Facebook apps which help you contact people amidst disasters (Safety Check) and supplementary insurance will become mainstream. As an example, I purchased home flood insurance for the first time this winter because it is an El Nino year in California!
  2. Friends for hire – As technology changes our relationships (both literally and virtually), we will migrate to looking for new ways for real-life interactions. Welcome to Friends for Hire! While this service in the U.K., Australia and Japan allows you to rent someone to hang out with, this will have a more practical side as well. As retirees hit the years when they need personal care, healthcare services which provide more than just physical care will flourish. Expect friend-matching to migrate towards the quasi-scientific methods used by on-line dating agencies!
  3. Big data ethics – We are getting used to web sites referring products to us (via ads) based on them scouring our surfing habits. Our composite surfing profile has led to the rise of big data (see Understanding the Implications of Big Data). As this data is used in non-traditional ways (for example, to assess your loan worthiness when you apply for a mortgage), we are going to enter an entirely new level of ethical implications of data and how it is used. Look for the ethics of big data to become a dominant issue in the next decade.
  4. The rise of the shrinking middle class: This is a repeat from last year but I think it is really important! The gap between rich and poor (measured by something called the GINI index) has historical links to societal stability and peace (indicated by a low income gap) and instability and unrest (a high income gap). Between 2009 and 2012 the top one percent of Americans enjoyed 95 percent of all income gains. This does not bode well for the middle class in America and we will begin to see more signs of unrest and this gap increases. I believe we are also seeing this trend manifest in other parts of the world.
  5. Wearables 2.0 – In the past decade we have witnessed the growth of smart clothing. Fitbits, Apple Watches and clothing that ‘plug in’ are becoming normal. Look for this to disappear in the next five years. WIRED magazine notes, “Look for fitness and fashion companies to integrate sensors and trackers in a way most people never notice”. This will be done with sensors invisibly woven into your fabric, jewelry with a simple LED or shoes with computer chips in the sole. The next wave of wearable tech will be virtually invisible.
  6. Politics 2.0 – I believe major shifts are occurring in global politics. Political power is shifting from a ruling minority to the populace majority. This is occurring in different ways in different places. In Egypt we witnessed the overthrow of a dictator in 2011. In China we saw an Occupy movement protest heavy-handed democracy in 2014. In America, two of the current leading Republicans are not politicians at all (Ben Carson and Donald Trump). While I do not know exactly how a reshake of our political systems will occur (and it will be different in different locations), a growing disenfranchisement with ineffective political systems will be a strong theme in the decade ahead.

Whatever actually occurs in the years ahead, I wish all of you a safe and joy-filled 2016!


 

Jeff SuHead Shotderman 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

TrendWatch: TV Goes down the Tubes…

‘Disruptive innovation’ is a modern business buzzword. By definition, it refers to something new that creates a new market and displaces an earlier technology. This can occur over varying amounts of time, sometimes a few years and sometimes decades.

If you have observed how television is changing over the past five years, you understand that we are in the midst of a great example of disruptive innovation. Recent Nielson ratings data shows that U.S. television viewership declined by 12 per cent in January compared to the same month a year earlier, the eighth consecutive double-digit drop (CBC News). This percentage shift accounts for billions of dollars of lost revenue.

A snapshot of a week at our house reveals this principle at work. My pre-teen daughters favorite channels are on YouTube and Netflix. My wife and I are hooked on a drama that we are watching courtesy of our commercial-free Amazon Prime membership (on our Roku). Our Superbowl party began on the back patio where I streamed the game via an NBC app on my iPad and an AppleTV. Oh, and the two shows we watch as a family are never watched live thanks to our DVR.

Strategic leadership authors Ashley and Morrison believe that disruptive innovation has a remedy – something called anticipatory management. They note that anticipatory management provides the lead time which provides organizations with competitive Issue Life Cycleadvantage. Without intentional efforts to which help us anticipate change, organizations lapse into negative and reactive behaviors when changes occur (see diagram). The earlier we are able to see a shift coming, the more options we have. Conversely, the longer we wait, the less options we have (and they are usually much less desirable).

Anticipatory management is not difficult to understand but it takes intentionality and discipline to accomplish. If we are not aware that our services and and products have a life cycle, we will eventually find ourselves facing tough issues as our environments move on without us. It will be fascinating to see how television networks reinvent themselves in light of these changes. Will they adapt the nimbleness of Netflix or become another Blockbuster dinosaur?


 

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

Ashley, W.C., & Morrison, J.L. (1995). Anticipatory management: 10 power tools for achieving excellence into the 21st century. Leesburg, VA: Issue Action Publications.

