As the world focuses on a global pandemic, remote work has been a popular topic. As reported by Brian Fung, Google just Announced the extension of their remote work policy to July of 2021 – an acknowledgement that the pandemic could be with us a while. Siemens decided to make their policy permanent, but as this Recent Announcement indicates, their approach is very refreshing. Following in the footsteps of others, Siemens is adopting a new model that will allow employees worldwide to work from anywhere they feel comfortable. The permanent standard allows employees to leverage the new model for an average of two to three days a week. This article by Justin Bariso focuses on the refreshing part of the announcement, reflected in this quote by incoming CEO Roland Busch:
Several recent articles have focused on a world that is changing faster than anything the world has ever experienced. From the socioeconomic front, to the geopolitical, to the technological, and more, the pace is accelerating. This Acceleration is not new, but it seems that it finally made the radar of organizational leaders. This phenomenon calls into question the traditional view of five-year plans. The world in five years likely looks quite different than our current world. This puts the ability to pivot and change at the heart of future organization success criteria. This new-found awareness highlights the need for flexibility, resilience, and adaptability, likely accelerating the path Towards Digital Transformation.
Nahal Yousefian is a Chief Human Resources Officer. She reached out recently to discuss her passion for disrupting the Human Resources function. She has moved from conforming in the system to learning about and experimenting with more effective models of organizational design, capability, and ultimately psychology. She pointed out that many systems and structures were designed precisely to reinforce a centralized, command and control flow of work versus an agile and responsive model. She has reframed her personal purpose at work and strives to create the world of work anew.
I will let her tell you the rest of the story in this brilliant Dear John letter that she wrote to HR. Every function, every institution, every mental model could benefit from a similar letter. It is my continued hope that more people like Nahal make it their personal purpose to think differently about these fossils from our past. Enjoy her letter.
A recent Article explores those things keeping most Chief Human Resources officers (CHROs) up at night. According to Gartner, CHROs believe three topics are impacting the future of work: AI and automation, the gig economy and an aging yet multi-generational workforce. However, Gartner also believes that they are missing some key trends. They identified these six trends as areas for chief human resources officers to consider:
- Unethical Use of Employee Data
- Falling Barriers to Access
- Automation of the Manager Role
- Elimination of On-the-Job Learning
- Radical Transparency
- Rising Demand for Remote Work
Like every corporate function, human resources will face its share of change in the coming years. According to Gartner research, only 9% think their organisation is prepared for the future of work. Explore each trend in the article referenced above.
As science and technology continue their rapid advance, traditional constructs are challenged; Supply chains are no exception. Here is a brief video that highlights many of the advances that transform how we think about supply chains in the future. As it wraps up, a curated set of videos that touch on several of these advances is provided. Special thanks to Bill Quinn, Rose Castellon-Rodriguez, and Kevin Mulcahy for producing the video.
Be sure to visit the Reimagining the Future YouTube Channel to explore additional topics.
Our structures and institutions are increasingly challenged by rapid innovation in science and technology. As Klaus Schwab stated in his book Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we face the task of understanding and governing 21st-century technologies with a 20th-century mindset and 19th-century institutions. One such institution is our vertically-oriented industry structure. We are in the early stages of An Ecosystem Evolution, where the boundaries between industries are completely blurred. The creation and capture of value is increasingly horizontal in nature, ultimately giving Rise to a Finite Set of Ecosystems.
As this shift occurs, our strategies are iterative in nature and guided by a constantly evolving view of emerging ecosystems. At the heart of this work lies Ecosystem Models. These models provide a range of possibilities inherent in emerging ecosystems, and identify three critical facets:
In my last post, I explored the evolution of business in the industrial age. This Fourth Iteration of Business establishes resilience on a foundation of automation and intelligence. Resilience may be more important than the productivity gains that are sure to be realized as we progress towards Business 4.0, providing the capacity to recover quickly as the pace of shifts accelerates. This visual represents a strategic foundation for Business 4.0.
The evolution of business in the industrial age has mirrored the progression of three industrial revolutions; moving us from its first iteration to our current form. The emerging Fourth Industrial revolution ushers in another shift, culminating in something that likely looks much different than its predecessors. A brief look at this journey shows us the linkage:
Iteration One: The first industrial revolution introduced mechanization and had significant impacts on business and the labor force. Business in this period was transformed, as the steam engine enabled us to replace human and animal-based muscle with machines.
Iteration Two: Several forces converged during the second revolution to elevate our standard of living. The post-war period that followed was defined by a high level of consumption that drove business in the mass production era. Henry Ford famously said: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”
Iteration Three: The third industrial revolution revolved around information technology, electronics, and communications, ushering in a period of computerization and automation. Businesses were once again transformed through significant gains in productivity and a shift away from Henry Ford era standard products to more customization.
