Author Archive

Recent media mentions

Posted on: December 3rd, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Our team has recently been mentioned in a number of press releases and media items. Here’s a brief roundup if you’re interested in what we get up to:

  • Graeme Codrington spoke about Understanding Different Generations at a number of events hosted by Rickard Keen in Essex, UK – here is their summary of the events
  • If you read Dutch or have Google Translate (which you do), see an overview of work Graeme did for the Contact Centre Association – here and here
  • An article on Disruptive Change in Business Brief (may need a login)
  • “Customer Service in a Flexible World” co-written with the team at Microsoft – read it here
  • “Generation C – who are they and why do they need your attention?” (Part 1/3) co-written with the team at Cisco – read it here
  • “Generation C – the impact on work and the challenge for leaders” (Part 2/3) co-written with the team at Cisco – read it here
  • “Meet the speaker: Dr Graeme Codrington” Profile on BizCommunity.com’s Events & Conferencing company news – read it here

Valedictory Speech 2014 for 13 year olds

Posted on: November 29th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I was asked to give a short speech at my daughter’s valedictory Leaver’s Dinner at the end of her Junior School year. Here is an edited version of what I said (I sprinkled this with some personal stories, humour and local references):

To the graduating class of St Mary’s Junior School of 2014

You young ladies are the first group of St Mary’s girls to all be born in the new millennium, in the 21st century. When you were born, your life expectancy at birth was 82. But modern medicine and technology are going to allow you to live much longer than that. Many of you will live another hundred years or more from now. Almost all of you will live through this whole century.

It’s a remarkable thought isn’t it? But it isn’t crazy.

My own grandmother is hundred. She has lived more than double what science thought she would when she was born in 1914. She’s not alone. Over 367,000 people are older than 100 (over 15,000 of those in South Africa alone according to the census of 2010). That means over 1,000 people turn 100 every day somewhere in this world.

So will you, most likely. You will have lived through a whole century.

What will it be like to live through a whole century?

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China: technology, moral and legislative lead in environment

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Two years ago, China set itself the target of becoming the world’s leading consumer and producer or solar, wave and wind power. They have already achieved this target. In an authoritarian system, when a decision gets made, it also gets done. When good decisions are made, this is awesome. And China is going green.

This should be no surprise. They’ve spent half a century industrialising, and bringing half a billion out of poverty. Now they need to deliver quality of life to these people, and this is going to mean becoming greener. They also have a Confucian mindset, which balances the ying and yang of life and nature. They were never going to be satisfied with the current levels of pollution in their country. And now they’re starting to make changes.

Watch this video, and ask yourself: what are the potential disruptors and global implications for my business of China taking a lead in the environmental space? This is important.


Today’s youth: cleaner living, wholesome hobbies, socially conservative… Research

Posted on: September 26th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For over a decade now, we have been using our understanding of generational cycles to predict that today’s youth and young adults were likely to respond to social change by becoming more socially conservative. This would include reductions in hard drug use, reductions in anti-social behaviour, a more caring attitude towards to environment and generally more wholesome living.

The drug, sex and rock n roll fuelled young adulthood that many Boomers remember from the 1960s and 70s, and that Xers re-enacted in the 1990s, would be replaced by a very different looking generation.

Well, all around the world social science is showing that this is in fact happening. A recent article in The Telegraph went so far as to call them “Generation Yawn”. It’s actually an excellent article with great research to back it up. And I think you’ll be both amazed and uplifted by the information. Read it here.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. And all of life lives on normalised bell curves. So I am sure you know of a few very anti-social youths. But, in general, what is your experience of today’s young people? Does The Telegraph’s research ring true for you?

Getting rid of email – here’s a company that’s done just that

Posted on: September 25th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Over the last few months I have begun to include a small section in some of my workshops on the clutter and “stuff” that makes work life a pain. Almost all participants identify meetings and email (and many add managers, for a “3M” trilogy of evil). Email is going to kill us. Or at least melt down sometime in the next few years.

You know this to be true. Your inbox is in much worse shape today than it was a few years ago. And it isn’t going to get any better by itself in the years ahead. We’re going to have to find a fix for this growing problem.

Some companies reckon that the solution is to abandon email altogether. The South American travel comparison site, El Mejor Trato is one such company. Fast Company magazine interviewed the CEO, Cristian Rennella (who only gets about five emails a day, from external people) to find out what they did, how they did it, and the impact it has made on their business. Read the report here (or an extract below).

This might be worth trying in your team or business. You’ve got to try something!

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South Africa Business Events Catalogue now available

Posted on: September 23rd, 2014 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

For anyone who does conferencing work in Southern Africa, the Business Events Africa catalogue is an invaluable resource, listing providers of conferencing facilities, speakers and related services. It’s just been published and will be available in printed format. But the digital version is now up and running here.

Make sure you use it if you’re running an event anytime soon.

And, of course, if you ARE running an event, also consider using one of our team as a speaker.

Award winning emerging market startups with a global edge

Posted on: September 13th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Seedstars World is a Geneva-based company that holds competitions for startups around the world. Their list of competition winners from the last year includes 19 emerging market companies that are innovating products and services with some exceptional promise.

We believe that disruption (and therefore, innovation) comes from the edges. These edges might be at the edge of an industry, an economy or geography. The interesting thing about the 19 firms listed by Seedstars is that they’re beginning to focus their attention on taking their offerings into established markets. With access to crowdfunding and venture capitalists who are starting to look beyond established markets in order to get higher returns, these companies may be hugely successful. But more than just looking at them, they’re a symbol of the change in mindset of business leaders around the world. Emerging markets should not be ignored.

Elizabeth MacBride, a writer for Forbes magazine took the list and categorised it helpfully as follows:

Financing infrastructure is being constructed fast and at the cutting edge.

    • Accra, Ghana-based Kitawa is building a Bitcoin-based online payments platform.

    • Remit.ug, based in Kampala, Uganda, enables people from all over the world to transfer money to mobile wallets in Africa.

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Meet Gen Y: Five videos, ten minutes and a lot of insight

Posted on: August 26th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Raymond de Villiers is TomorrowToday’s Gen Y guru. He works hard to understand today’s young people, and then make sense of them for you and me and our businesses. He’s packaged some of his insights into short “thought bullet” videos that I am sure will be valuable to you. Here are a few of my favourites (if you can’t see the videos embedded, just click the titles for a link to YouTube):

Meet Gen Y, and the two key forces that have shaped their world, and them:

Here’s a slightly longer extract of an hour long talk Raymond did recently on generations, in which he introduced Gen Y:

My favourite label for this generation actually helps to make sense of them: Digital Natives:

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A hidden secret of the Ice Bucket Challenge success – and the future of communication

Posted on: August 26th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

The Ice Bucket challenge for ALS is probably the most successful meme created thus far for social media. Of course, social media experts are now trying to reverse engineer it to discover the secrets to successfully created a viral campaign – that holy grail of modern media. Much will be said, and will include items like personal connections, emotion, a worthy cause, fun, challenge, simplicity and activating networks (what some academics call “social currency”).

But one of the hidden secrets behind the success of the ice bucket challenge is autoplay videos. Facebook introduced these just a few months ago. As you scroll down your feed, videos spring to life (without sound until you click on them) and clamour for your attention. Even if you scroll past the first moving image of a scantily clad friend in their backyard, and don’t even notice the bucket next to them, by the time you see this motif for the third or fourth time, your interest is piqued and you click to watch the whole video. These are short, sharp, to the point. They’re funny, engaging and connecting. And then, of course, you receive the challenge directly from someone, and you’re hooked.

And then, about two months ago, Facebook made a further adjustment to their newsfeed algorithm. They started to judge not just what people clicked on, but how long they watched it for. This includes videos and click through links. In essence, the new algorithm, now just a few weeks old, says: “People who tend to watch more video in News Feed should expect to see more videos near the top of their Feed.” The same is true of any content you click through to and then stay and actually read. There is less emphasis on what you “like” and what you “click” and more on what you actually watch.

This happened just in time for the ALS ice bucket challenge. The more you watched, the more you were shown. And a meme was born, grew up and matured in less than a week.

It’s as hard as ever to create a viral campaign, and I am still convinced it’s more luck than design. But with each global meme that emerges we learn more lessons about what works and what doesn’t.

But this particular meme has an added lesson for me, and it’s this: video is about to go mainstream.

If you’re a teenager reading this, your response would be “duh”. YouTube’s statistics are insane, and they’ve outstripped all predictions for growth and take up that even their wildest fans made a few years ago. Gen Y now use the Net for TV shows more than they use TV in developed countries (see The Daily Telegraph report here). And just yesterday, Amazon beat Facebook and Google in a bidding war to buy Twitch for nearly $1 billion (OK, I just earned back my teenage street cred with that reference. For everyone over 21 years old – look it up). So, yes, video isn’t the future: it’s now.

But most companies, and most people over the age of 25, do not think of video first when they’re: searching for news, looking for something to ‘read’, search for information, looking for practical help, or for personal development. We’re still stuck to books, manuals, blogs and call centres. But that is changing. More and more communication is happening by video. Facebook’s shift to autoplay videos has seen an immediate 100% jump in video watching – it’s literally doubled. And that’s just the start.

Graeme in studioFor the past few years, our team has become increasingly convinced that the communication tool of the future is video. We’ve been experimenting furiously since then. We’ve created a TV channel in collaboration with yourBusinessChannel (a team we’d HIGHLY recommend you talk to), we’ve experimented with a YouTube channel called Signposts and each of our presenters is working hard to fill their YouTube channels with videos of all sizes and shapes; we’ve developed a number of series of online video series for personal and team development, and we’ve started a series of short “thought bullet” videos. We’re increasingly using videos as part of our leadership development programmes, and working out what works best for busy executives and leaders in this space. The video pages of our team’s various websites are amongst the most clicked on pages we have.

All of this leads to a simple conclusion: Your future success in sales, marketing, communications, training, leadership development and any area of your business that requires people to listen, learn and change, depends increasingly on video and how you use it. It cannot be ignored, and it is not just a fad. It is vital to your business’s success. How are you harnessing video right now? What experiments do you have on the go at the moment? And what your plans for the next year?

Recent media mentions

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Graeme Codrington has appeared in the media a few times in recent weeks. Here is a sampling of his contributions:

Speaking on Gen Y at the British Hospitality Association annual convention, Graeme focused attention on the impact that a younger generation is having on an industry that needs to employ significant numbers of young people to succeed. His presentation and contribution to a panel discussion was captured in the June/July 2014 edition of Hospitality Today (page 24-25): read it online here.

Graeme spoke at an Extended Knowledge Conference for Baloise Insurance Group in Germany recently. Here is a summary of the session.

Graeme was recently interviewed on CapeTalk 567 radio, on how to future-proof our children. Listen to the 15 minute interview on SoundCloud here.

A number of the TomorrowToday team have been featured on yourBusinessChannel’s Inside Finance TV channel. See their briefings videos here. We especially like the video on “Blowing Industries Apart”.

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I have seen the future – and it only costs $35

Posted on: July 21st, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few weeks ago I was doing a workshop with a telecoms company. We were looking at some of their thoughts around global expansion, especially into developing markets and across Africa.

Then they showed me something that is going to change the world. It’s pictured below. It is a fully functioning smartphone that costs about US$ 35 per unit. Hauwei, the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer has indicated that one of their key focus areas is on capturing the “bottom of the pyramid” mobile phone users, but I had always had a number of about $ 100 in mind. This is still quite expensive for someone living in poverty. But a $ 35 phone is accessible to almost anyone (it would be provided for free on a small contract). This is the future. But it’s happening now.

Add to that the fact that Google is investing about $ 1 billion into over 180 satellites that are aimed at bringing Internet access to the world’s unconnected (and poor). Wired and the Wall Street Journal recently reported that as part of Google’s recent acquisitions and hiring spree, it brought on board Greg Wyler, the founder of a satellite communications startup called O3b, as well as its chief technology officer. Google was an early investor in O3b, which was working on improving broadband access using satellites. Wyler has a team of between ten and 20 engineers with a background in satellites working on the project at Google.

Facebook are also working on this, as part of a coalition aiming to connect a further 3 billion people to the Internet. Read about it here.

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Solar Roadways – disruptive digitisation coming to a street near you?

Posted on: July 14th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Standing on a train platform south west of London a few years ago, I felt the whoosh of another fast train rushing past. In the distance I could just see the large arms of a slow-turning wind turbine. I’m not an engineer, but in that moment two things came together in my mind, and I wondered why we don’t have small wind turbines down the side of every railway in the world?

We know this: we waste a lot of energy everyday, simply because we don’t harness it.

It takes energy to move, but every movement also creates energy. And all around us the world itself is moving: wind and waves especially are in perpetual motion.

But the biggest source of under-utilised energy is the sun. Our ability to harness solar power is improving dramatically year by year at the moment, both in terms of the technology to convert solar energy to electricity and also in reducing the price of doing so. Now, a further set of innovations is looking to change where we put solar panels. The most exciting of these projects is headed by Scott and Julie Brusaw from Idaho, USA, have developed hard wearing, modular solar panels that can be used as replacements for roads and tarmac. Their early pilot schemes have laid these solar panels in carparks, but the idea would be to use them on roads and highways around the world.

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The 10 Most Important Work Skills in 2020

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Last week I was sent a link to an interesting infographic on the ten most important work skills in 2020. It is a graphic respresentation of research done by the University of Phoenix and the Institute for the Future (see their PDF report here). What I like about this is that the team that put it together has looked at the significant drivers of change in society and then worked out what work skills will be required to address these.

It’s a thought provoking read for parents, educators and businesses alike. Whilst none of the skills listed are really new, the emphasis is on their growing importance. The timeline is only 6 years away anyway, and so the focus was not on new skills but on what is becoming vital for success right now in our workplaces. You can find the infographic here, and a summary of their points below.

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[Video]: Keith Coats on leadership adaptability and resilience

Posted on: June 23rd, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Here is a recording from a presentation our resident leadership expert, Keith Coats, did on adaptive leadership, resilience and leadership development. It’s just an excerpt, so for the full context, we recommend reading details of The Connection Economy and Adaptive Leadership that we’ve uploaded to our blog previously.

But the video stands alone, and is well worth watching if you’d like to understand what leadership for the new world of work looks like:

Keith Coats on Adaptive Leadership

Just for fun: Why you really, really want a drone at home

Posted on: June 20th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It’s Friday, and the weekend is here. So, for a bit of fun check out this wonderful use of a drone. Drones are now readily available. My brother, a video producer based in Atlanta USA (see his video channel here) has one of his own that he uses to create amazing camera shots.

These drones can be programmed to follow GPS co-ordinates, and one smart guy has programmed his drone to take his dog for a walk around the neighbourhood. Here’s the video:

Dogs and drones

What would you use a drone at home for?

Sharing Your Secrets: What Elon Musk’s latest move at Tesla means for you

Posted on: June 13th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I’ll admit it: I have a huge man-crush on Elon Musk. I like everything this guy does. From his passion for space exploration and madcap vision of a one way trip to Mars, to his recent announcements about building both flying and submerisble cars, Elon is the very eptimony of a swashbuckling hero for the modern age. He’s also a South African – land of my birth too. Yet, in between the media hyped pronouncements there is some serious thought going on about the future shape of the world. Every industry he touches he also changes.

Yesterday, Elon’s electric sports car company, Tesla, announced that it will release all its patents to the world for free. Now anyone can build an electric car like they have.

There is some sanity behind this madness. In order for Tesla to grow now it really does need an entire electric car around it. Elon has seen that instead of protecting the slice of the pie he currently has (which is quite big), it’s going to be better for him to build a bigger pie. I think he’s spot on. Too many businesses spend too much time and effort protecting their piece of a pie, rather than building the pie. Lesson #1 right there.

But the bigger lesson, and the more important issue for everyone else is that Elon and Tesla understand that we’re increasingly living in a world where information is no longer power and everyone will know everything anyway. Many industries are currently built on what I call “knowledge arbitrage”: you and your company know things that other people (very often including your customers) don’t. By 2020, this will not be true. Good examples include investment banking, financial planners, pharmaceuticals and law firms.

What would your industry look like if everyone knew everything that everybody else did? What would your business model look like if it could not be based on having a corner on a set of information no-one else has? How would you add value to your clients if they already know everything you know? You may not need the answer to these questions this year, but you will need them by 2020. So you might as well start now.

Elon Musk is already one step ahead of you.

A Miracle at the World Cup – and a vision of the future

Posted on: June 12th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

At tonight’s Football World Cup opening ceremony a minor miracle will occur when the opening game between Brazil and Croatia is started by a young man kicking a football. It doesn’t sound miraculous until you hear that this young teenager is actually a paraplegic who has never walked.

This feat will be made possible by a custom built robotic exoskeleton that will allow this young boy to stand upright and walk. The motion will be controlled by sensors linked to his brain, and held in place by a 3d printed helmet that is fit especially to his head.

This specific technology is being pioneered by Duke University’s “Walk Again” project. What a remarkable world we live in that paralysed people may soon walk again, the blind might soon see and the deaf are already beginning to hear again. This is all thanks to remarkable advances linked to robotics and the internet of things. We’re going to see this sort of thing over and over again in the next few years as companies like Google and Apple turn their attentions on the medical and robotics industries. Be ready for miracles!

Read more in this Washington Post article or watch the Duke University YouTube video below.

Update: It did happen during the opening ceremony: here’s the story.

Walk Again

Keeping Generations @ Work

Posted on: June 9th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Understanding and connecting with people older and younger than yourself

Happy PeopleWe don’t all see the world in the same ways. In today’s world, we’re confronted all the time by diverse ways of thinking and acting. To be successful in engaging with other people, and to improve our ability to communicate effectively, to engage other people, to sell to them, manage them, influence them and connect with them, we need to develop an understanding of how other people see the world. This is influenced by many factors, including gender, personality, culture, religion and education.

One factor that is often overlooked is the influence of someone’s age – or more accurately, the influence of the era in which someone’s value systems were shaped and formed as a young person. This is what generational theory focuses on. It provides fascinating insights into what makes other people tick, and offers practical implications for the way in which we connect with them.

From a business perspective, by understanding the impact of different generations, inside and outside your organisation you can improve customer relationships, communications, team dynamics, recruitment, leadership effectiveness and the productivity and interactions of your teams. We need to understand what shaped and formed Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Y, and why younger and older people – staff, customers, family and friends – have such different expectations and approaches to life, leadership, work and relationships. Our ability to connect with others lies not in more techniques or cuter strategies, but rather in understanding that a radical value system shift is currently taking place in society. This shift is best explained by generational theory.

What are ‘Generations’?

Generational theory is another tool in the segmentation or profiling toolbox. Simply stated, it shows that the era in which a person was born affects the development of their view of the world. Our value systems are shaped in the first two decades of our lives, by our families, our friends, our communities, significant events and the general era in which we are born. In the past century, global forces were at work like never before, and therefore many people throughout the world have had similar experiences or have had to face similar situations at the same time. And since we live in a globalised world, with similar influences at play in different countries at the same time, people of the same age are likely to have similar value systems, regardless of their country or community of birth.

For example, from the late 1960s to the end of the 1980s, the world was in chaos. Everywhere. And then came a major tipping point. In 1989, Gorbachev came to power in Russia and announced perestroika and banned the communist party. In South Africa, de Klerk came to power and announced the ending of apartheid, the release of Mandela (he was eventually released in February 1990) and unbanned the communist party. In Romania, in 1989, the dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu was overthrown and Eastern Europe began to open up. In Germany, students punched the air with the global clenched fist “power salute” as they danced on the Berlin Wall and smashed it to pieces. In China, students did the same on Tiananmen Square, as tanks rolled over them. And America invaded Panama in one of their early “pre-emptive strikes”. All this in 1989 – a tipping point in recent global history. The generation of children born during the 1970s and 80s – the decades that led up to these tectonic shifts in global power – were greatly affected, developing an air of scepticism about adult control of the world, a sense of impermanence and a pragmatic view of power and power structures. These are the so-called “Generation Xers”, who are currently entering midlife, and starting to have an impact as decision makers in the workplace.

Using generational theory, we can predict how these younger generations will grow up. We can look back at the way in which older, and still living generations have grown up and what they are like today, based on the influences they experienced in their youth. We can then postulate about the different influences on today’s young people, and how they might be affected as they grow up through the predictable lifestages every generation must go through.

Strauss and Howe, the current generation gurus, summarise it this way on their ‘Fourth Turning’ website: “History creates generations, and generations create history. The cycle draws forward energy from each generation’s need to redefine the social role of each new phase of life it enters. And it draws circular energy from each generation’s tendency to fill perceived gaps and to correct (indeed, overcorrect) the excesses of its elders.”

Studying the Generations

Generational theory has been around for many centuries[i], but was popularised in its current form by Neil Howe and William Strauss in the early 1990s[ii]. The theory of generations is a sociological and anthropological model. As such, it deals in generalisations, not specifics. Over-generalisations that are nevertheless filled with truth, and provide a helpful starting point for discussions and understanding.

While generations have existed since recorded humanity, the differences between them, because of the slow pace of life, have not been as dramatic and as overt as they are now. It was the advent of the Industrial era with its factories and production lines, which impacted massively on the pace of life. In the 20th century, further Industrialisation, a shift to an information economy, and the present transition to a connection economy, have continued to create change. Rapid advances in technology and media combined with changing social mores have given each generation in the last century its own, unique, set of experiences and values. As time, and events, began accelerating, the concept of generational identity has become more important to describe each new generation.

Defining the Generations

To understand and successfully interact with people from different generations it’s important to be familiar with what makes them tick.

Silent Generation (born 1920s – 1940s)

While not the oldest living generation, this is the oldest that still exerts economic influence on the world of work. They were influenced in their youth by the Great Depression and World War II. They are conservative, hard-working and structured, preferring rules, order and formal hierarchies. They have a “waste not, want not” mentality, and hate getting into debt. Their idea of progress is slow, incremental advancement, while minimising risk.

Defining and guiding values:

  • Dedication
  • Duty before pleasure
  • Adherence to rules
  • Hard work
  • Law and order
  • Respect for position
  • Cautious
  • Self sufficient
  • Delayed reward
  • Sacrifice
  • Conformity
  • Modesty
  • Patience
  • Reticent to express emotion
  • Waste not want not

Baby Boomers (1940s – 1960s)

Baby Boomers are the postwar generation, the drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll set who grew up during a time of grand visions. The idealistic visions of politicians and those fighting for freedom, or of those putting a man on the moon, all served to energise a generation of young people, who were simultaneously being culturally and socially revolutionised. They initiated anti-Vietnam rallies, and were the young people on the streets on June 16, 1976, in South Africa or of Portugal in the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974. Boomers are passionately concerned about participation in the workplace, motivated by vision, mission and strategy, and care about creating a fair and level playing field for all. They love conspicuous consumption and have created more wealth (and accumulated more debt) than any other generation, ever.

Defining and guiding values:

  • Idealism
  • Image
  • Optimism
  • Team orientation
  • Personal growth
  • Personal gratification
  • Group together by similarity of belief
  • Self-expressive
  • Media savvy
  • Excellence
  • Big talkers
  • Youth
  • Work
  • Involvement
  • Health
  • Nostalgia

Xers (mid 1960s – late 1980s)

Generation Xers grew up as “latchkey kids”, children of divorce, experiencing an era of crises – from Watergate and June 16, 1976, to the energy crisis and the collapse of communism, it was clear the adults didn’t know what was going on. Today, they need options and flexibility; they dislike close supervision, preferring freedom and an outputs-driven workplace. They love change so much they actually need it – as long as they’re in control of it. Xers strive for balance in their lives – they work to have a life; they don’t live to work.

Defining and guiding values:

  • Change
  • Choice
  • Global awareness
  • Techno-literacy
  • Individualism
  • Lifelong learning
  • Immediate gratification
  • Diversity
  • Survivors
  • Informality
  • Whiners
  • Thrill seekers
  • “Experiencers”
  • Pragmatism
  • Not scared of failure
  • Self-reliance

Generation Y / Millennials (1989 – 2008)

Gen Y’s earliest years are characterised by massive social and political change all around the world. Starting in 1989 and extending into the 1990s, communism collapsed, once-closed countries began to open up, and a new era of technology dawned with the birth of the world wide web and mobile phones. These young people are living in an age of unprecedented diversity and exposure to other cultures. They are growing up quickly, too quickly, some would say. They’re confident, and want to change the world.

Defining and guiding values:

  • Optimism
  • Confidence
  • High self-esteem
  • Media & entertainment overloaded
  • Street smart
  • Diversity
  • Conservative
  • Networkers
  • Civic duty
  • Ethical consumption
  • Achievement
  • Morality
  • Naiveté
  • Change
  • Techno-savvy
  • Global citizens, with a multi-everything view

iFacebook Generation (2008 – present)

Still children now, the main indicators as to how this generation will develop are technology and the parenting style of its largely Generation X parents. The iFacebook Generation is the first generation to be born fully into the digital age, with no memory of a pre-internet world. They assume “connectedness” and have access to a vast reserve of information, meaning they can easily indulge their interests and passions from an early age. In many ways they are indulged as children, with small families, ‘helicopter’ parents managing their every move and a very structured life. But unlike the laissez-fair style of the Boomers, Generation X parents tend to hark back to some more ‘traditional’ values such as hard work, manners, responsibility and strength in adversity.

The generation cycle suggests that the iFacebook Generation may grow up with a similar set of values to their Silent grand (or great-grand) parents, but with a 21st century digital twist.

Why this is important

The challenge for leaders comes from a clash of the generations: a collision of values, expectations, ambitions and attitudes. In addition, the human factor is increasingly important for maintaining a competitive advantage in business.

In virtually every industry, the competitors are becoming indistinguishable on the basis of product or service. What a company sells is becoming less and less of a competitive advantage. Competing companies offer the same stuff at about the same price and quality, to the same people, delivering through similar channels and advertising in the same media using similar techniques. And they even swap staff every few years. Innovation is not the competitive edge it used to be either. Even if one company comes up with the industry’s “next big thing”, their competitors will copy it within a matter of days (without the R&D costs).

Competitive advantage is therefore less and less about what a company sells, and more and more about who a company is, and how it sells. In this environment, talent is the primary commodity, and the ability to attract, retain, nurture and motivate talented staff is a critical success factor for any company in any industry. It is vital to create an “internal environment that allows people to individually and collectively create far more value than they could if they were employed elsewhere.”[iii] Generational theory provides a powerful framework for creating such an environment, where multiple generations interact effectively.

Generations @ Work

There have been massive changes from the Industrial era, Silent generation, “Organisation Man” to the Connection economy, Xer, “Bright Young Things”. The former went off to work, dressed in his suit and tie, and the correct, conventional attitude to his lifelong job, from which he retired at age 65. The latter, a “whatever”, techno-brilliant Xer, carries her business in her laptop, works in jeans at coffee bars and feels little loyalty for companies that tossed her loyal Boomer parents on to the scrap heap during the last economic downturn.

Loyalty

The change in the contract between company and employee is the biggest generational shift of all in the workplace. The old contract was simple: an employee came into an organisation and accepted the values of the company, bought into the vision and mission, and sold the company’s products to the company’s customers, using the company’s systems, vocabulary, methods and processes. In other words, they made themselves virtually unmarketable anywhere else, which wasn’t a problem since the company offered employment as long as they wanted it. The employees paid their dues, working like slaves for a few years in order to be fast tracked up the company structures. In return, the company guaranteed that there would be a management position available a few years from now.

But how many companies can offer such security these days? Even if they did, would we believe them? If companies cannot offer security, why are they still asking for loyalty? If they cannot long-term commitment, why are they still asking for it? Many companies have just given up. Yet, loyalty is still available – it must just be purchased with a different currency. That currency includes helping employees (and even customers) develop generic skills and remain marketable, creating an environment that values fun, flexibility and freedom, and giving them constant, timely, honest feedback on everything they do.

The scary truth is that the more marketable and mobile your best employees feel, the more likely they are to stay with you. You have to help them develop skills beyond their current job functions and ensure they’re continually developing in new ways. They need constant change – even chaotic change – and value being given options.

Flexibility

Generation Xers and Ys value flexibility highly. They’re asking questions like, “If I answer emails on a Saturday night, can I watch movies on a Tuesday morning?” and “If I take my work home, can I bring my family to the office?” We’ve known about telecommuting, virtual offices, remote management, flexi-time and “hot desking” for many years now. This generation of young employees is just going to make sure we do something about it. And as customers, they’re demanding more flexibility, too. No longer will they accept the excuse from your front line staff that “the system won’t allow it”. They know that all systems can be changed (and overridden) and they will continue to demand “mass customisation” from the companies with whom they interact.

Personal Lives at Work

Today’s young workers don’t understand why they must “leave their personal lives at home”. They need a workplace that will allow them to make personal phone calls, send personal emails, and be flexible enough to let them take care of personal issues that must be dealt with during office hours. They would also be very attracted to workplaces that offered amenities like gyms, “chill out” spaces, crèches and daycare centres and areas for entertainment (we know of a call centre that built a skate park in the carpark for their employees, for example).

Accountability

Don’t misunderstand this list. Generation Xers and Ys understand that all these things come at a price. “With great power comes great responsibility”. They’re aware that with responsibility comes accountability. In fact, they expect to be held accountable for what they do – even brutally accountable. Any environment that allows too much slack (as opposed to flexibility and freedom) is one that they will want to leave quite quickly. They’re prepared to put in serious effort, as long as they know they’ll be rewarded and recognised for it. But if the environment encourages (and even inadvertently rewards) loafing, then that is what you will get.

The easiest way to kill an Xer is to micromanage her. Xers like to be told what must be done, and then left alone to do it. In fact, at the heart of this desire is an understanding that people should be paid for their outputs, not their inputs. No longer should people be paid for just arriving at work. We need to transition to a world where people are rewarded for the quality and speed of their outputs. Generation Xers are ready for that world – and are starting to demand it, as employees and as customers.

What next?

Unfortunately, there are no quick fix answers, no “one size fits all” solutions, and simply making a few tweaks to your HR policy won’t work. To adjust to a new generation in a new century requires a change of attitude, a mindset shift, and systemic changes in organisational structures. The good news is that it isn’t as hard to do as you think. And if you do make the shift, you’ll open yourself up to such a leap forward in competitive advantage that the pain will be well worth it.

The key is the people. Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, said when he took the job that “HR is not on the agenda. HR is the agenda.”[iv] “Our people are our most important asset” needs to come out of the chairman’s report in the annual financial statements, and become a reality in the world we live in. You can’t afford to lose another “bright young thing”. You need to start bridging the gaps today.


 

[i]  In recent times, Morris Massey was a legend in academic circles in the early 1970s for identifying the arriving Boomers in his lecture tour, Who You Are Is What You Were When. Margaret Mead before him identified generation development in Polynesian islanders. The primary European contributors to generation theory in the twentieth century have been José Ortega y Gasset, Karl Mannheim, Julius Peterson, Willhelm Pinder and Julían Marías. John Zimmerman offers a summary of their contributions in “Leadership Across the Gaps Between Generations” In Crux (Vol. 31, No. 2, June 1995. pg. 42-54). But the concept is even older than this. Historically, other philosophers who have attempted to describe the theory include Auguste Comte, Maximilien Littré, John Stuart Mill, Gustav Rümelin, Ottokar Lorenz, Wilhelm Dilthey and Emile Durkheim. A fourteenth century Bedouin, Ibn Khaldun, was the first philosopher to describe a four-generation cycle in detail (see Marías, Julían (1970), Generations: A Historical Method. Trans. Harold Raley. Alabama: Alabama University Press, pg. 198-207). Greek historian, Cicero, Greek writers, Heraclitus and Homer, Chinese philosopher, Lin Yü-t’ang, and the writers of the Old Testament (especially the book of Judges), show that this cyclical nature of history and generational development has not just been recently noticed.

[ii]  Their first book was Generations (1991, New York, William Morrow), followed by a more accessible version which became a best seller, The Fourth Turning (1997, New York, Broadway Books), and a website, http://www.fourthturning.com.

[iii]  Goshal, S and Bartlett, C (1997). The Individualized Corporation. London, Random House. p176.

[iv]  Reported in Harvard Business Review, Leadership Special Edition, August 2003.

Smaller difference and different reasons for buying

Posted on: May 30th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

One of TomorrowToday’s best associates is Markus Kramer. Until recently, Markus was Global Head of Branding at Aston Martin and before that worked for other luxury brands, including Harley Davidson. He is a true world expert on luxury brands, and the lessons all industries can learn from how luxury brands operate. You can see Markus’ profile here.

One of the sessions Markus delivers is on these lessons from luxury branding. It’s a powerful insight into how any brand can use some of these techniques. In his daily blog today, Seth Godin wrote eloquently on why this is becoming more and more important in a world where differentiation is becoming harder and harder.

All good and thought provoking stuff. If you’d like Markus to come and speak to your team about this, please contact us for more information.

Small differences, looming large

As we get more technologically advanced, more civilized and more refined, differences get smaller.

The Nikon SLR was in a different universe than the Instamatic. Just about anyone could instantly see the differences between pictures taken with these cameras. Taking pictures for online use with the Sony RX1 and the 80% less Canon pocket camera–not so much.

The rough peasant wine available on your table at a local restaurant was a totally different experience than a vintage Burgundy. Thirty years after that vacation, it’s pretty tough (in a blind tasting) to tell the difference between a bottle that costs ten dollars at the local store and one that costs $200…

The speed difference between a Mac IIfx and a Commodore 64 was no contest. One was for professionals, one was a game for kids. Today, there’s no dramatic functional difference for most users between the speed of the cheap Android tablet and the Mac Pro.

But of course, for those that care, the difference matters more than ever. For those that care, the premium available to be paid for a better camera, wine or computer is actually far greater than it ever was before.

As the differences get smaller, the purely functional reasons for premium goods fade away, and instead they are purchased for the reason we’ve always purchased luxury goods: because of how they make us feel, not because of what they actually do. The fur coat is not warmer than the down jacket, it’s merely harder to acquire.

Source: Seth Godin

See Markus’ speaker page at: Markus Kramer.

Banks, small businesses and paying for what you don’t use

Posted on: May 29th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Earlier this week, I received a message from our business bankers in South Africa, informing me that they would be charging us for all credit facilities that we were not using. This baffled me. Then it irritated me. So, I decided to do something about. I started with social media, which was picked up by radio and print journalists, and has ultimately led to the Head of Commercial Banking at the bank contacting me directly. The story is still playing out, but this morning I was featured on the main page of BizNews, published by Alec Hogg. They could only put an edited version of my actual contribution on their site, so here is the full thing – including the advice I gave the banks.

Foot-shooting Standard Bank introduces 1.2% fee for unutilised overdrafts

Standard Bank’s current advertising campaign asks: “When last did you feel this excited about banking?” The honest answer is: before I became a small business owner. But actually, honestly: probably never. Certainly not when they treat business people like they have this week. Maybe their advert is directed at their shareholders, and not their customers.

On Tuesday, as business people around South Africa had to deal with the news that the economy had contracted by 0.6% in the first quarter of this year, those that have business banking facilities with Standard Bank also received an sms informing them that the bank would now be charging “a fee of 1.2% on all unutilised overdraft facilities”. No further information was given, except to phone the business banking call centre if one had queries.

Those customers who did phone encountered bemused and clueless call centre operators who took a few minutes even to confirm the information with their supervisors. Apparently, no-one in the business banking decision making department had thought to tell anyone else in the business banking division about this interesting new approach to charging customers for services they did not need to use.

Standard Bank then started pointing their clients to a website (http://bit.ly/1kbUFfs is the actual link they’ve been sending out) which explains that due to “the new Basel rules, banks are required to raise the quality and quantity of the regulatory capital base.”

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Surprising ideas about the future from TED2014 speakers

Posted on: May 24th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

At TED2014, the speakers and attendees were asked to think about the conference’s theme, “The Next Chapter” and then suggest what might radically change society, life, technology and the world in the next 30 years. Their insights may surprise you.

“One of the things about learning how to read — we have been doing a lot of consuming of information through our eyes and so on — that may be a very inefficient channel. So my prediction is that we’re going to ingest information. You’re going to swallow a pill and know English. You’re going to swallow a pill and know Shakespeare. The way to do it is through the bloodstream; once it’s in your bloodstream, it basically goes through and gets into the brain and when it knows it’s in the brain it deposits the information in the right places. I’ve been hanging around with Ed Boyden and Hugh Herr and a number of people… This isn’t far-fetched.”
Nicholas Negroponte, founder, MIT Media Lab

“I hope it will be a rejection of technology that makes us more isolated from one another and more easily surveilled. I also hope we will have a sudden, dawning realization that we forgot to read books for a while and came to regret it.”
Laurel Braitman, writer, TED Fellow

“20 years from now, we’ll have nanobots — another exponential trend is the shrinking of technology — that go into our brain through the capillaries and basically connect our synthetic neocortex and the cloud, providing an extension of our neocortex. Now today, you have a computer in your phone, but if you need 10,000 computers for a few seconds to do a complex search, you can access that for a second or two in the cloud. In the 2030s you’ll be able to connect to that directly from your brain. I’m walking along, there’s Chris Anderson, he’s coming my way, I’d better think of something clever to say. I’ve got three seconds — my 300 million modules in my neocortex won’t cut it — I need a billion more. I’ll be able to access that in the cloud. Our thinking then will be a hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking.”
Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist, CEO, KurzweilAI

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What’s Your First Impression?

Posted on: May 22nd, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Its an old adage: You only get one chance to make a first impression. In the 21st century world, where your company’s reputation is fragile and customers fickle, you need to do everything you can do to create the best possible experience for your customers and potential clients. These customers will often make purchase decisions based on their first impressions of your business. And you may not have considered where that first impression happens.

It struck me recently as I collected yet another rental car for yet another business meeting in another city. I may not be in the market for one of the small, entry-level run-around cars I usually rent, but in a few years, my eldest daughter will be asking for a car. I won’t need to go and do test drives. I have driven nearly every one of the cars I’d consider buying for her, and know exactly which ones are good and which ones are not. And yet, not one car company seems to do any advertising or value add to people like me, who rent their cars from rental car companies. What a wasted opportunity. It’s too late to try and advertise to me later – the first impression was made through a rental experience that they did nothing to enhance.

What first impressions does YOUR company make, that you might not be considering?

There are three first impressions your company may not be taking as seriously as you should:

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[Video] Behaviours and values are generational

Posted on: May 16th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Later today I am involved in an event where a number of young people are competing for a public speaking prize. I’ve been asked to do my talk on different generations, “Mind the Gap” as a ‘warm up act’ for this event. It’s one of my favourite topics, and still the talk I enjoy the most.

The heart of the message is simple: the era you were born in shaped you as much as other factors (like religion, culture, gender and personality). And the era that shaped you defines your generation as well. People roughly your age share a similar worldview to you. That’s why today’s young people feel so different from us who are a bit older.

People older and younger than you see the world in very different ways, and have different expectations of work, life and the world. By understanding the impact of different generations, inside and outside your organisation, you can improve sales, customer relationships, the productivity and interactions of your teams, and any other issue that depends on getting the most out of other people. And you can improve the interactions between young and old.

Here’s a video I recorded late last year that introduces these concepts just a bit more:

For more information, see TomorrowToday’s website on “Mind the Gap”.

What Graeme is currently reading

Posted on: May 8th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

What Graeme is currently reading

flashforesightI am currently skim reading a few books on future trends and how we can do better at predicting them.  On my shelf as I dip in and out of them are:
Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise: The art and science of prediction (2012: always worth going back to)
Thierry Malleret, Six Global Megatrends and how to make them work for you (2013)
George Day, Periperhal Vision: Detecting the weak signals that will make or break your company: Seven steps to seeing business opportunities sooner (2006)

The one that has captured me most, though is: “Flash Foresight: See the Invisible to Do the Impossible” by Daniel Burrus (2011).

The blurb of the book promises the following: Flash Foresight offers seven radical principles you need to transform your business today. From internationally renowned technology forecaster Daniel Burrus—a leading consultant to Google, Proctor & Gamble, IBM, and many other Fortune 500 firms—with John David Mann, co-author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller The Go-Giver, comes this systematic, easy-to-implement method for identifying new business opportunities and solving difficult problems in the twenty-first century marketplace.

Actually, the book really focuses on just one principle:  Go opposite.  “The reason this principle works is as simple as the principle itself: when you look in the opposite direction from where everyone else is looking, you see things nobody else is seeing. It opens up hidden opportunities, unnoticed resources, and overlooked possibilities, acting as a spark that ignites a flash foresight. Practicing go opposite lets you see things that up until that moment were invisible—and therefore impossible—to almost everyone…. The more you look, the more you see. The question is, where are you looking? The key to the power of go opposite is that it puts you looking where no one else is looking. Do that long enough, and you’ll start seeing what no one else is seeing—which will give you the ability to do what no one else is doing.”

The seven principles of the book, that all add up to going opposite are:

  1. Start with certainty (use hard trends to see what’s coming).
  2. Anticipate (base your strategies on what you know about the future).
  3. Transform (use technology-driven change to your advantage).
  4. Take your biggest problem and skip it (it’s not the real problem anyway).
  5. Go opposite (look where no one else is looking to see what no one else is seeing and do what no one else is doing).
  6. Redefine and reinvent (identify and leverage your uniqueness in new and powerful ways).
  7. Direct your future (or someone else will direct it for you).

You can purchase the book here

Making Your Life Just a Little Easier (what we do at TomorrowToday)

Posted on: May 6th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

zeropoint

“So, you’re like ‘Step Zero’ then, are you?”  We were doing some work a few years ago with the consulting arm of one of the Big Four accounting firms, and one of their team was trying to find a way to position our involvement with a particularly detail oriented client.  “Step zero” in their strategic consulting processes was the best description they could find.  I was recently reminded of this characterisation of our value proposition as I ran a workshop for a group of young graduate engineers, and was showing them some of our strategic insights team’s latest views on the disruptive forces shaping the world right now.

During the Q&A session afterwards, one of the graduates asked me about my job title and exactly how what category of work my job fit into – he was battling to understand our work, I think; or maybe he was hoping to work out how he could develop his career path towards what I do for a living.  Whatever the reason for the question, it was a good question because very few corporates have a department for the work that our team at TomorrowToday does.

We could be called “futurists” – but we don’t really make that many predictions.  We focus on tracking disruptive change that is actually already happening, and showing our clients how deep structural change in other industries or geographies may come soon to their marketplace.  Our research team provides us with a constant stream of case studies and examples that show how – and why – the world is changing around us.  But we steer clear of wild predictions and speculation.

We could be called “consultants”, because we do provide board advisory services and help many of our clients to plot a path to a new future.  But we’re not really consultants.  We believe that our clients are clever people, and that we can never know their businesses and industries as well as they do.  We’re skeptical of the “black box” type consultants that come in and try and tell their clients what to do.

We are often called “motivational speakers”.  We do hope that our presentations and workshops inspire and motivate behaviour change – and there’s plenty of evidence that they do – but we really don’t like to be put into this category.  We happen to spend a lot of our time speaking and presenting workshops, but our goal is not to give people a nice time, make them laugh or provide a short-term motivational boost for the audience.  We pride ourselves in deep insights, well presented.  But the outcome is not “motivation”.  The outcomes we aim for are understanding of the world around us, confidence in anticipating change, an ability to see the world differently and a desire to move their organisation and teams forward.

So, when I was asked where we fitted into corporate structures, my best answer was to recall that conversation from a few years ago.  We are indeed best at being “step zero” in our clients’ strategy processes.  When the senior leaders of an organisation become aware that success in their industry will increasingly rely on doing things that they have not done before, innovating and disrupting their industries, they begin by attempting to create a new strategic vision for their organisations.  That’s step one.  From there they move to what, where, who and how in developing both strategy and tactics.  But for this new strategic approach to work for them, they need as many of their team as possible to understand WHY change is needed.  This is “step zero”, and it is what we do.