Evans, P. (Feb. 4, 2015). Neilson ratings data shows big TV decline due to streaming data. CBC News on-line. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/nielsen-ratings-data-shows-big-tv-decline-due-to-streaming-video-1.2944432

More Agility Please! The State of Strategy

There is a strong correlation between a companies financial returns and their planning horizon.1 Effective strategy considers the future! If you know me or read my writing you know that I resonate strongly with this concept.

In recent months I have read several blogs which proclaim that strategic planning is dead. While these titles are somewhat over-sensationalized (see The Problem with 7 Step and 3 Things), I believe that the concept is correct. Strategy as we know it is dead and this is a very good thing because it is being replaced with something better. This is supported by a recent study which examined three different strategy models and their corresponding success rates (see Figure 1). The results are as follows:

1. Ad Hoc – Success Rate: 46% | Tagline: Hand-to-mouth strategy | Definition: This style develops and implements strategy as the organization wishes and there is no defined planning horizon.

2. Traditional – Success Rate: 53% | Tagline: Your father’s strategy | Definition: This is the best understood as the current strategic planning model which typically develops strategy for the next  3-5 years (though most actually plan within the 1-3 year horizon).

3. Agility – Success Rate: 85% | Tagline: Strategy which makes uncertainty part of the plan | Definition: Strategy is evaluated and regularly re-evaluated in the context of a rapidly changing environment. EffectStrategic Cycles and Successive organizations actively study the future in order to compete in the present and have strategic cycles which are longer than 5 years.

This study reveals that effective organizations apply long-term agility-based thinking to conundrums, something that planning and control sciences were unable to do.Pierre Wack, a forerunner of the agility movement, once stated, “In our times of rapid change and discontinuity, crisis of perception – the inability to see a novel reality emerging by being locked in obsolete assumptions – has become the main cause of strategic failure”

If we live in an unchanging environment, then traditional planning methodologies work. However, very few people that I speak with believe that they operate in a stable environment. The need to develop agility is supported by the fact that over 85% of executives noted that their strategy formulation failures were rooted in the lack of understanding of future trends.Figure 6 reveals how foresight tools are being used to develop agility.Foresight Case

Strategic planning may not be dead but I believe that it has morphed. Research reveals that effective organizations use planning time frames which are greater that five years. This requires that we shift from a strategic mindset of control to one of agility. Foresight and tools which foster future agility are becoming the new normal for effective strategy development and execution.

Do you work in an organization that needs to extend your planning horizon? Contact me to schedule a free assessment of your strategic planning processes (jeff@jeffsuderman.com).


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

 

References:

1 A.T. Kearney (2014). The state of strategy today. Retrieved from http://www.atkearney.com/strategy/futureproof-strategy/detail/-/asset_publisher/A6BMR7XFiteh/content/the-state-of-strategy-today-topic-overview/10192

This concept was derived from a personal conversation with my teacher and mentor, Dr. Jay Gary

Pierre Wack (1984). The gentle art of re-perceiving. Unpublished manuscript. Harvard Business School.

Effective Leaders Think Differently: 10 Quotes to Make You Think

I see and I forget

I hear and I remember

I do and I understand

Confucius

This week I have been poring through textbooks as I prepare to teach some on-line Master’s levels courses this fall. As I prep, I am reminded how much learning occurs through the ‘doing’ process. Learning is a journey that challenges our assumptions and helps us learn to think in new ways. The process of thinking differently must also occur outside of the classroom and is a critical ingredient in successful organizations.Warren Bennis, often considered the father of contemporary leadership, listed creativity and thinking outside-the-box as one of the most important leadership qualities.

Gareth Morgan, an organizational development expert provides a great reminder of the importance of this skill:

“Skilled leaders and managers develop the knack of reading situations with various scenarios in mind and of forging actions that seem appropriate to the understandings thus obtained. They have a capacity to remain open and flexible, suspending immediate judgement whenever possible until a  more comprehensive view of the situation emerges. They are aware that new insights often arise as one approaches situations from ‘new angles’ and that a wide and varied assessment can create a wide and varied range of action possibilities. Less effective managers and problem solvers, however, seem to interpret everything from a fixed standpoint. As a result, the frequently hit blocks they cannot get around; their actions and behaviors are often rigid and inflexible.”

Nurturing the ability to see things differently takes time and effort. As you consider the need to look at old challenges in new ways, here are a few of my favorite quotes to inspire you:

  1. I skate to where the puck is going to be. Wayne Gretzky
  2. The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. F.Scott Fitzgerald

  3.  A person who never made a mistake has never tried anything new.  Albert Einstein

  4. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Seneca
  5. People will not believe what does not fit in with their plans or suit their prearrangements. Barbara Tuchman

  6. What everybody knows is what has already happened or become obvious. What the aware individual knows is what has not yet taken shape, what has not occurred. Sun Tzu
  7. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

  8. No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Russian General von Moltke
  9. Doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is absurd. Voltaire

  10. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein
What helps you break out of rut thinking?