I just finished reading my latest book titled Purpose + Profit. The book was written by Harvard professor George Serafeim. Being purpose-driven is no longer a brand or marketing gimmick, but a sea change driven by multiple forces. The book provides data to support the coexistence of both purpose and profit. In fact, it makes the case that purpose-driven companies have better outcomes. In 2017, I spoke about the need for a hybrid of purpose and profit. It is refreshing to read the many examples of how that exact scenario is playing out. Even more encouraging is the advancement in available data that allows us to measure impact – something the author calls impact weighted accounting. I recommend the book and have added it to my library. The Amazon abstract is included below.Continue reading
Why Ecosystems? Why Now?
For at least seven years, the concept of ecosystems has been discussed and defined in various ways, while sometimes applied in a context that dilutes its eventual impact. At the highest level, an ecosystem is a network of connected stakeholders interacting in ways that create and capture value for all participants. Why has this ecosystem phenomenon emerged now and why do people expect it to drive structural change? Once again, history may provide an answer.Continue reading
In today’s world, the most effective CEOs recognize that no one is an island: no CEO, no company, no industry, no country. The lines have permanently blurred, and chief executives must embrace the opportunity to help shape our shared future — as enterprise leaders who are moving across and beyond — to influence entire ecosystemsContinue reading
The Purpose-Driven Corporation
I’ve had the pleasure of facilitating a CEO roundtable each of the last four years at the CEO of the year gala sponsored by Chief Executive Group. The 2021 winner was Merck’s Ken Frazier. This year, the roundtable explored the growing shift towards purpose. Specifically, the roundtable Topic was: “Purpose-driven: Implications for Strategy and Cross-Industry Collaboration”.Continue reading
There are several broad themes that will receive attention in 2022. They include sustainability, health and wellness, social justice, and mobility (including electric and autonomous vehicles). At the heart of each of these themes is sustainable development, with dialog emerging in three broad buckets:
When viewed through a business lens, each bucket drives focus on sustainable development. The big question for the year is: how do you measure it? It’s one thing to say that sustainability, social good, and inclusion are on equal footing with profitability and growth – it’s another to realize it. A recent book via Alec Ross provides some ideas regarding measurement. Measurement aside, there are plenty of signs that focus will be there. In a recent article on ESG, author Stephanie Mehta Fast Company Impact Council provides insight from members of the council.Continue reading
The Building Blocks Of Our Future
In a post from 2019, I described the building blocks that established our modern society. It was convergence across multiple domains that shaped our current world. From the post:
A century ago, a convergence across domains ushered in unprecedented advancements in human development. As Robert J. Gordon describes, the special century (1870 – 1970) that followed the Civil War was made possible by a unique clustering of what Mr. Gordon calls the great inventions. The great inventions of the second industrial revolution significantly improved our well-being. In his view, the economic revolution of 1870-1970 was unique in human history, unrepeatable because many of its achievements could only happen once. What makes this century so special, is that these inventions altered what until then, was a life lived in misery.Frank Diana – Convergence
I captured many of those building blocks in a visual that I use to tell this story (click on the visual to open in a separate window).Continue reading
Emerging Signals On The Future Of Work
While the world continues to navigate the challenges of a global pandemic, discussion of a post-pandemic future is ramping. The future of work is a dominant piece of that post-pandemic discussion. There are still more questions than answers, but the signals are flying. Three recent articles focused on distinct pieces of this future: Performance, Identity Economy, and Making a Hybrid Work model. The article on performance highlights the pandemic as catalyst and accelerant. The need to rethink how we view performance was clear pre-pandemic – but mostly not acted upon. The events of the last 15 months may be driving action.Continue reading
So far, I have revisited Automation, Digital Transformation, and Autonomous Vehicles. This reflection on the past continues with a look at experiences. Back in 2013, as part of a series on digital transformation, I focused on what at the time I referred to as Next Generation Experiences. Back then, the issues of customer experience, customer-centricity, and customer intimacy were top-of-mind and dominated many executive discussions and conference agendas. I envisioned a next generation experience anchored in how customers think about it, not the way functional silos do. Those experiences would be delivered by the stakeholder ecosystem, requiring experience strategies to include all stakeholders whether internal or external.Continue reading
Organizing For Future Readiness
Back in 2013, weak signals clearly pointed to a structural change that was desperately needed. In a Post from that year, I described the type of change I envisioned in a world that looked very different than the world where these structures were born. The pandemic, as it has on so many levels, made something lying beneath the surface very visible. What it should also illuminate for leaders is that the future is uncertain, approaching rapidly, and likely to contain regular extreme events. Those factors make future readiness crucial to viability. To be future-ready, and to operate in a world dominated by uncertainty and pace, structures must change. When I say structure, I mean a broad set of things to consider:Continue reading
Is The Shareholder Doctrine Dead?
Fifty years ago, Milton Friedman announced that the social responsibility of a business was to increase profits. So was born the shareholder value era. Friedman was pushing back on dominant movements of the day: the new deal and European models of social democracy. Global inequality issues trace back to this rise of shareholder value. A recent Article explores the topic and the resulting power of the stock market. The authors suggest that while the market and the wealthy soared, consideration of the interests of workers, the environment, and consumers declined.Continue reading
Wednesday Musings: Education, Energy, Currency, and Purpose
Every morning, I scan the horizon. Horizon Scanning is a systematic process that serves as an early warning system to inform decision makers about possible futures. It identifies actions, innovations, and events that have the potential to alter our future, both positive and negative. I am struck by the sheer volume of news, areas to consider, and emerging building blocks that are likely to impact society. The Possibilities – both good and bad – seem endless.