In that way, we help our clients to make their lives just a little bit easier.  Too often, the work of getting the whole team pointed in a new direction is avoided or ignored.

Our insights into the changing world of work, packaged in easily accessible presentations and workshops, and laced with a gently rebuking humour, help our clients to develop a shared vocabulary of change and the disruptions that they’re facing.  We work hard to help them to see “tomorrow’s world today”, and to know how they need to think and act differently in the future.  Some of our best work has been done with senior leadership teams who have become concerned that the senior managers and people within their organisations need to lift their eyes above their day to day activities and see the compelling need for change.

If you’d like to know more about what our team does, or how we can help to make your life just a little bit easier, please contact us.

Excuses for Complacency

Posted on: April 11th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It’s no secret that we at TomorrowToday are fans of Seth Godin, the author and business thinker. We often share his daily blogs internally and discuss them – they’re inspirational and insightful.

Here’s one from a while ago that made me think. One of the biggest issues our clients face is the mismatch between the expectations and experiences of senior leaders and the top executive. Middle to senior management often complain that they don’t have the authority to deliver on the responsibilities they have been given. When they come on courses our team runs, they complain about how the executive leadership of their companies are inflexible, detached and unsupportive. But when we speak to the senior executives of those companies, they complain that middle and senior management don’t take initiative, are too passive and are stuck in unproductive patterns of work. This is a strange anomaly.

I think what Seth says here offers part of a solution. For both management and executive leadership.

Authority as an excuse for complacency

“I thought you knew what you were doing…”

One of the principles of being on the bus, in the class or in your seat is that you are along for the ride. The teacher/boss/driver knows what he’s doing, just shut up and sit still.

Apparently, we have come to embrace this. It’s safer, and easier too. With this worldview, all blame clearly goes to the people in charge, and powerlessness is a seductive habit.

What a shame.

In an industrial setting, giving up our independence in exchange for eager compliance can lead to productivity and thus success. As that age fades, though, our habit of surrender might not pay off.

The internet is an organizing tool, a connection to billions of others. We’ve been given a keyboard and a megaphone, a way to change the story or the election or the policy. The authority that comes from asset ownership or experience is worth less than ever before, but we are often eager to defer to it, even when we know that the authority is wrong.

No one can force you to stand up, speak up and make a difference. But if you back off and play along, please understand that whatever happens happened, at least in part, because you acquiesced.

Source: Seth Godin

Authority gavel

Three ways to deal with failure, by Seth Godin

Posted on: April 10th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Seth Godin is one of my favourite authors and business thinkers. I find his daily blog inspirational and insightful.

Here’s one from a while ago that has really stuck with me. I think Seth is spot on with this insight, and it could really help you to deal with failure and think about your corporate culture.

Accuracy, resilience and denial


… three ways to deal with the future.

Accuracy is the most rewarding way to deal with what will happen tomorrow–if you predict correctly. Accuracy rewards those that put all their bets on one possible outcome. The thing is, accuracy requires either a significant investment of time and money, or inside information (or luck, but that’s a different game entirely). Without a reason to believe that you’ve got better information than everyone else, it’s hard to see how you can be confident that this is a smart bet.

Resilience is the best strategy for those realistic enough to admit that they can’t predict the future with more accuracy than others. Resilience isn’t a bet on one outcome, instead, it’s an investment across a range of possible outcomes, a way to ensure that regardless of what actually occurs (within the range), you’ll do fine.

And denial, of course, is the strategy of assuming that the future will be just like today.

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Africa's new number one economy

Posted on: April 8th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

Six of the world’s top ten fastest growing economies over the past decade are in sub Saharan Africa. The country of my birth and my heart, South Africa, is not one of them. This is a travesty, and a direct comment on the policies that the last ten governments or so have had. South Africa should be doing much better considering all it has going for it: an abundance of natural resources, a demographic dividend (a large population that is nevertheless fairly stable in growth with many – but not an overwhelming number of – new job entrants each year), a good mix of primary, secondary and tertiary industries, a solid currency and good investment opportunities for FDI (foreign direct investment), one of the world’s most understandable English accents and reasonable literacy, and the continent’s best tax base. The scandal of the current ANC government is how South Africa’s growth rate is about half of the region’s.

Under apartheid, economic growth was stifled because the Afrikaner-led governments only really cared about enriching a small fraction of society (white Afrikaners). Under the early ANC government, the economy was released and government became an employer of note, but the social and developmental lag meant that productivity became a drag on the economy, and there was a tremendous backlog in education infrastructure and systems. At the same time, bad labour laws were enacted that seemingly protected workers but actually only served to stifle employment and hiring. It doesn’t help that the current ANC government seems to be focused on self-enrichment and corruption. That’s an unfair statement about many committed government ministers, but when the ANC’s National Executive Committee fail to deal decisively with obvious self-enrichment and corruption they bring this indictment on themselves, whether they were personally involved or not.

The reason for this little reflection on the sad state of South Africa’s economic development is that this past weekend, Nigera’s statisticians rebased their economy. Up until now, Nigeria has calculated the size of its economy based on 1990 prices. They updated this over the weekend and Nigeria’s economy has now overtaken South Africa as the largest in Africa. There was no trickery in this – it is something every country does periodically, and Nigeria’s rebasing has been long overdue. It is also a fair reflection of reality. Nigeria is much more populous, has lots of oil revenue and has done a better job of releasing its economy to operate in the 21st century.

Read The Economist’s brief summary and a chart of other African economies here. There’s also a good analysis from Management SA here.

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Africa’s new number one economy

Posted on: April 8th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

Six of the world’s top ten fastest growing economies over the past decade are in sub Saharan Africa. The country of my birth and my heart, South Africa, is not one of them. This is a travesty, and a direct comment on the policies that the last ten governments or so have had. South Africa should be doing much better considering all it has going for it: an abundance of natural resources, a demographic dividend (a large population that is nevertheless fairly stable in growth with many – but not an overwhelming number of – new job entrants each year), a good mix of primary, secondary and tertiary industries, a solid currency and good investment opportunities for FDI (foreign direct investment), one of the world’s most understandable English accents and reasonable literacy, and the continent’s best tax base. The scandal of the current ANC government is how South Africa’s growth rate is about half of the region’s.

Under apartheid, economic growth was stifled because the Afrikaner-led governments only really cared about enriching a small fraction of society (white Afrikaners). Under the early ANC government, the economy was released and government became an employer of note, but the social and developmental lag meant that productivity became a drag on the economy, and there was a tremendous backlog in education infrastructure and systems. At the same time, bad labour laws were enacted that seemingly protected workers but actually only served to stifle employment and hiring. It doesn’t help that the current ANC government seems to be focused on self-enrichment and corruption. That’s an unfair statement about many committed government ministers, but when the ANC’s National Executive Committee fail to deal decisively with obvious self-enrichment and corruption they bring this indictment on themselves, whether they were personally involved or not.

The reason for this little reflection on the sad state of South Africa’s economic development is that this past weekend, Nigera’s statisticians rebased their economy. Up until now, Nigeria has calculated the size of its economy based on 1990 prices. They updated this over the weekend and Nigeria’s economy has now overtaken South Africa as the largest in Africa. There was no trickery in this – it is something every country does periodically, and Nigeria’s rebasing has been long overdue. It is also a fair reflection of reality. Nigeria is much more populous, has lots of oil revenue and has done a better job of releasing its economy to operate in the 21st century.

Read The Economist’s brief summary and a chart of other African economies here. There’s also a good analysis from Management SA here.

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Apple just entered your market (Healthcare, I’m talking to you)

Posted on: April 5th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For the last few years, our team has enjoyed asking our clients a hypothetical question: “What would the impact be if Apple/Google/Facebook announced today that it was entering your market?”. To be honest, I think it should be a thought that strikes fear into all existing players in any industry. And it could be ANY industry.

A few industries have started to feel the reality of this hypothetical question. The car industry has Google’s driverless cars. The telecomms industry has Facebook’s internet connectivity drones (and Google’s blimps). The investment industry has Google’s free stock analysis. The robotics industry has literally been bought up by Google in the past twelve months. Elon Musk of Tesla is getting into transportation, space travel and free wifi for Africa.

And now Apple is making a move into healthcare.

This makes a lot of sense to us. In the world of the Internet of Things, the smart home is probably the first place we’ll see innovation and practical applications (the Nest thermostat system is just the start). But next on the list of clever things to do with a world filled with sensors, big data analysis and real-time information that will actually make a difference in our personal lives is healthcare.

the more we measure what goes into our bodies, what comes out of them, what we do to our bodies and how they respond, the better we will be able to improve our bodies’ functionality. This will improve our health and directly improve our standard of living. It’s a no-brainer. And Apple are spending significant money to start the process of owning this space.

It will start with some simple apps that get us into the habit of monitoring and managing our health. It will soon extend to monitors that are inside our bodies (there are already external wearables like fitbits, and GPS enabled apps like Nike’s Running and others). And that will all connect to a personal healthcare cloud that will provide real-time updates on what’s happening in our bodies. You can read more about what Apple is planning here. And here is another excellent analysis of the hardware they’ll probably be using to make this happen.

I think we’ll also see smart toilets quite soon. Amongst the most important health information we own is what comes out of our bodies. We literally flush this valuable information away a few times a day. Imagine a toilet that could analyse that waste before flushing it, and provide instant, valuable feedback. You’d know you need more liquids, or less protein at your next meal, or that you’re missing vital vitamins at the moment. It’s going to happen. And maybe it will just be an iToilet that does it.

A Brave New World: But what about my kids?

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by Graeme Codrington 2 Comments

The world that is emerging all around us is both exciting and scary in equal measure.  Business, download (1)political and societal leaders are working hard to understand the implications of disruptive forces and shifting market conditions.  But once we’ve put the business strategies and marketing plans to one side and caught our breath, the first question most parents (and good uncles, aunts and grandparents) ask is: what about today’s young people?

It is clear that tomorrow’s world is going to be very different from today’s.  It must be true then that the old rules for success and failure in life might not be applicable in the future as they are today.  From a career perspective, we’re already seeing this reality: average job tenure for professionals these days is down to just four years, nearly two-thirds of thirty-somethings with professional qualifications are no longer in a job directly associated with the degree they studied, and the days of “getting a good job in a big company and staying there” are well and truly over.  Some studies show that just over a quarter of the jobs available to twenty year olds today did not even exist when they were born.

And that rate of change is just speeding up.

Even Worse News

If the rate of the change is bad news, there’s even worse news from the world of work.  It has never been harder to be a young person looking for work than it is now.  Youth unemployment is at historical high levels in almost every country in the world.  This is not just for un- or under-skilled workers, but for professionals and graduates as well.  Amongst developed nations, Spain’s situation is the worst with 56% of those aged 18 to 26 not able to find jobs.  These young people have hit the streets with wave after wave of protests over the past few years.

In America and the United Kingdom, there are growing fears of a “jobless recovery”: the economy might recover, but it will do so in ways that don’t generate jobs, especially for young people.  There are a number of key structural reasons for this, including ageing Baby Boomers who are no longer retiring from the job market, automation of office jobs by increasingly intelligent computers and algorithms, and the continued automation of working spaces by robots.  This is already affecting South Africa, where more young people enter the job market every year than jobs are created.

There are many reasons, therefore, to be concerned about the future for our children.

The Right Questions

What work will today’s children be doing in the 2030s and 40s?  What careers will be available for them?  What should they be studying now?  What skills will they need?  Will there be jobs for them?

It was these questions that caught my imagination a few years ago when I collaborated with creative parenting expert, Nikki Bush, to co-author the book, “Future-Proof Your Child”.  The book is a hopeful and helpful one: there are things we can do as parents – for ourselves and our children – to be better prepared for the unpredictable future that’s coming our way.

Here are five simple suggestions.

Staying Ahead of the Game

1.  Keep yourself tech-savvy

Although it’s nice to have the kids around to sort out our technology, it can actually be counter productive to your parenting if you give up trying to keep up and just let the kids take over.  If that sounds like you, then why not get your children to teach you what they know?  Even pay them to do so, so you can be a bit more forceful about making it happen.

Whether you’re able to keep up or not, give your children every chance possible not just to keep up, but to get ahead with technology.  This doesn’t always mean just buying them the latest technology gadgets (although if you can afford it, there’s no downside to doing that).  This is about pushing them into the world of technology whenever and wherever possible.  Watch future focused TV shows with them, and discuss afterwards.  Watch the technology themes TED videos together and discuss those.  Read scientific magazines and have them lying around in your home (I’d suggest New Scientist, Wired and Popular Mechanics).  Take your children to science museums and exhibitions.  And send them on courses to get them programming (by the way, there are lots of these online, and most are for free – so all you really need to provide is some bandwidth, some guidance and some permission).

Also surprise your children with some technology wizardry of your own from time to time.  This will obviously require you to do some reading of tech magazines, watch a tech programme on TV or YouTube or gather some latest news from a technology related website (I’d suggest starting with Wired, TED or Mashable).  But, I suppose you realize that that is precisely the point I am making.  Keep up with technology.  It’s a great life skill for everyone.

2.  Stop fixating on a high school certification

Too many parents continue to measure the success of half a decade in high school by the single piece of paper their child gets at the end of it.  I realize that it is still better to get a degree than to not get a degree, and therefore entry to university is important.  But actually, getting a degree is only better than not getting a degree if the career your heart is set on requires one.  Increasingly, the best careers don’t.  And, of course, the best career for your child is the one where passion intersects with interest and ability.

Too few parents listen enough to what their children actually want and are interested in.  True, today’s young people have less clue about this than ever; but that’s even more of a reason not to just blindly push them for university entrance.

Change your target from achievement to character.  This is easier said than done.  But it is easier done than you imagine.  It is really a mindset shift for yourself, as you change your measures of success at school.  So, what should you be measuring?  I’m glad you asked…

3.  Help young people to develop the X-factors for future success

In the research we did for our book, “Future-Proof Your Child”, Nikki Bush and I discovered that childhood development experts were fairly consistent in suggesting five broad sets of skills for success in the unpredictable world of the future.  The second half of our book listed over 200 practical activities to develop these skills in primary and pre-primary children.  (We’re busy working on the book for parents of teenagers, but many of the activities would be applicable to older children too).

The five “X-factors” for future success (and their key component skills) are:

  • Breaking conventions:  Imagination and play; Creativity; Experimentation; Initiative and proactivity
  • Resilience:  Flexibility; Persistence and perseverance; Learning from failure; Self-discipline and delayed gratification; A sense of humour; Optimism; Self-confidence; Health
  • Learning: Curiosity; Hard work and focus; Information processing and filtering; Mastery of technology
  • Know yourself: Multiple intelligences; Know your strengths (and weaknesses); Future-focused; Emotional intelligence
  • Relate to others: Communication; Teamwork and collaboration; Comfort with diversity; Marketing (Brand You); Networking

These are what you should be developing, measuring and rewarding in your children.

4. Start writing their “Talent Profile” now

A Talent Profile is a document (and/or website) that provides a comprehensive insight into an individual, and attempts to link that person’s strengths and weaknesses to specific opportunities that might be available.  A talent profile differs from a CV in a number of ways:

  • It provides a lot more than factual information about a person; it provides insights into the person’s personality, character and various profiles that define and explain the person.
  • It provides more than just a list of achievements and abilities; it represents a person’s passions and dreams as well.
  • It doesn’t just aim to get a person a job; it aims to ensure that the job someone gets is the type of job they really want to get.
  • It is constantly updated, and is a living document.

Get your children to write a Talent Profile now (we suggest this can be done as young as 7 years old), and then keep it regularly updated.  Constantly add new insights to it, and encourage your children to develop self knowledge.

5.  Build Your Family Brand

Finally, I suggest you define what your family stands for.  This is about your values:  what it means to be part of your family, and how you go about making life decisions.  It’s about what your family does with its time, its resources and what contribution it makes to society.  It’s about how you behave towards each other and towards those not part of your family.  You need to have these discussions fairly regularly as a family – not just when things are not going too well for you.  Write them down, and think of it as your family brand.

Creating a brand is a continual process that needs to take place deliberately and consistently over time – by being “who you are” and by ensuring that everyone in your family buys into and supports the brand.

Tomorrow’s World Today

There are no guarantees of success.  There never were, actually, although it’s tempting to think of the past as being easier times than we have today.  We certainly do live in changing and changeable times, and if the rules for success and failure are shifting, we have to adjust our mindsets too.  Raising the next generation is about the toughest thing any of us can be asked to do at the moment.  And yet it has the potential to be the most rewarding as well.  If we keep these few simple points in mind, and put them into practice, I believe we’ll raise a world-shaping generation of confident, well-adjusted people who will be able to make sense of the turbulence we’re now feeling.  We get to choose the shape of tomorrow’s world by shaping the young people of today.  That’s got to be worth the effort.

Graeme Codrington is co-founder and international director of strategic insights firm, TomorrowToday.  He is the author of four best-selling books on generations and future trends, including the award winning “Mind the Gap” (second edition, Penguin, 2011).  Graeme is a sought after speaker, board advisor and media commentator on disruptive change, and can be contacted at graeme@tomorrowtoday.co.za

The Potential – and Problems – of Being Generation X

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Generation Xers are becoming middle aged. And some of them are not doing it in style. They’re also causing some chaos in their workplaces with their emphasis on family, flexibility and their own goals above those of their companies. In this brief video, I outline some of the potential – and problems – of being a Gen Xer:

It really IS about your people – now, more than ever!

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

People are your most important asset! You know this, because your company’s annual statements include this sentence every year. But do companies really believe this?

They’d better. Most of the efficiencies your company is hoping to achieve in the next few years can only come from one place: your people. In this video, recorded by our friends at Your Business Channel, I explain why people are so key now.

If this is true, then we need to do a better job of managing them. But there is a problem with your employees – they are soon going to be at the exit door. To keep them in your business as the economy recovers, you have to understand your employee’s world by looking at it through their eyes. This level of understanding of others is now an absolutely essential management and leadership skill:

What are your thoughts? How well does your company do in looking after its employees?

Rewriting the Rules: understanding the era we’re living in

Posted on: March 13th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

neweraIt’s easy to think that maybe all we need to do to survive this crazy world we live in is just grit our teeth a little bit longer and wait for sanity to return. The madness of the election cycle will soon be over, and a new parliament installed (you will have your own ideas about who you’d like to see there, and who you hope won’t survive the vote). The recession will soon be over too, with the dawning of a new economic upswing now appearing across the Western world. And then, so you hope, you can get back to “business as usual”.

But this is not going to happen. The signs are everywhere and they’re all pointing in one direction: we are living through one of those moments in history when all the rules for success and failure get rewritten.

About once every two centuries or so, history stops its relentless forward march, takes an abrupt turn and heads off in a new direction. This is often linked to a new technological development that changes how people live, interact and work. Think of what the world was like before the Industrial Revolution – and then after. Before and after electricity, indoor plumbing, trains and motor cars, telegraphs and telephones, and machines. These innovations all flooded into the world in a remarkable period in the latter half of the 19th century, and the world was changed forever.

We are living through one those times now. Ignited by digital technology, but fuelled by other significant megatrends such as increasing longevity, globalization, environmental and ethical issues and rapidly shifting social values, the rules for success and failure in society, industries and every organisation everywhere are being rewritten. It can be frightening and disconcerting for individuals and organisations alike. Disruptive change like this brings many threats as well as significant opportunities – but only for the brave, the bold and those willing to adjust their mindsets to a new world.

Back in December 1862, one month before finally signing the Emancipation Proclamation to free America’s slaves, President Abraham Lincoln beautifully summed up the times in which he lived in a message to Congress. The ending of slavery was but one example of the shifting times, and the changes to society’s rules for success and failure at the time. Lincoln’s words are as true and apt for us today as they were back then:

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

We too need to think anew. And act anew. And disenthrall ourselves from the dogmas of our past. Then, and only then, will we free ourselves up to accept the times in which we find ourselves, and make the kinds of decisions that will secure our futures. It’s time to rewrite the rules and embrace the new world that is emerging around us.

*  This article was first published on Foundation Family Wealth

Happy birthday World Wide Web

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It was on 12 March 1989 that a young British scientist, Tim Berners Lee, working at CERN in Switzerland sent a memo to his boss entitled “Information Management: A Proposal”. In it he proposed to develop a way to share information over a computer network. “A ‘web’ of notes with links (like references) between them is far more useful than a fixed hierarchical system”, he wrote. Read the memo here.

“Vague, but exciting”, wrote Mr Berners-Lee’s supervisor at the top of his CERN memo.

The rest is history.

He created the World Wide Web, and the HyperText Transfer Protocol that governs it.

25 years old today, then: Happy birthday, World Wide Web!

Print me a face: another mind blowing use for 3d printers

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

At TomorrowToday, we’re big fans of 3d printing technology. We’ve been speaking about it for more than 5 years now. I actually have a 3d printer at home, and as a team we write about the implications of 3d printing regularly (see a review of home 3d printing options, a video of mine in action or the latest post from my colleague, Dean van Leeuwen just a few weeks ago).

Even so, I still have the capacity to be surprised by how this technology can be used. Today, a friend sent me an article about how a man who had been involved in a bad motorcycle accident has had his face reconstructed using 3d printing technology. This includes bone, titanium implants and some soft tissue. It’s unbelievable – read the article here for more information.

3d print face

How will 3d printing impact your business? And your life?

WHERE to look to see the future

Posted on: March 4th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Our team at TomorrowToday often presents on future trends and the disruptive forces shaping the world. Our content comes from our ongoing research and analysis, backed up by a full-time research team spread across the world. It’s easy then for some participants in our sessions to think that looking at future trends and trying to work out the potential impact on their own businesses and functions is something best left to professionals with lots of spare time. Not so.

Strategic thinking needs to happen at all levels of every organisation. Here’s my colleague, Keith Coats talking briefly about just that:

There are many ways in which everyone and anyone can track trends and look at the horizon of their industry. One way is to simply make a decision about which trends to track: this fires up the recticular activating system of your brain. Now all you need to do is feed your mind with appropriate data and wait for it to do the magic of connecting the dots. But where do you find that “appropriate data”.

If we’re facing significant “novelty” as Keith suggested, then we need to spend a few minutes every day looking at the novelty in the world. Here are some suggested websites to add to your recommended regular reading list to help you do just that:

What other websites would you add to my list as essential reading about future trends for busy business people?

Crystal ball

The biggest problem in business right now? I.T.!

Posted on: March 3rd, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Over the past few weeks, in a number of workshops and interactions with clients I have become increasingly bold in my pronouncements about IT. Most companies’ information technology departments are now holding their companies back. They are protecting outdated systems and policies. They don’t have the resources to run ahead of their organisations – they’re doing all they can to hardly even keep up. Many are nothing more than techie solutions departments. And almost none have a future-focused orientation, with resources to experiment, play and discover new technology that could push their organisation forward.

Some IT departments are like this because they are lazy. It’s easier to just say “we can’t do that” than to create complexity in the system (for example, in allowing a ‘bring your own device’ policy, or in creating multiple levels of security access so that some people in the company can actually watch YouTube videos). But mainly it’s because IT departments are under resourced and have budgets that are not nearly adequate for the technology age in which we live. Who knows why companies do this to themselves right now. But then, IT departments are often complicit in these budget processes, not standing up for themselves or presenting an adequate case for what they should be doing for their businesses.

Whatever the reason, the state of IT is dire right now. And that means most companies are not living up to their potential in the digital age.

Here’s a video I recorded recently where I talk about this problem. Feel free to share this as the starting point for a conversation in your firm about the correct role of IT right now.


The madness of ‘EMEA’

Posted on: February 11th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

EMEA mapI am sitting at a conference waiting for my turn to speak. Right now, there is a financial review of the year – by a fairly engaging CFO, as it happens. But one set of charts has reiterated something I have felt for a long time. This company represents their global presence by splitting the world into a few regions: North America, Central America, South America, China, India, Asia and EMEA.

EMEA stands for Europe, Middle East and Africa. This region often includes Russia as well. Many, many companies we work with use this region.

Maybe I am just sensitive as an African, but the EMEA region definitely feels as if someone went: “Africa? Not really important enough to worry about on its own. Where can we put it? Oh well, just match it to the time zones and lump it in with Europe. Sorted.”

But how is it possible that any product or service would be delivered in the same way in Europe as it is in Africa? And the economic conditions are entirely different. Most European countries are now a few years into what is likely to be a decade or more of stagnation or low growth. Whereas six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies over the past decade are in Africa. Africa is also huge. About 1 billion people in a land mass that is the same as Western Europe, China, India and the USA combined!

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The four horsemen of mediocrity, by Seth Godin

Posted on: January 30th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Seth Godin’s blog today is superb. He is identified four key reasons that employees are disengaged, that productivity is declining or stagnant, and that companies struggle to innovate and develop.

The four horsemen of mediocrity

by Seth Godin

Deniability–“They decided, created, commanded or blocked. Not my fault.”

Helplessness–“My boss won’t let me.”

Contempt–“They don’t pay me enough to put up with the likes of these customers.”

Fear–“It’s good enough, it’s not worth the risk, people will talk, this might not work…”

The industrial age brought compliance and compliance brought fear and fear brought us mediocrity.

The good news about fear is that once you see it, feel it and dance with it, you have a huge opportunity, the chance to make it better.

Source: Seth Godin

A Crystal Ball for Business: 9 Tips for Future Success

Posted on: January 29th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

crystalballAs another year dawns and we turn our eyes to 2014, it’s still clear that we are living and working in an era of extreme uncertainty.  A global recession continues and is combining with significant disruptive forces in technology, politics, economics, corporate organisation and societal values.  In other words, we are living at a moment in history when a large number of different trends are all working together to generate more change than we’ve ever experienced before.

We cannot just continue with business as usual.  And we can’t wait for things to “go back to normal”.  It just isn’t going to happen.

An era of change such as this brings both threats and opportunities.  The threat is that as the rules of success and failure are redefined, your business fails to keep up and becomes outdated – when the rate of change outside your business exceeds the rate of change inside, you are becoming a dinosaur.  But there are opportunities too.  In order to identify these potential new business opportunities, you need to be able to see what is changing and anticipate how this will affect your industry.  A key part of ensuring your ongoing success is to better future-proof your strategy by looking in new places and directions.

A crystal ball would be useful.  But assuming you don’t have access to some supernatural knowledge, here are nine ways in which you can gain insights into the future of your industry and create tomorrow’s competitive advantage today:

Ask new questions to new people – Companies often don’t realise they are stuck in a rut.  They repeat last year’s activities, listen to the same experts, run the same focus groups and ask the same questions of the same people year after year.  Broaden your horizons and ask new questions to new groups of people inside and outside your organisation – especially the young, bright ones who find it easier to embrace change.  You might discover that there are people other than your current customers who are interested in what you do.

Data, data, data – the radical power of knowing everything – Businesses have access to more data than ever before.  Capture everything you can and use it – but with a twist. Look for new trends and the likely impact of any disruptive change by combining different data sets.  This new science of business analytics is sometimes called ‘big data’.  Understand that this is a real source of competitive advantage and insight.  You will need to employ a new type of person (“data scientists” or “data detectives”) to do this – it will be worth it.

Enjoy the discomfort (and bring ‘uncomfortable’ people into your life) – In a world dominated by disruption, you need to ensure your people are comfortable with constant change.  Changes in our working environment, increased globalisation, technology advances and changing social values are all challenging people to work differently and forcing us to change our habits. Employ people who can take you outside your comfort zone and engage with new technology and business practices to help your business transition to where you need to get to.  Don’t just look for people who are similar to your existing team – bring in a few mavericks and stretch your boundaries a bit.  Do something every day that takes you out of your comfort zone, and meet with one person every week who will do the same.

Change the physical space – Our physical environment shapes our habits, and these in turn shape our thinking. Move things and people around, and allow your people to work in different places and at different times. Sometimes change really IS as good as a holiday.  Nothing opens the mind more than travelling to different parts of this diverse planet. When you travel on holiday, do at least one activity that deliberately is aimed at chasing an insight that will help your business.

Learn to share – 83% of Generation Y (teenagers and 20-somethings) will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible and 79% want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society.  These are your future staff and customers and they are looking for you to demonstrate that you are not only making a profit but sharing the value that you generate not just in terms of cash but also knowledge, technology and people.  Future-proofing your business by ensuring you contribute to community and society is a simple, but highly effective strategy.

Watch the competition you didn’t realise was your competition – This is quite difficult to do, because you spend a lot of your time watching your own industry.  But recent history shows that in times of uncertainty and change, there is the potential for your industry to be ambushed by unexpected competitors.  There are plenty of examples of missed opportunities: Kodak spectacularly failed to see the shift to digital photography; Nokia has fallen so far so fast by missing the smartphone revolution; Sony, EMI and the other music giants failed to see Apple coming in to dominate their markets.  And I wonder if the car companies of the world realise that Google will become big competition with their driverless car?

Who could come into your market and ambush you?  Learn from them: not just the competition you know, but innovators and start-ups in other sectors.  Your future competitors may well be in a completely different industry.  They don’t pose any threat today – but who might they be?

Mind the Enemy Within – talking of the competition you don’t realise is competition, our team is convinced that the biggest issues you will face in the next few years will not be from market forces and competitors, but actually from inside your own company.  We call these the enemy within.  This has to do with your mindsets, your orthodoxies, your systems and structures that actively work against your future plans.  It’s also to do with a significant percentage of your staff that are actively disengaged from your business, some even working against you.  This is not just an HR problem.  This is key to future success.  And not many leaders are prepared to take both the time and the hard work to look inside and honestly identify the internal hurdles that need to be overcome.

Read, watch, listen – Make it a habit to expose your mind to content that doesn’t directly relate to your industry or even to business.  There are thousands of great publications, blogs and websites out there to keep you up to date with what’s coming.  Try TED videos, The Economist, Wired, Popular Mechanics, or The Futurist magazines.  Get your team to report back on what they’ve seen and how it has helped them to think differently.  There is remarkable value in looking at innovations and change in other industries and sectors – you never know when a radical idea will spark a creative thought for you.

Use stories to make sense of it all – Some of what you learn will have a huge impact on your business; some less so.  The same data can help you reach different conclusions.  Use you business knowledge to create scenarios or narratives not just facts.  How will your customers live and work in the future?  How will they commute?  How will they exchange ideas?  What will meetings look like?  Or will they work from home – in another time zone?  How will this impact your sales team?  Your customer service centre?

Build scenarios and play with new ideas in your mind.  The future is ours to both discover and create.

Our ability to see the future is not a matter of luck or fortune telling.  It’s a skill that can be developed.  And it is something that everyone in your team needs to be involved in.  Thinking about the future is no longer something for just the senior leaders to do once a year – everyone at every level of your organisation needs to be looking for the threats and opportunities that lie ahead of us in a changing world.  Only then can you really future-proof your business.

The Year of the Employee: Forbes’ predictions for 2014 talent, leadership and HR tech

Posted on: January 15th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Ian Turner, one of Duke CE’s top MD’s and leadership development programme experts gets credit for finding this interesting article and sending it on to me. There are some fascinating thoughts in Deloittes’ predictions for 2014, published in Forbes, as they suggest that this will be an important year for talent, leadership and HR.

Read the full article here.

As they point out, based on a Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends survey they’re just completing, “the top two people issues facing organizations in 2014 are leadership and retention. These are the problems we face in a dynamic, growing global economy…. This year, for the first time in more than five years, employees are in charge. Companies have reduced costs, restructured, rationalized spending, and pushed people to work harder than ever. More than 60% of organizations tell us one of their top is dealing with “the overwhelmed employee. This year the power will shift: high-performing employees will start to exert control.”

Their top ten predictions are:

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What teachers really want to tell parents

Posted on: January 14th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

As southern hemisphere schools start up a new academic year, and teachers and pupils head back to school, the single biggest complaint I hear repeatedly when speaking to teachers has to do with parents. Over the past decade or so, Generation Xers (born in the 1970s and 80s) have become parents, and they have a very different way of engaging with schools and teachers. It’s driving teachers nuts.

Here is a fantastic article from CNN on just this issue. If you’re a parent, try not to get defensive. And don’t take one incident with one bad teacher as an indication that these points are invalid. We’re not saying all teachers are perfect, of course. But I am saying that most parents could do with an attitude adjustment towards school and teachers.

You can read the full article at the CNN website here, or an extended extract below:

What teachers really want to tell parents

By Ron Clark, Special to CNN, March 14, 2013

Editor’s note: Ron Clark, author of “The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck — 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers,” has been named “American Teacher of the Year” by Disney and was Oprah Winfrey’s pick as her “Phenomenal Man.” He founded The Ron Clark Academy, which educators from around the world have visited to learn. This article’s massive social media response inspired CNN to follow up with Facebook users. Some of the best comments were featured in a gallery.

This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, “You can’t leave us,” and she quite bluntly replied, “Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can’t deal with parents anymore; they are killing us.”

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list “issues with parents” as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

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Idealising the past: Being unsocial

Posted on: January 13th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few weeks ago the following picture was doing the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, under the heading: “modern technology makes us more unsocial”:

Newspapers on train

There’s an excellent point to be made in this photo, and in the similar I found below. Older generations often idealise their past. Our memories are designed to sift out the bad and keep the good, and work in such a way that affirming and reinforcing memories are multiplied in our consciousness. This has the effect of warping our view of the past.

When it comes to technology, relationships and young people, too many older people look at the youth of today and lament loss. That might be loss of interaction, or loss of connection, or loss of relationship. They don’t see how technology might actually enhance some of these things.

For example, I am really impressed with some of what I see happening in the way young people choose whom they will date. The engage online and electronically first, interacting and chatting, and forming an intellectual connection first. Only then do they get together “in the real world” and see if there is a physical attraction. Of course, there are dangers to online dating (just as there are in the real world), but it seems a much healthier approach today than it was in my day. There are other examples.

Maybe the older generation needs to admit the idealisation of their youth, and start to look for positives in today’s technology, and in new ways of connecting and engaging. At very least, let’s stop pretending that “the good old days” were really all that great.

African businessmen on a train

A new skyline for Johannesburg

Posted on: January 13th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Late last year, a Chinese property company spent a significant amount of money to buy the remaining AECI property in Modderfontein, a massive industrial area east of Sandton and Johannesburg. It’s in the area between Marlboro (a Gautrain station) and the airport. Prime property that has always been underdeveloped because it was required as an empty blast zone radius for AECI’s explosives and chemical plant in Modderfontein. That plant is now decommissioned, and the land will be developed over the next decade into a new skyline.

The Chinese investor has said that they want to build a New York or Canary Wharf type area, filled with modern buildings and a new skyline for the city of Johannesburg. I think it’s brilliant and can’t wait to see it emerge. I am not sure when construction will begin, but when the Chinese get going they tend to move at pace. Exciting stuff.

Read the story in more detail here.

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American industries that will boom and those that are doomed in the next decade

Posted on: January 11th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Business Insider recently ran an article looking at Labor Bureau statistics and predicting which industries will experience significant decline in the next decade, and another article suggesting which industries will boom. While I don’t agree with their whole list, it makes for interesting reading. I don’t think that this list has factored in the game changing influence of fracking and shale gas, which will provide significantly cheaper, locally sourced energy for American industry and manufacturing for example. They also don’t take enough account of rapdily advancing computing power and artificial intelligence.

But I’d love to hear your views on these lists. You can read the detail and see the current declining statistics in the original article here, and the industries expected to boom here.

Business Insider introduced their “doomed” list this way:

The clock is ticking on several industries that have long been staples of the American economy.

A new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights the industries that are expected to decline the most over the next 10 years. In one of the fields, the BLS forecasts that the workforce will shrink by more than 50% between 2012 and 2022.

Manufacturers of all types will take the brunt of the hit. Industries that produce everything from computer equipment to leather products are expected to bleed positions in the coming years.

It seems that most “made in America” products will soon be relics of the past.

Then, their top ten doomed list:
10. Miscellaneous manufacturing
9. Textile mills and textile product mills
8. Hardware manufacturing
7. Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers
6. Spring and wire product manufacturing
5. Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing
4. Postal Service
3. Communications equipment manufacturing
2. Leather and allied product manufacturing
1. Apparel manufacturing

Their “boom” list was introduced this way:
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Booz & Co’s Strategy+Business Best Business Blogs of 2013

Posted on: January 10th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

The editor of Booz & Co’s Strategic+Business magazine and blog site selected his favourite business blogs of 2013. I like this list a lot – there’s some really valuable articles here. It’s an eclectic list, but well worth taking some time to read through and share with your team:

Susan Cramm: Retaining Top Talent: Yes, It Really Is All about Them
If you want to retain your high-potential employees, you have to get involved in helping them plan their careers.

Ken Favaro: Is Strategy Fixed or Variable?
Successful strategists understand that their role is to manage a process fraught with contradictions.

Sally Helgesen: The Three Habits of Highly Effective Demotivators
Surefire tips for stamping out morale and making sure you get the least out of your employees.

Nick Hodson and Thom Blischok: What if Clay Christensen Is Right about the Grocery Business (and Amazon Is Wrong)?
The disruptive influences of e-commerce may finally be setting their sights on the grocery industry.

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Driverless cars and a road revolution

Posted on: January 9th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

FastCompany recently ran an article which is one of the best analyses of the driverless car revolution that is about to take us by storm. It’s well worth reading in detail here.

As the author points out, what stands in the way of a massive revolution now is not the technology. “The issue isn’t the technology. It’s us. The winner of the race to roll out a mass-produced AV is the one who can finally convince us to take our hands off of the wheel.”

The revolution is more than just taking our hands off the wheel though. We’ve talked about this for a few years now at TomorrowToday. We’ll see much more car sharing as cars can be used while their primary owners don’t need them. We’ll see a change in how people use public transport (and this may have a knock on effect to short haul flights and trains). And the logistics/delivery industry will change beyond recognition. The insurance industry will need to adjust, as risks change. And cars themselves can also change by reducing safety features, which will reduce weight and affect fuel consumption dramatically. And, as always, there’s something in it for the lawyers – who is to blame when there is an accident?

How will this revolution affect your industry? Because I am sure it will.

Read the FastCompany article and share it with your team. Contact our team if you’d like any help in thinking through this and other disruptive change coming our way.

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Apple isn’t going away just yet

Posted on: January 8th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

The predictions of Apple’s demise have, it seems, been all too premature.

At TomorrowToday, we’re big Apple fans. Personally, I am certified Apple cult member, with a completely Apple-infested house (with everything from iPads and iPods to Apple TV and Airports). I don’t claim to be objective on this issue.

We also steer clear of short-term market trend forecasting, precisely because it is so difficult. And unless you’re the marketing and sales director of a company in that industry, it’s not really that important. Keeping “score” by trying to predict how many Apple handsets will be sold on the third Saturday after the next full moon doesn’t make much sense to me anyway. The health of companies must surely be more related to longer term trends than short term triggers?

Yesterday, however, an article on AppleInsider.com caught my eye. A year or so ago, technology analysts were falling over themselves to predict the demise of Apple. Linked, of course, to the death of Steve Jobs, they made all sorts of predictions about how Apple would lose market share, not be innovative and generally lose their way. As a vocal supporter of Apple, I disputed each of these points. There appears to be a culture at Apple that I was hoping would outlast a single person.

Some things have not been brilliant at Apple in the last year. The biggest issue for us at TomorrowToday is that the latest version of Keynote (in Mavericks OS) is a massive leap backwards for professional presenters. Key things that we need have just been taken away – the most significant is the ability to customise the presenter view screen on your laptop. Inexplicable, frustrating, and Apple are doing nothing to restore this functionality or respond to user demands. I am sure they will in time. The logic, by the way, is that they are moving all of their software to focus more on iPad functionality – but that’s a dumbing down power users can’t abide. They apparently did the same a few years ago with Final Cut Pro, and eventually rolled back all their changes after power users demanded it.

But this is a minor issue (for the company; a major one for me – I have stuck with the old version of Keynote).

As we review 2013 and the performance of the main technology companies, it appears that it is not Apple who were in danger of slipping sales, slowing innovation and sliding standards. As the article I saw says: “Google, Samsung and Microsoft were the companies in 2013 with sales problems and a lack of innovation, while Apple continued to remain the most profitable and successful in executing its strategies and the company everyone else in the industry looked to for ideas and leadership.”

Read it in full here if you’re interested. There’s important information about the fight between NFC and BLE (Apple’s choice is BLE and it’s winning); on the sizing of phones (seriously, is it the 80s all over again with the size of some Android screens being sold as phones these days?); and Google versus other search entry points.

We are not too concerned about the exact features of the 2014 smartphones or whether Apple or Samsung end this coming with a higher market cap. But we are very interested in where the innovations of the technology world are heading. Enjoy the article and the in depth analysis of who is doing what, and where it’s likely to go.

Game changing innovations: Desalinating ocean water

Posted on: January 7th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In our TIDES of Change presentation, we’ve been saying for a few years now that the company that finds a cheap and easy way to desalinate sea water will make more money than they will know what to do with. Access to usable water is one of the key issues the world faces. If you are not aware of just how little usable (fresh) water we have (it’s less than 3% of all water, and if it was gathered up into a big ball of water, its base would only just cover Manhattan; in fact, even all the ocean water is not as much as you think – the oceans are not really that deep (see the picture attached to this post).

On Christmas Day last year, it was reported that chemists from the University of Texas and the University of Marburg have devised a method of using a small electrical field that will remove the salt from seawater. The technique requires little more than a store-bought battery.

Read the report and watch the short video here.

If this is true and workable, it is a radical game changer for the world. Watch this space.

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Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Leader Should Make (HBR Blog)

Posted on: January 4th, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

As we head into a new year, an article on the Harvard Business Review blog network caught my eye. It went beyond those pithy list type emails and Facebook status updates you get at this time of year, with some real insight backed by research. The focus is on five key actions leaders can take to make a real difference in their organisations, especially with regards to talent development.

We all know how vital talent development is: finding, attracting, nurturing, developing and retaining talent are absolutely key to success in the world of work right now. More than ever before. The author of this article in HBR, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, correctly argues though that the emphasis at the moment should be on DIVERSE TALENT. A good talent pool is not enough: a good, diverse talent pool is essential. This is especially true for multinational companies. You can read her full article with all the additional research included (it’s worth well it!) at the HBR blog site here, or a summary of her five leadership actions below:

1. Be more inclusive. What does it take to consistently drive growth and innovation? The answer, according to CTI’s latest research, is a diverse workforce managed by leaders who cherish difference, embrace disruption, and foster a speak-up culture. Leaders have long recognized that an inherently diverse workforce “matches the market” and confers a competitive edge by recognizing the unmet needs of consumers and clients like themselves. But ideas from outliers too often are ignored or squelched because their originators don’t resemble the paradigms of corporate power — Caucasian, male, heterosexual, and from a similar educational and socioeconomic background. Leaders who promote a culture of diverse talent — whether in their team or throughout their organization — where everyone feels free to volunteer opinions or propose solutions that contradict convention unlock the full spectrum of innovative capacity.

2. Create pathways for sponsorship. What can help talented women, gays, and people of color spread their wings and succeed? The answer is sponsorship — a strategic workplace partnership between those with power and those with potential. Unlike mentors, who act as sympathetic sounding boards, sponsors are people in positions of power who work on their protégé’s behalf to clear obstacles, foster connections, assign higher-profile work to ease the move up the ranks, and provide aircover and support in case of stumbles. Sponsors have a significant impact on the career traction of their female and multicultural protégés: 68% of women with sponsors say they are satisfied with their rate of advancement, compared with 57% of those without sponsors; 53% of sponsored African-Americans and 55% of Asians are satisfied with their career progress, compared with, respectively, 35% and 30%. Those numbers add up to employees who are more committed, more engaged, and more likely to attract similar talent.

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The Ideas that Shaped Management in 2013

Posted on: January 3rd, 2014 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Management ThinkingAs we get the new year rolling, my eye caught an HBR article that reviewed some of the fresh management thinking from 2013 that really made an impact around the world (and in the Harvard Business Revie, of course). There are some good thoughts here that could help kick start your year and put a few good “management resolutions” on your to do list.