To transform is to change in form, appearance, structure, condition, nature, or character. It is an overly used word that can be made to fit several narratives. Yet, given its definition, the dynamics of what is sure to be a volatile and complex future should compel us all to transform. I believe however, that the narrative must change. This is not a technology discussion, and it is not a digital discussion (although digital is the reason we are here). Rather, it is discussion of likely structural shifts that alter our beliefs and intuitions. These shifts will fundamentally change the way we think about organizations.
A key message in the Reimagining the Future body of work is that our growing digital world challenges every aspect of how we do business, how we govern and how we live. It will drive significant strategic, tactical and structural changes and fundamentally alter our long-standing beliefs, success strategies and institutional constructs. We’re already seeing it. Just look at companies like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Tencent, Google, Alibaba and Facebook. They are rewriting the rules and redefining how value is created and captured, using digitally-centered platforms and ecosystem-enabled business models.
I recently engaged with fellow futurists on an article for Digitalist Magazine titled Why Strategic Plans Need Multiple Futures. I think the authors truly captured the challenges of strategic planning in a world where pace and the sheer volume of change makes our emerging future anything but predictable. The focus on story telling as the most effective way to communicate potential futures is powerful, and the Lowe’s example really brings that point home. I recommend this articles to leaders everywhere. Here is a powerful quote:
“Companies like Lowe’s are realizing that standard ways of planning for the future won’t get them where they need to go. The problem with traditional strategic planning is that the approach, which dates back to the 1950s and has remained largely unchanged since then, is based on the company’s existing mission, resources, core competencies, and competitors.
Yet the future rarely looks like the past. What’s more, digital technology is now driving change at exponential rates. Companies must be able to analyze and assess the potential impacts of the many variables at play, determine the possible futures they want to pursue, and develop the agility to pivot as conditions change along the way.”
Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson – Authors of The Second Machine Age – wrote a new book which they launched in the middle of this year. Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future builds upon their first book, exploring three big trends that are reshaping the business world:
- The rapidly increasing and expanding capabilities of machines
- The large and influential young companies (Platforms) that bear little resemblance to the established incumbents in their industries, yet are deeply disrupting them
- The emergence of the crowd: the large amount of human knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm distributed all over the world and now available
In a recent book titled Dual Transformation, the authors (Scott D. Anthony, Clark G. Gilbert, and Mark W. Johnson) focus on the challenging task of transforming the core while simultaneously creating a growth engine. They refer to it as dual transformation: Transformation A – repositioning the core, and Transformation B – creating the new. This complex tension is represented in this visual from our upcoming leadership course: Reimagining the Future: A Journey through the Looking Glass.
Our exponential world puts increasing pressure on our capacity to innovate and the speed and quality of idea flow. This dynamic coupled with the speed at which automation is likely to occur brings our right brain characteristics front and center. Creativity, imagination, big picture vision, emotional and social intelligence, empathy, and other human characteristics are critical to navigating in this emerging future. As automation accelerates, these human traits become even more critical. In a recent report by Citi on Technology at Work, the authors point to our propensity for social interaction, communication, and empathy being something machines can never replace.
In my last post, I described a Sense and Respond model that sits at the heart of several activities, including scenario, opportunity, and risk analysis. As complexity and pace continue to intensify, uncertainty increases. To survive in this Emerging Future, we must embrace a framework for future thinking, and an organization that can adapt as it shifts. In essence, we must see the future, rehearse it, continuously monitor for shifts, and adapt as the shifts occur. A sense and respond model sits at the core of the framework – but represents the biggest cultural challenge.
My ongoing work on emerging future scenarios has driven a renewed focus on experience. Several factors are converging to shift the experience end game; specifically, the evolution of Ecosystems and the transformation of Interaction. These two forces – themselves the result of combinatorial innovation – are converging. While the way we interact continues to shift, a parallel evolution towards ecosystems is occurring. This ecosystem evolution introduces systemic complexity and combines with a shifting interaction paradigm to alter the way we think about experience.
Figure 1: Phase One of a pending shift in interaction paradigms
Back in 2013, as Smartphone use was growing, I wrote about Next Generation Experiences; viewing customer experience through a lens of constant change, where failure to address foundational elements meant falling further behind. Since then, our mode of interaction witnessed a third transformation, as touch became a critical piece of our everyday experiences. Now, we find ourselves approaching the next significant change in interaction paradigms: the Fourth Transformation driven by mixed reality.
Heidi Schwende recently shared a picture on LinkedIn that perfectly captures the challenges facing large traditional companies. Exponential progression, the pace it is driving, and the capacity of companies native to digital to innovate put the traditional company at a severe disadvantage.
In a recent post titled Demonetized Cost of Living, Peter Diamandis describes how technological socialism (i.e. having our lives taken care of by technology) will drive our cost of living close to zero. A similar case was made by Economist Jeremy Rifkin in his book titled The Zero Marginal Cost Society. Diamandis defines demonetization as the ability of technology to take a product or service that was previously expensive and making it substantially cheaper, or potentially free; removing money from the equation. Demonetized is one of the Six D’s of digital, as described by Diamandis and captured in one of my visuals below.