Thinking about the Future should be a normal part of every leaders day. With so many building blocks to consider, the need to understand them intensifies, as well as the various ways they are connecting. A Canvas that helps us to visualize can be very helpful. My scanning this morning underscores just how much to consider. In a short period of time, I explored the World Economic Forum’s continued focus on Purpose. Having just written about How Different Jobs will be in the next ten years, I read another Article on the need for a Global Reskilling revolution. As the world explores a profound shift in our energy paradigm, I learned that the windows in our buildings will provide all the Energy Required. The foundational elements of society are shifting. Even money is likely to transform, as Central Banks study the possibilities of Digital Currencies.
So, scan away my friends, the horizon is approaching rapidly.
Change Has Never Been This Fast – It Will Never Be This Slow Again
Happy New Year all! As we enter the next decade, an expression that is now popular rings true: Change Has Never Been This Fast – It Will Never Be This Slow Again. It is not just the speed of change – which many attribute to Exponential Progression driven in part by the Convergence of Science and Technology – but the sheer number of Dots Connecting in what is a very complex system. As is customary this time of year, there is no shortage of content focused on the year or decade ahead.
Will Astounding Innovation Elevate Global Well-Being?
The center-piece of my work is the early signs of a Shift to Purpose and Well-being. I first developed this Innovation Wheel (click to view in a separate window) when analyzing the impact of second industrial revolution innovation on well-being in the Western world. The Possibilities are boundless – but society must Map the Path of Future Innovation. I walk around this innovation wheel when describing it to an audience, investing time in describing the possibilities across the various areas of well-being. This short video clip replicates that walk around the innovation wheel. The possibilities are indeed boundless.
Three Trillion Reasons
I had the pleasure of delivering a dinner keynote at this weeks SAP Ariba Live event. I was very impressed with the event theme: 3 Trillion Reasons. That theme is a play on the nearly $3 trillion in commerce flowing through SAP Ariba annually. Although that number speaks to commerce, the theme spoke to purpose. As positioned on this Blog frequently, I expect a continued Shift to Purpose and Well-Being.
As I reflected on my Thoughts for 2019, three themes stood out. I’ve already written about Convergence and Acceleration, so this post will focus on possibilities. As described recently, I believe the world will experience a Burst of Possibilities enabled by the forces of convergence and acceleration. We should expect these possibilities to multiply in 2019, but realization depends upon multiple factors. One of these factors is a true focus on purpose, posing this question for humanity: how do we harness these possibilities to bring about a better world?
In arguing the case for purpose-orientation and possibilities, I created this visual that maps future advancements to our areas of well-being (click on visuals to enlarge them). I could create a different one that shows how these same advancements can be used to diminish our well-being. That’s why convergence is the most critical theme among the three. An effective way to think about purpose and possibilities is via the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These are among the best-known and most frequently cited societal challenges. I believe we are entering a period of astounding innovation – advancements that have the potential to address these goals.
Monetization Strategies in Emerging Ecosystems
As horizontal ecosystems become the primary means of value creation and capture, organizations will embrace various monetization strategies. Given the proven growth potential of platforms (the foundation of ecosystems) and the increasing collapse of Industry boundaries, the urgency to understand ecosystem dynamics is growing. Ecosystems enable producers and consumers to interact in ways that create shared value. In many cases, stakeholders will play either role at any given time – a phenomenon some have called side switching.
Belief Systems, Purpose, and Balance
At the Health Summit in D.C. two weeks ago, I was asked to articulate those things that leaders should consider as they navigate the complexity of our emerging future. The three that always top my list are:
- Resetting our intuition and belief system for a new era – think differently
- Shifting to a hybrid profit and purpose orientation
- Seeking a balance between innovation that enhances society and mitigating the risk of unintended consequences.
This two minute video captures that portion of our panel discussion.
A Shift to Purpose and Well-Being
Singularity University has been talking about purpose for some time now. They describe a focus that is audaciously big and aspirational, causing significant transformation to an Industry, community, or the planet. There is a clear “why” behind the work being done, something that unites and inspires action. They call this a Massive Transformative Purpose.
A focus on purpose has a motivating effect with the potential to trigger incredible outcomes. A proven approach in high-growth organizations according to Singularity University, with a focus on purpose in common across the 100 fastest growing organizations. In an era that challenges much of our belief system, an aspirational quality of purpose is a mechanism that helps us think differently. Shared passion within communities and shifting generational views of mission-driven work can fuel the fires of purpose. An organizational focus on purpose is a vehicle for attracting and retaining top qualified talent. A purpose that is aspirational and focused on creating a different future is what ignites passion in individuals and groups; it’s what engages people’s hearts and minds to work together to realize their goal. Breakthroughs in science and technology can be linked to the deeply unifying and motivating ability of purpose. Setting out to solve big problems brings purpose and meaning to work. The more we organize around purpose, the better the outcomes and the more fulfilled we will be with our work.
The Experience Journey Gets Complicated
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.