You can read the original article by Katherine Bell at the HBR site here (a free login might be required), or quickly scan my summary below. The HBR article provides sets of links to the articles that started – and expanded – the conversations, and is well worth spending some time on.

1. Leaning in will only get us so far. If the workplace is going to work for women — and for families — men need to change, and so do our expectations of them. Their tendency toward overconfidence is often mistaken for competence and rewarded with promotions, and their masculine identities require that they work too many hours and get too little sleep, putting extra pressure on women whose greater home- and kid-related responsibilities prevent them from competing on quantity. The good news is that millennial men are changing the way they define leadership and demanding work that fits around their families.

2. If your knowledge-based industry hasn’t been disrupted yet, get ready. …The strategy consulting industry is about to blow up the same way the legal world just did. McKinsey may have been hired in 2013 by the Vatican, the Bank of England, and the owners of the Rangers and Knicks, but they’re also acting to stave off threats to their business model. [Other industries should also expect similar disruptions, including health care, higher education, and publishing].

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The Best Inventions of 2013

Posted on: December 12th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

We are living at a truly remarkable time of history, when new technologies are making unprecedented levels of invention and innovation possible. I think history will look back on this era and remark on it being a golden age of technological advancement. So, each passing it’s probably worth pausing and trying to note what has happened in the preceding twelve months.

Here’s the best list I have found so far, from TIME magazine, of 25 wonderful inventions. But what would you add to this list?

What makes an invention great? Sometimes it solves a problem you didn’t think could be solved. Skyscrapers can’t turn invisible. Pens can’t write in midair. Paraplegics can’t walk. Except now they can. And sometimes an invention solves a problem you didn’t know you had. Maybe you didn’t realize you needed to eat a doughnut and a croissant at the same time, or resurrect an extinct frog, or turn your entire body into a living password. Now you do. Want a list of the best things that were invented in 2013? Now you have one. Just keep reading.

Here’s TIME’s list:

  • The driverless (toy) car
  • Gravity (the movie): Lightbox
  • Alcoholic coffee
  • Sony’s smart lens
  • The cronut
  • The mission R (motorcycle)
  • Plus pool
  • The Oculus Rift (3d headset for immersive gaming)
  • Edible password pill
  • Invisible skyscraper
  • 3Doodler pen
  • Volvo’s solar pavilion
  • Artificial memories
  • The Amplituhedron
  • Nest Protect Smoke Alarm
  • A New Atomic Clock
  • The GravityLight
  • SpaceShip Two
  • The Gastric-Brooding FROG (back from the dead)
  • The Atlas Robot

How to be a better leader – practical steps and exercises

Posted on: December 12th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Last month, our colleague in South Africa, Keith Coats, started a series of blog entries aimed at helping people become better leaders. He has labelled the series “how to be future fit” and is providing daily, practical tools and exercises that will help you shift towards being an adaptive leader, ready for success in turbulent times.

If you missed the start of the series, don’t worry: you can begin any time. It is designed to give you 5 to 10 minutes of reflection, some activities and a little work in order to help you develop your leadership skills. You can start now by going back to the first leadership skill and working through all the entries thus far. We recommend you pace yourself and do no more than one per day.

Use this end of year season wisely to take a step up in your leadership ability. The list of entries thus far can be found below (we will keep it updated, so this is a good index for you).

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Changing cycling forever

Posted on: December 12th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I don’t enjoy cycling, but my UK colleagues do. Dean van Leeuwen, James Dunne and Wendy Mauchline all regularly hit the roads and cycle tracks of the world in a serious way. So, when I saw this neat little video about a new invention, the Copenhagen wheel, I immediately thought of them and whether this could indeed change the world. I think it can.

It’s a snap on component for the back wheel that stores energy when you’re cycling normally, and then allows you to use this energy to help propel the bike when you need it (like when you’re going uphill). It will make cycling easier. This is not necessarily what fitness fanatics or pro cyclists need, but it could make cycling accessible to a lot more of us.

What I love about this invention is that it is simple and elegant, makes a real difference and cuts to the heart of a big issue: energy usage. We have plenty of energy in the world, but we don’t use it nearly well enough and waste a lot of it. This innovation does exactly the right thing with energy. What excites me most is the mindset behind this: how to utilise a resource we’re currently wasting, and making our lives easier and better at the same time.

I hope it succeeds.

Here’s the video:

And here’s a link to the website where I found this information.

Video: Graeme Codrington on Tomorrow’s Technologies Today

Posted on: November 26th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Graeme at AgrivisionEarlier this year, our international director, Graeme Codrington, spoke at an event called AgriVision, which focused attention on how we will feed the growing world’s population over the next few decades. Following Michael Porter on stage, Graeme’s presentation looked at the power of technology to disrupt and change the rules for success and failure in our world right now.

The full video of the presentation is now available online. It’s a 49 minute video, if you have the time. If not, we have extracted a 13 minute version which briefly overviews the five most significant forces shaping the world right now (scroll down to see this extract).

Full presentation: Tomorrow’s Technologies Today

Click here to see it on YouTube if the embedded video is not working.

Extract: The TIDES

Click here to see it on YouTube if the embedded video is not working.

What do you see in your industry? What are the key forces causing diruption right now?

Video: Graeme Codrington on Tomorrow's Technologies Today

Posted on: November 26th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Graeme at AgrivisionEarlier this year, our international director, Graeme Codrington, spoke at an event called AgriVision, which focused attention on how we will feed the growing world’s population over the next few decades. Following Michael Porter on stage, Graeme’s presentation looked at the power of technology to disrupt and change the rules for success and failure in our world right now.

The full video of the presentation is now available online. It’s a 49 minute video, if you have the time. If not, we have extracted a 13 minute version which briefly overviews the five most significant forces shaping the world right now (scroll down to see this extract).

Full presentation: Tomorrow’s Technologies Today

Click here to see it on YouTube if the embedded video is not working.

Extract: The TIDES

Click here to see it on YouTube if the embedded video is not working.

What do you see in your industry? What are the key forces causing diruption right now?

When social media turns on you (don’t blame the messenger)

Posted on: November 14th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

There will lots of chatter again about whether social media is a good thing or not after JP Morgan had to abandon a planned Twitter Q&A yesterday.

The bank had invited people to tweet questions to them using the hashtag #AskJPM. Before the official live session even began though, the hashtag was overwhelmed with both ridiculous questions and very pointed ones questioning the ethics of the banking giant. It soon became clear that the live session would be drowned out by the noise, and it was cancelled. Read the story at Huffington Post.

JP Morgan will probably be blaming social media this morning. They shouldn’t. Why blame the messenger?

Right now is a bad time to be a banker. Many, many people are still angry at how banks behave, and to be honest banks like JP Morgan have done precious little to manage their image or change their ways. If you were to give people anywhere a platform to speak to the banks, they would use it to vent and rage.

This is not a social media problem, it’s a banking problem.

Many companies don’t know how to use social media. They tend to use it more as another set of channels to just go about doing what they used to do. They don’t realise that social media is about giving people a voice, then listening to those voices and fostering community. Social media is also a fantastic way to get a sense of what people are thinking, feeling and saying – about you, your brand and your products. So, when people don’t like you, they’ll use social media to let you know. That’s not social media’s fault, though.

Don’t blame the messenger, JP Morgan. Blame yourselves.

Film director Joss Whedon on strong female leads

Posted on: October 29th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Women of marvelJoss Whedon, according to his Wikipedia entry, is an American screenwriter, film and television producer, director, comic book author, composer, and actor. He is the founder of Mutant Enemy Productions and co-founder of Bellwether Pictures. He is best known as the creator of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003), Angel (1999–2004), Firefly (2002–03), Dollhouse (2009–10) and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013–present) as well as Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008). Whedon co-wrote Toy Story (1995), wrote and directed Serenity (2005), co-wrote and produced the horror film The Cabin in the Woods (2012), and wrote and directed the film adaptation of Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), the third highest-grossing film of all time.

Joss’s TV shows and movies all have strong female lead characters (and some great male leads too). Apparently, though, whenever he does media junkets the main question asked is about the strong female leads. In this short video he explains why he writes strong female leads into his stories. It’s awesome. He just keeps raising the ante, and the ending is magnificent. Elegant, punchy and magnificent. A beautifully crafted speech, a wonderful plea for real equality, and a perfectly weighted statement about an important issue in our world today: equality.

As Joss says (6:56), “Equality is not a concept. It is not something we should be striving for. It is a necessity. Equality is like gravity: we need it to stand on this earth as men and women. And the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition – it is life out of balance… We need equality.”

Watch the video at YouTube here or below:

We need strong women leads because we need strong women. We have strong women leads in movies and TV shows because we have strong women leads in the world.

Reasons Why We Don't Need Offices

Posted on: October 23rd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I started my “proper” working career (after some military service which included being a professional musician, some student type part-time jobs and early entrepreneurial activity) at KPMG in the early 1990s. I joined the audit group, and was shown a corner of the 32nd floor of the Carlton Centre (Africa’s tallest building). But there was no desk for me. Before the term had been coined, we were hot-desking at KPMG. But mainly we were out at clients, doing audits. So we didn’t need offices. But all the partners and directors had offices (as well as designated parking bays, which us lowly clerks didn’t get at all).

As the last two decades have rolled on, it has become more and more clear that very few of us need offices. I am not just talking about moving to open plan, but about abandoning the concept of offices all together.

Office monkeysAs an aside, when I think of offices, I cannot help but think of the great movie, “Office Space” – one of my all time favourites – which was a parody of the worst of office life. And then Ricky Gervais came up with “The Office” series – a cringe-inducing look at bad managers and the effect they have on an office. Still worth watching. And although both of these are ridiculously over-the-top, they showed up some of the worst of office life and reiterated for me the pointless of the office.

An article in Forbes neatly encapsulates this thought, arguing that there are at least eight key reasons why we don’t need offices.

Read the article at Forbes’ website, or an extended extract below:

8 Indisputable Reasons Why We Don’t Need Offices

by Jacob Morgan, Forbes, 10/01/2013

Looking back a decade or so ago it was absolutely essential to have an office, or more likely, a cubicle. That’s where we had meetings, saw our coworkers, and just got work done. But today do we really need corporate offices? New technologies allow us to “connect to work,” meaning that all we need to get work done is an internet connection. Employees are working from co-working spots, cafes, and home offices all over the world without ever having to step foot into a corporate office. In fact the 2013 Regus Global Economic Indicator of 26,000 business managers across 90 countries, revealed that 48% of them are now working remotely for at least half of their work-week.

There are 8 reasons why our reliance on corporate offices is dwindling.

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Reasons Why We Don’t Need Offices

Posted on: October 23rd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I started my “proper” working career (after some military service which included being a professional musician, some student type part-time jobs and early entrepreneurial activity) at KPMG in the early 1990s. I joined the audit group, and was shown a corner of the 32nd floor of the Carlton Centre (Africa’s tallest building). But there was no desk for me. Before the term had been coined, we were hot-desking at KPMG. But mainly we were out at clients, doing audits. So we didn’t need offices. But all the partners and directors had offices (as well as designated parking bays, which us lowly clerks didn’t get at all).

As the last two decades have rolled on, it has become more and more clear that very few of us need offices. I am not just talking about moving to open plan, but about abandoning the concept of offices all together.

Office monkeysAs an aside, when I think of offices, I cannot help but think of the great movie, “Office Space” – one of my all time favourites – which was a parody of the worst of office life. And then Ricky Gervais came up with “The Office” series – a cringe-inducing look at bad managers and the effect they have on an office. Still worth watching. And although both of these are ridiculously over-the-top, they showed up some of the worst of office life and reiterated for me the pointless of the office.

An article in Forbes neatly encapsulates this thought, arguing that there are at least eight key reasons why we don’t need offices.

Read the article at Forbes’ website, or an extended extract below:

8 Indisputable Reasons Why We Don’t Need Offices

by Jacob Morgan, Forbes, 10/01/2013

Looking back a decade or so ago it was absolutely essential to have an office, or more likely, a cubicle. That’s where we had meetings, saw our coworkers, and just got work done. But today do we really need corporate offices? New technologies allow us to “connect to work,” meaning that all we need to get work done is an internet connection. Employees are working from co-working spots, cafes, and home offices all over the world without ever having to step foot into a corporate office. In fact the 2013 Regus Global Economic Indicator of 26,000 business managers across 90 countries, revealed that 48% of them are now working remotely for at least half of their work-week.

There are 8 reasons why our reliance on corporate offices is dwindling.

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Worldview shifting facts on the future of business

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

SAP recently released one of the best presentations on the future of business we have ever seen. Freely available on slideshare, it lists 99 facts that should have a profound impact on your view of the future, on what organisations need to do to be successful, and on how you approach your world.

Take some time to work through this presentation, and do so with your team as well, asking what each of the fact means for you. This is a remarkable resource – but what are the implications for you?

A few of my favourite facts included:

  • By 2030, 5 billion people – a third of the population of earth – could be middle class.
  • Only 7% of Generation Y work for a Fortune 500 company.
  • Over 40% of the companies at the top of the Fortune 500 in 2000 are no longer there.
  • The percentage of new companies joining the Fortune 1000 has grown in each of the last four decades (1973-1983, 35%; 1984-1993, 45%; 1994-2003, 60%; 2004-2103, 70%).
  • Mothers and Fathers both spend more time with their children now than they did in the 1960s (in the USA). Fathers’ time with children has tripled.
  • By 2040, 3.5 billion people will run short of fresh water.
  • 80% of big companies describe themselves as ‘delivery superior service’, but only 8% of their customers agree.
  • 100 hours of YouTube content is uploaded every minute.
  • Netflix and YouTube are responsible for 45% of all internet traffic in the USA.
  • More than 620 million young people are neither working nor studying.

What do these facts mean for your business? Now and in the near future?

What facts would you add to SAP’s list?

Video: Summary of TIDES of Change – and implications of disruptions

Posted on: October 20th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Graeme presentingOver the past few months I have been collecting video footage of the presentations I have done of our team’s “TIDES of Change” presentation. Based on the research our Strategic Insights team has done over the past few years, we suggest that in addition to politics and economics (which provide the foundational environment for society and business) there are five key forces that are causing deep structural and disruptive change in the world.

We call these the TIDES of Change: Technology, Institutional change, Demographics, Environment and Ethics, and Shifting Social Values. You can read more about this sought after presentation here.

If you’d prefer to see me in action, then here are two video clips for you. The first is a 13 minute summary, delivered to the Agrivision conference in The Netherlands in early 2013:

YouTube link

The second is the conclusion of the presentation, recorded at the Financial Planners International conference in Sandton, South Africa in mid 2013, where I look at implications of the emerging “connection economy” for financial planners and the financial services industry as a whole. This 19 minute video is also applicable to other industries too.

YouTube link

I’d be very interested in your comments on both the TIDES model and the implications for your industry.

8 Blunders in How Leaders Think, by Mark Sanborn

Posted on: October 17th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A friend of mine, Mark Sanborn, is one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership, team building, customer service and change. I follow his work closely, and enjoy his writing and speaking. This past week, he put out a blog post that I think every leader in the world should read. It goes to leadership mindsets and frameworks for thinking.

You can read it at his blog here, or an extended extract (with a little bit of commentary from me) below:

8 Blunders in How Leaders Think

by Mark Sanborn

Leader, are unexamined assumptions and outdated thinking holding you back?

Leaders need the intellectual courage to challenge their own thinking. And rather than fearing or resisting opposing points of view, leaders need to use those ideas to test their thinking and stimulate new insights.

Henry Ford famously said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is , which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” Thinking well is even harder.

As I work with leaders in organizations large and small, I find beliefs and ideas that are popular, but that fall short of the ideal or are just plain wrong. I call them thinking blunders. Here are eight I’ve identified for you to consider:

1. Settling for best practices.

Best practices are a ticking time bomb. Today’s best practices are next quarter’s second best practices, and obsolete next year. The only way to win is to look for and develop better practices and next practices – those that change the game and redefine the rules.

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Business reasons for taking the environment seriously

Posted on: October 14th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A number of years ago, our team wrote a short white paper on nine business reasons to take green issues seriously. You can read and download it here. We still believe this. The recession has meant that environmental issues have been put on the back burner by some customers and consumers, but we still think that the trend is clear into the future: being more ethical, being more environmentally friendly and being more green will be a good thing.

In this video, Graeme Codrington outlines some key reasons to take the environment seriously.

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

Where Senior Leaders Should Focus Their Attention

Posted on: October 11th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

As a team, we are often privileged to be asked to sit through senior leadership meetings at our clients. Right up to Board level, these peepholes into our clients’ workings provide valuable insights into the operations of our clients, but also (and most importantly) the culture of these organisations, too.

One abiding feature which concerns us greatly is how operational and tactical senior leadership meetings can become. This is baffling to us, but we think it relates to the comfort zone most senior leaders find in technical issues and authoritative expertise (see two blog entries we recently wrote on this issue here and here, as we try and explain the concept of adaptive leadership).

So it was with great interest that I read an article on HBR’s blog, “Four Areas Where Senior Leaders Should Focus Their Attention” by Peter Bregman (3 September 2013).

The author suggests these four focus areas:
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Experiments for a new world of work

Posted on: October 11th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

If you follow anything at all about our work at TomorrowToday, you’ll know we’re passionate about understanding the changing world of work. We are also always on the lookout for people and organisations who are attempting to make adjustments today for the world they see coming tomorrow. Right now, we’re in such a time of disruptive change that some of what needs to happen to make our organisations more “future proof”, by necessity, will be experimental. So we’re thrilled when we discover companies and organisations prepared to experiment.

There are two dangers with workplace experiments. The first is more obvious: some of them will fail. We’ve spoken at length about this being a new reality of the 21st century workplace and of the need for bosses and leaders to accept some level of failure in order to find the gems. The second danger, though, is that you think you can appropriate other peoples’ experiments and make them your own. In some cases, it is acceptable to a be a good follower, and to wait for others – braver, bolder, with more resources than you – to try and fail and try again until they come across a clever formula. However, especially when it comes to management techniques, it’s not always appreciated that the culture which allows mistakes is often a prerequisite to the success of any experiments within that culture. Put more simply: you cannot simply copy the outputs or models another company comes up and expect them to work in your company.

Having said that, it’s still worthwhile keeping an eye out for the workplace experiments other companies are trying, and at very least getting some inspiration for experiments of your own.

Here are a few of my favourites:

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African Leadership for Africa’s Future in a Globalised World

Posted on: October 3rd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

For Africa to be successful it needs to find models, methods and approaches that are uniquely suited to the continent and its needs.  As one of the world’s best travelled speakers and researchers (he visited 26 countries just last year), Graeme Codrington has some inkling of where these new ideas might come from, and where they could lead. 

I am an African.  In the words of that famous 1996 Thabo Mbeki speech, “I owe my being” to this glorious continent.  I am an African.  Maybe I need to say this more than once because of my British heritage (four generations ago), because of my white skin, because I married a British-born South African and have the right to a British passport, or because I spent four years living outside the wave-crashed shores of my mother Africa. Yes, I am proudly African: by birth AND by choice.

africa-the-futureAnd I am excited about the future of this continent.  Together with many other Africans – and an increasing number of people around the world – I am energised by the potential in Africa right now.  There is a growing consensus that over the next few decades, Africa’s billion inhabitants will emerge from poverty, conquer the many ills that beset them, and live in the fastest growing markets in the world.  Africa is the final frontier of human development.

You wouldn’t know this, though, if you pick up almost any newspaper across the continent.  From Cape Town to Cairo, and Dakar to Dar es Salaam, the radio stations and media – and many private conversations – are filled with rantings and ravings, doom and gloom, and pessimism about the state of the nations they represent.  They have many good reasons: corruption, unemployment, social ills and collapsing – or nonexistent – infrastructure.

That is the paradox of Africa: so much potential; so much tragedy.

And yet, as an African, I am hopeful about the near future.  I am hopeful that Africa will reach its potential by dreaming new dreams, establishing new visions, finding new approaches, and – maybe most importantly – developing new leaders.  These must not just be imported models and methods, but rather African-specific solutions, incorporating the best of who we are with the best of what is available in the world around us.  We must learn, adapt and adopt; but  we must also innovate, create and develop.

A Model Worth Watching

A few years ago I was watching a video produced by The Global Poverty Project, an organisation supporting charities that aim to eradicate extreme poverty within a generation.  It was an interview with a young South Korean woman, Andrea Choi, who was proudly talking about how far her country had developed in just a few short years.  Her grandparents had lived in simple houses made with their own hands, and no education.  Her parents were the first generation to live in apartments and have electricity and indoor plumbing.  And now she is a professional, living in an aluminum and glass high rise in bustling Seoul – a truly world class, modern city.  South Korea was the first aid recipient nation to become an aid donor.  Andrea’s story is echoed in many cities and countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

I have a simple thesis: where Asia has come from is almost identical to where Africa is now. And where Asia is now – the exciting, rapidly growing, shiny-new, pulsating place that everyone wants to be part of – is where Africa’s future can be.  By the end of the next decade.

The growth has begun.  Over the last few years, only a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa have experienced negative GDP growth (recession), and then only briefly (South Africa, for example, experienced negative growth for just three quarters in 2009). The average economic growth rate for sub-Saharan African countries is over 5%, with five of the countries experiencing near 10% growth.  For the period of 2001 to 2010, it was the fastest growing region in the world with six countries in the world’s top ten fastest growing economies over the decade.

Sub-Saharan Africa has also seen remarkable discoveries of natural resources over the past few years, for example Ghana opening up the second largest oil field in the world, Mozambique’s new coal fields and more recent discoveries of shale gas across the continent. But it’s not just energy – Africa has significant natural resources of all types that have not yet been developed as well as they can be.

On top of this, Africa’s people represent its greatest potential untapped resource. Like Asia two decades ago, many African countries have not developed their women, have inadequate education and healthcare, and have the potential to develop dramatically and fast.

Where Asia was, Africa is

But let me return to my thesis. If we consider South Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and also look at The Philippines, India, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and possibly even Japan, we can draw strong parallels between where they were as a region thirty years ago and where sub-Saharan Africa is now.

Politically in Asia, there was a mixture of States, from emerging and hybrid democracies to dysfunctional governments and a few tinpot dictators. Most of the countries were aid recipients. Their industries were underdeveloped and the outputs of their economies derided as bad quality. Very few trusted brand names had yet emerged.

One or two of the larger countries were beginning to find their international voice, but were still largely ignored or sidelined.

Infrastructure was ageing or non-existent and public spending on development erratic and strategically deficient. Dodgy politicians enriched themselves, and corruption was rampant.

Socially, the societies were majority rural, undereducated, underskilled, subsistence minded and lacking in confidence to compete in the global market. Family planning didn’t exist (except in China), maternal health was bad, life expectancy low, healthcare almost non-existent and a profusion of non-Western languages and cultures made the region feel inaccessible and even dangerous to the world’s business leaders.

But since then, this region has leapt into the global spotlight. They have turned around the negative indicators and are currently the engine for the world’s economy.  It’s not uniformly good, but it’s better than it used to be. By far.

I believe that there are paths in Asia that Africa needs to follow. And I believe that Africa can move even faster than Asia did.  In fact, in many issues it should be possible for Africa to leapfrog other nations.

What must we do to get where they are?

There are no one-size-fits-all-solutions that will work across the continent, but there are some principles that Africa needs to consider.  Here are just a few:

Vision:  Almost every one of the successful Asian countries has a vision statement that reaches down through society and provides individuals and organisations with guiding principles for behaviour.  In simple terms, these countries know who and what they want to be.  Very few African countries have such a vision.  There are some examples, most notably Ghana: recently rich from oil revenues, the country has set itself a vision of becoming the first African nation to become an aid donor instead of aid recipient.  And it seems that this vision is on everyone’s lips throughout the country, from CEOs to security guards alike.  It may seem too easy, but this is definitely the correct starting point.

Technology: Africa may have more cellphones than any other continent, but slow speeds and high costs of data restrict the adoption of technology.  Asian countries made this a priority, with both Japan and South Korea recognised world leaders.

Leapfrogging: Africa should not be aiming to “catch up” with the rest of the world, but rather to find ways to bypass some of the dead-ends and detours taken by other countries.  This can happen especially with technology implementation, but also in education, healthcare and social policies.  It’s a matter of mindset.  Which is an issue of leadership.

Leadership attitudes: there isn’t a single style of leadership that works best in Asia – or anywhere else: some countries have had single parties ruling them since independence, others have no democracy at all, and still others apply religious law.  Hybrid systems abound.  The lesson for Africa is therefore not in the choice of leadership model, but rather in the attitude of the leaders themselves.  One example stands out for me: when asked what kept him up at night, the CEO of Petronas, Malaysia’s state-owned oil company said simply that it was his responsibility to the nation.  Knowing that the revenues from his company’s profits contributed a significant percentage to the country’s coffers, any slip by him or his team would mean less schools, less hospitals, less drinking water for the people of Malaysia.

There are two lessons here for Africa’s leaders:  we need our leaders to have both the big visions and the ability to reduce those visions down to tangible issues that affect every day life, and, secondly we need less of the “big man” type African leaders and more of the “father of the nation” types.

New economic models: Their economies also exhibit remarkable diversity. Unfortunately for rabid supporters of free market capitalism, some of the better performing Asian countries have nationalized key industries.  But, they typically let them run under professional, world class leaders without interference, and they find leaders who the nation-building mindset suggested above.

Trade:  Trading with rich nations is obviously first prize.  But even trading with each other adds significant value.  Africa should follow Asia in promoting intra-region trade partnerships.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list.  And a topic of this significance deserves a more detailed study than this short article allows.  But I believe that this is the correct approach for Africa.  We need to look at the rest of the world and learn lessons from where others have been.  Then we need to adapt these insights for Africa, and prepare to move quickly and decisively in the right direction.

This requires leadership, and this is possibly the resource that Africa seems to be missing most right now.

Worth It

Africa’s rise will not happen overnight, or in a simplistic A-B-C programme. The change comes from government, from business, from civil society, from young and from old, from every part of society slowly shifting mindsets, attitudes and actions.

Possibly above all it is about self-belief. What stories are we telling our young people in Africa? Are we telling them the stories of Asia? Or of a lost continent? Are we filling them with the visions of what Africa could be? I choose to believe in the brightest possible future for Africa.  I choose to believe it’s the Last Frontier of development on our planet.  And as Thabo Mbeki said on 8 May, 1996, on the day South Africa adopted one of the best Constitutions ever written for a country, “Today it feels good to be an African.”  Indeed it still does.

* Article first published in WITS Business School’s NEPAD Journal in April 2013

30 ways technology will change education between now and 2030

Posted on: September 30th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 3 Comments

While doing some reading to prepare for a workshop with a group of head teachers last week, I came across this very well researched and presented future timeline of potential educational changes we can expect technology to bring in the next two decades. I don’t agree with every point, but I definitely buy into the general tone and direction of the piece.

You can read the original at the Teach Thought website here, or an extended extract below. Note, follow all the awesome links author Terry Heick has taken the time to include. This is a GREAT article and resource!

30 Incredible Ways Technology Will Change Education By 2028

by Terry Heick, 19 March 2013, TeachThought.com

Technology is changing at a rapid pace, so much so that it’s challenging to grasp.

While there is little uniformity in technology, there are some trends worth noting that have spurred tangent innovation, including speed (a shift from dial-up top broad band), size (from huge computers to small handheld devices), and connectivity (through always-on apps and social media).

In fact, we have some to expect nearly instant obsolescence—smartphone contracts that last a mere 24 months seem like ages. Whether this is a matter of trend or function is a matter of perspective, but it’s true that technology is changing—and not just as a matter of power, but tone.

In 2013, technology has become not just a tool, but a standard and matter of credibility. While learning by no means requires technology, to design learning without technology is an exercise in spite—proving a point at the cost of potential. And it’s difficult to forget how new this is.

Fifteen years ago, a current high school sophomore was born.

So was Google.

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Can we really predict the future?

Posted on: September 27th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This is the question a British journalist asked me today. Specifically, he wanted to know if it was possible to predict industry trends thirty years into the future. Here is the gist of my brief reply:

Looking thirty years into the future is notoriously hard to do, especially with the current pace of technological and social change. We tend to notice the technology changes more – just think back thirty years ago, and you’re into a world where the fax machine had just arrived in offices, having been a board level decision to purchase and guarded by a fax operator who signed all faxes in and out (or when Fedex came to collect the faxes you wanted to send and sent them for you). No desktop computers, no mobile phones, no Internet (in fact, even desktop phones were a status symbol reserved for certain levels of management). And almost no-one could foresee where we would be today.

Less obvious, but maybe more important, is social change. For example, thirty years ago in most countries, it was illegal to be homosexual. Now they can get married. Thirty years from now, what we will consider to be right, good and normal? Technology may promise us today that we can double life expectancy again in the 21st century like we did in the last, but will public policy and social values allow this? If the government doesn’t have enough money to keep everyone alive, at what point does it say that it won’t? These, and similar, social issues are more likely to put brakes on development, and alter the course of the future that we think we can see now.

So, I am skeptical of making projections that far out.

However, and having said that, the one thing I can be absolutely certain about is that thirty years from today I will be thirty years older. And I will have similar values to what I have today, even though these will have matured and (slightly) morphed over time. Demographics therefore provides a reasonable basis on which to make quite detailed and significant predictions. For example, in the early 1950s there was a baby boom in most Western countries. We could have reliably predicted that schools would need extra capacity for classrooms and facilities in the 1960s and 70s. In fact, the Education Departments of many countries fell well short of being proactive, and many children of the 60s and 70s (called the “Baby Boomers” as it happens) remember crowded school classrooms, prefab buildings and temporary facilities. Some sociologists even suggest this is where their ability (and desire) to work in teams stems from. That same generation are now heading towards retirement, and there is a growing demand for housing that suits an older generation and we can predict that in the UK, SAGA (if they’re prepared to revamp their image for a much more tech-literate, healthy and image conscious group of old hipsters and rockers) will have bumper years ahead.

So, my answer is a bit of ‘yes and no’. In general we can see demographic trends many decades out. In the specifics of technology, politics and social issues, I fear we’re just guessing. Even if it is educated guessing.

This should not stop us from making these educated guesses though. For two reasons: (1) we should learn to think in multiple futures and scenarios anyway, and (2) if we are honest with ourselves about the level of confidence (I mean that statistically and scientifically) that we have in our predictions, there’s no downside to informed speculation, trend plotting and future trends watching. But, as we all know from experience, some people are better at it than others!

Book review: The Exceptional Speaker

Posted on: September 12th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Public speaking is a vital skill for anyone anywhere to master. I do it professionally – and it’s a privilege to do so. But I do realise how daunting and difficult public speaking can be, and I do what I can to help people develop their speaking ability. It was therefore a real privilege for me when two top rated international speakers asked me to contribute to a book they were writing on the topic.

The result is a new book, released today, “The Exceptional Speaker” by Alan Stevens and Paul du Toit, with contributions from Justin Cohen, Nabil Doss, Terry Brock and myself. It’s a goodie, and I highly recommend it, not just to professional speakers but to anyone who wants to improve their public speaking skills (in other words: everyone!).

Find out more about the book at the website: http://www.exceptionalspeaker.com/.

Buy it online from Amazon.co.uk or get it on Kindle (Amazon UK). For orders in South Africa or PDF download options, click here.

7 Terrible Management Fads That Just Won’t Die – from Inc.com

Posted on: September 11th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few months ago, I read the Inc.com blog post on “7 Terrible Management Fads That Just Won’t Die”. I have spent some time thinking about it, and wanting to engage with it. It’s a provocative read, and challenges some management mindsets that seem entrenched in business leadership. But after much reflection, I can’t improve on this, and have no arguments with it. These seven management practices are wide spread, much loved, hardly ever questioned and quite dangerous, damaging and detrimental to business. They should be stopped.

Read the original article at Inc.com’s website, or an extended extract below:

7 Terrible Management Fads That Just Won’t Die

GEOFFREY JAMES, INC. Date: MAY 11, 2013

In some companies it’s like clockwork. Every couple of years or so, somebody in the executive suite decides that what’s needed to make the organization really productive is a new approach to managing people.

Contrary to what you might think, management fads aren’t fads because they’re something new. Quite the contrary, what makes them fads is that companies glom onto these decades-old ideas as panaceas… one after the other after the other.

Here’s how to ensure that you can still get work done and build your career, even when your company falls under the spell.

Fad 1. Best Practices

For decades, management pundits have insisted it’s possible to become successful by imitating the strategies and tactics of existing firms that are already successful. There’s only one problem with this strategy: it doesn’t work.

The most highly successful companies–Apple, Coke, IBM, P&G, etc.–tend to be one-of-a-kind. The strategies that work (or worked) for them aren’t likely to work in a different industry or for a smaller firm.

What’s worse, the “successful” firms featured in such books are often past their prime anyway. The seminal “best practices” book In Search of Excellence is a case in point. Most of the companies featured in the book did terribly after the book came out.

Fad 2. Six Sigma

Six Sigma is more like a cartoon cult than a real attempt to improve things. It involves awarding people different colored “belts” (like in a karate class) based upon their expertise in the Six Sigma methodology.

The result is a hierarchy of “belted” experts who run around the company pretending that they know how to do other people’s work better than the people who actually do the work. Endless meetings ensue, with little or no effect.

Companies that implement Six Sigma typically do worse than their competitors and it’s not hard to see why. What do you expect from potbellied managers running around with little colored belts like a Bruce Lee movie on Bizarro world?

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Signpost Video: Executive Education and meddling clients

Posted on: September 3rd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Today’s HR and L&D professionals are under immense pressure to deliver real return on investment to their businesses from executive education. But some of the ways they’re trying to do this are counterproductive.

We know of many companies who have engaged some of the world’s top business schools to help them design leadership development programmes. But then some of them get so into the details of the proposed programme design and the actual delivery that they destroy the value the programme could have delivered. This happens, for example, when they want so much detail about the minute-by-minute flow of the programme, they can stifle some of the learnings the business school is trying to create through creative programming. In a genuine example, we were asked to develop a day on leading in uncertain and ambiguous times, and the client wanted a schedule that ran to the fifteen minutes level of detail. Ironic. You can’t make this stuff up.

It can also happen during delivery, when clients hover around the back of the room, fussing and fretting. Any minor irritation in the programme becomes an issue they want to rectify immediately, and they cause untold stress doing so. They don’t trust the process, and think that learning will happen when every delegate is pandered to and happy (rather than stretched, out of their comfort zone and struggling). When you say it like this you can’t imagine a learning professional world think this way. But they do. And they damage the value of the programme they’ve paid big money to develop.

Sadly, most business school programme managers do not stand up to these antics, allowing clients to get away with this counterproductive behaviour. “He who pays the piper”, I suppose. But still, top ranked business schools should do a better job in pushing back at these types of clients. Mainly because it’s got nothing to do with better executive education, and quite a lot to do with the HR and L&D’s perception of what it is going to take to keep their own job and get a good review this year.

They should stop meddling, and start trusting the exec ed professionals they have engaged to help them develop their future leaders.

This video is another “thought bullet” in TomorrowToday’s Signposts series on this topic:

What do you think? Have you experienced this on any courses you’ve been on? What do you think the solution is?

BrainBoosters making a difference to the next generation

Posted on: August 30th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 2 Comments

Here at TomorrowToday, we’re very proud of one of our ex-colleagues, Lynda Smith. Lynda is a serial entrepreneur who left TomorrowToday a number of years to start The Refirement Network, an organisation focused on providing services and support to Baby Boomers who didn’t feel that they had reached the end of their road just because they had reached retirement age.

Along the way, she has also taken up the position of CEO of a South African startup company, BrainBoosters. Started by the ever-energetic Karina Strydom, BrainBoosters provides fantastic support, resources, tools and assistance to parents of young children, to help them fast track their children’s development – especially cognitive development. This is done by empowering trainers and business people to sell the products and provide community level assistance for parents. So, the additional benefit of the business is that it helps others to also start their own businesses.

Lynda Smith and her award for BrainBoostersUnder the guidance of Lynda and the team, this company has been growing quickly, and having a huge impact on the South African community. Along with them, we believe that improving early childhood development is about the best thing a country can do to secure its future.

Last week, they were awarded two national awards at the Gender Mainstreaming gala dinner awards: The Economic Empowerment trophy as well as the runner-up award for the category: Women and Poverty alleviation, which was won by Coca-Cola.

Well done, Lynda and your team. We’re proud of you, and support what you’re doing for the next generation!

An analogy to explain big data: Turning hay into needles

Posted on: August 27th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

I have mentioned Richard Stacy before on this blog. He’s a great thinker on social media in business, and speaks a lot of sense where many “social media experts” just talk hype.

Here’s a very short piece from his blog, but I found it very helpful in explaining why “big data” is so important to business in the next few years. You can read the original here, or an extract below.

Here is a quick riff on an analogy. Small data analysis is all about looking for needles in haystacks. Big data analysis is all about turning hay into needles (or rather turning hay into something that achieves what it is we used needles to do).

Being more specific. Small data analysis (i.e. the only form of data analysis we have had to date) was a reductive process – like everything else in the world where the data and information channels were likewise restrictive, largely as a result of their cost of deployment. Traditional marketing, for example, is the art of the reduction – squeezing whole brand stories into 30 second segments in order to utilise the expensive distribution channel of TV. Academic analysis likewise – squeezing knowledge through the limited distribution vessel that is either an academic or a peer-reviewed publication.

As a result the process of data analysis was all about discarding data that was not seen to be either relevant or accurate enough, or reducing the amount of data analysed via sampling and statistical analysis. The conventional wisdom was that if you put poor quality data into a (small) data analysis box – you got poor quality results out at the other end. Sourcing small amounts of highly accurate and relevant data was the name of the game. All of scientific investigation has been based on this approach.

Not so now with big data. We are just starting to realise that a funny thing happens to data when you can get enough of it and can push it through analytical black boxes designed to handle quantity (algorithms). At a certain point, the volume of the data transcends the accuracy of the individual component parts in terms of producing a reliable result. It is a bit like a compass bearing (to shift analogies for a moment). A single bearing will produce a fix on something along one dimension. Take another bearing and you can get a fix in two dimensions, take a third and you can get a fix in all three dimensions. However, any small inaccuracy in your measurement can produce a big inaccuracy in your ability to get a precise fix. However, suppose you have 10,000 bearings. Or rather can produce a grid of 10,000 bearings, or a succession of overlapping grids, each comprised of millions of bearings. In this situation it is the density of the grid, the volume of the data and, interestingly, often the variance (or inaccuracies) within the data that is the prime determinant of your ability to get an accurate fix.

To return to haystacks, it is the hay itself which becomes important – and rather than looking for needles within it it is a bit like looking into a haystack and finding an already stitched together suit of clothes.This is why big data is such an important thing – and also why a big data approach is fundamentally different to what we can now call small data analysis. It is also why there is now no such thing as inconsequential information (i.e. hay) – every bit of it now has a use provided you can capture it and run it through an appropriate tailoring algorithm.

Source: Richard Stacy

Quality is defined by the promise your customers need you to make

Posted on: August 24th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

How would you define quality in your industry? What is it that your company strives to perfect and on which that can be better than anyone else? And I wonder how much money, time and effort is spent on getting that quality right – I am sure it is significant? Wouldn’t it be a problem, then, if you’ve got the wrong thing right? Many companies do.

Banks, for example, aim for a quality of “security”, wheras most bank customers would accept slightly less security in exchange for much better accessibility, speed and functionality. Many other companies also have a mismatch between what they’re trying to do internally, and what people actually want from them.

Of course, some companies get this really right. McDonalds understands that “quality” is mainly about speed and consistency: this BigMac tastes exactly (!!) like a BigMac should, and I can order and get it within a minute. My business colleague, Dean van Leeuwen, is fond of talking about “moments of truth” and collecting examples of companies who get these right – read a blog from our archives on how IKEA can make our lives miserable, but still deliver on their quality promise. Or Abercrombie and Fitch. RyanAir is similar: they appear to actively despise their customers. But they can fly us to Rome (or a remote airport 50km’s from Rome) for about a pound. That’s what they promise, and that’s what they deliver. And that is therefore quality. Emirates take a different approach, and are rated best airline by almost everyone who flies with them – including my colleague, Keith Coats. It really does depend on what your customers want.

Focus on qualityI agree with Seth Godin’s blog today: Quality is defined by the promise your customers want you to make to them. And then, of course, by keeping that promise every time! Read Seth’s blog here, or an extract below.

Are you SURE that your company has correctly defined quality for your customers? How do you know?

Here are Seth’s thoughts:

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Inc.com’s Best Business Books picks

Posted on: August 22nd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I am a big fan of Inc magazine. It’s aimed at “new world of work” entrepreneurs and small businesses, and always has insightful and useful articles. One caught my eye in particular, as it came from Leigh Buchanan, who, amongst other contributions, reviews new business titles for the magazine. Leigh lists her best recent business books, with reasons for each. I have read about a third of her recommendations, and will be spending both money and time getting through the rest of her list: they all look exceptional.

You can read her original article at Inc’s site, or an extended extract below:

The Great Business Book Purge

BY LEIGH BUCHANAN
I just dumped (and donated) 300 books. But the rest you’ll have to pry from my cold, dead fingers.

Two weeks ago, I dumped more than 300 business books.

“Dumped” sounds harsh. The purge wasn’t as bloody as all that. ….

The hardcovers I deposited in a book-donation bin outside the local high school. Books on startups I set aside for the prison library where I volunteer. The inmates are always talking about businesses they plan to launch when they get out–a motorcycle detailing shop, a tattoo parlor, one of those mondo vending machines stocked with pet supplies. They can’t use the Internet, and the few entrepreneurship books available to them are out of date. So I know those volumes will get a lot of use.

My own library began accumulating when I started reviewing new business titles for Inc. Before that I owned a couple of shelves’ worth: the canon, if you will. I had Porter on strategy; Bennis on leadership; Schein on culture; Senge on continuous learning; Kotter on change; Christensen on innovation; Drucker on everything. Entrepreneurship has produced a canon of its own, including Amar Bhide’s The Origin and Evolution of New Business; Jack Stack’s The Great Game of Business; and my colleague Bo Burlingham’s Small Giants. Also The Peter Principle, The Art of Demotivation (by Despair.com founder Dr. E.L. Kersten), and, of course, the seminal work of Scott Adams.

Over five years, that collection had swelled 30-fold. Publishers cast virtually all their bread upon the waters, so I receive as many as four or five titles a week. A handful I write about. A few find a place in my home office. The rest migrate down to IKEA bookshelves in the basement. Recently, my near-and-dears decided to clear out that basement to free it up for teen parties. (Apparently teenagers lose all zest for life when forced to congregate on the same floor as adults.) I was assigned the task of culling my business-book hoard by two-thirds or more.

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Dear CEO, You have to be in it to win it (I’m talking social media, you dinosaur)

Posted on: August 21st, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

You’ll lose 100% of the shots you don’t take.

You’ll find this pithy advice in almost every motivational book. But being a cliche doesn’t mean it isn’t true. You have to be in it to win it.

In the business world, this maxim is applied when companies look seriously at new opportunities and take risks in new markets. This is the essence of business development, and most business leaders pride themselves in their ability to spot key growth opportunities and push their companies towards these.

It seems strange then, how few CEOs are taking social media seriously. An American report released last week by Domo and CEO.com surveyed 500 top CEOs and discovered that less than 4% of them were active on Twitter. Fully two thirds of them (68%) have no social media presence at all. The only network CEOs have a reasonable presence is LinkedIn, but these are mainly just static profiles with no interaction or activity.

So, possibly the greatest revolution in communication is a mystery to the world’s business leaders. This is a space they have no personal understanding of. So how can they make decisions that are meaningful in this space? And how can they lead their companies into the digital age?

My colleague, Mike Saunders, based out of South Africa, is one of the world’s leading thinkers in what is being called ‘social business': the ways in which social media is reshaping every aspect of business. He has recently written about the importance of social media for businesses in what we call ‘the connection economy’ – his post is well worth reading. The key point is that CEOs and business leaders need to get their heads into this game. It’s not something they should simply delegate to others – it’s something they should be personally invested in. Social media is more than technology: it’s a mindset.

Another social business expert (and also ex-colleague of ours at TomorrowToday), Mike Stopforth, also wrote recently about why leaders should take social media seriously. He quotes a McKinsey research report: “by fully implementing social technologies, companies can potentially raise the output of employees by 20 to 25 per cent. McKinsey’s research also reveals that seventy two per cent of companies use social technologies in some way, but very few actually realise the full benefits.” Could it be because the implementations do not reach the very top? I am pretty certain this is key!

Business leaders who do not embrace social media are becoming dinosaurs in their industries and within their own companies. Luckily, this is fairly easy to fix. But it will require them to step out into unknown areas where they have limited skills and no experience, where they risk making mistakes and possibly looking a bit foolish (none of this has to happen, of course, if they’d be prepared to get training and assistance – something most CEOs are not keen on). So, this boils down to a control issue really. And possibly a pride issue too. But the alternative is extinction.

Come on, CEOs, do the right thing! Get some skin in the game. And get into social media.

Why graduates remain unemployed (and what to do about it)

Posted on: August 21st, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

Yesterday, I presented our team’s most requested presentation, “The TIDES of Change” to a group of top business leaders in Sandton. During the Q&A, someone asked a simple but profound question: “What makes you most nervous?” When thinking of the next decade, my immediate answer is youth unemployment. All around the world, in every country that records it, youth unemployment is at historic highs. It’s easy to blame the recession, and this does have something to do with it, of course. But it’s more than that: we are experiencing a moment in history when jobs are being destroyed more than ever before. And at the same time, young people are not adequately prepared for the world of work.

After the session, a number of parents asked me what should be done about this. And one of them sent me this article written just yesterday by Jonathan Jansen, the rector of the University of the Free State. It’s a brilliant read.

It’s Hard Work to Work

by Professor Jonathan Jansen in Times Live

I have to confess that I am still bruised by the intensity of some of your responses to my first letter to Jobless Graduates, where I tried to explain the reasons why you are still unemployed. But I see too many human shipwrecks to remain silent on this topic.

Let’s begin this time by dismissing three myths about graduates and employment.

First, universities are not the best places for preparing young people for the workplace. As a young teacher with a BSc degree, my first months of teaching were a disaster. I had the theoretical knowledge about science, but I had no idea how to make that information accessible to learners in a school with troubled and talented youth bundled into five very different classes. Universities educate broadly, and only the workplace can train you to become proficient on the job.

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Mirrors, cameras, social media and cultural evolution – Seth Godin

Posted on: August 19th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Earlier today, Seth Godin posted an interesting piece on his blog about mirrors, cameras and cultural evolution. Read it at his blog or below.

He points out that a few centuries ago nobody would have known what their “true” reflection looked like as their were no mirrors available. Today, nobody is scared of mirrors. But some people are scared of cameras. They might not feel scared, but the way they act when a camera is pointed at them indicates otherwise.

And he then pushes his point to the issue of social media, and how some people still fear it. This is a fascinating insight in the same week that Domo and CEO.com released a report saying that only 19 out of 500 of America’s top CEOs are active on social media (only 28 of them have Twitter accounts at all). I am writing a separate blog entry on that statistic (it will be released later this week, here). But for now, I’ll leave you with Seth’s thoughts about cultural evolution. And the fact that it’s inevitable.

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Video: Four levels of institutional change

Posted on: August 9th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A brief overview of our team’s view of Institutional Change, one part of our TIDES model of the five disruptive forces shaping our world right now:

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

Things People Can Still Do Better Than Computers

Posted on: July 25th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Over the last hundred years, we’ve learnt the hard way that modern technologies both improve our world and destroy our jobs. Today it is computers (in the form of smart devices), the internet and social media that are both revolutionising how we live and transforming (and destroying) jobs at an alarming rate (see last week’s blog entry for more detail on this).

In 1900, close to half of the world’s population was formally employed in agriculture. That number has dropped to about 2% over the past century (excluding subsistence farmers), driven by massive advances in technology and agricultural practice. Similar trends are evident in manufacturing, as robots replaced humans in the world’s factories. And now it seems it is the turn of the office worker and the professional (see our previous blog entry on this topic).

Although it might take another decade or more, we are fully convinced that the signs, trends and research all point to one thing: computers are about to become more intelligent than we are, and will take any jobs that they can. We don’t expect a Matrix or Terminator style ‘uprising’ of sentient machines, but just market driven decisions that make it easy for companies to use computers instead of people whenever possible. We really do believe that this will affect not just lower level workers who do repetitive work, but also high level professionals who think their jobs are a lot more than information processing, but actually are not. This includes lawyers, engineers, doctors, accountants and more.

There are many implications to these thoughts for our businesses and organisations. But the most personal (and most therefore probably most important) implications are for us as individuals. If we take this seriously we must work out what we can do as people that computers can’t (and won’t) be able to do in the future. Therein lies job security and the careers our children should choose for their futures.

Fast Company recently ran an article that suggested four such things. I like their suggestions (although don’t think they go far enough with their examples, so have expanded them below), and I have a few of my own. I wonder what you would add to this list (please do so in the comments section below):

  • Unstructured problem-solving: solving for problems in which the rules do not currently exist. Examples: a doctor diagnosing an as-yet unclassified disease, a lawyer writing a persuasive argument that sets new legal precedent, a designer creating a new web application.
  • Acquiring and processing new information, deciding what is relevant in a flood of undefined phenomena. Examples: a scientist discovering the properties of a new medicine, an underwater explorer, or a journalist reporting on a story.
  • Non-routine physical work. Performing complex tasks in 3-D space, from cleaning to driving to cooking to giving manicures, which is thought of as relatively low-skilled work for humans, but actually requires a combination of skill #1 and skill #2 that is still very difficult for computers to master. (Think of the complexity of walking across a busy train station or shopping mall without bumping into other people – computers/robots cannot do this).
  • Being human: Expressing empathy, love, making people feel good, taking care of others, being artistic and creative for the sake of creativity, expressing emotions and vulnerability in a relatable way, making people laugh. This might even include self-awareness, personality and consciousness (three key things that science really battles to understand). The human touch is indispensable for most jobs, and in some cases, it is the entire job. In this one, humans win.
  • Creativity. Coming up with novel ideas and new insights. Computers can be taught the mechanics of some of what we do in this space, but true creativity seems beyond their reach.
  • Common sense. There are many definitions of common sense. For me, it mainly means our willingness to ‘break the rules’ or to put aside the strict and rigid application of rules, systems or logic, and go with some form of gut instinct. In reality what this normally means is that we select one set of principles to trump another, and go with what legal courts call the ‘reasonable person’.

What would you add to this list?

And, more importantly, how can you add more of these things to how you currently do your job – that way, you’ll be indispensable when the computers come for you.

Video: Technology replacing professionals in 10 years

Posted on: July 23rd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 2 Comments

If you had told a farmer a century ago that he would not need labourers, and would be able to harvest and manage his farm using machines he would have laughed at you. If you had told factory bosses the same thing about sixty years ago, they would have been equally dismissive. And yet, we’ve gone from 40% of the workforce being formally employed in agriculture in 1900 to less than 2% today, with over 400% increase in output during that time.

So, we should not be surprised that people have been predicting the demise of white colour workers, middle management and service jobs for many years. It was probably Tom Peters who made the most high profile predictions around the turn of the millennium, when he suggested 25% of all office workers would lose their jobs by 2015. As with most future predictions, his timing was somewhat out, but the content is likely to be spot on. Jobs and careers are being disrupted as never before – see what my colleague, Dean had to say on this topic just last week.

And don’t think this will affect just the low level office worker. No, it’s likely to affect professionals just as much. It’s already happening. The best example I can think of is on the trading floor of investment banks. Just two years ago, the traders who handled huge daily trades (especially in currencies) were some of the highest paid people in the business world. Now they’ve been replaced by computers. Just like that.

A few months ago, we read reports of a legal firm in the USA offering a web based service where you can type in the details of your legal complaint and the system automatically finds the legal precedents that will determine whether you will win or lose your case. All without a human lawyer involved. We’re sure that other professionals will face a similar fate – if they’re generalists.

In this video, Graeme Codrington talks about how even your family doctor will be replaced by a machine by 2020. Unless he or she does things that computers can’t do. But I’ll talk about that more later this week.

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

The Factory in Your Garage: A review of 3d printing options and implications

Posted on: July 22nd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 2 Comments

A few weeks ago, I bought a 3d printer for use in my home. On the day I installed it, I recorded a video for our team’s Signpost’s YouTube channel (it’s available here or at the bottom of this post). Since then, many people have asked me a lot of questions about it, so here is a composite reply that I hope will inspire you to consider joining the “maker” revolution.

What is a ‘3d printer’?

Update on 22 November 2013: Here’s a great summary of 3d printing.

Technically, it’s a rapid prototype machine which allows you to build small physical objects. The home based ‘printers’ all use plastic as their build material, and are better described as ‘extruders’ rather than printers. They heat up plastic enough to melt it, and then squeeze it through a very small hole to create a thin ribbon of hot plastic which is then moulded into any shape you want. Objects are built up layer by layer.

There are other versions of 3d printers that can use different materials. You can print in metal (this uses powder and a laser head to fire the powder and turn into molten metal) or even in stem cell material (doctors are using 3d printing technology to print out replacement bones and even soft tissue, like skin grafts and ears). One company is experimenting with using 3d printing technology to create food (see ModernMeadow.com). Conceptually, we could print out anything in a printer, as long as we had the right chemicals to input and the right conditions to combine them in. As such, 3d printers are not just mini factories in your homes, they could also be mini science labs too.

But for now, home use 3d printers use plastic only. For more, read the Wikipedia entry.

Updated on 20 August 2013: The Economist recently published an article outlining a number of other 3d printing processes, some of which are available for home use and one new one which is remarkably cheap. Read it here.

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All that’s wrong with the media today: A ridiculous example

Posted on: July 17th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It sounds like something out of one of those cringeworthy, self-written high school plays. But in reality it is a genuine news report from a Fox affiliate TV station in the United States. And although it is a single anecdote, it does shine a spotlight on the mess that the media is in right now.

In an attempt to be the first in their reporting, news agency trip over themselves (and ordinary people) to pile camera upon camera outside every media friendly location in the world; and then get their anchors to spout meaningless drivel and speculation, and fill their studios with vacuous (and often professional) commentators who are more interested in soundbites than truth. And increasingly they get the actual news wrong!

But this takes the cake. And it’s hilarious.

Last Friday, A KTVU anchor read the “names” of the four pilots who were on board the 777 when it crash-landed in San Francisco. They were: “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow.” Read those out loud just once (although not too loudly if you’re with other people). How is it possible that this made it all the way to a live TV news reader without any flags being raised? Here’s a home video of the report:

It’s mildly racist. Very funny. Very sad. And, of course, they blamed it all on an intern.

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All that’s wrong with the media today: A ridiculous example

Posted on: July 17th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It sounds like something out of one of those cringeworthy, self-written high school plays. But in reality it is a genuine news report from a Fox affiliate TV station in the United States. And although it is a single anecdote, it does shine a spotlight on the mess that the media is in right now.

In an attempt to be the first in their reporting, news agency trip over themselves (and ordinary people) to pile camera upon camera outside every media friendly location in the world; and then get their anchors to spout meaningless drivel and speculation, and fill their studios with vacuous (and often professional) commentators who are more interested in soundbites than truth. And increasingly they get the actual news wrong!

But this takes the cake. And it’s hilarious.

Last Friday, A KTVU anchor read the “names” of the four pilots who were on board the 777 when it crash-landed in San Francisco. They were: “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow.” Read those out loud just once (although not too loudly if you’re with other people). How is it possible that this made it all the way to a live TV news reader without any flags being raised? Here’s a home video of the report:

It’s mildly racist. Very funny. Very sad. And, of course, they blamed it all on an intern.

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Why do UK retailers continue to report Internet sales separately?

Posted on: July 10th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Apologies to regular readers of this blog. This is a repeat of a short rant I had when last year’s UK Christmas retail report came out. Now the half year retail results have been released, and we’re stuck with the same problem.

Marks & Spencer released their retail results for the last quarter yesterday. Management Today dutifully picked up the story. Their clothing sales are down for the eighth quarter in a row, with a 1.6% drop in the last quarter alone. This sounds horrifying. Until you read that their “Internet sales” are up by 30% in the same period. The MT reporter makes no effort to make sense of these numbers for us, by (for example) telling us how much of the 1.6% drop in clothing sales has been compensated for by a rise in online purchases. This must be the case as overall sales for M&S increased by 3.3% in the quarter. In a flat-line economy, this is great news.

My rant is simple: why are we reporting “internet sales” as if they were something different from “actual sales”? Why do we worry about a 1.6% decrease in in-store sales when we’ve had a 30% increase in online sales? And why report these numbers separately? And why treat the one number (in store sales) as if it was more important than the other?

This is NOT a small issue. The Management Today article‘s tone was one that indicated M&S are in trouble. If they’re getting 30% improvements in a quarter, and 3.3% growth overall (per quarter!) then they’re in remarkably good shape. No crisis. And no-one’s going to lose their job. But that’s not what you’d think from reading the MT article.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: UK retailers need to join the 21st century. Or maybe it’s just the journalists who write about UK retail. I don’t know. But someone needs to tell us what’s REALLY going on!

Limited social media at work is a deal breaker for younger generations

Posted on: July 9th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

The biggest issue that HR is facing today is IT policies. In most companies, IT does not see itself as a service to the HR function, and don’t recognise how much their policies affect the morale of the staff – especially younger, ‘digital native’ generations.

This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel in the UK as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our UK company’s TomorrowToday TV channel, or at our new YouTube channel: TomorrowToday Signposts.

 


Recently, on our Signposts channel, Graeme also recorded a video about the role of IT (yes, it is a bit of a hobby horse for him at the moment):

What is your experience?

Digital Trends 2013

Posted on: July 9th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I was alerted to the Digital Trends 2013 website a few days ago. It’s a collaboration between Microsoft, IPG Mediabrands and The Future Laboratory (although the domain name indicates that MS is the dominant partner).

It looks like this might be updated on an ongoing basis, but at time of writing, the trends being highlighted on the site are:

  • Value me – my online identity is a commodity that has value; you need to pay me for my data
  • Creator culture – Chris Anderson’s “Makers”
  • My analytics – using the power of big data analysis to analyse me; especially my health
  • The right to anonymity – privacy is vital
  • IntelligentlyON – when to be “on” and when to “off”
  • Niche networks
  • Enhancing the real – bringing more senses to digital
  • Age of serendipity – find answers to questions we didn’t know to ask; find people we do

Some excellect insights available here. Enjoy the read.

Signposts video: What’s IT doing?

Posted on: June 27th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In the latest of our new series of “TomorrowToday Signpost videos” on YouTube, Graeme Codrington asks what IT are doing at the moment? It’s a bit of a rant, as Graeme feels that most IT departments have stopped being service units to their organisations, and are now (helped out by risk and compliance) the “no” police. Specifically, Graeme is concerned that IT are hurting staff engagement. HR’s biggest issue right now is IT policy!

IT needs to learn once again to serve the organisation; to respond to it; and to contribute to it. Yes, securing the organisation and protecting it is a responsibility that can’t be ignored. But, IT must move beyond this as their primary focus area.

Watch the video here or at YouTube:

25 Things You Need to Know About the Future

Posted on: June 27th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

I was recently browsing through a bookshop’s recommended books, and saw “25 Things You Need to Know About the Future” by Christopher Barnatt (Constable, 2012 – buy it at Amazon or Kalahari.com). It’s a great primer, and I like the issues he has picked out.

Here’s his list of things you should know about what’s about to change the world. How many of these do you feel you understand reasonably well? More importantly, do you have an idea of how these might impact your business, your marketplace or your life?

  1. Peak Oil
  2. Climate change
  3. Peak water
  4. Food shortages
  5. Resource depletion
  6. 3d printing
  7. Nanotechnology
  8. Genetic modification
  9. Synthetic biology
  10. Vertical farming
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TomorrowToday Signposts: short video insights on the changing world

Posted on: June 23rd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Our team is remarkably privileged to travel all around the world, working with hundreds of interesting clients every year. We obviously learn a lot as we do this, and insights into the changing world come thick and fast. We’ve decided to try and capture these insights in short videos which we’re calling ‘Signposts’. These will not be professional, studio videos, but rather will be taken on our phones, rough cut edited, and uploaded to our YouTube channel as and when inspiration hits.

The channel is now up and running, with a brief introductory video, followed by Keith Coats talking about an Abraham Lincoln quote and how it is still relevant to ‘the stormy present’. I’ve just uploaded a video of my new 3d printer, which I bought this past week for use in my home.

Head over to the YouTube channel, TTSignPosts and subscribe to make sure you’re notified whenever we add a new video. Also leave a message either here as a comment or on the YouTube channel if you have any requests for specific video topics.

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Making sense of sense-making

Posted on: June 17th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 2 Comments

At TomorrowToday South Africa’s recent showcase in Sandton, our team asked the 60 or so business leaders who attended what their biggest organisational needs were right now. Nearly one third rated “understanding changing business contexts” as their most important business need, and nearly half rated this as very important to them right now. In our work with companies around the world, across every industry and sector, we’ve seen the same issue over and over again.

It is indicative of business leaders who are more comfortable operating in conditions of certainty now finding themselves in a sustained era of uncertainty and change. Recent reports from Deloitte UK indicate that public companies are stockpiling cash at historically high levels – in the UK alone, public companies have over £ 60 billion in cash in their reserves. The main reason for this is that these companies just don’t know what to do. Holding cash does not generate jobs, does not grow profits and has been proven to ensure the company will underperform the market. Not clever, in other words. But business leaders would rather do nothing than do the wrong thing. For all their talk of innovation, when the chips are down, they’d prefer caution and inactivity. They just don’t know what to do right now.

Not that they would admit this, of course. And there’s lots of busy-ness inside their businesses. But their strategic actions speak loudly.

What is happening is that a number of change drivers are all working together to cause deep structural, disruptive change in the world right now. We are therefore living through more than an era of change. We have reached an inflection point in history, and are now living in an era where processes, systems, structures, products, services and careers no longer change – they transform.

The Bad News

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Keep your hands off my genes

Posted on: June 14th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

And now an entry from the case files of the totally bleeding obvious: Yesterday the Supreme Court of the USA finally agreed – unanimously – that genes cannot be patented. In a stunning example of corporate over reach, a variety of companies involved in genetic research have filed patents not for the processes they use to sequence DNA, or the clever medicines they’ve invented to deal with genetic problems, but rather for the actual genes themselves. As if a corporation could own your actual genetic code (or forbid you to “use” it in some way).

Anyway, whatever they thought they were doing, the Supreme Court yesterday put them back in their box. Good news, yes. But also totally obvious.

Read Common Dreams report on the issue here.

Book review: Makers, The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson

Posted on: June 13th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few years ago, then editor of Wired magazine, Chris Anderson built a small plane out of Lego parts with his kids. After realizing that even children’s toys now come packed with advanced sensors and controls, Chris decided to start a company called 3D Robotics and manufacture his own aerial vehicles. He now sells both flying robots and the designs for you to make them yourself using 3d printers. And he’s written a book on what he sees happening in this space in the next few years. “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution” was actually published last year already, and some of the predictions in it about consumer 3d printing are already coming true. Staples in the USA has become the first retailer to stock 3d printers, for example, and make them easily accessible to consumers.

Although 3d printing, in the form of “rapid prototyping” is actually decades old, it is really only in the past four years that it has become a consumer reality. The cost of the technology has dropped to the point where an entry-level 3d printer can be had for little more than $ 1,200 (I have just purchased a two headed Rapman 3.2 for less than ZAR 20,000 in South Africa. The CubeX home use machines start at a similar price). Right now, home 3d printing is not much more than a novelty – much like home computers were in the early 1980s, with Ataris and Commodores largely being used for gaming. It’s still probably cheaper to buy a mass produced product than to take the time and effort to set up your own printer to produce it for you. But this will change as designs become more and more available online, and the technology continues to advance (I am sure I will look back on my Rapman printer in the same disbelieving nostalgic way I did recently when I saw my first computer, the Atari 800SX, proudly displayed in the ‘History of Computers’ display at London’s Science Museum. But still, like that little computer, I am the first of my friends to have one).

At the moment then the technology appears to be having the greatest impact just above the consumer level: it’s creating a new breed of manufacturing startup. Just as the Internet allowed thousands of startups to provide innovative products and services at a greatly reduced cost, 3d printing is creating a new breed of manufacturing startup. And new users are joining up every day – see a report here on the size and market of 3d printers.

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Your career in a new world of work

Posted on: June 6th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

We know that the world of work is changing faster now than at any other time. Some have called it a VUCA world: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Big industries and large companies are being hard hit with this turbulent change. And right in the middle of this maelstrom is you.

Maybe you love your job, and possibly it’s the job you were born to do. You’re truly blessed if that’s the case. Even so, are you sure that you’re going to be able to keep on doing your current job for another decade, or more? That’s a question about you. But it’s also a question about how much you know and can anticipate the future of your industry. And, just in case things don’t quite go as planned, what are you doing now to “future proof” your career and be successful no matter how things turn out? How strategic are you being about your own career future?

It was these questions that lay behind my recent book, “Navigating Your Career: 5 steps to success in a new world of work”. I teamed up with career development expert and corporate coach, Kerry Dawkins of Potential at Work to write about a five step model we’ve called ‘navigating your career‘. This is for anyone who wants to future proof their career. You might be straight out studies and looking for your first job. You might be stuck in a job you really don’t like (most disappointing if it was actually supposed to be the career of your dreams, and it hasn’t turned out anything like you expected). Maybe you’re realising that life isn’t what you thought it would be, and you’ve got to change tack quite considerably. Or maybe you are happy and loving your job, but just want to make sure you’re as ‘future-proofed’ as you can be. For any and all of these scenarios, this five step model will provide a solid foundation for career success in a changing world.

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Your career in a new world of work

Posted on: June 6th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

We know that the world of work is changing faster now than at any other time. Some have called it a VUCA world: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Big industries and large companies are being hard hit with this turbulent change. And right in the middle of this maelstrom is you.

Maybe you love your job, and possibly it’s the job you were born to do. You’re truly blessed if that’s the case. Even so, are you sure that you’re going to be able to keep on doing your current job for another decade, or more? That’s a question about you. But it’s also a question about how much you know and can anticipate the future of your industry. And, just in case things don’t quite go as planned, what are you doing now to “future proof” your career and be successful no matter how things turn out? How strategic are you being about your own career future?

It was these questions that lay behind my recent book, “Navigating Your Career: 5 steps to success in a new world of work”. I teamed up with career development expert and corporate coach, Kerry Dawkins of Potential at Work to write about a five step model we’ve called ‘navigating your career‘. This is for anyone who wants to future proof their career. You might be straight out studies and looking for your first job. You might be stuck in a job you really don’t like (most disappointing if it was actually supposed to be the career of your dreams, and it hasn’t turned out anything like you expected). Maybe you’re realising that life isn’t what you thought it would be, and you’ve got to change tack quite considerably. Or maybe you are happy and loving your job, but just want to make sure you’re as ‘future-proofed’ as you can be. For any and all of these scenarios, this five step model will provide a solid foundation for career success in a changing world.

The book was released last year, and we’re thrilled to have received great feedback and excellent reviews for the work. Here is one that was written for CEO magazine – it’s a PDF file available here. They say:

The slim volume that is Navigating Your Career belies the wealth of information it contains. Yes, you can read it in a weekend, but, as the authors point out, navigating your career and overcoming career dilemmas require a mind-set change and action, that is, thinking and behaving differently over time…. Sadly there is no quick-fix solution to career success, but the good news is that the skills needed to navigate your career can be learnt, easily applied and are detailed in the book. The world of work has never been as difficult or complicated as it is right now, but there have never been as many opportunities. You can spend every day of your life doing something that you love and which contributes to the world, maintain authors Graeme Codrington and Kerry Dawkins, as long as you treat your career as a journey to be navigated.

The 5 Steps to Success in the New World of Work that we detail in the book are:
1. Understand you.
2. Understand the new world of work.
3. Create possibilities.
4. Make it happen.
5. Stay on top of your game.

Each chapter introduces a model to help you understand and practically apply the step. It then has a number of case studies that run through the book, to provide examples of how certain archetyple people have approached each step. There is a full resource list provided in each chapter, and finally a set of coaching actions to take to apply the chapter in your life and career. We have also provided a companion website that provides online versions of some of the tools we included in the book – this is available to anyone here.

If you would like to buy a copy of the book, there are a variety of options available, including the following:
* Paperback:
  – Amazon.com
  – Amazon.co.uk
  – Kalahari.com

* Electronic / ebook:
  – Kindle @Amazon.com
  – Kindle @Amazon.co.uk
  – Kalahari.com
  – Kobo
  – Exclusive Books

We would be able to provide discounts on bulk copies. If you’d like more than 50 copies, please contact us to find out about this.

Ease of Doing Business Rankings

Posted on: June 3rd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It’s not easy being a South African businessperson these days. The President opens his mouth and the currency crashes. The Unions are threatening more strikes and marches. And it doesn’t look as if the current administration has an appetite for the labour and legislative reforms the country so obviously needs. Longer term considerations look at the narrowing gap between SA and other African nations (Kenya and Nigeria spring to mind, but Ghana, Angola, Botswana and Mozambique should also be considered); and the horrific state of public education (the next generation of workers are being very badly prepared for the future world of work).

And yet, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The International Finance Corporation does annual lists of the world’s countries, ranking them according to a variety of factors that impact on doing business. This year’s rankings rate South Africa in 39th place (out of 185). Mauritius is the only African nation ranked above SA. And SA comes in ahead of countries such as Spain, Mexico, Poland, Turkey, Italy and others. Of the BRICS nation, SA is ranked the highest. See the rankings here.

Lists like these don’t tell the full story, of course. South Africa could be doing a lot better. But it’s also not as bad as some people would have us believe.

At TomorrowToday, we think that one of the key issues of concern in South Africa’s economic development is that business people have turned the economy of South Africa into something of an island. They don’t engage with politicians. They engage very little with civil society. They largely ignore Africa (except to treat it as a playground/sandpit/colonial marketplace). And many of them don’t engage with the realities of a globalising world. Hopefully, rankings like this provide an impetus to do all of these things, and work towards improvement.

After all, “a boer maak a plan” (rough translation: South Africans just get on with it).

Adaptive Leadership versus Authoritative Expertise

Posted on: May 15th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 4 Comments

Leadership always occurs within a context. The type of leadership required – the leader that will be most successful – is that which best reflects the context within which it operates. If the world around us – including the global systems, our industry, our organisation, and our team – is changing dramatically, then our definitions of what good leadership looks like also need to change.

Our societies are changing rapidly from those based on structures of hierarchies and standard answers to ones that are constantly changing (even volatile), interconnected, networked, ambiguous and increasingly complex. Our leadership models must adapt to this new world.

One the experts doing significant work on trying to understand what leadership should look like in these turbulent times is Prof Ron Heifetz of Harvard. He has suggested a model he calls ‘Adaptive Leadership’. To explain the concept, he contrasts his model to traditional leadership (the type most iconically taught on MBA courses around the world – including Harvard). The traditional model might be called ‘Authoritative Expertise’.

In a world where the problems are known and the solutions clear, what we need is a leader who can “get the job done”. We need a leader with authoritative expertise who can deliver the desired results, using an agreed set of methods to deal with a clearly defined issue. You want these types of leaders when you have a crisis: the airplane’s engine is on fire; or when you’re doing something life threatening, like open heart surgery. Or during times of “business as usual”. These leaders know what they’re doing, they have experience and we should do what they tell us to.

But what about those situations where the solutions are unclear, or even unknown. Even more difficult: what about those situations where the problem (or set of problems) is not clear? In this environment, authoritative experts can actually do untold damage. In these environments, we need adaptive leaders.

Heifetz makes these points about adaptive leaders: The point of “adaptive” leadership is to do for an organisation what adaptation does in nature. In nature, a successful adaptation results in an organism being able to thrive in a challenging and changing environment. Survival is not enough. Organisms that are merely surviving will die the moment the environment becomes a little challenging. To survive, you must thrive. You can then handle challenge and stress by quickly developing a new adaptability in order to maintain itself in that stressed environment. In nature, there are three main tasks for adaptation: what DNA will we keep; what DNA will we discard; what innovation do we need to deal with the change around us. This is a metaphor for what leaders need to do today.

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Intel’s Top 5 Tech Trends

Posted on: April 26th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I am sitting at a conference in Dubai, listening to one of Intel’s top guys in the Middle East talking about technology disruptors that Intel expects to see in the next few years. He is listing five “technology-led tectonic shifts”:

  1. Big data becomes useful (my addition: and integrates cloud computing, the internet of things and massive data processing power – I don’t think these are separate trends, see below). The key is making sense of the data.
  2. Cloud computing that is open, federated, automated and client aware
  3. The Internet of Things
  4. The client continuum – from device centric to user centric computing. The device dies, and the interface becomes more intuitive and pre-emptive, including .
  5. Security – 5 million new malicious websites are launched every month, and the malware ‘industry’ is worth double as much as the global drug trade.

By the way, it costs less to build one intel processor than to grow one grain of rice.

Intel's Top 5 Tech Trends

Posted on: April 26th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I am sitting at a conference in Dubai, listening to one of Intel’s top guys in the Middle East talking about technology disruptors that Intel expects to see in the next few years. He is listing five “technology-led tectonic shifts”:

  1. Big data becomes useful (my addition: and integrates cloud computing, the internet of things and massive data processing power – I don’t think these are separate trends, see below). The key is making sense of the data.
  2. Cloud computing that is open, federated, automated and client aware
  3. The Internet of Things
  4. The client continuum – from device centric to user centric computing. The device dies, and the interface becomes more intuitive and pre-emptive, including .
  5. Security – 5 million new malicious websites are launched every month, and the malware ‘industry’ is worth double as much as the global drug trade.

By the way, it costs less to build one intel processor than to grow one grain of rice.

Intel’s Top 5 Tech Trends

Posted on: April 26th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I am sitting at a conference in Dubai, listening to one of Intel’s top guys in the Middle East talking about technology disruptors that Intel expects to see in the next few years. He is listing five “technology-led tectonic shifts”:

  1. Big data becomes useful (my addition: and integrates cloud computing, the internet of things and massive data processing power – I don’t think these are separate trends, see below). The key is making sense of the data.
  2. Cloud computing that is open, federated, automated and client aware
  3. The Internet of Things
  4. The client continuum – from device centric to user centric computing. The device dies, and the interface becomes more intuitive and pre-emptive, including .
  5. Security – 5 million new malicious websites are launched every month, and the malware ‘industry’ is worth double as much as the global drug trade.

By the way, it costs less to build one intel processor than to grow one grain of rice.

Podcast: The Customer Experience Show – Secrets of Successful Multi-Generational Work Cultures

Posted on: April 8th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Dean and myself were interviewed by Michelle Romanica on the Customer Experience Show on Blogtalk Radio. It was a great show, with some fascinating insights into multi-generational workplaces.

The blurb of the show says:

In their work, Graeme Codrington and Dean van Leeuwen have conducted extensive research, working to address the emerging issue of generational differences that can cause problems in the workplace today. Graeme and Dean have worked to bridge this gap in theory, implementing it in practice in many companies. Anna Elwood, Director of Operations, was one of ZocDoc’s early employees who helped shape this company. ZocDoc has seen a work model emerge naturally; one that focused on the uniqueness of generational needs rather than focusing on differences to “divide and conquer”. It works on principles that demonstrate Graeme and Dean are not talking about “pie in the sky”. Here is a company that is practicing what it takes to “bridge the gap” and succeed together.

Listen to internet radio with Customer Experience on Blog Talk Radio

Podcast: The Customer Experience Show – Secrets of Successful Multi-Generational Work Cultures

Posted on: April 8th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Dean and myself were interviewed by Michelle Romanica on the Customer Experience Show on Blogtalk Radio. It was a great show, with some fascinating insights into multi-generational workplaces.

The blurb of the show says:

In their work, Graeme Codrington and Dean van Leeuwen have conducted extensive research, working to address the emerging issue of generational differences that can cause problems in the workplace today. Graeme and Dean have worked to bridge this gap in theory, implementing it in practice in many companies. Anna Elwood, Director of Operations, was one of ZocDoc’s early employees who helped shape this company. ZocDoc has seen a work model emerge naturally; one that focused on the uniqueness of generational needs rather than focusing on differences to “divide and conquer”. It works on principles that demonstrate Graeme and Dean are not talking about “pie in the sky”. Here is a company that is practicing what it takes to “bridge the gap” and succeed together.

Listen to internet radio with Customer Experience on Blog Talk Radio

Video: Fujitsu’s 21st Century Leadership series

Posted on: April 6th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Recently, I spoke at an evening function hosted by Fujitsu in London. The theme was: “Who’s in charge? Leadership in the 21st century workplace”. Liv Garfield, CEO of BT Openreach, and myself shared the platform and a panel discussion, and were then interviewed by the Financial Times alongside some of Fujitsu’s leading thinkers. It was an excellent evening, and a short 6 minute video was compiled by the FT with some of our key thoughts.  Enjoy.


Where to find success now

Posted on: April 2nd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Seth Godin is one of our favourite thinkers and writers. We share many of his worldviews, especially that we are living in a period of transition from the end of the industrial age to the emergence of a connection economy. In one of his most insightful blog entries, Seth recently talked about this in detail. You can read the full entry on his blog here (and sign up for his daily newsletter), or read an extract below.

This extract is especially worth reading if you’re one of our clients engaged in what Seth so vividly calls “the Internet-fueled challenge to lower prices, find cheaper labor, and deliver more for less” – a race to the bottom indeed. Too many of our clients and partners see this as their only hope of survival. It’s soul destroying stuff when you get caught in this downward loop. Seth has some great suggestions about how to reverse this, and start a race for the top.

Toward zero unemployment

A dozen generations ago, there was no unemployment, largely because there were no real jobs to speak of. Before the industrial revolution, the thought that you’d leave your home and go to an office or a factory was, of course, bizarre.

What happens now that the industrial age is ending? As the final days of the industrial age roll around, we are seeing the core assets of the economy replaced by something new. Actually, it’s something old, something handmade, but this time, on a huge scale.

(more…)

Where to find success now

Posted on: April 2nd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Seth Godin is one of our favourite thinkers and writers. We share many of his worldviews, especially that we are living in a period of transition from the end of the industrial age to the emergence of a connection economy. In one of his most insightful blog entries, Seth recently talked about this in detail. You can read the full entry on his blog here (and sign up for his daily newsletter), or read an extract below.

This extract is especially worth reading if you’re one of our clients engaged in what Seth so vividly calls “the Internet-fueled challenge to lower prices, find cheaper labor, and deliver more for less” – a race to the bottom indeed. Too many of our clients and partners see this as their only hope of survival. It’s soul destroying stuff when you get caught in this downward loop. Seth has some great suggestions about how to reverse this, and start a race for the top.

Toward zero unemployment

A dozen generations ago, there was no unemployment, largely because there were no real jobs to speak of. Before the industrial revolution, the thought that you’d leave your home and go to an office or a factory was, of course, bizarre.

What happens now that the industrial age is ending? As the final days of the industrial age roll around, we are seeing the core assets of the economy replaced by something new. Actually, it’s something old, something handmade, but this time, on a huge scale.

(more…)

Twitter username changed: @FuturistGraeme

Posted on: March 27th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Graeme Codrington used to Tweet at @workforcetrends. He has now changed his Twitter username to @FuturistGraeme. If you already follow him, there is no need to do anything – the change has already been made automatically.

But please do update your records.

Africa: the last frontier of growth and development

Posted on: March 27th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

As the BRICS summit is currently underway in Durban, where the leading emerging market players of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (representing sub-Saharan Africa) discuss their strategic agenda for the next five years, it might be a good time to refresh your mind as to why we think Africa deserves your attention.

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our partner at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

We have a presentation and can run workshops on Africa: The Last Frontier. Please contact us for more information.

Twitter username changed: @FuturistGraeme

Posted on: March 27th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Graeme Codrington used to Tweet at @workforcetrends. He has now changed his Twitter username to @FuturistGraeme. If you already follow him, there is no need to do anything – the change has already been made automatically.

But please do update your records.

Africa: the last frontier of growth and development

Posted on: March 27th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

As the BRICS summit is currently underway in Durban, where the leading emerging market players of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (representing sub-Saharan Africa) discuss their strategic agenda for the next five years, it might be a good time to refresh your mind as to why we think Africa deserves your attention.

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our partner at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

We have a presentation and can run workshops on Africa: The Last Frontier. Please contact us for more information.

I want you in my office. Now. What’s really going on at Yahoo?

Posted on: March 21st, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

The biggest tech news so far this year has been an announcement by Yahoo that they want “all hands on deck” and that all work-from-home is being cancelled as from June. Irked Yahoo employees have leaked the memo that was sent by HR head Jackie Reses. Apparently the move comes from the very top, from CEO Marissa Mayer, and will be applied without exception to all remote workers, both those who do so full-time and any who have flexible work from home arrangements. Read the memo and some initial analysis here.

The key message is that Yahoo wants to become “the very best place to work”, and wants to do this using “communication and collaboration” and “working side-by-side”. But then, the real intent is clear: Yahoo wants to be “more productive, efficient and fun” and says that “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home”.

The response from a world that is assuming that more remote working is the future has been loud and incredulous. Is this really the way forward? Has Marissa Mayer made a huge misstep here? Or does she know something we don’t?

What’s going on?

We know that Mayer is under pressure to produce profits at Yahoo, and does not have much more time to deliver a fairly radical turnaround. We also know that she has a fairly forceful leadership style. Business Insider resported a few months ago that an unnamed staffer told them of a team of Yahoo’s product designers who pitched a new product to Mayer. She approved the product on the condition that they get it to market months ahead of their own schedule. Then Mayer supposedly told them they had exactly one week to figure out how to get the product out by the end of the year, and that they would all be fired if they couldn’t get it done.

The stated reason behind the move by Mayer is that she had done an analysis of the VPN (virtual private network) data of remote workers, and Yahoo employees working from home were not logging into the system for enough hours during the day. Supporters of the move have largely pointed to two things: the fact that work from home people can slack off, and the need to have everyone in the office if you’re going to effect quick culture change.

The second reason may be right, but the first one seems spurious. Most remote workers are unlikely to be constantly on the VPN, especially if the system itself is not as user friendly or helpful as it could be. And if you’ve employed a bunch of slackers, you can bet that they’ll slack off in your office almost as well as they could slack off at home. The only difference is that you’ll have lost some productive hours due to traffic and commuting time.

Studies on telecommuting are conflicted right now, mainly because it’s a nuanced thing. It works well for some functions, but not others. It works well for some people, but not others. However, it seems that, in general, in increases productivity, wellness and motivation for most people.

So, why did she do it?

(more…)

A round up of predictions of future forces shaping our world

Posted on: March 21st, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

There are two types of future predictions: one looks to try and predict specific events and technologies, the other attempts to look beyond specifics at the causes of change and the forces that will shape the future. In a sense, the first looks for the milestones while the second attempts to find the general direction in our journey into the future. Both are important. Both are interesting. But they require different skill sets, and are meaningful in different ways.

Our company, TomorrowToday spends most of our time and effort on the second type of prediction, seeking out the disruptive forces and trends that are shaping the world around us, and especially the future of work in the next few years. Part of our research methodology includes meta-research as we track other researchers, futurists and insight companies.

Here is a selection of some of their recent insights into the forces that are causing change in the world. Read the articles we’ve linked to for much deeper analysis.

(more…)

A round up of predictions of future forces shaping our world

Posted on: March 21st, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

There are two types of future predictions: one looks to try and predict specific events and technologies, the other attempts to look beyond specifics at the causes of change and the forces that will shape the future. In a sense, the first looks for the milestones while the second attempts to find the general direction in our journey into the future. Both are important. Both are interesting. But they require different skill sets, and are meaningful in different ways.

Our company, TomorrowToday spends most of our time and effort on the second type of prediction, seeking out the disruptive forces and trends that are shaping the world around us, and especially the future of work in the next few years. Part of our research methodology includes meta-research as we track other researchers, futurists and insight companies.

Here is a selection of some of their recent insights into the forces that are causing change in the world. Read the articles we’ve linked to for much deeper analysis.

(more…)

Video: Principles of the digital age

Posted on: March 6th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

I was asked by a US based client to record a few videos for them to get their team thinking about change and success in the digital age we are entering. I thought I’d share one or two of these with you. This one is 9 minutes long and is a simple overview of the principles that underly the development of the digital age.

The question for you is simple: how do these principles play out in your products and services? The message is simple: you must do more and more of these things. How are you doing?

The principles for success in the digital age that I outline in the video are:

  • Mobile (Convergent)
  • Community
  • Social (communal)
  • Customisation
  • Immediate (Current, contiguous)
  • Conversation
  • Consistency / Constant
  • Clever, quirky, fun

This is not a comprehensive list. What would you add to this list?

Video: Principles of the digital age

Posted on: March 6th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I was asked by a US based client to record a few videos for them to get their team thinking about change and success in the digital age we are entering. I thought I’d share one or two of these with you. This one is 9 minutes long and is a simple overview of the principles that underly the development of the digital age.

The question for you is simple: how do these principles play out in your products and services? The message is simple: you must do more and more of these things. How are you doing?

The principles for success in the digital age that I outline in the video are:

  • Mobile (Convergent)
  • Community
  • Social (communal)
  • Customisation
  • Immediate (Current, contiguous)
  • Conversation
  • Consistency / Constant
  • Clever, quirky, fun

This is not a comprehensive list. What would you add to this list?

Weak signals becoming strong: Reshoring, shale gas and jobs in America

Posted on: February 26th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For a while now, our team has been tracking the shale gas issue. We flagged it a few years ago as a weak signal for massive disruptive change. It’s no longer weak: in our minds it is the single biggest force peeking over our horizons right now.

The discovery, all around the world, of a new source of energy will change the power politics of the globe in fundamental ways. In particular, American power politics will be turned on its head. It is now becoming increasingly likely that by the end of President Obama’s second term, America could be energy independent, have ridiculously low energy prices, have created significant numbers of jobs in the energy industry and “reshored” hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs as companies relocate their factories to America to be closer to cheap energy sources and their customer markets.

Now THAT would change the world. And it could happen in the next four years.

The Spectator last week picked up on this with a short article on the revival of American manufacturing. Read the original article here, or an extract below:

Reshoring: how jobs came flooding back to America

Cheap fuel is bringing jobs back from China to America’s former economic graveyards
by Simon Nixon, The Spectator, 16 February 2013

It is 20 years since the US presidential candidate Ross Perot railed against globalisation, warning of a ‘giant sucking sound’ as millions of jobs left America and went to foreign factories. The presidential hopeful warned that a new economic curse — offshoring — would shut steel mills and factories without government protection. But listen closely and a different sucking sound can now be heard: jobs coming back to America.

A country once panicked about ‘offshoring’ has a new buzzword: ‘re-shoring’. The US recovery is weak and unemployment remains high. But quietly, manufacturing has been making a strong recovery, adding 500,000 jobs since the end of the recession. America, influential analysts believe, is on the verge of a manufacturing renaissance.

Shale gas in USAThe ability to extract gas from shale rocks, by hydraulic fracturing, has helped gas prices collapse to about 20 per cent of the equivalent price of oil, according to HSBC. And less than half its price in most European countries. It suddenly makes sense to build in America again. For the energy-intensive chemical and metal industries, it makes more sense than ever to go west.

Dow Chemical, for example, is building an ethylene production plant in Texas to take advantage of more affordable energy. US Steel is investing $100 million in a new plant in Ohio — it now makes sense to use gas, instead of coal, to purify iron ore. ‘I don’t see there’ll be much left of Europe’s chemicals industry,’ the boss of one of Europe’s major energy groups told me recently. But cheap gas tells only a small part of the story. A stronger Chinese yuan and a weak dollar have handed US exporters a major competitive boost. The quadrupling in oil prices over the past decade has also sent transportation costs soaring.

It all adds up. Some companies may now find that it makes more sense to manufacture closer to their customers, particularly those whose products are heavy relative to their value. Caterpillar is investing $120 million making excavator machines in Texas, work that was previously carried out in Japan. AGCO, which makes tractors and heavy machinery, has recently boosted production in the US. Last year a Boston Consulting Group survey found that a third of America’s biggest manufacturers were considering moving work back to America from China.

Money aside, the long supply chains carry risks — just ask food groups caught up in the horsemeat scandal. Some US manufacturers were badly hit by supply line disruptions after the recent string of natural disasters in Asia. At the very least, they’ve learned it’s essential to diversify the supply chain. Manufacturing closer to your customers also brings other benefits: it’s easier to introduce innovations, there’s less currency risk and fewer neighbouring competitors stealing your ideas with impunity.

The re-shoring phenomenon is not a magic wand that will abolish the American deficit, slow its rising wage costs or cut its taxes and regulations. All of these remain problematic: PWC believes that the US companies pay higher tax than in any other developed nation. But US energy prices are now — as Germany’s BASF recently put it — ‘the lowest in a generation’. A Canadian methanol producer, Methanex, has already moved one of its Chilean plants to Louisiana and may move another. The jobs are going to parts of America that had been written off as economic graveyards.

Could it happen here? So far, there’s little sign that more expensive oil, a cheaper currency or even a competitive corporate tax rate have lit the spark for a British manufacturing renaissance. It doesn’t help to be so exposed to the struggling eurozone economy — although the export sectors in Ireland, Spain and Italy are all much stronger than in the UK. Britain’s recovery is also bedevilled by its financial system: credit conditions are easier in the US, where the banks are well-capitalised and the housing market is now recovering.

Now and again, David Cameron reminds us that Britain is engaged in a fierce ‘global race’ — and he regards Asian countries as the main competitors. The idea of multinational manufacturing giants being poached from the developing world to the American rustbelt is something that no one, not even the Americans, imagined a few years ago. The global race is still in its opening stages, but Uncle Sam may be about to take an early lead.

Source: This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 16 February 2013

Weak signals becoming strong: Reshoring, shale gas and jobs in America

Posted on: February 26th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For a while now, our team has been tracking the shale gas issue. We flagged it a few years ago as a weak signal for massive disruptive change. It’s no longer weak: in our minds it is the single biggest force peeking over our horizons right now.

The discovery, all around the world, of a new source of energy will change the power politics of the globe in fundamental ways. In particular, American power politics will be turned on its head. It is now becoming increasingly likely that by the end of President Obama’s second term, America could be energy independent, have ridiculously low energy prices, have created significant numbers of jobs in the energy industry and “reshored” hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs as companies relocate their factories to America to be closer to cheap energy sources and their customer markets.

Now THAT would change the world. And it could happen in the next four years.

The Spectator last week picked up on this with a short article on the revival of American manufacturing. Read the original article here, or an extract below:

Reshoring: how jobs came flooding back to America

Cheap fuel is bringing jobs back from China to America’s former economic graveyards
by Simon Nixon, The Spectator, 16 February 2013

(more…)

Witness the death of Blackberry

Posted on: February 18th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I don’t know if Blackberry 10 (the Z10 phone with the BB10 operating system) is going to be any good. I hope it is, for the sake of all my friends and clients who’s IT departments force them to use Blackberry phones. The problem is, I just don’t think the company has a future.

In this digital age, it seems that hardly a month goes by without a report of another iconic brand that has succumbed to the dreadful march of disruptive technologies. HMV, Borders, Kodak, Jessops, Blockbuster (and Movie Gallery, America’s #2 in this space), Loehmann’s, American Media (publisher of National Enquirer and Star magazines), Oddbins, Comet and many more have declared bankruptcy in the past few years.

We would not be surprised to see Blackberry (or RIM) go the same route, or, more likely, be bought out at a bargain basement price by Microsoft, Google or Nokia.

There are increasing signs of decline at Blackberry, many on display in the past week or so as the Blackberry 10 was launched. Besides the obvious business indicators – very few of which are heading in the right direction – here are a few more serious indicators that all is not well in the internal culture of Blackberry/RIM (follow the links for more details on each story):
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When will they learn that we live in an age of transparency?

Posted on: February 17th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This is a bit of a nerdy blog post. Or as we say in the UK, I am being an anorack. But I’ll declare that I am a fan of Elon Musk, of Tesla, and a media skeptic (all will become clear). I also believe that we are living in an age of transparency, and not enough people understand the implications of this.

It might just be that you’re the CEO of Yahoo and you think you can put false information on your CV (your name would be Mark Thompson – read his story here). Or you might be a journalist who literally just made up stories for the New York Times (that would make you Jayson Blair). Or you could be any number of politicians who say one thing one day and another thing the next (that might also make you a Fox News commentator). Whatever the issue, in the age of transparency you’re less and less likely to get away with it.

So now to Elon Musk. He is a South African who went to the same school as my brother did (Pretoria Boys High). He made a fortune as one of the founders of PayPal, and has since used his money to do some really cool “boys own” type stuff. He’s the first private individual to successfully launch a space rocket. He’s also started a really cool car company, Tesla, aiming to create high performance electric sports vehicles. He seems to be succeeding.

But the entrenched motor media and car journalists don’t like it, and enjoy trying to discredit him and trash his cars. But Elon is fighting back. His cars have all sorts of logging systems in them, and he ensured they were turned on recently when he gave one of them to a journalist to do a road test. It appears as if this journalist has just flat-out lied about the road test he did – and Elon can prove it.

The latest episode in the story is well reported here – if anything I’ve said so far interests you, I am sure you’ll love reading the whole story.

The lessons: data rules; nerds rule the world now; transparency wins; electric cars are coming; Elon Musk is the man. But mainly: Transparency wins! Be transparent: in your life and your company. You have been warned.

The best TED talks

Posted on: February 16th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

At one level, there is no such thing as “the best TED talk”. When the best thinkers in the world share a soundbite of insight the results are extraordinary, and there’s a reason that TED conferences are almost always sold out and the online archive one of the most visited educational websites in the world. But how would you define “the best” of these talks? It really depends on what inspired, touched, informed and changed you, and that would be different for each individual.

You could, of course, go with the list of most viewed TED talks. Ken Robinson tops that list, and it’s hard to argue that over 14 million could be wrong (his first and second TED talks would make my top 10, along with most of Hans Rosling’s, and talks on filter bubbles, pasta sauce and the paradox of choice).

Or you could ask your cleverest friend which TED videos they’ve enjoyed most. TED did this, and asked 26 interesting people (some celebrities, some musicians, some business people, some clever people) to select some of their best – here are the lists:

Finally, you can browse TED’s playlists – the best talks on key issues. A nice way to spend a weekend.

However you do it, make sure you pop past TED.com fairly regularly. Which are your favourites (and why)? I’d love to know.

The best TED talks

Posted on: February 16th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

At one level, there is no such thing as “the best TED talk”. When the best thinkers in the world share a soundbite of insight the results are extraordinary, and there’s a reason that TED conferences are almost always sold out and the online archive one of the most visited educational websites in the world. But how would you define “the best” of these talks? It really depends on what inspired, touched, informed and changed you, and that would be different for each individual.

You could, of course, go with the list of most viewed TED talks. Ken Robinson tops that list, and it’s hard to argue that over 14 million could be wrong (his first and second TED talks would make my top 10, along with most of Hans Rosling’s, and talks on filter bubbles, pasta sauce and the paradox of choice).

Or you could ask your cleverest friend which TED videos they’ve enjoyed most. TED did this, and asked 26 interesting people (some celebrities, some musicians, some business people, some clever people) to select some of their best – here are the lists:

Finally, you can browse TED’s playlists – the best talks on key issues. A nice way to spend a weekend.

However you do it, make sure you pop past TED.com fairly regularly. Which are your favourites (and why)? I’d love to know.

Improvising the revolution: Fail to win, like Steve Jobs

Posted on: February 11th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Lessons from AppleThe Apple Lisa. The Newton. Macintosh TV. The Apple III. The Powermac G4 Cube. Steve Jobs had a brilliant understanding of how technology trends were developing, yet even he messed up fairly regularly and spectacularly (although he got better with time – and practice) – see details here, with pictures, of the seven top Apple failures. In addition to product failures, Steve Jobs also made some really shocking business decisions – HBR lists his five worst here.

It’s vogue these days to learn all sorts of lessons from Apple. My take away is that you shouldn’t be scared of failure. And that if you have some big winners, people will soon forget your losers. HBR suggest that we learn that “the revolution will be improvised”.

“Even the great business visionaries and luminaries of our times often fail and have setbacks. Imperfection is a part of any creative process and of life, yet for some reason we live in a culture that has a paralyzing fear of failure, which prevents action and hardens a rigid perfectionism. It’s the single most disempowering state of mind you can have if you’d like to be more creative, inventive, or entrepreneurial. The antidote is to try a small experiment, one where any potential loss is knowable and affordable. The revolution will be improvised.”

What are you currently trying that has a fair chance of failure?
When was your last big failure? What did you learn from it?
Are you scared of failure?

Improvising the revolution: Fail to win, like Steve Jobs

Posted on: February 11th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Lessons from AppleThe Apple Lisa. The Newton. Macintosh TV. The Apple III. The Powermac G4 Cube. Steve Jobs had a brilliant understanding of how technology trends were developing, yet even he messed up fairly regularly and spectacularly (although he got better with time – and practice) – see details here, with pictures, of the seven top Apple failures. In addition to product failures, Steve Jobs also made some really shocking business decisions – HBR lists his five worst here.

It’s vogue these days to learn all sorts of lessons from Apple. My take away is that you shouldn’t be scared of failure. And that if you have some big winners, people will soon forget your losers. HBR suggest that we learn that “the revolution will be improvised”.

“Even the great business visionaries and luminaries of our times often fail and have setbacks. Imperfection is a part of any creative process and of life, yet for some reason we live in a culture that has a paralyzing fear of failure, which prevents action and hardens a rigid perfectionism. It’s the single most disempowering state of mind you can have if you’d like to be more creative, inventive, or entrepreneurial. The antidote is to try a small experiment, one where any potential loss is knowable and affordable. The revolution will be improvised.”

What are you currently trying that has a fair chance of failure?
When was your last big failure? What did you learn from it?
Are you scared of failure?

Are you a creator or a perfecter?

Posted on: February 5th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Seth Godin gets it spot on (as he normally does) with this insight from his blog last year. The question for you is simple: are you a creator, or are you in the business of perfecting what has been created? It might sound as if both are equally important, interesting and exciting. But in a world of change and turmoil, they are not. Creators take risks and seek change. Perfectors seek stability and status quo.

In Seth’s words, creators are capitalists and perfecters are industrialists. It is creators who will win in this new world of work.

Which are you?

Industrialists are not capitalists.

Capitalists take risks. They see an opportunity, an unmet need, and then they bring resources to bear to solve the problem and make a profit.

Industrialists seek stability instead.

(more…)

Are you a creator or a perfecter?

Posted on: February 5th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Seth Godin gets it spot on (as he normally does) with this insight from his blog last year. The question for you is simple: are you a creator, or are you in the business of perfecting what has been created? It might sound as if both are equally important, interesting and exciting. But in a world of change and turmoil, they are not. Creators take risks and seek change. Perfectors seek stability and status quo.

In Seth’s words, creators are capitalists and perfecters are industrialists. It is creators who will win in this new world of work.

Which are you?

Industrialists are not capitalists.

Capitalists take risks. They see an opportunity, an unmet need, and then they bring resources to bear to solve the problem and make a profit.

Industrialists seek stability instead.

(more…)

Women’s Equality is needed everywhere

Posted on: February 2nd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I am passionate about sport: especially cricket. You’ll also know that I am passionate about the roles and place of women in society, and our need to ensure equality and access to opportunities for men and women. I am also proud to be a South African: one of the only developing countries in the world to make the equality of women a cornerstone principle in its development.

In government and in business, women are given opportunities and developed. And they deliver on this investment. More could be done, but much has been achieved.

But this all falls apart when we look at sport. Women’s sport in South Africa is rubbish. That’s no comment on the talent and dedication of the many, many sportswomen who work so hard across so many sport disciplines. But they do not have the support, the funding or the structures to succeed. In the sport I love the most, cricket, this is most evident. The structures around the SA women’s cricket team are a joke. It’s unprofessional, shambolic and completely invisible. This is sad. And unnecessary.

One of my favourite cricket analysts, Jared Kimber, wrote about this on his blog yesterday, as he reflected on the opening games of the Women’s World Cup that is currently underway (did you even know that was happening)? He particularly reflects on the England vs Sri Lanka game. England have done a fantastic job of supporting their women cricketers, and the women’s game is strong in England because of it. But Sri Lanka took them to the wire – and prevailed. If only that game had been shown on TV.

It’s important that we invest in developing women’s sport. It’s not just in government and business that women need equality.

Make the most of social media: the difference between an audience and an individual

Posted on: January 31st, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

One of the numerous quotes attributed to Albert Einstein is: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” This is true in business, as it is in other areas of our lives. It has always been true, for example, of public relations. My wife trained professionally in the art and science of PR, and one of the ongoing issues is proving the true value of gaining media and public exposure. There are methods, of course, and PR agencies spend time tracking these benefits. But, ultimately, it comes down to seeing improvements in related – but not directly connected – issues. And maybe, right now, this statement is most true of social media.

Many senior executives are demanding impossible levels of measurement and “proof” before they approve the use of social media for their companies. And others that are trying to use social media end up abusing the channels because of a need to be measuring and counting specifics. Let’s call a spade a spade: companies want to know how they will get more money for their social media spend.

That’s a reasonable question. But the way to go about measuring it might not be.

Seth Godin wrote a great little piece last week that sums up what I am thinking about this:

Clean bathrooms

The facilities at DisneyWorld are clean. It’s not a profit center, of course. They don’t make them clean because they’re going to charge you to use them. They make them clean because if they didn’t, you’d have a reason not to come.

It turns out that just about everything we do involves cleaning the bathrooms. Creating an environment where care and trust are expressed. If you take a lot of time to ask, ‘how will this pay off,’ you’re probably asking the wrong question. When you are trusted because you care, it’s quite likely the revenue will take care of itself.

I’m a big fan of Richard Stacey and his insights into the world of social media. A few weeks ago on his blog, Richard highlighted the dangers of measuring the wrong things when using social media for business purposes, especially when using Facebook. Once again, I think he’s spot on. His article is definitely worth a read.

His point is that:

(more…)

Make the most of social media: the difference between an audience and an individual

Posted on: January 31st, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 2 Comments

One of the numerous quotes attributed to Albert Einstein is: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” This is true in business, as it is in other areas of our lives. It has always been true, for example, of public relations. My wife trained professionally in the art and science of PR, and one of the ongoing issues is proving the true value of gaining media and public exposure. There are methods, of course, and PR agencies spend time tracking these benefits. But, ultimately, it comes down to seeing improvements in related – but not directly connected – issues. And maybe, right now, this statement is most true of social media.

Many senior executives are demanding impossible levels of measurement and “proof” before they approve the use of social media for their companies. And others that are trying to use social media end up abusing the channels because of a need to be measuring and counting specifics. Let’s call a spade a spade: companies want to know how they will get more money for their social media spend.

That’s a reasonable question. But the way to go about measuring it might not be.

Seth Godin wrote a great little piece last week that sums up what I am thinking about this:

Clean bathrooms

The facilities at DisneyWorld are clean. It’s not a profit center, of course. They don’t make them clean because they’re going to charge you to use them. They make them clean because if they didn’t, you’d have a reason not to come.

It turns out that just about everything we do involves cleaning the bathrooms. Creating an environment where care and trust are expressed. If you take a lot of time to ask, ‘how will this pay off,’ you’re probably asking the wrong question. When you are trusted because you care, it’s quite likely the revenue will take care of itself.

I’m a big fan of Richard Stacey and his insights into the world of social media. A few weeks ago on his blog, Richard highlighted the dangers of measuring the wrong things when using social media for business purposes, especially when using Facebook. Once again, I think he’s spot on. His article is definitely worth a read.

His point is that:

(more…)

Tomorrow’s Retail – using data to help customers (not scare them)

Posted on: January 29th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

Tomorrow's RetailOur UK Strategic Insights team has recently released a report on “Tomorrow’s Retail” – and it’s now available for you to download. It’s filled with fantastic insights – like this one…

What if a retailer could anticipate what a customer needs before they even realise it themselves?

US store Target, famously got into hot water when it used analytics to predict when customers were pregnant in order to benefit from their upswing in spending and sent coupons to a teenage girl whose family were not yet aware of her pregnancy. Since then, the store has found subtler ways to target mums-to-be in a less intrusive fashion.

In our “Tomorrow’s Retail” report (download it now for free), we have found examples of retailers using purchasing data from milk to gas barbecue canisters to approach the customer with an offer before they have even considered shopping around.  And although it might sound a bit ‘Big Brother’, what a great service to the customer that could be, if executed with consideration.

Amazon is famous for using its data to powerful effect.  In pure merchandising terms, it reports that 30% of its sales come from its recommendation engine – that is, “Today’s Recommendations For You”, “Frequently Bought Together” and “What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?”  It also uses data to give a seamless feel to customer service calls, meaning that customers are not repeatedly asked to provide details that Amazon already possesses and customer service staff have access to the data they need – and thus removing those familiar frustrations we are all familiar with.

In a serious attempt to catch up with Amazon in the online space, US retailer Walmart is really taking its data seriously. It has made a massive investment in Walmart Labs, building new offices in a Silicon Valley base to give it access to the best tech talent.  It has so far launched its own semantic-based search engine and is developing ways of combining online data with store shopper data to give personalised homepages, and even taking a shopper’s local weather forecast into account when making purchasing suggestions.  Read all about it here.

The increasing pressure on businesses and governments to disclose information back to the public could cause retailers problems in their use of data – read about Smart Disclosure in this new HBR article.  Tesco, always in the forefront in the utilisation of data to help customers and drive sales, has pre-empted Government regulations with its plans to roll out “Clubcard Play” – a service that will give its loyalty card customers access to their own shopping history along with planning and goal-setting functions.  A bold attempt to harness another trend, gamification, to introduce some fun into grocery shopping.

The march of data continues.  Retailers lead, but all other consumer-facing businesses can and will need to follow.  How can you use the information your business has to help your customers? (not scare them!)

Tomorrow's Retail – using data to help customers (not scare them)

Posted on: January 29th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

Tomorrow's RetailOur UK Strategic Insights team has recently released a report on “Tomorrow’s Retail” – and it’s now available for you to download. It’s filled with fantastic insights – like this one…

What if a retailer could anticipate what a customer needs before they even realise it themselves?

US store Target, famously got into hot water when it used analytics to predict when customers were pregnant in order to benefit from their upswing in spending and sent coupons to a teenage girl whose family were not yet aware of her pregnancy. Since then, the store has found subtler ways to target mums-to-be in a less intrusive fashion.

In our “Tomorrow’s Retail” report (download it now for free), we have found examples of retailers using purchasing data from milk to gas barbecue canisters to approach the customer with an offer before they have even considered shopping around.  And although it might sound a bit ‘Big Brother’, what a great service to the customer that could be, if executed with consideration.

Amazon is famous for using its data to powerful effect.  In pure merchandising terms, it reports that 30% of its sales come from its recommendation engine – that is, “Today’s Recommendations For You”, “Frequently Bought Together” and “What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?”  It also uses data to give a seamless feel to customer service calls, meaning that customers are not repeatedly asked to provide details that Amazon already possesses and customer service staff have access to the data they need – and thus removing those familiar frustrations we are all familiar with.

In a serious attempt to catch up with Amazon in the online space, US retailer Walmart is really taking its data seriously. It has made a massive investment in Walmart Labs, building new offices in a Silicon Valley base to give it access to the best tech talent.  It has so far launched its own semantic-based search engine and is developing ways of combining online data with store shopper data to give personalised homepages, and even taking a shopper’s local weather forecast into account when making purchasing suggestions.  Read all about it here.

The increasing pressure on businesses and governments to disclose information back to the public could cause retailers problems in their use of data – read about Smart Disclosure in this new HBR article.  Tesco, always in the forefront in the utilisation of data to help customers and drive sales, has pre-empted Government regulations with its plans to roll out “Clubcard Play” – a service that will give its loyalty card customers access to their own shopping history along with planning and goal-setting functions.  A bold attempt to harness another trend, gamification, to introduce some fun into grocery shopping.

The march of data continues.  Retailers lead, but all other consumer-facing businesses can and will need to follow.  How can you use the information your business has to help your customers? (not scare them!)

Global warming deniers need to face the facts (and the heat)

Posted on: January 24th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

One of the key trends that my team and I track is the environment. There is no doubt that changes in our physical world, and our responses to them, are huge causes of disruptive change right now. When I do presentations on the TIDES of change (an acronym we use to talk of the five most disruptive forces of change), I am always a little nervous when I get to the “E” for environment. Especially in America, there is a danger that my audience will discount and dismiss everything else I say if I come out with a position on global warming and climate change that they don’t agree with.

It is a very divisive issue right now. So, I have found a way to hedge my bets a bit – especially in America – giving some credence to the position of the deniers and skeptics, allowing them the possibility that not all of the facts are in, but pointing out to them that governments are forcing through legislation and taxes anyway. So, I say, “I doesn’t really matter what you or I believe, this is an issue we are all facing.”

But I am going to stop this now. The facts ARE in, and the science IS conclusive.

The world is getting warmer, climates are changing, and this is having an impact on all of us. Globally, the ten hottest years on average on record have all been in the past fifteen years. In many countries, including the USA, 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded (previous highs for many countries were in 1998 or 1999). Australia’s climate scientists were forced last week to add an additional colour to the heat map, as they expected a high temperature of 52°C (surpassing the previous high of 50.7°C set in 1960), and a new high for national average maximum (40.3°C) and national average (32.2°C) temperatures.

Other national records around the world are being broken too as extremes of weather become more common. Last year, for example was the second most extreme, as measured by an NOAA index of weather extremes that includes temperature, precipitation, hurricanes and the like. Only 1998 was more variable. See The Economist’s map of extremes here.

The NY Times reported recently on a draft report by the US government‘s own advisory committee on the environment, which uses the most unequivocal language yet on the state of the climate. The report specifically cites scientific evidence that human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, are the primary cause of these changes. According to the NY Time, “it warns that if humanity fails to get a handle on emissions, the changes are likely to accelerate. And it cites numerous ways, from health problems to wildfires to extreme weather events, that climate change threatens human welfare – not in some distant land in some far-off time, but here in the United States, and soon.”

As the heat increases, and weather worsens, US corporate media coverage of global warming decreases, according to an analysis for Common Dreams. I am guessing they’re referring to right-wing, conservative media, because in his Inauguration speech on Monday, President Obama laid down a marker. Although he didn’t quite say that climate change is manmade, he certainly said everything else that could have been hoped for, and positioned his administration clearly against climate change deniers.

The simple point for me is this: with each passing year, it is becoming increasingly clear that the deniers are wrong, and the scientists who predict the effects of global warming are not just right, but also understating the seriousness of the situation (that’s good: scientists should never succumb to hyperbole or overstatement).

Global warming deniers need to face the facts, as we all face the heat.

Now let’s start having the REAL conversations: what are we going to do about it? And what are the opportunities for your business and your industry?

Global warming deniers need to face the facts (and the heat)

Posted on: January 24th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

One of the key trends that my team and I track is the environment. There is no doubt that changes in our physical world, and our responses to them, are huge causes of disruptive change right now. When I do presentations on the TIDES of change (an acronym we use to talk of the five most disruptive forces of change), I am always a little nervous when I get to the “E” for environment. Especially in America, there is a danger that my audience will discount and dismiss everything else I say if I come out with a position on global warming and climate change that they don’t agree with.

It is a very divisive issue right now. So, I have found a way to hedge my bets a bit – especially in America – giving some credence to the position of the deniers and skeptics, allowing them the possibility that not all of the facts are in, but pointing out to them that governments are forcing through legislation and taxes anyway. So, I say, “I doesn’t really matter what you or I believe, this is an issue we are all facing.”

But I am going to stop this now. The facts ARE in, and the science IS conclusive.

The world is getting warmer, climates are changing, and this is having an impact on all of us. Globally, the ten hottest years on average on record have all been in the past fifteen years. In many countries, including the USA, 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded (previous highs for many countries were in 1998 or 1999). Australia’s climate scientists were forced last week to add an additional colour to the heat map, as they expected a high temperature of 52°C (surpassing the previous high of 50.7°C set in 1960), and a new high for national average maximum (40.3°C) and national average (32.2°C) temperatures.

Other national records around the world are being broken too as extremes of weather become more common. Last year, for example was the second most extreme, as measured by an NOAA index of weather extremes that includes temperature, precipitation, hurricanes and the like. Only 1998 was more variable. See The Economist’s map of extremes here.

(more…)

New ways of working – the revolution is still rumbling along

Posted on: January 22nd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It was the early 1990s, and a new generation had started entering the world of work at just the time that personal computers were creating opportunities for significant change to the way the workplace functioned. Within just a few years, fax machines were released from the “fax operators” who controlled them, the typing pools were closed, secretaries were recommissioned as PA’s and then also released from service, outsourcing bloomed, management structures began to flatten, and all the men (and a few women) had to learn how to type.

And so business leaders looked around for new models of how to work. Most just made it up as they went along, and adapted their old structures to be workable in a technology driven office. But a few companies went to the edges, and tried to radically reinvent how work might work in the future. This is when our company, TomorrowToday, was started, and some of our early work was to look for these examples and extract the principles of these workplaces. We were most impressed by the Brazilian company, Semco, and the writers and thinkings of its CEO, Ricardo Semler (starting with ‘Maverick’ in 1993, followed by ‘The Seven Day Weekend’ and others).

But it was largely smaller companies, or departments within companies, where we saw the most innovation. A small manufacturing company in Durban that went completely open plan and hot desking before anyone else, and fully embraced Gen Xers need to have flexible careers. Or the finance department of one of Africa’s largest retailers, who went to flexi-time before anyone else did. Or the insurer who put a climbing wall and foosball tables into their reception area, and actively encouraged staff to use these regularly. Or many of our call centre clients who experimented with working from home, flexibility and different approaches to remuneration. We were even featured on Africa’s longest running investigative journalism TV show, Carte Blanche, as experts in this field of changing workplaces – see an extract of the feature here.

More recently, we’ve tracked companies like Zappos as they built an entire business around a different approach to workplace creation, and Google who have become the poster children for funky workplaces. (For ongoing insights, and our archives, see our blog category on ‘the workplace’).

But now in 2013, as we look around our clients – especially our larger, multinational ones – the revolution seems to have stalled. Management layers have flattened as much as is possible, it seems. Digital technology now threatens to overwhelm our clients, rather than enable them. And they’re largely still ‘doing work’ the way they were doing it in the late 1990s – just faster, cheaper and with slight improvements in quality. But only a very few are trying to revolutionise how we work in the light of all the changes taking place in the world around us.

(more…)

Useless retail statistics for December – time for the measurers to join the 21st century

Posted on: January 18th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

My heading doesn’t refer to bad UK retail results – I’m complaining about useless measurements and reporting.

Management Today reported today on the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) report on December retail sales last year. The headline shouted out: “Un-happy Christmas as UK retail sales slump“. The report explains that basically December 2012 saw no growth in retail sales. Technically there was a “seasonally-adjusted” 0.1% month on month growth. (Please, MT journalists, do your job and explain what this means. What is seasonal adjustment?)

Further down the report, and also reported in a totally different story in MT today, we learn that online sales soared. Journalists continue to report – as if it was news – that Internet shopping is on the rise. Really? What kind of journalism is this? What year are we living in that this is news?

If anything, the fact that bricks and mortar stores are actually not losing ground, while Internet sales grow in the double digits, is actually big news. You’d have thought that real-world retailers would be in free fall. So, it’s actually better news than they have a right to expect. That really is news.

But my real gripe is that the ONS still separates “retail sales” from “online sales” as if these were two different things. Almost all “retailers” have online stores. Why are these measured separately? Why does the ONS not combine these and show the improvement being made in overall retail sales?

Bad measuring, bad reporting, but not such bad numbers, all things considered.

Seth Godin: With great power comes great irresponsibility

Posted on: January 18th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

We are big fans of Seth Godin. Today, Seth posted this short, but hard hitting and spot on analysis on his website. We agree entirely.

Organizations tend to view “responsiblity” as doing the safe, proven and traditional tasks, because to do anything else is too risky. The more successful they become, the less inclined they are to explore the edges.

In fact, organizations with reach and leverage ought to be taking more risks, doing more generous work and creating bolder art. That’s the most responsible thing they can do.

Source: Seth Godin

Seth Godin: With great power comes great irresponsibility

Posted on: January 18th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Our team recently hosted some of UK clients at one of Seth Godin’s live events in London. We are big fans, and loved the evening. Today, Seth posted this short, but hard hitting and spot on analysis on his website. We agree entirely.

Organizations tend to view “responsiblity” as doing the safe, proven and traditional tasks, because to do anything else is too risky. The more successful they become, the less inclined they are to explore the edges.

In fact, organizations with reach and leverage ought to be taking more risks, doing more generous work and creating bolder art. That’s the most responsible thing they can do.

Source: Seth Godin

Video: Disruptive changes in the travel industry

Posted on: January 17th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In October 2012, I spoke at the ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) Annual European Convention in Rome. The topic of my 45 minute keynote presentation was “Leading in a Changing World”, and I outlined three key reasons the world is changing, and three key responses that we need to make as individual leaders.

The presentation was recorded, and ACTE have uploaded it to their YouTube channel in three parts. You can see them below or follow the links to YouTube.

For more videos of me in action, click here, or go to my own YouTube channel. This year, I am focusing a lot more on producing short video resources (4-5 minutes each), specifically capturing my insights into the disruptive changes I see in the world as I work in different countries and with multiple industries. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be alerted whenever I upload a new video resource.

You can also watch our TomorrowToday Business TV channel here. We are producing this in partnership with YourBusinessChannel, and it’s a constantly updating resource on the new world of work.

But, now, back to the Rome, and the disruptive changes facing the travel industry:

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Video: Disruptive changes in the travel industry

Posted on: January 17th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In October 2012, I spoke at the ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) Annual European Convention in Rome. The topic of my 45 minute keynote presentation was “Leading in a Changing World”, and I outlined three key reasons the world is changing, and three key responses that we need to make as individual leaders.

The presentation was recorded, and ACTE have uploaded it to their YouTube channel in three parts. You can see them below or follow the links to YouTube.

For more videos of me in action, click here, or go to my own YouTube channel. This year, I am focusing a lot more on producing short video resources (4-5 minutes each), specifically capturing my insights into the disruptive changes I see in the world as I work in different countries and with multiple industries. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be alerted whenever I upload a new video resource.

You can also watch our TomorrowToday Business TV channel here. We are producing this in partnership with YourBusinessChannel, and it’s a constantly updating resource on the new world of work.

But, now, back to the Rome, and the disruptive changes facing the travel industry:

(more…)

In Conference: Thoughts on the future (and how to become a futurist)

Posted on: January 14th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

Late last year, I was interviewed by Michael Jackson (“the other MJ”) for his radio show on Mix FM in Johannesburg. It has a half hour interview on future trends that included some reflections on the future of Africa (it’s golden), how to be a futurist (hard work), the power of technology to build a better future (it’s mind blowing right now), and three things that businesses need to do to prepare for an uncertain future (you’ll have to listen to find out what these are).

The interview was broadcast on Mix FM on Michael’s drive time show. It’s now available as a podcast.

In Conference with Michael Jackson on Mix93.8FM ~ Graeme Codrington by The Other Michael Jackson on Mixcloud

In Conference: Thoughts on the future (and how to become a futurist)

Posted on: January 14th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Late last year, I was interviewed by Michael Jackson (“the other MJ”) for his radio show on Mix FM in Johannesburg. It has a half hour interview on future trends that included some reflections on the future of Africa (it’s golden), how to be a futurist (hard work), the power of technology to build a better future (it’s mind blowing right now), and three things that businesses need to do to prepare for an uncertain future (you’ll have to listen to find out what these are).

The interview was broadcast on Mix FM on Michael’s drive time show. It’s now available as a podcast.

In Conference with Michael Jackson on Mix93.8FM ~ Graeme Codrington by The Other Michael Jackson on Mixcloud

Still the very best thing we could do: End extreme poverty in a generation

Posted on: January 12th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For the last few years, I have been involved with The Global Poverty Project, a charity with the goal of seeing the end to extreme poverty within a generation. They support the work of other charities, of advocacy groups and of corporations who are working together to make this dream a reality. Their flagship “product” is a remarkable presentation, “1.4 Billion Reasons” which they want as many people as possible to see.

You can book one of GPP volunteer presenters to come and deliver this to any group – from your company’s annual conference to a small group of friends at a dinner party. Check it out here and find out about hosting a presentation. You can also sign up to their newsletter and blog to be kept up to date about advances and challenges, and practical advice and encouragement about what you can do, to help end extreme poverty in a generation.

As you begin another year, with all your resolutions (have you broken any yet?) and plans, please just pause for a moment to consider that about 1.4 billion people do not have any choices about their future. Many of them will die this year, for no other reason than that they are poor and cannot afford a few life giving essentials. Most of these poor people are children, who’s futures are eroded daily by their circumstances. And just like people with chronic illnesses, this is not a condition that they can escape from by themselves. They need help. Often it’s just the tiniest bit of assistance that makes all the difference.

(more…)

Still the very best thing we could do: End extreme poverty in a generation

Posted on: January 12th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For the last few years, I have been involved with The Global Poverty Project, a charity with the goal of seeing the end to extreme poverty within a generation. They support the work of other charities, of advocacy groups and of corporations who are working together to make this dream a reality. Their flagship “product” is a remarkable presentation, “1.4 Billion Reasons” which they want as many people as possible to see.

You can book one of GPP volunteer presenters to come and deliver this to any group – from your company’s annual conference to a small group of friends at a dinner party. Check it out here and find out about hosting a presentation. You can also sign up to their newsletter and blog to be kept up to date about advances and challenges, and practical advice and encouragement about what you can do, to help end extreme poverty in a generation.

As you begin another year, with all your resolutions (have you broken any yet?) and plans, please just pause for a moment to consider that about 1.4 billion people do not have any choices about their future. Many of them will die this year, for no other reason than that they are poor and cannot afford a few life giving essentials. Most of these poor people are children, who’s futures are eroded daily by their circumstances. And just like people with chronic illnesses, this is not a condition that they can escape from by themselves. They need help. Often it’s just the tiniest bit of assistance that makes all the difference.

Save the children report coverJust this week, the Save the Children charity in the UK released their action plan for ‘Ending Poverty in our Generation’. They suggest an ambitious global programme to follow on from the Millennial Development Goals (which will end in 2015), with an outcome of ending extreme poverty by 2030. Read their report here (PDF).

If every one of us who has choices and means helped just one person escape poverty this year, the problem would be solved by Christmas. It really is that simple. And yet, of course, it is so much more difficult than that. This is our generation’s challenge, and we must rise to it.

So what are you going to do about it this year? It is the most important social issue of our day. Please do something; anything – no matter how small – to help us take one more step towards the end of extreme poverty in 2013.

The GPP’s website has a page dedicated to inspiring and assisting you to take action: check it out here. One example of something small to do would be to try the “Live Below the Line” challenge – survive on just $2 food a day for 5 days. Click here to watch a video I recorded in 2011 when I participated in the challenge. Maybe that is something that you can commit to this year – click here to pre-register your interest. Or maybe there is something else? Just do it.

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela

Video: Five forces shaping the future of business

Posted on: January 10th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This is my book project for 2013: The TIDES of Change. This is a look at the five most important forces that are causing disruptive change in the world right now; and, of course, how we should respond as individuals, leaders, organisations and industries. I have been speaking about this topic for a few years now and our research team has been working hard on it, but now it is time to finally get it into book format.

If you would like me, or one of my team to speak at your next conference about this topic, then please contact us to find out how we can help you and your organisation face the future with confidence. I have teams based in South Africa and the UK who can assist you, or for other regions you can contact me directly.

Here’s a quick overview of what it will be all about:

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

Video: Five forces shaping the future of business

Posted on: January 10th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This is my book project for 2013: The TIDES of Change. This is a look at the five most important forces that are causing disruptive change in the world right now; and, of course, how we should respond as individuals, leaders, organisations and industries. I have been speaking about this topic for a few years now and our research team has been working hard on it, but now it is time to finally get it into book format.

If you would like me, or one of my team to speak at your next conference about this topic, then please contact us to find out how we can help you and your organisation face the future with confidence. I have teams based in South Africa and the UK who can assist you, or for other regions you can contact me directly.

Here’s a quick overview of what it will be all about:

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

What are teachers worth?

Posted on: January 9th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

At the start of another school year here in South Africa, there are once again rumours that teachers in the highly politicised government teachers’ unions might go on strike to demand more pay. This is just crazy.

Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year (in some government schools, even less)! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit! We can get that for minimum wage.

That’s right: let’s give them R9.85 an hour (which is the 2013 government-mandated minimum wage for an unskilled domestic worker who works more than 27 hours in an urban area – and we all know that it is these women who provide the bulk of South Africa’s babysitting services), and let’s only pay the hours they worked. Teachers will whine that there’s a lot of planning time, and marking and extramurals. But who can really tell how hard that all is, and besides teachers love it, so they can just treat that stuff as a hobby.

Let’s stick to paying them for their time in the classroom – when they’re actually babysitting the children. That would be R64 a day (they start at 7am and end at 2pm, with a half hour -unpaid!- for lunch: that equals 6 1/2 hours: R9.85 * 6.5 = R64). (I just checked with my wife, and we pay the woman who works in our home a couple of times a week about R 180 per day, but she is lovely, charming and works REALLY hard. I also believe that we paid a university student about R20 an hour last week to babysit while we went out to movies – but she wore glasses and looked very clever, and it was at night, so I am sure she deserved it).

Anyway, R64 per day sounds right for teachers. Each parent should pay R64 a day for these teachers to babysit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day: maybe 32 (in good schools – more in other schools)? So that’s R64 x 32 = R2,048 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year! We’re surely not going to pay them for any vacations!

So that’s R2,048 X 180 = R368,640 per year. And not a cent more, I tell you!

Simpson teacher salaryBut wait…

The median High School teacher’s salary in South Africa is R153,324 per year. R153,324! So let’s see: R153,324 / 180 days = R851.80 per day / 32 students = R26.62 / 6.5 hours = R4.10 per hour per student – a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids! WHAT A DEAL!!!!

Heaven forbid we take into account highly qualified teachers and what they should be earning.

Make a teacher smile; re-post this to show appreciation.

Nine 2012 stories that will change the world in 2013

Posted on: January 8th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Yesterday, the Common Dreams blog ran an excellent piece by Sarah van Gelder on nine key trends that started last year and will continue to impact the world this year. Most of these are disruptive forces, and chime well with the work we do with our strategic insights team at TomorrowToday. While the article is quite US-centric in its focus, we believe that many of these forces will influence most nations and industries across the world in 2013.

Read the full article at Common Dreams here, or an extended extract below:

9 Stories That Will Change Your World in 2013

by Sarah van Gelder
Published on Thursday, January 3, 2013 by YES! Magazine

2012 was a year of superstorms, mass shootings, debt strikes, and the most spendy election ever. Here’s how last year’s most important stories will shape 2013.

While the Earth didn’t end on December 21, 2012, the year’s end was marked by a new awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis. Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the preciousness and fragility of life on Earth. That and other cultural shifts are setting the stage for significant change in the year ahead.

Nine key trends tell the story:

1. Climate Crisis: Alarm Translates Into Action

The climate crisis is the top story of 2012, with record-breaking heat, severe drought that led to the declaration of more than half of U.S. counties as disaster zones, wildfires that burned more than 9 million acres, and superstorm Sandy, with costs reaching into the billions. Four out of five Americans now believe that the climate problem is serious, according to an AP-Gfk poll.

The Obama administration has done little to address this problem—in part because of congressional resistance—but did set higher fuel emissions standards for automobiles, an important step in curtailing greenhouse gases.

(more…)

Nine 2012 stories that will change the world in 2013

Posted on: January 8th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Yesterday, the Common Dreams blog ran an excellent piece by Sarah van Gelder on nine key trends that started last year and will continue to impact the world this year. Most of these are disruptive forces, and chime well with the work we do with our strategic insights team at TomorrowToday. While the article is quite US-centric in its focus, we believe that many of these forces will influence most nations and industries across the world in 2013.

Read the full article at Common Dreams here, or an extended extract below:

9 Stories That Will Change Your World in 2013

by Sarah van Gelder
Published on Thursday, January 3, 2013 by YES! Magazine

2012 was a year of superstorms, mass shootings, debt strikes, and the most spendy election ever. Here’s how last year’s most important stories will shape 2013.

While the Earth didn’t end on December 21, 2012, the year’s end was marked by a new awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis. Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the preciousness and fragility of life on Earth. That and other cultural shifts are setting the stage for significant change in the year ahead.

Nine key trends tell the story:

1. Climate Crisis: Alarm Translates Into Action

The climate crisis is the top story of 2012, with record-breaking heat, severe drought that led to the declaration of more than half of U.S. counties as disaster zones, wildfires that burned more than 9 million acres, and superstorm Sandy, with costs reaching into the billions. Four out of five Americans now believe that the climate problem is serious, according to an AP-Gfk poll.

The Obama administration has done little to address this problem—in part because of congressional resistance—but did set higher fuel emissions standards for automobiles, an important step in curtailing greenhouse gases.

(more…)

If America was really serious about the economy, it would end the ‘war on terror’

Posted on: January 7th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I’ll be upfront: I hate war. These simple three words were etched in my mind forever as I stood in front of Gallery Room 3 at the open air memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, DC (see picture). In 1936, FDR said: “I have seen war. I have see war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded… I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed… I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.” I have not seen all that FDR had seen, but as a conscripted serviceman in the South Africa military near the end of apartheid, I have seen enough to know that I hate war.

I particularly hate the “war of terror” being perpetrated by the American government. And I think that every business person and young graduate in America – and around the world – should hate it too. And, where possible – especially if you are American – do something to end it (unless you’re in government or the arms industry, I suppose – but more on that below).

Last month, Jeh Johnson, General Counsel for the US Department of Defense gave a speech at the Oxford Union (watch it on YouTube, 24 mins) and said that the ‘War on Terror’ must, at some point, come to an end:

“Now that efforts by the US military against al-Qaida are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves: How will this conflict end?… ‘War’ must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs. We must not accept the current conflict, and all that it entails, as the ‘new normal.’ Peace must be regarded as the norm toward which the human race continually strives… There will come a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, that al-Qaida will be effectively destroyed…”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interviewed Johnson last week, and introduced the segment as follows:

“When does this thing we are in now end? And if it does not have an end — and I’m not speaking as a lawyer here, I am just speaking as a citizen who feels morally accountable for my country’s actions — if it does not have an end, then morally speaking it does not seem like it is a war. And then, our country is killing people and locking them up outside the traditional judicial system in a way I think we maybe cannot be forgiven for.”

All the while, this ‘war on terror’ is costing the country huge amounts of money and stripping America of its liberties. And this is where it becomes a business issue – not just for Americans, but for all of us.

(more…)

If America was really serious about the economy, it would end the 'war on terror'

Posted on: January 7th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I’ll be upfront: I hate war. These simple three words were etched in my mind forever as I stood in front of Gallery Room 3 at the open air memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, DC (see picture). In 1936, FDR said: “I have seen war. I have see war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded… I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed… I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.” I have not seen all that FDR had seen, but as a conscripted serviceman in the South Africa military near the end of apartheid, I have seen enough to know that I hate war.

I particularly hate the “war of terror” being perpetrated by the American government. And I think that every business person and young graduate in America – and around the world – should hate it too. And, where possible – especially if you are American – do something to end it (unless you’re in government or the arms industry, I suppose – but more on that below).

Last month, Jeh Johnson, General Counsel for the US Department of Defense gave a speech at the Oxford Union (watch it on YouTube, 24 mins) and said that the ‘War on Terror’ must, at some point, come to an end:

“Now that efforts by the US military against al-Qaida are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves: How will this conflict end?… ‘War’ must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs. We must not accept the current conflict, and all that it entails, as the ‘new normal.’ Peace must be regarded as the norm toward which the human race continually strives… There will come a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, that al-Qaida will be effectively destroyed…”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interviewed Johnson last week, and introduced the segment as follows:

“When does this thing we are in now end? And if it does not have an end — and I’m not speaking as a lawyer here, I am just speaking as a citizen who feels morally accountable for my country’s actions — if it does not have an end, then morally speaking it does not seem like it is a war. And then, our country is killing people and locking them up outside the traditional judicial system in a way I think we maybe cannot be forgiven for.”

All the while, this ‘war on terror’ is costing the country huge amounts of money and stripping America of its liberties. And this is where it becomes a business issue – not just for Americans, but for all of us.

(more…)

If America was really serious about the economy, it would end the ‘war on terror’

Posted on: January 7th, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I’ll be upfront: I hate war. These simple three words were etched in my mind forever as I stood in front of Gallery Room 3 at the open air memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, DC (see picture). In 1936, FDR said: “I have seen war. I have see war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded… I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed… I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.” I have not seen all that FDR had seen, but as a conscripted serviceman in the South Africa military near the end of apartheid, I have seen enough to know that I hate war.

I particularly hate the “war of terror” being perpetrated by the American government. And I think that every business person and young graduate in America – and around the world – should hate it too. And, where possible – especially if you are American – do something to end it (unless you’re in government or the arms industry, I suppose – but more on that below).

Last month, Jeh Johnson, General Counsel for the US Department of Defense gave a speech at the Oxford Union (watch it on YouTube, 24 mins) and said that the ‘War on Terror’ must, at some point, come to an end:

“Now that efforts by the US military against al-Qaida are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves: How will this conflict end?… ‘War’ must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs. We must not accept the current conflict, and all that it entails, as the ‘new normal.’ Peace must be regarded as the norm toward which the human race continually strives… There will come a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, that al-Qaida will be effectively destroyed…”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interviewed Johnson last week, and introduced the segment as follows:

“When does this thing we are in now end? And if it does not have an end — and I’m not speaking as a lawyer here, I am just speaking as a citizen who feels morally accountable for my country’s actions — if it does not have an end, then morally speaking it does not seem like it is a war. And then, our country is killing people and locking them up outside the traditional judicial system in a way I think we maybe cannot be forgiven for.”

All the while, this ‘war on terror’ is costing the country huge amounts of money and stripping America of its liberties. And this is where it becomes a business issue – not just for Americans, but for all of us.

(more…)

Keys to creativity and successful organisational leadership in 2013

Posted on: January 2nd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

These are probably the two issues that will most affect your company’s value in the year ahead: creativity and leadership. You need to find where your company can grow, can improve and can enhance its value. And you need to be able to move the organisation – all its people, its resources and its structures – in those directions.

Two articles caught my eye at the start of this new year. Each one gets you thinking and offers a mere introduction to much deeper issues. But it’s still early in January, so maybe all you really need right now is just a nudge in the right direction. We’ll be writing more on these issues in the next few months (if you really can’t wait, please contact one of our team to make an appointment to speak to us about these issues).

So, let’s start with creativity: what you want is fresh thinking, seeing what others can’t (or won’t), making connections, finding new things. Fast Company’s Co.Create magazine recently carried an article on how we need to use our intuition to develop creative thinking. It’s written by Douglas van Praet, author of “Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing” (get it on Kindle) and the team leader behind VW’s iconic “Star Wars” advert. Read their article here. The summary is deceptively simple: there are seven steps to engaging creativity consistently:
(more…)

Keys to creativity and successful organisational leadership in 2013

Posted on: January 2nd, 2013 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

These are probably the two issues that will most affect your company’s value in the year ahead: creativity and leadership. You need to find where your company can grow, can improve and can enhance its value. And you need to be able to move the organisation – all its people, its resources and its structures – in those directions.

Two articles caught my eye at the start of this new year. Each one gets you thinking and offers a mere introduction to much deeper issues. But it’s still early in January, so maybe all you really need right now is just a nudge in the right direction. We’ll be writing more on these issues in the next few months (if you really can’t wait, please contact one of our team to make an appointment to speak to us about these issues).

So, let’s start with creativity: what you want is fresh thinking, seeing what others can’t (or won’t), making connections, finding new things. Fast Company’s Co.Create magazine recently carried an article on how we need to use our intuition to develop creative thinking. It’s written by Douglas van Praet, author of “Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing” (get it on Kindle) and the team leader behind VW’s iconic “Star Wars” advert. Read their article here. The summary is deceptively simple: there are seven steps to engaging creativity consistently:
(more…)

27 Science Fictions That Became Science Facts In 2012

Posted on: December 31st, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

What a wonderful way to end 2012: looking back at this marvellous year in technology. We really are living at the very beginning of a remarkable technological golden age. In the next few years, we are going to be astounded at some of the technologies that will emerge into our every day lives.

This list from BuzzFeed is a great way to remind ourselves of just how fast technology is progressing. Here are 27 things we thought we could only dream of that became reality in the past year. See the full write up, with many videos and pictures here.

Robot worldThe list includes:

  • Discoveries of distant planets (with four suns)
  • Robot exoskeletons
  • Thought controlled prosthetics
  • Flexible glass for computer displays
  • Commercial space flights
  • The blind can see and the deaf can hear
  • The Higgs Boson is discovered
  • Monkeys are properly artifically ‘created’
  • 3-d printing of genetic material (bones printed from stem cells)
  • Self-driving cars legal in three US States
  • We reach the deepest known point in the ocean
  • Invisibility cloak works
  • GM silk is stronger than steel
  • A robot navigates a complete obstacle course unaided

What would you add to this list?

27 Science Fictions That Became Science Facts In 2012

Posted on: December 31st, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

What a wonderful way to end 2012: looking back at this marvellous year in technology. We really are living at the very beginning of a remarkable technological golden age. In the next few years, we are going to be astounded at some of the technologies that will emerge into our every day lives.

This list from BuzzFeed is a great way to remind ourselves of just how fast technology is progressing. Here are 27 things we thought we could only dream of that became reality in the past year. See the full write up, with many videos and pictures here.

The list includes:

  • Discoveries of distant planets (with four suns)
  • Robot exoskeletons
  • Thought controlled prosthetics
  • Flexible glass for computer displays
  • Commercial space flights
  • The blind can see and the deaf can hear
  • The Higgs Boson is discovered
  • Monkeys are properly artifically ‘created’
  • 3-d printing of genetic material (bones printed from stem cells)
  • Self-driving cars legal in three US States
  • We reach the deepest known point in the ocean
  • Invisibility cloak works
  • GM silk is stronger than steel
  • A robot navigates a complete obstacle course unaided

What would you add to this list?

Our top 10 posts of 2012

Posted on: December 30th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This past year has been an interesting one in the global economy, and our team has continued to work hard to make sense of the disruptive forces that are shaping our near future. Based on number of views, here are the top ten blog posts that caught our readers’ eyes in the last twelve months:

To keep updated on our work and insights, sign up for a fortnightly email newsletter here (there’s also a full archive of the last two years’ worth of newsletters at that site).

Happy new year.

Our secret recipe: Playful AND Powerful

Posted on: December 29th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In this world flooded with data and information, we need to learn to repackage information to make it useful, accessible and influential. Peter Drucker is credited with the statement that we need to be both “playful and powerful”. If what you do is merely powerful, it might be important, but it will be boring and therefore ignored. If you err by making it merely playful, then it might be interesting, but it will be trite and quickly forgotten.

At TomorrowToday, we have always strived to package our strategic insights in ways that are both powerful and playful. We use multimedia, humour and other forms of stage craft to help us achieve “powerful and playful”. This is something every communicator has to aim for these days.

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

Your next CEO: insider or outsider? Filtered or not? (There is a right answer for you)

Posted on: December 18th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Ever since Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” came out a decade ago, it has been the received wisdom that the best CEOs are those that rise up through a corporation are better than outsiders who are parachuted in. But is this true?

As part of an article on a different topic (Is Lincoln really a good model for leaders?), The Economist’s Schumpeter column recently commented on two studies that have something very interesting to say on this important topic. The conclusion is compelling: it depends! It depends specifically on where your company is in its business cycle, and who the leader actually is. Read the original Economist article here (subscription may be required), or an extract below:

Lincoln and leadership

Outsiders can make the best leaders—and also the worst
Dec 1st 2012

In his new book, ‘Indispensable’, Gautam Mukunda, of Harvard Business School … examines one of the liveliest debates in modern management — whether insiders or outsiders make better bosses. Before the financial crisis the consensus was strongly in favour of insiders. But it is shifting, partly because so many insiders made a hash of things and partly because companies are casting around for a way to reignite growth. In an annual study of 2,500 companies Booz & Company, a consultancy, calculates that the proportion of chief-executive posts going to outsiders rose from 14% in 2007 to 22% in 2011. In Europe the share went from 14% to 31%. …

(more…)

Trends to watch in 2013

Posted on: December 14th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It’s that time of year when we take stock of what has happened in the year that has flashed by, and look ahead to the year that’s rushing towards us. What will it be like? Our team has some ideas based on our work looking at disruptive change and trends.

The dominating driving force in 2013 will be technology. No surprise there. But the big news is that technology is changing. It’s no longer merely a means of doing what we used to do, but doing it cheaper, better and faster. We’re rapidly reaching the tipping point where most technology is designed to do things we’ve never done before. I call this the third wave of the digital age – see my TED talk as a primer.

Your best example here is the 2012 breakout innovation: the driverless car (made legal in Nevada and California this past year). By 2020 it is conceivable that not only will major cities give these cars licenses, they will also make them compulsory. Once every car in a given area is driverless, every car can interact with every other car, and the system of cars can negotiate a traffic pattern that is optimised for that period of time. We can also get more cars going faster on existing roads. Networked cars can do things humans cannot do. This use of technology to do things we cannot do is what we will begin to see more and more of in 2013 (and beyond).

2013 is also going to be a year of revenue boosting for tech companies. Market research company, IDC predicts that consumer spending on IT will increase globally by 6% in 2013, to a whopping $2.1 trillion in the year. Companies are in dire need of upgrading their tech, and will fuel this trend. That 6% prediction is just a global average, however. Tech growth in emerging economies will roar ahead, with 10%+ growth in the year. In this environment, the winners will be the big companies that dominate and the small innovators who come out with new products and services. Struggling mid-market companies will be unlikely to survive. At TomorrowToday, we track trends, and tend to steer clear of specific market predictions, especially in the short term, but we’d not be surprised at all to see both Nokia and RIM bought out in 2013.

In this context, then, here are some specific trends to keep an eye on:

(more…)

Trends to watch in 2013

Posted on: December 14th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It’s that time of year when we take stock of what has happened in the year that has flashed by, and look ahead to the year that’s rushing towards us. What will it be like? Our team has some ideas based on our work looking at disruptive change and trends.

The dominating driving force in 2013 will be technology. No surprise there. But the big news is that technology is changing. It’s no longer merely a means of doing what we used to do, but doing it cheaper, better and faster. We’re rapidly reaching the tipping point where most technology is designed to do things we’ve never done before. I call this the third wave of the digital age – see my TED talk as a primer.

Your best example here is the 2012 breakout innovation: the driverless car (made legal in Nevada and California this past year). By 2020 it is conceivable that not only will major cities give these cars licenses, they will also make them compulsory. Once every car in a given area is driverless, every car can interact with every other car, and the system of cars can negotiate a traffic pattern that is optimised for that period of time. We can also get more cars going faster on existing roads. Networked cars can do things humans cannot do. This use of technology to do things we cannot do is what we will begin to see more and more of in 2013 (and beyond).

2013 is also going to be a year of revenue boosting for tech companies. Market research company, IDC predicts that consumer spending on IT will increase globally by 6% in 2013, to a whopping $2.1 trillion in the year. Companies are in dire need of upgrading their tech, and will fuel this trend. That 6% prediction is just a global average, however. Tech growth in emerging economies will roar ahead, with 10%+ growth in the year. In this environment, the winners will be the big companies that dominate and the small innovators who come out with new products and services. Struggling mid-market companies will be unlikely to survive. At TomorrowToday, we track trends, and tend to steer clear of specific market predictions, especially in the short term, but we’d not be surprised at all to see both Nokia and RIM bought out in 2013.

In this context, then, here are some specific trends to keep an eye on:

(more…)

The Best Contribution You Can Make: If Not You, Then Who?

Posted on: December 13th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

PARAISÓPOLISAs I write this article, it’s the Christmas season, but it doesn’t feel very jolly.  We live in a world filled with uncertainties, and 2013 is vague and potentially scary for many of us.  Can the US stop itself falling over a fiscal cliff?  Can the Middle East calm down?  Can North Korea do the same? Can the ANC elect a leader who will actually lead South Africa with vision and integrity?  Can Europe ensure it doesn’t spiral into economic chaos?  Can China transition to a new leader without slowing its growth?  Can your company adapt to a changing world?  Can your family survive next year?  So many unanswerable questions and uncertainties.  It doesn’t feel like a very merry Christmas this year.

In an attempt to capture some Christmas spirit, I recently listened to a reading of probably the second most famous Christmas story (after the main one about a baby born in Bethlehem).  I’m referring, of course, to Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, where the world first met Scrooge.  As his story unfolds, we witness a most amazing transformation; and there are lessons there for us.  But more of that in a moment.

Dickens was writing nearly two centuries ago, but the world he was writing about is astoundingly familiar to us today.  The divide between rich and poor, which so exercised Dickens’ imagination, is just as evident today as it was back then.  Although technically speaking, America has become one of the most divided nations in the world, with a growing gulf between rich and poor, this visual evidence of a divide is particularly stark in Africa.  That’s been proven scientifically: the measurement is called the gini-coefficient of national income distribution, and refers to the difference in wealth between the richest and poorest people in each country around the world.  South Africa is one of the most unequal nations (in some calculations it tops the list!).

The result of this is growing poverty, unemployment, rising anger and crime.  These symptoms are sadly well known in African society – we’re well aware of the ‘ghosts of Christmas’ in what has been called ‘the dark continent’.  But this isn’t just an African – or developing nations – problem.  All around the world there are symptoms that a growing divide between rich and poor is becoming increasingly unpopular and unacceptable to everyone (except, possibly, the rich).  There are many symptoms indicating that this is a problem, including: the ‘occupy’ city movements started in 2011, the huge negative response to excessive executive pay and the growing demand for government regulations in many industries, especially banking.

And rightly so.  In the UK, for example, the average remuneration for senior executives increased by 49% last year.  Yes, the same year that saw massive lay offs, rising unemployment, cut backs, corporate losses and apologies from bosses to their staff for not raising salaries or paying bonuses.  Yet, senior executives voted themselves these amazing increases.  In a report published in the Sunday Times in September 2011, it was shown that South Africa’s wealthiest 100 had seen their wealth increase by 62% in the previous two year period.  Some recession that is.  (A similar statistic is true in the UK and the USA as well.)

In history, we know that almost without exception, when the poor become too disgruntled, they rise up against the rich.  We’d be foolish to think that could not happen again.

Let’s Do Something About It

In an attempt to try and deal with the issues of the world’s poorest people, the governments of the world therefore got together in the year 2000 and formulated a plan to attempt to rescue the world’s most under developed regions by the year 2015.  The plan was summarized by the United Nations as eight “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs), which have guided the work of many governments and aid agencies ever since.

More recently, the South Africa government has done something similar by identifying the country’s problems and suggesting a plan of action for the next two decades.  The introduction to The National Planning Commission’s (NPC: see http://www.npconline.co.za/) action plan says:

South Africa can eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. It will require change, hard work, leadership and unity.  Our goal is to improve the life chances of all South Africans, but particularly those young people who presently live in poverty.

The plan asks for a major change in how we go about our lives.  In the past, we expected government to do things for us. What South Africa needs is for all of us to be active citizens and to work together – government, business, communities – so that people have what they need to live the lives they would like.

The Plan goes on to identify nine key areas that need to be addressed in order to achieve this goal.  These include creating more jobs, improving education and healthcare, investing in infrastructure and using natural resources more effectively.  There are no major surprises in either the MDGs or the NPC’s action plan.  We actually know what needs to be done.

Now we just have to do it.

It’s Time For a Change

And this is where you and your organisation come in.  I know that many people around the world are very generous with their money and time, and willingly give to charities and good causes.  I also know that most companies have a department that looks after their corporate social responsibility (CSR).  But neither of these is enough.  The system itself is broken.

None other than the legendary management guru, Michael Porter, put it this way in a Harvard Business Review article in January 2011:

“The capitalist system is under siege.  In recent years business increasingly has been viewed as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems.  Companies are widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community…  The legitimacy of business has never been lower than it is today and in order to save capitalism, capitalism needs to be reinvented.”

Creating Shared Value, by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer, Harvard Business Review, January 2011

Porter and his co-author suggest that businesses need to shift away from a focus on creating shareholder value towards Creating Shared Value (CSV) – a term they have coined.  Their central premise is that the competitiveness of a company and the health of its communities (suppliers, customers and broader society) are mutually dependent.

Another HBR contributor, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, has been doing research that backs up Porter’s assertions.  In an article for HBR in November 2011, “How Great Companies Think Differently”, she says:

It’s time that beliefs and theories about business catch up with the way great companies operate and how they see their role in the world today.  Traditionally, economists and financiers have argued that the sole purpose of business is to make money – the more the better. That conveniently narrow image [molds] the actions of most corporations, constraining them to focus on maximizing short-term profits and delivering returns to shareholders. Their decisions are expressed in financial terms.

[But], the traditional view of business doesn’t capture the way great companies think their way to success. Those firms believe that business is an intrinsic part of society, and they acknowledge that, like family, government, and religion, it has been one of society’s pillars since the dawn of the industrial era.  Great companies work to make money, of course, but in their choices of how to do so, they think about building enduring institutions. They invest in the future while being aware of the need to build people and society.

In her article she outlines the research she has been doing on the practices of many widely admired, high-performing, and enduring companies.  She explains: “In those firms, society and people are not afterthoughts or inputs to be used and discarded but are core to their purpose.”

You Don’t Have to be Nice

My call to action is quite simple:  take a look at the Millennium Development Goals and the NDC’s Action Plan for 2030, and ask yourself what part you can play in making some of these goals a reality.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the best contribution you can make is to become richer yourself.  Making your company and yourself more profitable will not have a magical ‘trickle down’ effect – nearly a century of that approach to economics clearly shows it doesn’t work.  No.  Something different is needed.  You need to take a longer-term view of your organisation and it’s contribution to society, and you need to do things that benefit society and not just yourself.

I’m not suggesting you do this just to be nice.  You can still be capitalistic, but with a longer-term horizon.  A profitable African company might do well for the next few years, until the society crumbles around you, and your hard work and investment are lost to poverty, corruption, nationalization or decay.  Or, your company could be marginally less profitable in purely financial terms (in the short term), but create a significantly enhanced shared value with society and stakeholders in your business.  And, secure your future by doing so.

As I consider these things, I am drawn back to the Christmas Carol Dickens wrote in 1843.  His main character, Scrooge, was transformed by the end of the story: transformed by a scary vision of what the world would be like if he focused only on making money, and ignored people, the planet and the community.  Scrooge’s transformation is precisely what we need to see in our world today, because if we don’t have such transformations our future is scary too.  Especially in Africa.

Dickens draws his story to a close with these words:

[Scrooge] became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.  Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset…  [And] it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.  May that be truly said of us, and all of us!  And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

This message is not just to your company, but also to you.  What will you do, personally, to change the world we live in?  What small action can you do to support the National Action Plan:  What employment can you create?  How can you help educate the next generation?  How can you fight corruption, and build the nation?  What will you do?  It’s not good enough to think that ‘someone’ needs to ‘do something’.

What is your best contribution at this time of history?  And if you won’t do it, then who will?  And if you won’t do it now, then when will you?

It was Margaret Mead, the famous sociologist who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”  Indeed!

Graeme Codrington is a futurist, strategy consultant and speaker, with bases in London and Johannesburg. He can be contacted at graeme@tomorrowtoday.co.za

 

Trends to watch in 2013

Posted on: December 13th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments




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TEDx: The Third Wave of the Digital Age

Posted on: December 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

My TEDx talk has finally been uploaded to the TEDx YouTube channel, and is now available to view. I delivered this at TEDx Square Mile in London in October this year.

The topic was an introduction to an issue I think is absolutely essential for us to understand right now. We are living at a moment in time when our use of computing technology is about to shift dramatically. This will impact our lives, and create huge opportunities for our businesses.

I’d love your feedback, questions and comments on my thesis.

TEDx: The Third Wave of the Digital Age

Posted on: December 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington 3 Comments

My TEDx talk has finally been uploaded to the TEDx YouTube channel, and is now available to view. I delivered this at TEDx Square Mile in London in October this year.

The topic was an introduction to an issue I think is absolutely essential for us to understand right now. We are living at a moment in time when our use of computing technology is about to shift dramatically. This will impact our lives, and create huge opportunities for our businesses.

I’d love your feedback, questions and comments on my thesis.

Microsoft needs reinvention not improvement – and so do you

Posted on: December 10th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This past year saw Microsoft post it’s first ever quarterly loss. This was to do with a $6 billion write down of an investment, and wasn’t really a trading loss. But nevertheless it rang some alarm bells. In the digital world, huge companies can come crashing down quite quickly. Enron is exhibit 1 – a non digital company that spectacularly crashed and burned when it tried to play in the digital space. But other exhibits include Kodak, struggling Nokia and RIM and many others.

Microsoft won’t collapse anytime soon. But neither can afford to just continue to try and improve on its past successes. Three years ago, I spoke at the annual conference of the whizz-kid technical department of Microsoft – the team who support the enterprise systems that Microsoft have rolled out. Keeping the world’s critical computers functioning perfectly is a key job. And yet, I was hugely surprised that one of the topics of conversation that day was “What on earth is the cloud?”. Sure, cloud computing was fairly new. But the question and the way it was being asked and answered in the room that day seemed to indicate that this team was battling even with conceptualising it. I am sure there is a lot of technical, back room stuff that I don’t know I don’t even know about, but that day left a question mark in my mind that might have been answered in 2012.

Maybe it is time for Microsoft to not just aim at improving their current service offerings (because they must continue to do that – it’s their core business); but they also need to be actively seeking out the radical reinventions that could trigger a new growth surge for them. Right now, they’re pretty much playing catch up in every department. For example, where Google and Apple have understood that handheld devices required control of both hardware and software, Microsoft are constrained by partnerships in this space (just do it, already, MS and buy Nokia. And RIM while you’re about it!). This is the moment most famously identified by Clayton Christensen in “The Innovator’s Dilemma” – it’s the peak of the business value of your current company, and the time when companies plough resources into perpetuating the markets, products and services that have made them successful. But actually, they should be using their vast resources to identify the new markets, new products and new services that could kick start a new growth curve.

With these thoughts in mind, then, it was with great interest that I spotted an article on Business Insider. Prone to overstatement and hyperbolic headlines, BI is nevertheless a great source of news and insight. And they also take the time to follow through on stories.

(more…)

VIDEO: A free agent nation – disruptive employment

Posted on: December 10th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

The world is being completely reshaped by five key disruptive forces: technology, institutional change, demographics, environmental and ethic issues, and shifting social values. This video investigates how one company has created a vision of how this might change the world of work.

There are exciting opportunities for many companies to shift from offering products to offering a suite of services to their clients. And even those companies that already offer services need to re-vision what those services might look like if they were offered as part of an outsourcing type solution for their clients.

This short video highlights one company’s story. How might this look for you?

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

Microsoft needs reinvention not improvement – and so do you

Posted on: December 10th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This past year saw Microsoft post it’s first ever quarterly loss. This was to do with a $6 billion write down of an investment, and wasn’t really a trading loss. But nevertheless it rang some alarm bells. In the digital world, huge companies can come crashing down quite quickly. Enron is exhibit 1 – a non digital company that spectacularly crashed and burned when it tried to play in the digital space. But other exhibits include Kodak, struggling Nokia and RIM and many others.

Microsoft won’t collapse anytime soon. But neither can afford to just continue to try and improve on its past successes. Three years ago, I spoke at the annual conference of the whizz-kid technical department of Microsoft – the team who support the enterprise systems that Microsoft have rolled out. Keeping the world’s critical computers functioning perfectly is a key job. And yet, I was hugely surprised that one of the topics of conversation that day was “What on earth is the cloud?”. Sure, cloud computing was fairly new. But the question and the way it was being asked and answered in the room that day seemed to indicate that this team was battling even with conceptualising it. I am sure there is a lot of technical, back room stuff that I don’t know I don’t even know about, but that day left a question mark in my mind that might have been answered in 2012.

Maybe it is time for Microsoft to not just aim at improving their current service offerings (because they must continue to do that – it’s their core business); but they also need to be actively seeking out the radical reinventions that could trigger a new growth surge for them. Right now, they’re pretty much playing catch up in every department. For example, where Google and Apple have understood that handheld devices required control of both hardware and software, Microsoft are constrained by partnerships in this space (just do it, already, MS and buy Nokia. And RIM while you’re about it!). This is the moment most famously identified by Clayton Christensen in “The Innovator’s Dilemma” – it’s the peak of the business value of your current company, and the time when companies plough resources into perpetuating the markets, products and services that have made them successful. But actually, they should be using their vast resources to identify the new markets, new products and new services that could kick start a new growth curve.

With these thoughts in mind, then, it was with great interest that I spotted an article on Business Insider. Prone to overstatement and hyperbolic headlines, BI is nevertheless a great source of news and insight. And they also take the time to follow through on stories.

(more…)

The Kids Aren't Playing Around Anymore

Posted on: December 7th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For a few years now, our researchers at TomorrowToday have been predicting what Generation Y might do when they grow up. This generation was first dubbed “The Millennials” by Neil Howe and William Strauss (see this book, for example), and were defined as the generation who would graduate High School in the new millennium (born from 1984 to 2000). Our team, who look more globally rather than simply at American culture, suggest that they are best defined as the generation born after 1989. We’ve also called them the “Digital Natives” as they have lived their whole lives with text messages, emails and the world wide web.

However you define them, the oldest of them is now in their mid twenties. With an education behind them, and those character defining young adult years in full swing, we’re finally seeing what we’ve been predicting for some time: this generation is going to be a generation that is civic minded, activist, take-no-nonsense and will work together to activate their communities for causes they believe in.

All around the world, we’re seeing evidence of this. The #occupy movements that started in New York, spread across the US and into Europe were a start. Yes, they might not have had their goals and aims sorted out clearly at the start, and didn’t have the Boomer-savvy to make a huge impact, but they nevertheless got a generation onto the streets and chanting about something. Secretly, I believe, most Baby Boomers were actually quite happy to see this. For most of the last two decades, Generation X (born in the 1970s and early 80s) have been a “whatever” generation, too pragmatic to get too worked up about anything, and certainly not idealistic enough to hit the streets in protest. The great protests of the 1960s were becoming a distant memory, especially for American Boomers. But now the kids have started it up again.

In some parts of the world has been more than just a mild nuisance. The Arab Spring last year saw revolutionary change sweep across North Africa and the Middle East. The youth in Iran are bubbling and waiting for an opportunity to make more of their “Green” revolution. We see this all over the world, actually. Young people rioted in London last August. There have been almost constant marches in Spain by young people desperate to find employment. These are not games these kids are playing now.

(more…)

The Kids Aren’t Playing Around Anymore

Posted on: December 7th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For a few years now, our researchers at TomorrowToday have been predicting what Generation Y might do when they grow up. This generation was first dubbed “The Millennials” by Neil Howe and William Strauss (see this book, for example), and were defined as the generation who would graduate High School in the new millennium (born from 1984 to 2000). Our team, who look more globally rather than simply at American culture, suggest that they are best defined as the generation born after 1989. We’ve also called them the “Digital Natives” as they have lived their whole lives with text messages, emails and the world wide web.

However you define them, the oldest of them is now in their mid twenties. With an education behind them, and those character defining young adult years in full swing, we’re finally seeing what we’ve been predicting for some time: this generation is going to be a generation that is civic minded, activist, take-no-nonsense and will work together to activate their communities for causes they believe in.

All around the world, we’re seeing evidence of this. The #occupy movements that started in New York, spread across the US and into Europe were a start. Yes, they might not have had their goals and aims sorted out clearly at the start, and didn’t have the Boomer-savvy to make a huge impact, but they nevertheless got a generation onto the streets and chanting about something. Secretly, I believe, most Baby Boomers were actually quite happy to see this. For most of the last two decades, Generation X (born in the 1970s and early 80s) have been a “whatever” generation, too pragmatic to get too worked up about anything, and certainly not idealistic enough to hit the streets in protest. The great protests of the 1960s were becoming a distant memory, especially for American Boomers. But now the kids have started it up again.

In some parts of the world has been more than just a mild nuisance. The Arab Spring last year saw revolutionary change sweep across North Africa and the Middle East. The youth in Iran are bubbling and waiting for an opportunity to make more of their “Green” revolution. We see this all over the world, actually. Young people rioted in London last August. There have been almost constant marches in Spain by young people desperate to find employment. These are not games these kids are playing now.

(more…)

The Kids Aren’t Playing Around Anymore

Posted on: December 7th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For a few years now, our researchers at TomorrowToday have been predicting what Generation Y might do when they grow up. This generation was first dubbed “The Millennials” by Neil Howe and William Strauss (see this book, for example), and were defined as the generation who would graduate High School in the new millennium (born from 1984 to 2000). Our team, who look more globally rather than simply at American culture, suggest that they are best defined as the generation born after 1989. We’ve also called them the “Digital Natives” as they have lived their whole lives with text messages, emails and the world wide web.

However you define them, the oldest of them is now in their mid twenties. With an education behind them, and those character defining young adult years in full swing, we’re finally seeing what we’ve been predicting for some time: this generation is going to be a generation that is civic minded, activist, take-no-nonsense and will work together to activate their communities for causes they believe in.

All around the world, we’re seeing evidence of this. The #occupy movements that started in New York, spread across the US and into Europe were a start. Yes, they might not have had their goals and aims sorted out clearly at the start, and didn’t have the Boomer-savvy to make a huge impact, but they nevertheless got a generation onto the streets and chanting about something. Secretly, I believe, most Baby Boomers were actually quite happy to see this. For most of the last two decades, Generation X (born in the 1970s and early 80s) have been a “whatever” generation, too pragmatic to get too worked up about anything, and certainly not idealistic enough to hit the streets in protest. The great protests of the 1960s were becoming a distant memory, especially for American Boomers. But now the kids have started it up again.

In some parts of the world has been more than just a mild nuisance. The Arab Spring last year saw revolutionary change sweep across North Africa and the Middle East. The youth in Iran are bubbling and waiting for an opportunity to make more of their “Green” revolution. We see this all over the world, actually. Young people rioted in London last August. There have been almost constant marches in Spain by young people desperate to find employment. These are not games these kids are playing now.

(more…)

VIDEO: Three new leadership skills

Posted on: December 6th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In this video, we outline a new ‘ABC’ of leadership: Adaptive Intelligence, a Balcony perspective and Conversations. These are three skills most leaders don’t have these days – and three skills they’d do well to cultivate.

 


For more on each of these, explore this blog, or the blog of our sister company in the UK, or contact us to find out how we can help you and your team develop these skills. I’d recommend the following articles:

You might also want to consider getting one of our team to come and speak to your team about “Leading in a Changing World“.

This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

VIDEO: Three new leadership skills

Posted on: December 6th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In this video, we outline a new ‘ABC’ of leadership: Adaptive Intelligence, a Balcony perspective and Conversations. These are three skills most leaders don’t have these days – and three skills they’d do well to cultivate.




 






For more on each of these, explore this blog, or the blog of our sister company in South Africa, or contact us to find out how we can help you and your team develop these skills. I’d recommend the following articles:

You might also want to consider getting one of our team to come and speak to your team about “Leading in a Changing World“.

This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

Video: Digital natives of 1989 entering the world of work

Posted on: November 19th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

One of the biggest causes of disruptive change in the world right now is the combination of a radical increase in computing power and the arrival of the digital natives in the workplace.

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

Video: Digital natives of 1989 entering the world of work

Posted on: November 17th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

One of the biggest causes of disruptive change in the world right now is the combination of a radical increase in computing power and the arrival of the digital natives in the workplace.

 


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

Triumph of the nerds and big data in the US elections

Posted on: November 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Yes, we now all know that President Obama crushed Mitt Romney, winning by a huge margin of victory in the electoral college as well as winning the popular vote. Some people had predicted this significant (landslide) victory (we did, two months ago).

We suggested that a shift of demographics in America resulted in the white, middle class, Christian male being less influential (this trend will continue dramatically in the future). We also highlighted the role of technology in fact checking and cutting through political rhetoric. Paradoxically, as more and more money is spent to flood the media with political messages, the impact is significantly less, as people don’t rely on one news source. Google refer to it as the “four screen” world (TV, laptop, tablet and phone, all use in tandem for everything in our lives).

America is also undergoing a structural and institutional change, which is affecting which industries contribute most, where jobs are created (and HOW they are created), and how wealth is built. We believe that voters (especially younger ones, who are inordinately affected by these shifts) have a sense of this long term trend and structural change, and that they have grown weary of short-termism in their leaders.

Election night was also a triumph for the nerds and big data. At TomorrowToday, we are big advocates of the power we are developing to “know everything”, and work hard to understand how this new era will affect our clients. We have recently partnered with a world expert in this area, Keith Holdt. Another believer in the power of data is Nate Silver, who has made a legend for himself by calling the election decisively for Obama for a few weeks, based on genuine number crunching, and in the face of overwhelming fury from the right wing media.

(more…)

Video: Big data, infographics and the role of IT in a new world of work

Posted on: November 1st, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I spoke at a conference for the German company, Haniel earlier this year. The audience was largely German and engineers, so I toned down my normal style (a bit of energy, a bit of humour) to suit them, but the content extends to almost any industry and every function in the world right now.

This video is an extract that deals especially with what’s changing in the world of technology and IT and its impact on the world of work.

For more information on my presentations, click here.

The Third Wave of the Digital Age

Posted on: October 31st, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Last Saturday, I spoke at a TEDx conference in London.  The talk I initially scripted would have taken longer than half an hour – not quite TED style!  The talk I planned to give would actually have taken about 19 minutes – and the fairly detailed script is reproduced below. (The talk I eventually gave took about 16 minutes – the video will be available soon).  As with all TED talks, I had to choose a focus and stick to it.  But, hopefully, these themes will be worked out in more detail in the book I am writing, that will be released early next year.

I’d really appreciate your comments on the content below…

 

TEDxSquareMile: Future of Work, Power to Make a Difference

The third wave of the digital age
by Graeme Codrington 

 

We are living at the start of a third wave of the digital age.  And things are about to get very interesting.  At least that’s what history promises us.  You see, a hundred years ago the world went through a similar third wave of the Industrial revolution, and it changed everything and set us up for a century of growth, development and change.

 

My 98 year old grandmother was there to witness it. She was born in 1914 when a workplace revolution was taking place.  Just recently, at a family gathering, I sat in on a conversation between my near-centurion grandmother and my daughters, her great grandchildren.  I have three daughters: 13, 11 and 7 (it’s the digital age – I told my wife they didn’t need names, but she thought otherwise).  Anyway, my grandmother and my daughters were talking about the world as she knew it.

 

As my grandmother reminisced about the things that have changed in her lifetime, it was interesting to me to consider that the biggest workplace revolutions of the last century actually took place in the first few years of her life.  In 1911, just two and a half years before my grandmother was born, Frederick Taylor presented a paper to the American mechanical engineering society.  It was titled, “The Principles of Scientific Management”, and it laid out the roadmap for the third wave of the industrial age and set up a model of the world of work that survived throughout the 20th century.

Taylor’s ‘scientific management’ approach exemplified the third wave of the Industrial era.

 

The first wave of any revolution is when inventors come up with new inventions, technologies or machines.  They might not see all the implications, but they present these machines and discoveries to society and put them to their most obvious and immediate uses.  This happened in the Industrial age with the steam, coal and oil driven motorised engines.

 

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The Third Wave of the Digital Age

Posted on: October 30th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Last Saturday, I spoke at a TEDx conference in London.  The talk I initially scripted would have taken longer than half an hour – not quite TED style!  The talk I planned to give would actually have taken about 19 minutes – and the fairly detailed script is reproduced below. (The talk I eventually gave took about 16 minutes – the video will be available soon).  As with all TED talks, I had to choose a focus and stick to it.  But, hopefully, these themes will be worked out in more detail in the book I am writing, that will be released early next year.

I’d really appreciate your comments on the content below…

 

TEDxSquareMile: Future of Work, Power to Make a Difference

The third wave of the digital age
by Graeme Codrington 

 

We are living at the start of a third wave of the digital age.  And things are about to get very interesting.  At least that’s what history promises us.  You see, a hundred years ago the world went through a similar third wave of the Industrial revolution, and it changed everything and set us up for a century of growth, development and change.

 

My 98 year old grandmother was there to witness it. She was born in 1914 when a workplace revolution was taking place.  Just recently, at a family gathering, I sat in on a conversation between my near-centurion grandmother and my daughters, her great grandchildren.  I have three daughters: 13, 11 and 7 (it’s the digital age – I told my wife they didn’t need names, but she thought otherwise).  Anyway, my grandmother and my daughters were talking about the world as she knew it.

 

As my grandmother reminisced about the things that have changed in her lifetime, it was interesting to me to consider that the biggest workplace revolutions of the last century actually took place in the first few years of her life.  In 1911, just two and a half years before my grandmother was born, Frederick Taylor presented a paper to the American mechanical engineering society.  It was titled, “The Principles of Scientific Management”, and it laid out the roadmap for the third wave of the industrial age and set up a model of the world of work that survived throughout the 20th century.

Taylor’s ‘scientific management’ approach exemplified the third wave of the Industrial era.

 

The first wave of any revolution is when inventors come up with new inventions, technologies or machines.  They might not see all the implications, but they present these machines and discoveries to society and put them to their most obvious and immediate uses.  This happened in the Industrial age with the steam, coal and oil driven motorised engines.

 

(more…)

Why I Tweet

Posted on: October 24th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Yesterday marked my 10,000th tweet sent (bizarrely it was a tweet commenting on the fact that Penguin have finally joined the digital age and published my books on Kindle – 10,000 tweets, 4 years of asking, but now finally done!). I have been a member of Twitter since 2008, and opened my current Twitter account (@workforcetrends) in March 2009.

10,000 tweets: Is it worth it?

Research shows that most businesses and professionals like myself get very little direct business benefit from using social media, and that less than 16% of business leaders use social media professionally. So, why do I do it? There are a number of reasons:

  • Firstly, contrary to what the research says, I actually have received quite a bit of direct business from it. I speak, write and research for a living, and I rely on people knowing about me as an expert for their conferences, leadership programmes and for board advice. A lot of this comes through word of mouth and people searching for experts online – my social media feeds help keep my rankings high. It also comes from people who saw me speak and a reminded to use me again at future events. If they’re connected to me via social media there is a constant reminder of my existence: a way to keep top of mind.
  • Building my profile. This is something is vital for a person like myself who sells a public profile. But actually is more important than many people think for everyone in every job. You see, in today’s world of work, your security comes not from “the system” but from your CV (your resume). This is the record of everything you’ve done and everything you are. Having a blog – even something you just post 200-300 words to a week, is a great way to show who you are and what you’re doing, and to prove your expertise.
  • Proving my expertise. My social media feeds are mainly used for three things. The first is to highlight blog posts that I’ve written. Whenever I write a blog entry (on one of a number of blog sites I write for), my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds pick this up and alert my network to what I’ve written. I also regularly go back and highlight some of my favourite archive posts. I’ve been blogging consistently for ten years, so there is a great back catalogue to choose from now.
  • Secondly, I use social media to publish a few other people’s blogs. There are a few people I really admire and who’s blogs I always read. I’ve set up automated systems so that when they blog something, my social media feeds automatically pick these up and tweet them. I don’t have a lot of these, as I don’t want to flood my network, but it’s mainly a way of alerting ME that these people have just said something.
  • Which leads to the third use for my social media feeds, and that is to be a bookmark for myself. If I see a website or an article or a video that I’d like to remember, or a fact that’s interesting and worth remembering, I put it into one of my social media streams. If it’s something I know I can use in an upcoming book or article, I favourite it immediately. I often go back over old tweets in particular and re-read some of the articles I tweeted about.

I use Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in the following ways:
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Why I Tweet

Posted on: October 24th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Yesterday marked my 10,000th tweet sent (bizarrely it was a tweet commenting on the fact that Penguin have finally joined the digital age and published my books on Kindle – 10,000 tweets, 4 years of asking, but now finally done!). I have been a member of Twitter since 2008, and opened my current Twitter account (@workforcetrends) in March 2009.

10,000 tweets: Is it worth it?

Research shows that most businesses and professionals like myself get very little direct business benefit from using social media, and that less than 16% of business leaders use social media professionally. So, why do I do it? There are a number of reasons:

  • Firstly, contrary to what the research says, I actually have received quite a bit of direct business from it. I speak, write and research for a living, and I rely on people knowing about me as an expert for their conferences, leadership programmes and for board advice. A lot of this comes through word of mouth and people searching for experts online – my social media feeds help keep my rankings high. It also comes from people who saw me speak and a reminded to use me again at future events. If they’re connected to me via social media there is a constant reminder of my existence: a way to keep top of mind.
  • Building my profile. This is something is vital for a person like myself who sells a public profile. But actually is more important than many people think for everyone in every job. You see, in today’s world of work, your security comes not from “the system” but from your CV (your resume). This is the record of everything you’ve done and everything you are. Having a blog – even something you just post 200-300 words to a week, is a great way to show who you are and what you’re doing, and to prove your expertise.
  • Proving my expertise. My social media feeds are mainly used for three things. The first is to highlight blog posts that I’ve written. Whenever I write a blog entry (on one of a number of blog sites I write for), my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds pick this up and alert my network to what I’ve written. I also regularly go back and highlight some of my favourite archive posts. I’ve been blogging consistently for ten years, so there is a great back catalogue to choose from now.
  • Secondly, I use social media to publish a few other people’s blogs. There are a few people I really admire and who’s blogs I always read. I’ve set up automated systems so that when they blog something, my social media feeds automatically pick these up and tweet them. I don’t have a lot of these, as I don’t want to flood my network, but it’s mainly a way of alerting ME that these people have just said something.
  • Which leads to the third use for my social media feeds, and that is to be a bookmark for myself. If I see a website or an article or a video that I’d like to remember, or a fact that’s interesting and worth remembering, I put it into one of my social media streams. If it’s something I know I can use in an upcoming book or article, I favourite it immediately. I often go back over old tweets in particular and re-read some of the articles I tweeted about.

I use Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in the following ways:
(more…)

‘Mind the Gap’ and all our other books are now available in Kindle

Posted on: October 22nd, 2012 by Graeme Codrington 2 Comments

Graeme Codrington’s award winning and best selling book, “Mind the Gap” has just been released in electronic format and is now available in Kindle and other e-pub formats.

Graeme’s publisher, Penguin, has finally completed a worldwide deal with Amazon to release all Penguin titles on Kindle and is also now releasing its full back catalogue in e-format. This has taken too long, but it’s brilliant news now that it’s finally happened. The process will probably take a few months to complete.

It’s great news for us, as all of our books are now available in 21st century formats.

‘Mind the Gap’ is Graeme’s best selling book about understanding different generations. He completed a major update and revision in November 2011, and this is the book now available in Kindle. Penguin have also priced it very well at half the price of the paperback. You can now buy it from Amazon.co.uk.

Our other books are also available.

‘Future-Proof Your Child’ is for parents of pre-teen children, to help them parent a wired generation of kids into a bright future. Buy it on Amazon.co.uk Kindle here.

‘Navigating Your Career’ is for anyone still working or about to start working, and presents five steps to building a career in a new world of work. Buy it at Amazon.co.uk Kindle here.

At last, we can feel part of the 21st century as authors.

If you’ve been waiting for the e-versions of our books, we hope you enjoy them. Looking forward to your feedback and comments.

Postmodern politics in the US of A

Posted on: October 22nd, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I enjoy American politics. “Enjoy” might be a strong word: I mean that I am fascinated by it, in the same way that a car accident might fascinate me as I drive past it on the motorway. As the presidential candidates gear up for their final debate later today, I am not expecting much. These debates are essentially extended opportunities to repeat their stump statements, and there’s no real engagement (although the town hall format of the last one allowed a little bit more than usual).

But a few weeks ago, two of the country’s most influential newsmen came together to have a debate of their own. And it was wonderful. An hour and a half of real engagement, some entertainment, focus on the issues, and some hard hitting interactions. This was “The Rumble 2012″ between Bill O’Reilly of FOX news and Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

You can see the video for just $ 4.95. This is less than the cost of a good book, and only marginally more than you’d pay for a coffee and snack at your local coffee shop. But it will be a great 90 minutes spent understanding some of the key issues in play in this year’s elections.

I earn no commission from this plug: I just really think it’s great value. You can find it all here: The Rumble 2012.

Trust me, you won’t regret it. And you’ll find it much enlightening (and entertaining) than the debate that will happen later tonight.

‘Mind the Gap’ is now available in Kindle

Posted on: October 22nd, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

My award winning and best selling book, “Mind the Gap” has just been released in electronic format and is now available in Kindle and other e-pub formats.

My publisher, Penguin, has finally completed a worldwide deal with Amazon to release all Penguin titles on Kindle and is also now releasing its full back catalogue in e-format. This has taken too long, but it’s brilliant news now that it’s finally happened. The process will probably take a few months to complete.

It’s great news for me, as my books are now available in 21st century formats.

‘Mind the Gap’ is my best selling book about understanding different generations. I completed a major update and revision in November 2011, and this is the book now available in Kindle. Penguin have also priced it very well at half the price of the paperback. You can now buy it from Amazon.co.uk.

My other books are also available.

‘Future-Proof Your Child’ is for parents of pre-teen children, to help them parent a wired generation of kids into a bright future. Buy it on Amazon.co.uk Kindle here.

‘Navigating Your Career’ is for anyone still working or about to start working, and presents five steps to building a career in a new world of work. Buy it at Amazon.co.uk Kindle here.

At last, I can feel part of the 21st century as an author.

If you’ve been waiting for the e-versions of my books, I hope you enjoy them. Looking forward to your feedback and comments.

Video: What we do, and what we’re seeing

Posted on: October 19th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few months ago, one of our clients, a French bank, BNP Paribas had me speak at a series of internal events. To promote these, they did a video of my talking about what I do and the presentation I was giving to their staff, “The TIDES of Change“. It’s a great summary of what we do as a team at TomorrowToday and what we’re seeing the changing world of the near future.

At TomorrowToday, we show our clients how to use these insights to make strategic decisions about key aspects of their organisations, and develop tomorrow’s competitive advantage today. We start by understanding the changing world around us, then focus attention on specific industries and functional areas, and finally assist individuals to make successful, strategic contributions.

We help our clients make sense of the new world of work by providing the following services:

Women need more than words (and binders) to succeed at work

Posted on: October 18th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For women to bridge the pay gap in the workplace and to find their way into boardrooms and senior leadership positions they’re going to need men’s assistance. This is not to patronise women, but simply a statement of the reality of who currently wields the power. What women need least is men who say one thing, but do another – men who talk about this issue using all the right words, but who’s actions don’t quite stack up. Women need more than words – they need real action.

There would be many men I could point to in order to make my point – both good and bad examples. But I shall pick on Governor Mitt Romney, presidential candidate for the United States this year. It’s not a good example, regardless of what he would have us believe.

In yesterday’s US Presidential debate, Governor Romney was asked about how he would deal with the issue of women’s pay inequality and under representation in the workplace. He eloquently responded that he had an excellent record as Governor of Massachusetts. Indeed, he did. But the reality is not quite as he portrayed it.

He explained that on becoming governor, he had been disappointed that all the people being considered for senior positions in his administration were men. He went on to say that he had requested his staff to find women applicants. They had come back with “binders full of women”. Besides a statement that has produced a bit of mirth (and a wonderful new set of parody pictures), this is just wrong. The history in his State is that well before he became Governor, a bipartisan woman’s group had been developed a portfolio (or binder, if you wish) of female candidates, and they presented these to Governor Romney when he took office. This was a concerted campaign, putting pressure on him and his administration to appoint women.

He deserves credit for doing so. But the reality is that his own network had only male candidates in it. And it took a concerted external effort to get him to appoint women. At Bain Capital, he had an entirely men only leadership team. There were no women partners at Bain during his tenure. Read the details, with supporting links here.

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Women need more than words (and binders) to succeed at work

Posted on: October 17th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

For women to bridge the pay gap in the workplace and to find their way into boardrooms and senior leadership positions they’re going to need men’s assistance. This is not to patronise women, but simply a statement of the reality of who currently wields the power. What women need least is men who say one thing, but do another – men who talk about this issue using all the right words, but who’s actions don’t quite stack up. Women need more than words – they need real action.

There would be many men I could point to in order to make my point – both good and bad examples. But I shall pick on Governor Mitt Romney, presidential candidate for the United States this year. It’s not a good example, regardless of what he would have us believe.

In yesterday’s US Presidential debate, Governor Romney was asked about how he would deal with the issue of women’s pay inequality and under representation in the workplace. He eloquently responded that he had an excellent record as Governor of Massachusetts. Indeed, he did. But the reality is not quite as he portrayed it.

He explained that on becoming governor, he had been disappointed that all the people being considered for senior positions in his administration were men. He went on to say that he had requested his staff to find women applicants. They had come back with “binders full of women”. Besides a statement that has produced a bit of mirth (and a wonderful new set of parody pictures), this is just wrong. The history in his State is that well before he became Governor, a bipartisan woman’s group had been developed a portfolio (or binder, if you wish) of female candidates, and they presented these to Governor Romney when he took office. This was a concerted campaign, putting pressure on him and his administration to appoint women.

He deserves credit for doing so. But the reality is that his own network had only male candidates in it. And it took a concerted external effort to get him to appoint women. At Bain Capital, he had an entirely men only leadership team. There were no women partners at Bain during his tenure. Read the details, with supporting links here.

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TEDx talk on the Future of Work: your help requested

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Next Saturday, 27 October 2012, I will be speaking at a TEDx event in London: TEDxSquareMile, The Future of Work: Power to Make a Difference.

Please would you help me with three things.

Firstly, if you can attend or know of someone who would enjoy the day, please encourage them to buy a ticket and come along next Saturday. It’s going to be a great day.

Secondly, I need to settle on a title for the talk. You can see an outline below, and I’d really value your suggestions for an appropriate title. I am talking about how we are about to embark on the third wave of the digital revolution, which will involve revolutionising our workplace practices. I will outline five major shifts that need to take place in the next decade that each have the ‘power to make a difference’ in the future of work.

My current thinking (updated on 17 October) is along the lines of “The third wave of the digital age: Five sparks to ignite a work revolution”.

Thirdly, can you review the overview of my presentation and provide feedback and input. I’d like your feedback on the general flow of the content, and then input into the workplace implications you think I should be highlighting.

TEDxSquareMile: Future of Work, Power to Make a Difference talk overview

A third wave of change is just beginning in the digital age. This is being driven as much by the relentless march of history and the insatiable demands of commerce as it is by the hunger in the human soul for meaning and purpose. This third wave will bring more change, more disruption and create more value than we imagine.

About a hundred years ago, a year or so before he died, Frederick Taylor introduced his The Principles of Scientific Management paper to the American mechanical engineering society. Credited as being the father of so-called ‘scientific management’ Taylor had spent most of his life leading the third wave of the Industrial Revolution. Today, it is our responsibility to kick start a third wave in the digital revolution and usher in a whole new way of working.

Let me explain.

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BIC pens FOR HER! (How not to market to women)

Posted on: October 8th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Bic produces pens. They’re ubiquitous. You’ve probably had many of their cheap plastic offerings lying around, rolling around in drawers or down the side of your sofa. Bic recently launched a new range which they thought would be perfect for some of their customers, but it’s brought them a deluge of criticism. The new range of pens is called “for her” (buy some at Amazon.co.uk).

The advertisement reads: “Designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand”, with “an attractive barrel design available in pink and purple”. That’s remarkable in 2012 – that a company thinks this is what women want. I am prepared to bet quite a large amount of money that there were no women on this team at Bic. Amazon reviews from the target market are not flattering. Mrs S Rose wrote: “Oh at last, I feel all woman. I have used other pens in the past but have always been left feeling lost, alone and on the edge of accepted society.” And Ingrid Moon wrote: “These pens actually make me feel liberated! At last my delicate feminine needs and tastes are being considered!”

My favourite client review is long, but its beautiful irony makes it worth reading. ‘Shelf Life’ writes:

After suffering debilitating gender-based paranoia for many years due to my large hands, interest in science and ability to make my own decisions, I became convinced that even though I was born and live as woman, society would never accept me. My life was a battle but I fought on, between bouts of hormonal weeping and watching endless romcoms and DVD boxsets of ‘Friends’, yet was unable to connect as a woman or find that elusive romance or ‘friend’. I subscribe to all the women’s magazines, buy all the latest beauty products, still all I have added to my life is a pile of old magazines and bottles of vegetable oil based lotions. Nothing was working.

Then, my sister came to my house one day to find out why I had not attended our weekly trip to the salon, only to find me lying among the cupcakes I had lovingly made her, curled in the feotal position and rythmically rubbing my body with an unplugged Ladyshave. Seeing my despair at the harsh reality of not being feminine enough, she wept as she bathed me in a scented bubble bath. Leaving me alone with a chocolate bar to eat seductively, she crept out and sourced me a small pack of BiC Cristal for her.

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Technology allows us to communicate more effectively than ever. So why are things getting worse?

Posted on: October 5th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This Friday, we’re privileged to have a guest post from one of the world’s leading sales and communication experts, Andy Bounds. We’re big fans of his, and are enjoying getting to know him better. Best selling author, sought after speaker, and trusted advisor, Andy has helped thousands of people package their messages better. In this blog entry, he helps us deal with a very real, very modern problem.

How often do you sit on your own, working on your own, developing a great idea on your own… and then not telling anyone about it?

Never, right?

This is one of the very few instances where communication would have zero impact on your life. The rest of the time (i.e. pretty much all of it), communication is pivotal to everything you do.

Which begs the question: given how critical it is, why is so much communication so terrible?

Boring conference calls, interminable Update Meetings (in fact, interminable meetings of any sort), lengthy documents that take ages to get to the point… I mean, we’ve even got to the stage where people think it’s acceptable to fire-off emails called “FYI”. This is the same as throwing a document at someone and saying “there you go”; and you’d never do that.

As technology gives us ever-more choices as to how we communicate, it should make things better, not worse. But we’re seeing it make many people lazier. After all, in the old days of flipcharts, it was such a hassle to create a visual that people would spend longer thinking what would help the audience. Now, because PowerPoint and Keynote have 752 functions, or whatever it is, people can let the technology do the thinking for them. Don’t believe me? Have you ever watched a presenter simply reading out his slides and thought “Give me those. I can read them much quicker than you’re going to. And then I can leave”.

I should add here that this blog isn’t going to be an anti-technology rant – far from it. Technology helps me speak to my friends, family and customers anywhere. I can sit on my three-year old’s bed watching Peppa Pig on a hand-held iPad. Sometimes, I’m not sure whether it’s technology or witchcraft, it’s that powerful.

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Why Apple introduced maps (before it was ready) and why it’s brilliant for us all

Posted on: September 25th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

So, the iPhone 5 has been launched along with iOS 6, Apple’s latest operating system for its mobile devices. As always a few users have had hiccups upgrading, and Apple has already released a further update or two to deal with reported issues. All as per usual, although some tech journalists having a slow news day have gone to town on this.

Probably the biggest noise, though, has been reserved for Apple’s decision to ditch Google Maps as part of their OS and replace it with their own Apple Maps. (For those users who just cannot deal with change, there’s a very simple and obvious answer, of course: keep using Google Maps – you’ll find it on your mobile browser at http://www.google.com/maps. Oh, and within a few days, a Google Maps app will be available in the App store). There have been some glitches with the new maps: one or cities in the middle of oceans, the Eiffel Tower flattened across Paris, and a few very wonky looking roads and bridges. These are being corrected quite quickly by Apple.

The biggest loss has been the absence of public transport options. (Again, users who really, really need that: almost every city in the world has an app for public transport users, so just download your one.) Apple will surely add this into their version soon. This time next year, we’ll all have forgotten the rocky start and be using whichever map programme we want to (and might not even be able to see a difference between them).

For me, though, there’s a bigger issue here. Why? Why would Apple do this, and risk the reputational hit they’ve taken?

I believe the answer is simple: augmented reality. AR, as it is known, is all about our ability to see the data layer associated with every physical object in the world. It’s what you’re using when you’re watching your car’s GPS/Satnav device label the roads you’re driving on. In smartphones, it’s the various apps (including Google Maps) that label all the roads, paths, buildings and transport links in the world. The promise of AR is huge: your smartphone knows where you are, and even which direction you’re facing, and because of the link up to the maps database, it also has access to information about everything you can currently see. If advertisers can tap into that same system, they can be given the power to push information to you that is geo-specific, time-sensitive and tailored not just for you, but for-you-where-you-are-right-now!

And Apple wants a piece of that action. To do so requires that they build and control a map database, onto which can be added all the intelligence of AR, big data and analytics.

Apple’s venture into Maps is not just a corporate game of ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ with Google. It is an astute, pre-emptive, intelligent move into the future, and the starting point for a global play for geolocated data, personal communication and data analytics. It’s also great for all of us that this new AR space will not be dominated by one behemoth: Google. Thanks, Apple.

So, while you’re either laughing at Apple, or trying to see whether Apple Maps has sorted out your part of the world yet, let me ask you one simple question: is YOUR company doing anything with geolocated data, personal communication and data analytics? What’s your strategy for this space, which very definitely is ‘the next big thing’?

By the way, at TomorrowToday, our answer to that question comes in the form of two people. They are the two newest members of our team, both brought in as associates to help us play smarter in this space. Mike Saunders and Keith Holdt are both world experts in this new digital world, and we’d invite you to connect with us to find out more about what you can be doing to be competitive in a world where we all have the radical power to know everything.

Why Apple introduced maps (before it was ready) and why it’s brilliant for us all

Posted on: September 25th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

So, the iPhone 5 has been launched along with iOS 6, Apple’s latest operating system for its mobile devices. As always a few users have had hiccups upgrading, and Apple has already released a further update or two to deal with reported issues. All as per usual, although some tech journalists having a slow news day have gone to town on this.

Probably the biggest noise, though, has been reserved for Apple’s decision to ditch Google Maps as part of their OS and replace it with their own Apple Maps. (For those users who just cannot deal with change, there’s a very simple and obvious answer, of course: keep using Google Maps – you’ll find it on your mobile browser at http://www.google.com/maps.  Oh, and within a few days, a Google Maps app will be available in the App store). There have been some glitches with the new maps: one or two cities in the middle of oceans, the Eiffel Tower flattened across Paris, and a few very wonky looking roads and bridges. These are being corrected quite quickly by Apple.

The biggest loss has been the absence of public transport options (again, users who really, really need that: almost every city in the world has an app for public transport users, so just download your one). Apple will surely add this into their version soon. This time next year, we’ll all have forgotten the rocky start and be using whichever map programme we want to (and might not even be able to see a difference between them).

For me, though, there’s a bigger issue here. Why? Why would Apple do this, and risk the reputational hit they’ve taken?

I believe the answer is simple: augmented reality. AR, as it is known, is all about our ability to see the data layer associated with every physical object in the world. It’s what you’re using when you’re watching your car’s GPS/Satnav device label the roads you’re driving on. In smartphones, it’s the various apps (including Google Maps) that label all the roads, paths, buildings and transport links in the world. The promise of AR is huge: your smartphone knows where you are, and even which direction you’re facing, and because of the link up to the maps database, it also has access to information about everything you can currently see. If advertisers can tap into that same system, they can be given the power to push information to you that is geo-specific, time-sensitive and tailored not just for you, but for-you-where-you-are-right-now!

And Apple wants a piece of that action. To do so requires that they build and control a map database, onto which can be added all the intelligence of AR, big data and analytics.

Apple’s venture into Maps is not just a corporate game of ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ with Google. It is an astute, pre-emptive, intelligent move into the future, and the starting point for a global play for geolocated data, personal communication and data analytics. It’s also great for all of us that this new AR space will not be dominated by one behemoth: Google. Thanks, Apple.

So, while you’re either laughing at Apple, or trying to see whether Apple Maps has sorted out your part of the world yet, let me ask you one simple question: is YOUR company doing anything with geolocated data, personal communication and data analytics? What’s your strategy for this space, which very definitely is ‘the next big thing’?

By the way, at TomorrowToday, our answer to that question comes in the form of two people. They are the two newest members of our team, both brought in as associates to help us play smarter in this space. Mike Saunders and Keith Holdt are both world experts in this new digital world. Our Strategic Insights team, headed up by Catherine Garland, also has AR and big data very much in their sights, as they help our team and our clients keep up with these trends. We’d invite you to connect with us to find out more about what you can be doing to be competitive in a world where we all have the radical power to know everything.

Dipping my toe, with 50 days to go: Romney’s lost his way

Posted on: September 17th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Updated on 24 October 2012 – see below

I love to follow politics. In countries around the world it tells us so many different things about the health of a country, the culture of that country and the future of that country too, of course. It’s a fascinating time to be watching politics, as the dominant theory of the last two decades has spectacularly collapsed. In 1989, as communism imploded it became almost common cause that democracy backed by free market capitalism was the ultimate expression of how countries should be governed – America held herself up as the shining example for all to see.

So much for that. American politics has never seemed more broken than it is now, and American politicians have never enjoyed such low approval ratings as they do now.

So, it is with great interest that I watch the upcoming US Presidential elections, now just about 50 days away. And as a futurist, it’s part of what I do for a living to make comment based on trends and predictions. I am not a pundit, nor a pollster. My predictions are based on a model my team and I have developed over the past few years called TIDES, which identifies five major disruptive forces at work in the world right now. And for the past few years, we’ve been pretty good at tracking global trends, including political changes. We predicted the Coalition government currently in charge in the UK, with Nick Clegg as deputy Prime Minister (see here for our prediction). We also predicted that the younger presidential candidate in the US in 2008 would win (see here and here). We’ve done similar work for our clients, ranging from Australia to Iran, and Germany to Zimbabwe.

In the USA, Presidential elections are often won by the slenderest of margins. There are two key reasons for this: (1) the electoral college system, and (2) the fact that close on 80% of the voters will vote for the historical party regardless of the merits of each of the candidates. For these reasons, election campaigns tend to focus on key “swing states” and key demographics called “swing voters”.

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TomorrowToday TV: Vidcasts on future trends and disruptive change

Posted on: August 30th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In addition to our new Internet TV channel, powered by YourBusinessChannel, the TomorrowToday team continues to develop video-based resources. We’re committed to bringing you strategic insights that stimulate thought and conversation.

Here are some of our most recent contributions:

Microsoft has a new logo – how much do you care?

Posted on: August 29th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I don’t think I can ever remember a brand or logo relaunch that didn’t feel a little bit like the company in question had way too much time on its hands and should have been doing something better with it anyway.  (The recently completed London Olympics definitely tops my list of “what were they thinking” logos.) Earlier this week, I spotted an excellent article in Fast Company on what can be learnt from Best Buy’s continued branding mistakes (read it here).

And then, I discovered that Microsoft has also just launched a new corporate logo. It is absolutely no surprise to me whatsoever that the launch of the logo happened to coincide exactly with the first quarterly loss in the company’s history. I know that sometimes a new logo can be refreshing, but when you’re one of the most recognisable brands in the world and one of the biggest companies too, now is probably not the time. It shows a loss of focus on what’s really important, and an over-emphasis on internal tinkering.

Even worse in Microsoft’s case is that the logo is a backward step. If you must release a new logo, then do it with some fanfare and attach it to a bold new direction for the business. The new look logo then has the opportunity to catalyse market attention, grab headlines, say something to customers, staff and potential customers too, and set a vision for the future. Microsoft’s new look logo does none of these. In fact, it feels like a backward step – or, at least, a little internal shuffling of the furniture. Seriously, I don’t see the point. I am not alone – read an excellent analysis here, for example.

Out of interest, here is the full Microsoft logo evolution from the start to now:

Podcast: Introducing the generations and an Updated ‘Mind the Gap’

Posted on: August 28th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I have spent the last two weeks in South Africa, promoting my new book, ‘Navigating Your Career’ and the updated edition of my best selling book, “Mind the Gap” (see details and purchasing options here).

As part of this tour, I did a number of media interviews. One of them was a half hour with my original co-author of ‘Mind the Gap’, Sue Grant-Marshall, who now hosts a book show on Radio Today. This is now available as a podcast here.

You’ll hear an overview of the different generations, and a discussion on why understanding the value systems of those older and younger than yourself is so important in every aspect of your life.

Enjoy.

I’d love to hear your feedback here.

Secrets to Success in a New World of Work: High Tech, High Touch, High Trust

Posted on: August 15th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

The world we live and work in has become increasingly complex in the past two decades.  Rapid advances in technology, together with globalization and fast growth all combined to rewrite the rules of success, failure and organizational design.  The result is that in most multinationals we now have very complex matrix reporting structures, a proliferation of geographically dispersed teams, managers who would not be able to complete the work of absent team members, and more stress and pressure than ever before.

In this environment, we have no choice but to rely on others for our success.  This is raising the premium on at least three aspects of this new world of work: computers, connections and collaboration.  A high tech world is still high touch, and demands high trust.

High Tech

It’s almost impossible to imagine that a little over two decades ago we had no mobile phones, no Internet, no email and no 24-hour TV news channels.  In less then one generation we have revolutionised communication and initiated significant change in every aspect of our lives.  Initially it seemed that the revolution was simply to speed up everything we had been doing, but increasingly we’re discovering that advances in computing power, processing speed and bandwidth, also allow us to do different things and to do what we do in entirely different ways.

Companies are only just beginning to discover the benefits of this high tech world.  Many organisations still fear it, banning Facebook, YouTube and Skype, and limiting access to the digital world during office hours.  Some have begun to experiment with using technology to enhance what they do already, including video meetings, in-house instant messaging and document management.

But only a very few are truly stepping into this high tech world and trying to take advantage of issues like “big data” (our ability to harvest, process and utilize hundreds of thousands of data points, and use algorithms and intelligent systems to look for patterns in the data that can influence our decision making), social business (using the concepts underpinning social media to devise entirely new approaches to all aspects and functions of business), BYOD (bring your own device, as companies stop insisting on specific hardware or uniform platforms for staff) or truly mobile, cloud-based, digital communications (that will free people up from needing to be in any specific location).

High Touch

One of the key reasons the high tech world is not being properly embraced is because of the fear that especially senior leaders have about losing control.  Most of these leaders grew up in a world where control was imposed by being physically present.  “Super-vision” was exactly that: over-sight of people physically present.  There is, of course, a negative side to this approach to control and management.

The positive side is that most people need some form of human contact in order to function effectively anyway.  In a high tech world, we need to find ways to continue to be high touch.

And this, paradoxically, is what the last few years of computing advances have begun to enable.  For example, consider the rapid uptake of social media.  Facebook is closing in on one billion users.  This is not because Facebook is a brilliant piece of software.  Facebook does not exist because some nerdy software programmers got the coding just right.  Facebook exists because it is the best tool we’ve ever invented to get people to do what people want to do naturally: to connect.  The most successful technology companies these days are successful precisely because they enable connection, belonging and “high touch”.

In the business world, the recent global economic crisis has caused companies to pull back on travel and shift towards more virtual meetings and conference calls.  Many people are discovering that these do in fact create a connection, and that technology – properly used – can enable “high touch”.  It might not be as good as being in the room with someone, but it’s better than we’ve ever had before.

In addition, we’ve also just recently brought the technology to a point where it is both useful and painless to use.  This can probably be most attributed to the Apple iPad.  The first iPad was only launched in April 2010 (I wonder how old you thought iPads were?), and has been followed by a host of copycats.  These handheld, mobile, smart devices are not just easy to use, they are delightful to use.  In April 2012, mobile devices accounted for 10% of all Internet traffic – a doubling from the same time the year before.  By 2020, mobile Internet will be by far the dominant form of online usage, with online communication being the now.

And so, possibly, the confluence of rapidly advancing technology and an economic downturn have ushered in a new world of work.

High Trust

In this new world of work outlined above, the most important currency is trust.  This is true for anyone trying to sell anything.  It is also true for teamwork, management and leadership.  And it is absolutely essential for almost any business activity these days.  The higher the complexity of a task or function, the more we need to rely on others and to collaborate, and this requires trust.  High trust!

Unfortunately it seems that the transparency, immediacy and openness of this new digital age has led to a dramatic decrease in trust.  Trust is even more scarce than attention, and that’s saying something these days.  For teams to be successful, they therefore need to use a combination of high tech and high touch to develop high trust.  This needs to be a conscious and deliberate team focus.

Trust is tricky to define.  There are two parts to it:  there’s a “feeling” part that indicates trust exists and a “performance” part based on one’s track record that confirms the trust.  Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time: it takes a long time to build, and can be shattered in an instant.

There are many practical steps a team or group of people can take to develop trust, but the first and most important of these is to make every effort to see the world through other people’s eyes.  Every one sees the world through a series of “lenses” conditioned by their own set of circumstances.  These lenses include the viewpoints of different cultures, genders, religions, personalities, generations and learning styles.  In a business environment, we can also add the lenses of different regions, functions, job outcomes and seniority.

There are no quick solutions here.  Teams need to take the time to identify and become comfortable naming and accepting each other’s lenses.  We must each firstly acknowledge our own lenses, and accept that we may have blind spots and biases that influence how we feel and perform (the two aspects of trust).  This can be done using profiles.  Our team has enjoyed using the Enneagram as a personality profile, Belbin’s model of team functioning and a model of cultural diversity developed by our Asia team member, Professor Nick Barker.  You can find insights into these aspects of diversity and difference at our blog

But, of course, there are many other models that can be used to achieve the same result.  However your team does it, this is the starting point: to identify your key lenses and be comfortable owning how these lenses affect you and your reactions.

This allows you to then move to the second step, which is to accept other people’s lenses, or to see the world through other people’s eyes.  In our team, we have a simple rule at this stage: we do not question motive.  When someone else does something we don’t understand or agree with, we may not (initially) question their motives.  We have to assume that we do not understand, but that they had the team’s best interests at heart.  We then connect with that person to discover why they did what they did, and, in the words of Steven Covey in his best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (this is Habit 5 in his list).

The third step is to decide what adjustments need to be made.  In some instances, one or other of the parties involved in a disagreement will need to change.  Sometimes both parties need to make adjustments.  But interestingly, quite often, neither party needs to change.  Each one has an aspect of the whole picture, and in a complex world we are often faced with paradoxes that cannot be easily resolved in one-size-fits-all solutions.  This is the real value of true diversity – not that we all end up agreeing, but rather that we end up in a position where we can hold different viewpoints in harmonious tension with each other.  This is when trust is most in evidence in a team.  And most needed too.

Trust emerges over time in a team that is committed to relying on each other, working together to achieve a common purpose, and insistent on dealing honestly, openly and immediately with misunderstandings and concerns.

Working together in a new world of work

In a high tech world, driven by unprecedented computing power, we need to learn how to connect and collaborate more effectively.  Our old ways of working, and outdated approaches to teamwork are proving ineffective and counterproductive in this new world.  We need to take some time as teams to develop our abilities to “touch” and “trust”.

There are no short cuts available to achieving this, but the benefits when it is done are enormous.  Teams will be more effective and more resilient, and will be able to better retain and engage their members.  This is everything that businesses and leaders everywhere want.  High touch and high trust in a high tech world are the only ways to achieve this, and leaders need to make these a priority.

The Future of the Olympics: who’s the best mutant? or human 2.0?

Posted on: July 27th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

As the Olympics once again start their quadrennial celebrations of human achievement and athletic accomplishment, we look forward to a few weeks of extraordinary stories and celebrations. On the basis of past experience, it’s likely that some competitors will be cheating (by which I mean that they are knowingly breaking the rules). I hope they’re found out.

But, at one level, ALL of the competitors are cheating. If the idea of the Olympics is that there should be a fair and equal starting point for everyone, this is just not possible. Sitting on my sofa watching the games, there is just no way I could have even come close to winning one of the medals. At least not one that required the use of one’s lungs. I have asthma. Always have. I have a mild case, and don’t get attacks. But exercise is never nice for me. No endorphins, no fun. Just pain in my chest. It’s no excuse, I know, for the little exercise I do actually do (my waistline tells that story only too well, sadly). But I wasn’t born with the natural abilities to compete at Olympic level.

But what if genetic modification, or augmentation of my body were allowed? What if drugs could sort out my asthma, and give me an opportunity to compete? Would you rather see some Jamaican run a 9sec 100m because of the slight genetic advantage he has, or someone run it in 5 seconds with the mutant legs of a cheetah? OK, extreme maybe, but the point is that the playing field is not level now. So why not just let anyone do whatever they want to do to their bodies, and allow us to be amazed and entertained by the results?

This is not as far fetched as it might sound. We now understand more than ever about our genetics and DNA. We have machines that can be attached to our bodies and controlled by our minds. And we’re actually evolving rapidly too.

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Graeme Codrington public events in South Africa in August 2012

Posted on: July 19th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Dr Graeme Codrington will be speaking at the following public events in South Africa in August. Sign up now for any or all of them. Discounts for groups are available:

Two different approaches to Africa from the two big world powers

Posted on: July 19th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

You cannot generalise about Africa. It’s a big place, and you can find anything and everything you’re looking for (and a lot you’re not) there. But themes are emerging, nevertheless. And it seems as if China and America are choosing their paths into the “last frontier” continent in very different ways.

China has taken the route of resource extractor. I don’t think they’re attempting a new form of colonialism as some have suggested. They are coming into Africa with contracts in hand, and paying for all manner of resources to be taken back to China. If Africans feel cheated its mainly because they didn’t negotiate hard enough. And just yesterday, China announced a package of $20 billion of loans made available to African countries over the next three years. It’s in China’s best interests to help Africa build infrastructure, be stable and uplift its people.

The lesson from other parts of the world for Africa is a harsh one. Africans need to add more value to their resources before they ship them out of the continent. Beneficiation is the technical term that has been co-opted to refer to the process of adding value to natural resources. It’s a sad truth that Italian goldsmiths have earned much more money from their jewellery making than the African miners who risked their lives to extra the gold from the ground in the first place. Africans must learn to add value in order to increase the margins on their sales.

But it’s still good news that there is a willing buyer in the East.

The other major world power is taking a different approach.

One of America’s largest and most powerful industries is the Arms industry. They have a massive vested interest in ensuring there is always a war somewhere, and preferably a series of wars involving American troops. The UK’s Arms industry is complicit in this desire to keep the world destabilised. And it appears that their eyes are now turning to Africa.

The Washington Post recently reported that America is expanding its secret military bases across Africa. (Read an additional opinion piece in the South African Daily Maverick here).

I realise this is not the only way in which America is involved in Africa. I also understand that there are many Americans working selflessly in Africa for the good of the continent. I don’t want to besmirch their work.

But I do want to state my fear that the bully-machine that is America’s military-industrial complex is turning to Africa and will fuel local and regional conflicts, and engage in political interference to keep the continent unstable. This cannot be good.

The lesson for Africans is to make a stand against American military engagement in Africa. Let’s not be lured by whatever promises they make in order to establish bases in our countries and set their drones flying over our homes and rivers and mountains.

These are generalisations. They are also predictions. And warnings.

Africa needs to be strategic in the way it engages with the world’s major powers right now.

Those who think they have power tend to abuse that power

Posted on: July 19th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This thought could probably apply to many different people in many different parts of society, but right now my brain is fixated on the nauseating stench coming from the banking industry. From Barclays colluding with central banking authorities to manipulate the very heart of the industry to HSBC providing banking for some of the world’s worst criminals, the banking industry seems amoral right now. I wonder if part of it is explained by a simple experiment?

The graduation speech at Princeton this year was given by Michael Lewis. In it, he discusses an experiment that explores the relationship between power and morality:

” … a pair of researchers in the Cal psychology department staged an experiment. They began by grabbing students, as lab rats. Then they broke the students into teams, segregated by sex. Three men, or three women, per team. Then they put these teams of three into a room, and arbitrarily assigned one of the three to act as leader. Then they gave them some complicated moral problem to solve: say what should be done about academic cheating, or how to regulate drinking on campus.

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The end of the line…

Posted on: July 16th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It’s hardly earth shattering news, but a recent piece of research in New Zealand has indicated that as Generation Y are growing up and becoming home owners for the first time, they’re simply not installing home phones. No landlines at home. It’s obvious really, and I can’t imagine that anyone other than the landline phone providers are surprised.

The problem we have right now is that disruptive innovation is now the norm, and no longer the exception. This means that the most likely “next big thing” in your industry is actually not going to come from your industry at all. It might feel obvious to us looking backwards, but all of the following appeared to be surprises to the industries they disrupted:

  • Cheap watches surprised the Swiss watchmakers;
  • Web-based search engines completely killed Yellow Pages and printed directories;
  • eBooks;
  • Smartphones killed Nokia (see these ludicrous predictions from industry leaders about the iPhone in 2007);
  • Driverless cars – Google is the first to market with this, not Ford, BMW or Toyota;
  • Video games were not picked up by the board game manufacturers (see here for insights on one company, Lego, that seems to be keeping up);
  • iTunes is disrupting the music industry, mainly by selling music by tracks rather than by albums.  The industry still hasn’t really understood this shift;
  • 3d printing is about to disrupt factories, when “made in China” becomes “made in my kitchen”;
  • the apps industry is disrupting almost every other industry, especially the way we consume news and information.

We know all of these things were surprises because these innovations were introduced by companies completely outside the established industry at the time.

So, a simple question, and I’d love your thoughts and comments on this: what other industries, products or services are heading towards “the end of the line” in the next few years? They might limp on, supported by older die-hards, but new generational or geographical marketplaces will be inaccesible? Let me know…

Lessons in disrupting your business: Lego goes gaming

Posted on: July 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

At TomorrowToday we talk a lot about disruptive change, and we spend much of our time helping our clients develop corporate cultures that are able to handle disruptions. There is a negative side to disruptive change, and it’s necessary to think and act in ways that reduce risk. But, equally, turbulent times bring huge opportunities as well.

There are opportunities to extend one’s offerings to existing clients, find new clients for both existing and extended products and services, and change the business models that support these. Great questions that can get the right type of thinking started include:

  • Who else could use our products?
  • What else can our products be used for?
  • What do our best clients desperately want? (Not “want from us”, but what needs and wants do our best clients have in their lives in general.)
  • What else can we deliver/produce with very little change to our core processes?

There are other ways to get to disruptive innovation, but these questions are a simple  and great starting point. Maybe the best starting point for disruptive innovation though is to ask yourself what type of company you are.

To help our clients understand the power of this, we’re constantly looking for examples of companies who have navigated disruptive change successfully.

My current favourite example is Lego. The Danish construction toy is about as ubiquitous an object as you can imagine. More than 400 billion Lego bricks have been produced since the company began in 1958. There are about 62 Lego bricks for every person on Earth. Approximately 19 billion Lego elements are produced per year at the moment: that’s 2.16 million moulded every hour, or 36,000 every minute.

Successful. Yes. And they could have simply continued doing what they were doing. But instead, Lego is constantly adapting.

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Some important company annual returns and what they’re saying about the world economy

Posted on: July 10th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It’s earnings reporting season in the USA right now, and some of the earnings being reported provide interesting insights into the way the recession in the US is interacting with other disruptive forces to change the world of work. Business Insider ran a feature on this earlier this week. You can read the full details at their site, or just get the headlines below:

  • McCormick: Europeans are eating at home to save money
  • ConAgra: Consumers are being frugal at the grocery store and are eating more leftovers
  • Family Dollar: Consumers are actually buying more food at dollar stores
  • Lennar: The US housing market has hit bottom
  • Discover: People are paying off their credit cards on time
  • CarMax: Customer credit quality is starting to deteriorate again
  • Carnival: People are still taking vacations, but they’re buying them at a discount
  • Walgreen: Online sales are booming, but hurting profit margins
  • Red Hat: Businesses are actually beginning to shift to the cloud
  • Paychex: Payrolls growth slowed, but was better than expected
  • Adobe: Big data and predictive marketing are starting to develop
  • Oracle: The app economy is really taking off
  • Nike: Chinese growth has significantly decelerated
  • FedEx: Businesses are trading down to save money
  • Accenture: Clients are starting to invest in tech improvements to boost profits
  • Monsanto: The corn and seed business is exploding in Latin America
  • Jabil Circuit: Big businesses are waiting to make their big enterprise expenditures

Disruptive Change – How to deal with it for future success [podcast]

Posted on: July 10th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Last Friday I was interviewed by Chris Cooper on his Voice America Business radio show. The show is now available in podcast format, for free. It’s an hour long, and a great conversation about how we deal with disruptive change for future success.

The show was promoted as follows:

There is no doubt that the rate of change in the world is speeding up. The rules for success and failure in business are changing as revolutionary companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Virgin impact the world. Economies are in crisis and all industries are under enormous pressure. Yet for the business owner, learning to navigate potentially disruptive change could actually yield the greatest of opportunities. I am delighted therefore that internationally acclaimed expert on the changing world of work, Dr Graeme Codrington is joining us. Graeme is co-founder of TomorrowToday, a global firm of futurists, and speaks internationally to over 100,000 people in more than 25 countries every year! He is a guest lecturer at 4 top business schools including the London Business School, has 5 degrees, including a Doctorate, 4 best selling published books and wide ranging business experience. Don’t miss this show if you want to learn how to turn potentially disruptive change into your advantage.

You can listen to it below, or at this link:

Disruptive Change – How to deal with it for future success [podcast]

Posted on: July 10th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Last Friday I was interviewed by Chris Cooper on his Voice America Business radio show. The show is now available in podcast format, for free. It’s an hour long, and a great conversation about how we deal with disruptive change for future success.

The show was promoted as follows:

There is no doubt that the rate of change in the world is speeding up. The rules for success and failure in business are changing as revolutionary companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Virgin impact the world. Economies are in crisis and all industries are under enormous pressure. Yet for the business owner, learning to navigate potentially disruptive change could actually yield the greatest of opportunities. I am delighted therefore that internationally acclaimed expert on the changing world of work, Dr Graeme Codrington is joining us. Graeme is co-founder of TomorrowToday, a global firm of futurists, and speaks internationally to over 100,000 people in more than 25 countries every year! He is a guest lecturer at 4 top business schools including the London Business School, has 5 degrees, including a Doctorate, 4 best selling published books and wide ranging business experience. Don’t miss this show if you want to learn how to turn potentially disruptive change into your advantage.

You can listen to it below, or at this link:

Where does your stuff come from?

Posted on: July 7th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Someone asked me a few days ago how many people work for me helping me answer emails and write my blogs.

I have a team of business partners, and we all work really hard and contribute to this blog and our article library. But everything that has my name on it comes directly from me.

I write every word of the entries that have my name on them on this blog (over 1,000,000 words so far). I have a team that does some research, and they’re a great help. But if something has my name on it, I wrote it.

If you see an email that’s from me, I wrote it. If you follow me on Twitter, every single entry comes directly from me. If you read my Facebook pages (my personal or business profiles), everything there is from me too.

If I recommend a book or write a blurb for one, it’s because I’ve read it and thought it was worth it. I very rarely endorse companies or other projects. And I only endorse or recommend people I know and have worked with. (PS – stop asking me for recommendations in LinkedIn if we haven’t worked together. Come on, what is that?)

We don’t take advertising on our blog or websites, and no one can pay us to endorse them. I don’t directly own private or public equity in companies I write about.

And those are my boundaries. They might not work for everyone, and I’m sure that other people and companies have other systems that work for them, but these are mine. If I am slow to respond to an email from you, or don’t respond at all to comments sent, it’s simply because I’ve made the choice to manage these myself rather than to farm out the things I love doing to someone else.

Thanks for reading. Stay connected.

Banksters – the most recent crisis explained simply by The Economist

Posted on: July 6th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I’m a subscriber to The Economist. This week I am absolutely loving their cover on the banking crisis: “Banksters” is the one word title, with a wonderful image. This week has definitely been a bad one for banks, and Bob Diamond, disgraced ex-CEO of Barclays did nobody any favours by the unbelievable approach he took to the interviews he had with MPs.

If you’re a little confused by the intricacies of the issues related to interbank lending rates, regulators and financial intrigue, then you might find the following articles very helpful. They’ll give you the background without overwhelming you with the details, and they also suggest solution. Well worth the investment of a few minutes of your time:

The Economist cover is below:

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Banksters – the most recent crisis explained simply by The Economist

Posted on: July 6th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I’m a subscriber to The Economist. This week I am absolutely loving their cover on the banking crisis: “Banksters” is the one word title, with a wonderful image. This week has definitely been a bad one for banks, and Bob Diamond, disgraced ex-CEO of Barclays did nobody any favours by the unbelievable approach he took to the interviews he had with MPs.

If you’re a little confused by the intricacies of the issues related to interbank lending rates, regulators and financial intrigue, then you might find the following articles very helpful. They’ll give you the background without overwhelming you with the details, and they also suggest solutions. Well worth the investment of a few minutes of your time:

The Economist cover is below:

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Latest book: Navigating Your Career

Posted on: July 5th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

We are thrilled to announce the launch of Dr Graeme Codrington’s latest book. It is now available for sale in South Africa, and will be available in ebook format and internationally later this year.

Navigating Your Career: 5 steps to success in the new world of work, by Kerry Dawkins and Graeme Codrington, Penguin, June 2012, ISBN: 9780143530268

Synopsis:
The world of work has never been as difficult or complicated as it is right now. And yet, at the same time, there have never been as many opportunities. If you know what you’re looking for, and are sure of how to position yourself in a competitive jobs market, there are ways for you to find your dream job. And not just for now: you can actually spend every day of the rest of your life doing something you love that contributes to changing the world.

It all starts with a radical mindset shift- treat your career as a journey to be navigated. Then follow five steps for lifelong job satisfaction. This is not a quick fix solution. It will require some hard work and focus to become a career navigator. The good news is that hundreds of people have already successfully followed the advice in this book. You can join them today, and start to reap the rewards of a fulfilling and rewarding career.

The best time to start properly navigating your career is twenty years ago. The second best time is today. Don’t delay. Start now.

Kerry Dawkins is a professional career coach, and her team has put together a fantastic website to help you get even more out of the book. It includes an online version of the career navigation tool. You can access that here: http://navigatingyourcareer.com

You can buy the book at the following online stores (unfortunately this is only available in South Africa right now): See Kalahari.net or Exclusive Books.

An ebook version and international options will be available soon.  This is in Penguin’s hands, not ours.

Don’t forget Graeme’s other best-selling books:

or or


or or

These other two titles are available internationally, but not yet in eBook or Kindle format. We are waiting for Penguin to sort this out.

Management Today: Fortune-telling for business

Posted on: July 2nd, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Management Today, one of the top management publications in the UK, has picked up on some of our ideas about how you can get your teams to work differently and see into the future. Our head of Strategic Insights, Catherine Garland, has written an excellent piece for them. You can read it here.

We thought we’d expand on some of these areas here on the blog, where we are not quite as space limited. We can also add a bit of additional information from the clients we’ve recently been working with.

Ask new questions to new people

Companies often don’t realise their research is stuck in a rut. They run the same focus groups and ask the same questions of the same people year after year. Broaden your horizons and ask new questions to new groups of people inside and outside your organisation – especially the young, bright ones who find it easier to embrace change.

Depending on the questions you’re asking, there are some easily accessible groups of people who are often not considered when doing corporate research or future scenario planning, including: (1) your employee’s children (especially their older teen and young adult children who are stil, studying); (2) your social media contacts – many companies still use social media channels in traditional advertising ways, simply sending messages to their networks, rather than engaging in conversations; (3) LinkedIn interest groups; (4) Expert groups – there are many groups of consultants, futurists and scenario planners who would provide their future insights (often for free) if they were just asked.

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Management Today: Fortune-telling for business

Posted on: July 2nd, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Management Today, one of the top management publications in the UK, has picked up on some of our ideas about how you can get your teams to work differently and see into the future. Our head of Strategic Insights, Catherine Garland, has written an excellent piece for them. You can read it here.

We thought we’d expand on some of these areas here on the blog, where we are not quite as limited by limited. We can also add a bit of additional information from the clients we’ve recently been working with.

Ask new questions to new people

Companies often don’t realise their research is stuck in a rut. They run the same focus groups and ask the same questions of the same people year after year. Broaden your horizons and ask new questions to new groups of people inside and outside your organisation – especially the young, bright ones who find it easier to embrace change.

Depending on the questions you’re asking, there are some easily accessible groups of people who are often not considered when doing corporate research or future scenario planning.  These  include: (1) your employee’s children (especially their older teen and young adult children who are still, studying); (2) your social media contacts- many companies still use social media channels in traditional advertising ways, simply sending messages to their networks, rather than engaging in conversations; (3) LinkedIn interest groups; (4) Expert groups – there are many groups of consultants, futurists and scenario planners who would provide their future insights (often for free) if they were just asked.

Watch the competition you didn’t realise was your competition

And learn from them. Not just the competition you know, but the innovators and start-ups in other sectors. Who would have thought Apple would one day challenge Sony? Or HMV? Your future competitors may well be in a completely different industry. They don’t pose any threat today – but who might they be?

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What we can learn about marketing, sales and branding to Gen Y from Justin Bieber

Posted on: June 27th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

My colleague and business partner, Saffron Baggallay runs our training company out of our Johannesburg. She’s also our team’s resident “Gen Y” guru, and had these insights earlier this week:

On 4 June 2012 Justin Bieber became the youngest person ever to appear on the cover of Forbes magazine. He has also been ranked as Forbes’ third most influential celebrity (based on his income and fame), after Jennifer Lopez and Oprah Winfrey. If you look at the list of names on the top 100 list as of June 2012, he is also the only person listed under the age of 20. These are not the only things that Justin has pioneered. I don’t think that anybody has ever been this famous at such a young age before (the guy was only born in 1994), certainly not as a solo artist. Nor has anybody so young made so much money so quickly. Justin has personally made $108 million in the last two years; and $55 million this year, primarily through record sales and tours (157 tour dates across two dozen countries). Since 2009 he has sold 15 million albums, grossing $150 million. In a digital age, that’s pretty impressive. I don’t think any other artist has used social media tools so effectively to acquire and maintain his fame the way Justin has. Much like MTV helped launch Michael Jackson’s career; and he became the pop phenomenon of his generation, so Justin is the first social media super star and certainly the King of music for his generation.

So, here are some amazing facts about Justin:

  • @JustinBieber has 21 million Twitter followers (that’s more than anyone else on earth apart from Lady Gaga (who ranked 6th on Frobes’ top 100 list) and as Justin would say himself, Lady Gaga still had more off-line fans before on-line ones when she first started, which was the opposite for him.
  • Justin has 43 million Facebook friends, which is more than Barak Obama (the other social media phenomenon) and Mitt Romney have put together.
  • Justin’s first performance at Madison Square Gardens in New York City sold out in just 22 seconds.
  • Justin’s YouTube channel was the biggest in the world before he even had a record deal.
  • It didn’t just happen for Justin. He and manager Scooter Braun worked hard for three years to build his brand on YouTube.
  • Justin has sold 1 million bottles of his ‘One Less Lonely Girl’ nail polish.
  • Justin’s perfume Someday made $60 million worth of sales in its first 6 months.

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Slideshare: There’s An App For That (for bankers and business people)

Posted on: June 21st, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Last week I ran a workshop for a group of Swiss bankers, focussing on the future of banking and payments. It was based on research commissioned by our client. If you’re interested, please let me know (you can email me here).

But at the same event, the organisers asked me to do an additional workshop on the best smartphone apps for business people, and for financial matters. It was a fun hour, and I thought I’d share my suggestions with you.

The selections were based on: my personal usage and preferences; ratings by users; number of downloads and suggestions from people I trust. I’d love to hear what you might have added to my list, and why.

You can see the presentation at SlideShare or below.

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Slideshare: There’s An App For That (for bankers and business people)

Posted on: June 21st, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Last week I ran a workshop for a group of Swiss bankers, focussing on the future of banking and payments. It was based on research commissioned by our client. If you’re interested, please let me know (you can email me here).

But at the same event, the organisers asked me to do an additional workshop on the best smartphone apps for business people, and for financial matters. It was a fun hour, and I thought I’d share my suggestions with you.

The selections were based on: my personal usage and preferences, ratings by users, number of downloads and suggestions from people I trust. I’d love to hear what you might have added to my list, and why.

You can see the presentation at SlideShare or below.

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Building successful teams is hard work

Posted on: June 20th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Everyone has their favourite Olympic event. For many it’s the 100m sprint as the fastest men on earth hurtle down that tiny corridor to victory and fame. But for me, amidst all of the individual events that characterise the Olympics, the event I look forward to the most is the 4 X 100m relay. These are often the final events in the track schedule – the pinnacle of the stadium show. I might be revealing too much about myself if I say that the reason I like the relays so much is because often world-class athletes are made to look like school children: fumbling the batons, running past each other and just generally falling apart. It’s like watching a motor race just to see the accidents. And accidents happen regularly in relays.

The reason is obvious. It’s the same reason that many sports teams fail to reach their expected potential: they don’t know how to act as a team. A group of highly talented individuals is not a team. A group of people all brilliant at what they do as individuals can still fail if they do not work together effectively. Over and over again, the world of sport shows this to be true.

Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, and one of the greatest athletes to ever play any sport, once said:

“There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren’t willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

What is true for sport is equally true in today’s workplace. In our complex, fast-moving, technology-driven world, collaboration and team have never been as important as they are now. Of course, there are many different types and forms of teamwork. We’re increasingly being required to work in virtual teams, separated by space and time zones. Yet, the essence always remains: teamwork is the art of joining others in pursuit of a common goal.

Teams don’t just happen

Actually, it’s more than just joining. We don’t join a team. We become a team. And becoming a team requires hard work, commitment and sacrifice.

Just as the 4 X 100m relay athletes have to put some real effort into becoming a team, and need to learn a few new skills to help them do so, we also need to work hard to build our teams in the office.

It requires that we discover our own strengths, and play to them. It will need to agree together on where each of our strengths lie, and agree to sometimes step back out of the limelight to allow someone else to contribute their best efforts. It will take learning new skills, especially “soft” skills of communication (by which I really mean listening), empathy, understanding and connection. And it will mean that we put the good of the team above our own advancement.

It’s that last one that is at the heart of it all.

We really do need to believe that we only each succeed as individuals when the team succeeds in its goals. We need to act in ways that are consistent with that belief.

It might be worthwhile, as we head towards the Olympics of 2012, for you and your team to take some time out to use this metaphor of a relay team to help frame a conversation about how you can become less like individual super stars, and more like a well oiled team that is able to sprint towards the finish line with victory as your prize.

Credit goes to Mike Henry of the Lead Change Group for inspiring these thoughts.

Visualising the retirement age crisis around the world

Posted on: June 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Most countries in the world are in the process of gradually pushing up their retirement age. France’s new President is doing the opposite right now, but that won’t last and the French will soon have to increase retirement age once again. There is no country in the world that is setting retirement age high enough, quickly enough.

Currently, most of us are living one day longer every week we’re alive. Life expectancy is not creeping up – it’s rushing upwards. And, the expectation of how productive people in the upper age ranges will be is also increasing dramatically. Most medical professionals working on longevity realistically predict that the first person to live to 150 years is already alive. More than half of all the people who have ever turned 80 are currently still alive (about 105 million right now, but expected to grow exponentially to as many as a billion people by 2050).

Today, The Economist released this summary of the OECD’s recent report on retirement. This shows the changes in planned and actual (effective) retirement ages, while also showing life expectancy. The comparison between current reality and that of the 1970s shows the extent of problem, as well as  the futility of government’s using up political capital to shift retirement by just two or three years. Really, this is a HUGE issue, and there is not one country in the world dealing with this looming crisis adequately:

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Not seeing what you’re looking at

Posted on: May 31st, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

There are many examples online where you can be looking at something and not see what’s happening right in front of your eyes. The most famous, possibly is the black gorilla and basketball count test. Probably my favourite is the Colour Changing Card trick.

And then there are some superb optical illusions. For example, stare at the blue dot in the centre of this rotating image, and see how long it takes for the yellow dots to “disappear” (they don’t, by the way, you just seeing them):

My point is simple, and possibly even a touch fun: what are you missing? what are you not seeing, even though you’re actually looking at it?

What we measure determines what we see, but it also determines what we miss. And (as Ted Coine noted just today on Leadership blog), if it can be measured it can be manipulated.

What are you doing to ensure that you’re seeing clearly? Are you sure? What else could you look at, just to shift your focus for a bit? What would happen if you stopped looking at what you fixate on every day/week/month – even just looking away for a moment? How do you know if you don’t try?

Forecasts for the next 25 years

Posted on: May 29th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few of our team are members of the World Futures Society, an association bringing together the world’s leading thinkers about future trends. One of the key resources produced by the WFS is a journal and a regular set of updates that aggregate the various scenarios for the future produced by the members. As you can imagine, it’s not possible to come up with a single agreed-upon view of the future – the member’s views of the future are as varied as their backgrounds, their fields of interest and their geographies. But when taken together, they provide a rich tapestry of insight that your team would be well advised to tap into.

The latest WFS scenarios and forecasts have now all been collected on one page and are available at http://www.wfs.org/forecasts

Of course, there are other sources of scenarios. The most famous and long standing of these sources was started by Charles Handy in the 1950s and come from Shell. Whilst being obviously energy-focused, they nevertheless provide valuable insights into possible futures and scenarios. You can see Shell’s latest global scenarios here.

Which set of scenarios and forecasts do you find really useful and/or compelling? I’d love to be pointed to them, and hear your thoughts.

Forecasts for the next 25 years

Posted on: May 29th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few of our team are members of the World Futures Society, an association bringing together the world’s leading thinkers about future trends. One of the key resources produced by the WFS is a journal and a regular set of updates that aggregate the various scenarios for the future produced by the members. As you can imagine, it’s not possible to come up with a single agreed-upon view of the future – the member’s views of the future are as varied as their backgrounds, their fields of interest and their geographies. But when taken together, they provide a rich tapestry of insight that your team would be well advised to tap into.

The latest WFS scenarios and forecasts have now all been collected on one page and are available at http://www.wfs.org/forecasts

Of course, there are other sources of scenarios. The most famous and long standing of these sources was started by Charles Handy in the 1950s and come from Shell. Whilst being obviously energy-focused, they nevertheless provide valuable insights into possible futures and scenarios. You can see Shell’s latest global scenarios here.

Which set of scenarios and forecasts do you find really useful and/or compelling? I’d love to be pointed to them, and hear your thoughts.

Wisdom and insights from Seth Godin

Posted on: May 19th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I am a huge fan of Seth Godin, and subscribe to his daily insights blog and emails. So many of his daily nuggets are pure gold, and I find myself wanting to share them (I do this through Twitter @workforcetrends or my Speaker Profile Facebook page if you’d like to subscribe) and write blogs of my own based on them. But time is not kind to me.

So, instead of adding my own insights to Seth’s nuggets, here are four of my most favourite recent blog entries from him:

  • Organized Bravery – most organizations institutionalize cowardice
  • Avoiding false metrics – make sure you’re measuring the things that make a difference to what you’re really trying to achieve
  • Free samples – when it’s right and when it’s wrong to give – and take – a free sample (hint: the rules are different in the physical and digital worlds)
  • Bandits and philanthropists – Both have been around forever, but the web magnifies the edges and brings these two opposite extremes into focus (take away: don’t be be a bandit)

Enjoy.

Targetting the (ageing) Boomers: South Africa as a retirement destination

Posted on: May 17th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

My good friend and colleague, Lynda Smith, sent me an article recently that got me thinking about how companies and countries need to have strategy for the ageing Baby Boomers. Lynda runs an excellent consulting firm, The Refirement Network, that focuses on this issue, and additionally helps those facing retirement to think about it differently (hence the name of her business).

The article she sent me (read it here) highlighted research that placed South Africa in the top ten best retirement destinations in the world. The particular slant of the article was to indicate that this would result in upward pressure on suitable house prices. But there’s more to it than that.

Companies in areas, regions and countries that are good retirement destinations should strategise about the products and services that retirees of the future will demand. This is everything from high tech setups in their homes together with technical support services, to healthcare and wellness issues. A quick moment of pondering adds so many other items to the list, including education (yes, the 65+ market is ripe for continuing education), transport, financial advice, providing the luxuries and nostalgic items from their home countries, entertainment, security and so much more.

The SA government should be marketing South Africa as an attractive retirement destination, as should the coastal cities in the country. And businesses should be gearing themselves up for this too.

What are you doing?

Do no harm: why banks continue their agonising, slow death plunge

Posted on: May 17th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It seems too easy, and almost cliched these days, to bash the banks. And yet, astonishingly, just when you think you’ve heard the worst of it, some new piece of information comes to light that shows just how sick and rotten banking is right now. I fully understand, of course, that not every banker is corrupt and that not every bank is rotten all the way through. But as with so many lawyer jokes over the years, it’s beginning to feel like 99% of banks are giving the 1% of good ones a bad name.

Maybe it’s helpful to be more specific about my issue today. My scorn is directed mainly at the large, global investment banks, or large banks with investment arms. These banks have shifted over the past decade or so from institutions that provide the oil that makes the economy run smoothly and morph into profit-making and profit-hungry players in their own right (and players that add no physical value to the economic system at that). They’ve also been the chief catalysts behind pushing executive pay into stratospheric (and catastrophic) heights, and building an unhealthy culture of excessive pay for a few individuals who are not similarly ‘punished’ for losses and the risks they take. They seem to have no sense of shame that they needed to be bailed out by the public that they no longer serve in many countries around the world. They have deliberately misled customers – and, in some cases – actively reducing client’s profits in favour of their own. The list of charges is seemingly endless.

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TomorrowToday launches our own TV channel: TomorrowToday Business TV

Posted on: May 11th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Our colleagues in the UK have formed a partnership with our business television friends at yourBusinessChannel, and they’re pleased to bring you TomorrowToday TV.

On this channel, we feature a selection of short video clips from business experts to get you thinking further about various aspects of the new world of work. The experts featured on this business tv channel are from a diverse range of specialist fields and are at the leading edge of the industry they’re in – either at the forefront of change, or driving it into their industries.

The channel will feature regularly updated content, including contributions from our own panel of experts and the TomorrowToday team.

Bookmark TomorrowToday Business TV now, and visit us regularly!

For even more insights, specifically on the role of digital in the new world of work, see Dr Graeme Codrington who is being featured on yBC’s Digital Transformation TV channel.

TomorrowToday launches our own TV channel: TomorrowToday Business TV

Posted on: May 11th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In partnership with our business television friends at yourBusinessChannel, we’re pleased to bring you TomorrowToday TV.

On this channel, we feature a selection of short video clips from business experts to get you thinking further about various aspects of the new world of work. The experts featured on this business tv channel are from a diverse range of specialist fields and are at the leading edge of the industry they’re in – either at the forefront of change, or driving it into their industries.

The channel will feature regularly updated content, including contributions from our own panel of experts and the TomorrowToday team.

Bookmark TomorrowToday Business TV now, and visit us regularly!

For even more insights, specifically on the role of digital in the new world of work, see Dr Graeme Codrington who is being featured on yBC’s Digital Transformation TV channel.

Secrets to Success in a New World of Work: High Tech, High Touch, High Trust

Posted on: May 10th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

The world we live and work in has become increasingly complex in the past two decades. Rapid advances in technology, together with globalization and fast growth all combined to rewrite the rules of success, failure and organizational design. The result is that in most multinationals we now have very complex matrix reporting structures, a proliferation of geographically dispersed teams, managers who would not be able to complete the work of absent team members, and more stress and pressure than ever before.

In this environment, we have no choice but to rely on others for our success. This is raising the premium on at least three aspects of this new world of work: computers, connections and collaboration. A high tech world is still high touch, and demands high trust.

High Tech

It’s almost impossible to imagine that a little over two decades ago we had no mobile phones, no Internet, no email and no 24-hour TV news channels. In less then one generation we have revolutionised communication and initiated significant change in every aspect of our lives. Initially it seemed that the revolution was simply to speed up everything we had been doing, but increasingly we’re discovering that advances in computing power, processing speed and bandwidth, also allow us to do different things and to do what we do in entirely different ways.

Companies are only just beginning to discover the benefits of this high tech world. Many organisations still fear it, banning Facebook, YouTube and Skype, and limiting access to the digital world during office hours. Some have begun to experiment with using technology to enhance what they do already, including video meetings, in-house instant messaging and document management.

But only a very few are truly stepping into this high tech world and trying to take advantage of issues like “big data” (our ability to harvest, process and utilize hundreds of thousands of data points, and use algorithms and intelligent systems to look for patterns in the data that can influence our decision making), social business (using the concepts underpinning social media to devise entirely new approaches to all aspects and functions of business), BYOD (bring your own device, as companies stop insisting on specific hardware or uniform platforms for staff) or truly mobile, cloud-based, digital communications (that will free people up from needing to be in any specific location).

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Scott Thompson of Yahoo should resign – not for lying, though

Posted on: May 9th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

Scott Thompson is the CEO of Yahoo, a position he has held since January, after moving from PayPal. An activist shareholder recently discovered that Scott has falsified his CV and bio, claiming to have a BA in Computer Science when in fact he only has a BA in Accounting.

The press over the last few days have reported that he has apologised to Yahoo staff. This is not really the case. He has apologised to them for how the issue is affecting the company and their ability to focus on their jobs, but he has not admitted any error (although there clearly is one), nor any wrongdoing (again, that seems clear). Read ComputerWorld UK’s reporting of this here.

What should be done now? Well, it depends really on how this happened. I agree with the sentiments in this report from the Washington Post, which suggest that his knowledge of the error is a vital factor.

But my own advice is simpler still. He should resign or be fired. Yes, he should do so because he lied. That would be enough reason. But I suggest that there is an even better – and bigger – reason to do so.

As the head of an Internet search and information company, the fact that he thought he could get away with a falsification of this nature is an indication of a gross misunderstanding of the new rules of the new world of work. Transparency, openness of data, and the power of the small people to uncover injustice and untruth, are all ubiquitous and part of the new operating system of the world we’re busy constructing. To ignore this, or worse, to think that you can outplay it, is indication of a person unfit to make be making leadership decisions in this type of company.

How long is it going to take big companies and big men to realise that we live in a wikileaks world?

Yes, he lied on his CV, and so Scott Thompson should go. But he also clearly doesn’t understand the world he was supposed to be shaping. And for that reason alone, Yahoo should say goodbye.

Scott Thompson of Yahoo should resign – not for lying, though

Posted on: May 9th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Scott Thompson is the CEO of Yahoo, a position he has held since January, after moving from PayPal. An activist shareholder recently discovered that Scott has falsified his CV and bio, claiming to have a BA in Computer Science when in fact he only has a BA in Accounting.

The press over the last few days have reported that he has apologised to Yahoo staff. This is not really the case. He has apologised to them for how the issue is affecting the company and their ability to focus on their jobs, but he has not admitted any error (although there clearly is one), nor any wrongdoing (again, that seems clear). Read ComputerWorld UK’s reporting of this here.

What should be done now? Well, it depends really on how this happened. I agree with the sentiments in this report from the Washington Post, which suggest that his knowledge of the error is a vital factor.

But my own advice is simpler still. He should resign or be fired. Yes, he should do so because he lied. That would be enough reason. But I suggest that there is an even better – and bigger – reason to do so.

As the head of an Internet search and information company, the fact that he thought he could get away with a falsification of this nature is an indication of a gross misunderstanding of the new rules of the new world of work. Transparency, openness of data, and the power of the small people to uncover injustice and untruth, are all ubiquitous and part of the new operating system of the world we’re busy constructing. To ignore this, or worse, to think that you can outplay it, is indication of a person unfit to make be making leadership decisions in this type of company.

How long is it going to take big companies and big men to realise that we live in a wikileaks world?

Yes, he lied on his CV, and so Scott Thompson should go. But he also clearly doesn’t understand the world he was supposed to be shaping. And for that reason alone, Yahoo should say goodbye.

Choosing your child’s name

Posted on: May 8th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

My colleague, Mike Saunders, had a baby yesterday (technically, it was his wife, but you wouldn’t know it from his reporting of the event :-) ). Congratulation, Mike. Here’s a quick thought for him as he makes a very important early parenting decision.

Dear Mike,

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby. You’ve probably already made this decision, but you have a few days before it becomes official, so I hope you don’t mind me making a suggestion about the name of your new child. Simple, really: make it unique.

In the Internet age, a unique name is a HUGE advantage. You should know. Are you “Mike Saunders“, the rock critic and the singer of the Californian punk band Angry Samoans? No. You must be one of the 26 professionals called Michael Saunders on LinkedIn? But which one?

So, as a digitally savvy, new world of work enabled Dad, please do your homework before choosing a name for your new son. A quick search tells me you shouldn’t choose Floyd, Steve, David, or… well you get the point.

Really, a unique name that cannot be confused with someone else, is a real and genuine asset in our connected world.

Parents, take note: the name you give your child makes more of a difference now than it ever has.

Just one of many significant – and NEW – parenting decisions you need to know about.

All the best, from (the one and only) Graeme Codrington (not the Graham Codrington who works in England in the insurance industry ).

The Communication Revolution

Posted on: May 8th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

My colleague, Saffron Baggally, runs our training company in South Africa. She recently had some excellent insights on the information and communication revolution we’re living through. I know you’ll enjoy her thoughts:

In the 21st century I think we are all acutely aware of the significance of communication. It is all around us, in so many forms: face to face (both verbal and non-verbal or our body language), written, in various forms in the media; and digital, just to name a few. Therapists talk about the need for it in all relationships. Managers talk about the need for it in and amongst their teams. Parents and teachers urge their children and students, respectively, to trust them enough to feel free to do it. Thousands of people go to training every day on how to communicate better. In the world of work we talk about learning ‘soft skills for improved communication’ in order to get ahead. At TomorrowToday we often talk about the fact that we are living in a connection economy; and that our ability to build relationships with people will increasingly become a differentiator for us and our organisation, so we urge people to learn new ways of communicating. We talk about finding adaptable and flexible ways to communicate with others in the face of increasing diversity. We remind leaders they will have to learn to communicate differently because of a changed work force and work place. Billions of emails (lots of them spam) get sent everyday, alongside probably trillions of instant messages.We live in an age saturated by information and we are obsessed with finding ways in which to communicate differently, more effectively, more efficiently, with more empathy and productively. In fact, we are even asked to communicate more inventively and creatively too.

A friend of mine was telling me the other day that he had been on a conference call, whilst driving home from work in Johannesburg (SA), with three other people. One was in Washington (USA), one was in New York (USA) and one was in London (UK). This is the amazing part about using technology for communication; and the aspect of our ability to communicate that has (and will continue) to change everything in our professional and personal lives. Not only were all four participants on the conference call all thousands of miles away from one another, but the conversation was happening for my friend from a moving car!

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How to attract Gen Y into engineering – a case study from MOL

Posted on: April 25th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I am sitting in a presentation by Gabor Varjasi, Head of Competency Development and Strategic HR at MOL Group. This is at Stamford Global‘s Talent for Tomorrow conference in Vienna.

MOL have a similar problem to many companies around the world who need to attract young people (often called Generation Y) to join their companies, especially those that need to recruit young people with skills and qualifications in natural sciences. MOL is in the oil industry, and needs significant numbers of engineers and scientists.

They identified that there were not enough science students qualifying from universities in Hungary, their primary country, but also across the whole region they work in. This cannot be fixed with better recruitment strategies or poaching from competitors. So MOL decided to do something about the source, and get involved in high schools and universities. They wanted to promote sciences as a viable and exciting choice for young people.

They did this by engaging with teachers, parents and students. They created resources for schools to use in the teaching of science (called Junior Freshhh), and made this freely available to use.

They then created an online competition in the form of a simulation game aimed at university students. See Freshhh EDU (http://www.freshhh.net). 35 universities entered in 2007, growing to over 200 in 2011 (the 2012 version is ongoing), with over 600 different 3 member teams participating in 2011. The competition is based on real oil and gas industry issues, and can be used as teaching tools by the universities. It is fully integrated with social media, and uses high quality videos throughout. Those videos and the game scenarios become available to educators after each year’s competition is over.

Is this just fun?

No! Over the lifetime of this graduate game, MOL has employed more than 900 of the participants in the game from 2007-2011, and these students have a 90% retention rate in the business (it’s worth reading that sentence again! MOL have won awards for recruitment and retention because of this!). Some of the people (close to 5%) who were employed in 2008 are already in managerial positions.

This is gaining momentum, with 200% growth per year for 2010 and 2011, and this expected to increase further. They have saved over € 500,000 in recruiting costs. And the cost of game has been € 65,000 so far. An unbelievable ROI.

The big lesson though is that it took four years to see any value from the investment. And it will take the rest of this decade to discover whether the long term objective of getting young people into engineering will bear fruit. At this stage, all the signs are good. MOL’s Facebook page has huge activity, and parents, teachers and young people are all actively engaged.

This is the type of long term thinking more companies need to engage in.

When advertising gets personal (and conversational and fun)… it can be brilliant

Posted on: April 25th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Updated on 25 April 2012.

South Africa has a long history of clever TV advertising, with some outstanding brands and campaigns. Probably the stand out brand, though, is Nando’s, the chicken restaurant, who have a reputation for pushing the boundaries (sometimes too far).

Recently, Nando’s spoofed one of South Africa’s oldest and most conservative insurance companies’ TV adverts. Just yesterday, Santam hit back with a very clever, superbly positioned advert that links the two brands together and has a lot of fun at the same time. I can’t wait to see how Nando’s responds – because they definitely will.

In the process, both these brands are demonstrating huge public appeal, wonderful personality, a lot of fun, and are gaining great brand recognition and value. This is everything that advertising can be in a new world where conversation, community, engagement, interaction and fun are all taken for granted by the younger generation. To follow the whole story watch the videos below in order:

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When advertising gets personal (and conversational and fun)… it can be brilliant

Posted on: April 25th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Updated on 25 April 2012.

South Africa has a long history of clever TV advertising, with some outstanding brands and campaigns. Probably the stand out brand, though, is Nando’s, the chicken restaurant, who have a reputation for pushing the boundaries (sometimes too far).

Recently, Nando’s spoofed one of South Africa’s oldest and most conservative insurance companies’ TV adverts. Just yesterday, Santam hit back with a very clever, superbly positioned advert that links the two brands together and has a lot of fun at the same time. I can’t wait to see how Nando’s responds – because they definitely will.

In the process, both these brands are demonstrating huge public appeal, wonderful personality, a lot of fun, and are gaining great brand recognition and value. This is everything that advertising can be in a new world where conversation, community, engagement, interaction and fun are all taken for granted by the younger generation. To follow the whole story watch the videos below in order:

(more…)

Leading Diversity: The Zoo versus The Wild

Posted on: April 16th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I was recently asked to write an article for the Switch and Shift leadership blog. I picked up a theme that has been a significant one for our team for many years. It is one that our new business partner, Prof. Nick Barker has most of his professional career working with. It is the topic of cultural complexity, diversity and difference. The topic is a vital one for all larger businesses these days, as we deal with the increasingly complex interactions between people of different worldviews, cultures, personalities, generations, genders and all the other factors that cause us to see the world differently to others.

One of the most significant leadership issues in the 21st century is going to be the issue of diversity. This is because it’s not just about ensuring the requisite numbers of women and ethnic minorities at various levels within your organisation.; It’s about engaging with difference, and using that engagement to enhance your business success.

But this can only happen if we have a significant change in mindset.

Put simply: the goal of diversity is not harmony. And this is the problem: Most leaders approach the issue of diversity with a checklist in one hand (to make sure they’ve covered all the ‘diversity factors’ they’re being measured on) and a hope of maintaining harmony in the other. They see the management of diversity as the “taming of difference”.

The result is that you end up with something that looks and feels a bit like a zoo does: all the different species are there, neatly and carefully labeled, but they’re all locked up, artificially caged, and the visitors are not allowed to feed them. Zoos have their place, of course, and a lot of good work goes on in the world’s zoos. But they are not reality. They’re sterile places. And they are not self-sustaining.

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Leading Diversity: The Zoo versus The Wild

Posted on: April 16th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I was recently asked to write an article for the Switch and Shift leadership blog. I picked up a theme that has been a significant one for our team for many years. It is one that our new business partner, Prof. Nick Barker has most of his professional career working with. It is the topic of cultural complexity, diversity and difference. The topic is a vital one for all larger businesses these days, as we deal with the increasingly complex interactions between people of different worldviews, cultures, personalities, generations, genders and all the other factors that cause us to see the world differently to others.

One of the most significant leadership issues in the 21st century is going to be the issue of diversity. This is because it’s not just about ensuring the requisite numbers of women and ethnic minorities at various levels within your organisation.; It’s about engaging with difference, and using that engagement to enhance your business success.

But this can only happen if we have a significant change in mindset.

Put simply: the goal of diversity is not harmony. And this is the problem: Most leaders approach the issue of diversity with a checklist in one hand (to make sure they’ve covered all the ‘diversity factors’ they’re being measured on) and a hope of maintaining harmony in the other. They see the management of diversity as the “taming of difference”.

The result is that you end up with something that looks and feels a bit like a zoo does: all the different species are there, neatly and carefully labeled, but they’re all locked up, artificially caged, and the visitors are not allowed to feed them. Zoos have their place, of course, and a lot of good work goes on in the world’s zoos. But they are not reality. They’re sterile places. And they are not self-sustaining.

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Business TV comes to TomorrowToday

Posted on: April 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Recently Cisco predicted that video will make up 90% of all internet traffic by 2013. Indeed watching video is the #1 web activity, followed by Facebook and then Internet banking. These are some of the reasons why we are excited about our new partnership with yourBusinessChannel – bringing high quality business television interviews to the TomorrowToday community.

In addition to members of the TomorrowToday team, shows will feature many other world class experts and brands including Tesco, SAP and Sir Richard Branson on topics such as the Digital Economy, Social Media and the Future of Work.

Here are two introductory snippets, but “watch this space” for the full roll out in the very near future:

Visual Communication

 


The reason for TomorrowToday's existence

 


Business advice powered by yourBusinessChannel


Next steps for the future of women’s equality

Posted on: April 9th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I was watching some women’s sport last weekend, and then followed the controversy around women in the heart of golf at the Masters this weekend. There were a number of stories that intertwined to remind me again of how unequal our world remains. And I was encouraged once more to continue doing something about it. I need to declare an interest in this topic right at the start: I am the father of three daughters. Helping my daughters take their rightful place in the world, and being involved in changing the world so that it is more ready for them and their girl friends is very personal for me. It’s not a theoretical exercise or a nice thought experiment – it’s about the future for my family. It’s important.

My point is simple, but vital: women have made many strides in equality in the workplace over the last few decades, with as many women in work now as men in many countries. But there are three vital issues that need to take priority now: (1) the number of women in senior leadership positions (and their influence on corporate culture), (2) the remuneration women receive for the same work as their male counterparts, and (3) society’s attitude towards and valuing of women’s contributions.

The world of sport helps to make my point. As I write this, I am watching the final round of a remarkable Masters golf tournament at Augusta, one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the world. But the biggest story of the week was taking place off of the hallowed green fairways. Augusta does not allow women members. They only allowed black members in 1990, a mere 7 years before Tiger Woods first donned their famous green jacket. But they still have no female members. This year, that is interesting. Traditionally, the CEO of their major sponsor, IBM has been given honorary membership. This year, the CEO is a woman, Ginni Rometty. And she won’t be offered a membership (here’s the best article on the news conference where they refused to even offer an explanation). One can only hope that IBM soon show Augusta and the Masters what they think of that.

A weekend or so ago, I was watching the finals of the World Women’s Rugby 7s competition in Hong Kong. It was a brilliant game, with all of the tactics, speed, fitness, physicality (one of the biggest hits of the weekend in the last minute if you get to see the replays), skills and endurance (and nerves, both good and bad) evidenced by the men’s game. And just last week, I was alerted to the most remarkable sporting personality. Can you name the sportsperson who has played in World Cups for their country in two different sports, and made the decisive play in the championship games of both competitions, and is the youngest person to have represented their country (only aged 16) in two sports? No, I didn’t think so. I am a total cricket nut, but only discovered Ellyse Perry yesterday. How is that possible? She is remarkable!

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TomorrowToday’s tenth anniversary

Posted on: March 27th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

Today is the tenth anniversary of the starting of our company, TomorrowToday. Ten years ago today, Barrie Bramley, Keith Coats and Graeme Codrington had lunch at a restaurant called Ruby’s in Fourways Mall, Sandton. We had already been working together for a few years, but that day we agreed to formalise our work, form a company and position ourselves as a team. Keith came up with the name – and it’s been a winner ever since: “Tomorrow’s competitive advantage today”, “understanding tomorrow’s world today” and “making tomorrow a reality today” and many more versions have been taglines that have helped positon us and explain what we do.

We now have two full time offices: South Africa and UK/Europe, with another opening in Singapore in the near future. We have worked in more than 50 countries, with over 500 clients, helping people at all levels of organisations from every industry to understand the forces that are shaping the new world of work, and what they mean for people, leaders, teams and strategies.

We have employed more than 50 people during the past decade, and numerous staff and employees have gone on to start their own specialist consulting companies (with our blessing): Terry Bakker, Buhle Dlamini, Raymond de Villiers, Lynda Smith, Lezelle Taljaard, Nicky Edwards, Glenda Warrin, Aiden Choles, Mike Stopforth, Raylene Shipham, Steve Griffiths, Jackie Ronson and Barrie Bramley to name a few. We’ve had some leave to join the corporate world (Michael Mol left to become CEO of one of our clients) and others have moved into politics (Mmusi ‘Aloysias’ Maimane recently was the Democratic Alliance’s candidate for mayor of Johannesburg).

Many of them are still associates and work with us on selected client projects. Our current list of preferred associates and those with a close business connections to TomorrowToday include: Prof Nick Barker, Pete Laburn, Gary Bailey, Lynda Smith, Paul Adlam, Dawna MacLean, Paul Bridle, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Terry Bakker and the great team at DigitLab.

It’s fitting to mention those who have been directors of the company, and since moved on: Barrie Bramley (a founding shareholder), Michael Mol, Raymond de Villiers, Steve Griffiths and Jackie Ronson (both founding shareholders of our UK business).

Current shareholders and directors are: Graeme Codrington, Keith Coats, Dean van Leeuwen, Catherine Garland, James Dunne, Vicky Coats, Jude Foulston, Saffron Baggallay and Mike Saunders. We are excited to have Nick Barker join us in 2012, with a view to starting our Singapore operations more formally in the near future.

We have engaged with over 500 clients during the last 10 years. Many have become both repeat clients and friends. A list of some of our more recent clients is available on our website, including some of their comments and testimonials about our work. We are really proud of the work we’ve done in the last ten years, and the difference we have made in so many companies.

I cannot begin to count them, but I would guess that we have easily written more than a million words in books, blog entries (we have two official blogs: SA and UK/Europe), newsletters (again, we have an SA and a UK/Europe version), white papers, handouts for our presentations, workshops and training courses, research projects, social media, and all of the media contributions we have made.

And we do all of this for just two simple reasons: (1) Because we believe that there is a better way to work, and that by understanding the forces shaping a new world of work, we can bring about a change in the way we live and work, and (2) because we love it.

Thanks for sharing the journey. Here’s to the next decade!

TomorrowToday’s tenth anniversary

Posted on: March 27th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Today is the tenth anniversary of the starting of our company, TomorrowToday. Ten years ago today, Barrie Bramley, Keith Coats and Graeme Codrington had lunch at a restaurant called Ruby’s in Fourways Mall, Sandton. We had already been working together for a few years, but that day we agreed to formalise our work, form a company and position ourselves as a team. Keith came up with the name – and it’s been a winner ever since: “Tomorrow’s competitive advantage today”, “understanding tomorrow’s world today” and “making tomorrow a reality today” and many more versions have been taglines that have helped positon us and explain what we do.

We now have two full time offices: South Africa and UK/Europe, with another opening in Singapore in the near future. We have worked in more than 50 countries, with over 500 clients, helping people at all levels of organisations from every industry to understand the forces that are shaping the new world of work, and what they mean for people, leaders, teams and strategies.

We have employed more than 50 people during the past decade, and numerous staff and employees have gone on to start their own specialist consulting companies (with our blessing): Terry Bakker, Buhle Dlamini, Raymond de Villiers, Lynda Smith, Lezelle Taljaard, Nicky Edwards, Glenda Warrin, Aiden Choles, Mike Stopforth, Raylene Shipham, Steve Griffiths, Jackie Ronson and Barrie Bramley to name a few. We’ve had some leave to join the corporate world (Michael Mol left to become CEO of one of our clients) and others have moved into politics (Mmusi ‘Aloysias’ Maimane recently was the Democratic Alliance’s candidate for mayor of Johannesburg).

Many of them are still associates and work with us on selected client projects. Our current list of preferred associates and those with a close business connections to TomorrowToday include: Prof Nick Barker, Pete Laburn, Gary Bailey, Lynda Smith, Paul Adlam, Dawna MacLean, Paul Bridle, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Terry Bakker and the great team at DigitLab.

It’s fitting to mention those who have been directors of the company, and since moved on: Barrie Bramley (a founding shareholder), Michael Mol, Raymond de Villiers, Steve Griffiths and Jackie Ronson (both founding shareholders of our UK business).

Current shareholders and directors are: Graeme Codrington, Keith Coats, Dean van Leeuwen, Catherine Garland, James Dunne, Vicky Coats, Jude Foulston, Saffron Baggallay and Mike Saunders. We are excited to have Nick Barker join us in 2012, with a view to starting our Singapore operations more formally in the near future.

We have engaged with over 500 clients during the last 10 years. Many have become both repeat clients and friends. A list of some of our more recent clients is available on our website, including some of their comments and testimonials about our work. We are really proud of the work we’ve done in the last ten years, and the difference we have made in so many companies.

I cannot begin to count them, but I would guess that we have easily written more than a million words in books, blog entries (we have two official blogs: SA and UK/Europe), newsletters (again, we have an SA and a UK/Europe version), white papers, handouts for our presentations, workshops and training courses, research projects, social media, and all of the media contributions we have made.

And we do all of this for just two simple reasons: (1) Because we believe that there is a better way to work, and that by understanding the forces shaping a new world of work, we can bring about a change in the way we live and work, and (2) because we love it.

Thanks for sharing the journey. Here’s to the next decade!

Africa’s Chance to Leapfrog the West

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few weeks ago, a Ghanaian entrepreneur wrote an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review blogs about Africa’s potential. You can read the full article here, or an extract below:

Africa’s Chance to Leapfrog the West

HBR Blog Network, February 10, 2012
by Bright B. Simons

You’ve heard about the African Renaissance, right? The Aid Bosses, once the unquestioned successors in Africa to the joint heirloom of Mother Teresa and Lord Clive of Chennai, are finding it harder and harder to get face time with the political grandees in our wheeling and dealing capitals. The Chinese are fawning all over our oil and copper, forcing once-aloof Westerners to write treatises about why China’s engagement with the continent isn’t all marshmallow candy. These concerns get polite nods here and there but, mostly, serious Africans ignore them and firmly redirect the conversation back to private equity, or franchise deals, or something along those lines. Bottom line: Are you game or are you out? And have you heard that we have more mobile phones than any other continent besides Asia?

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Cloud service predictions – coming fast, coming soon

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Recently, Graeme Codrington was asked to comment on how cloud computing services are changing the way we work. The journalist used their conversation to generate a number of press releases which can be seen below.

Our overall message is quite simple: cloud computing is growing up, and people are getting more familiar with it. At the same time, corporate IT needs to start to loosen up and begin to see the benefits of a bit more openness to their companies (here is an excellent article which deals with this specific point).

Here are the articles:

Show me the science: the weird world of climate change

Posted on: March 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

We live in a world where even straight forward facts are disputed, distorted and used in fantastical ways by those with political agendas. The 24 hour news cycle seems capable of turning sound bites into facts, and then running with stories that don’t actually match reality. This could not be more true than in the arena of climate change, global warming and resource usage.

A few years ago, those media outlets, politicians and business leaders who have an interest in denying climate change had a great gift given to them, and they immediately labelled it “Cimate gate”. Thousands of column inches and minutes were given to the accusation that some academics working on climate issues had falsified data in order to heighten the scare mongering around climate change. It was held up as a massive exhibit that “proved” climate change was not happening. You have most likely heard of this issue.

So, have you heard that it didn’t happen?

The scientists involved have been reviewed again (and again and again), and have now (again) been exonerated. They have been cleared of all charges. Or, to put it simply: “Climategate” did not happen. You can read about this important issue here and here.

So, is global warming happening? Well, of course, the skeptics would say, “No, it isn’t”. They claim that science and data are on their side, because global warming has now stopped. This is just not true, and is such a distortion of climate data that it can only have been done wilfully. Read the best examination of this issue here. Global warming has slowed down in the past few years, because global warming happens in a cycle (of energy building and lack of release) over about a decade. Thus, all the best models of global warming (or cooling, by the way) would show that temperature changes would not happen in a linear line over time. You need to look at longer term trends (not that much longer – just 15-30 years). When you do, the upward trend is clear. And alarming.

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New approaches to journalism in a digital, connected, social media world

Posted on: March 8th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

There are many industries battling to come to terms with the new digital, connected, social media world we live in. Books, music, retail stores and agents of all kind spring to mind. And so do journalists. It’s not just that magazines and newspapers are under threat from online competition, but actually the very nature of journalism and its purpose, too, need to be reimagined.

A few months ago, Seth Godin made the point that a lot of journalism today is just plain lazy. I couldn’t agree with him more. He said:

When journalism was local, the math of reporting was pretty simple: you found a trend, an event or an issue that was important and you wrote about it. After all, you were the voice to your readers. Being in sync with a hundred or a thousand print journalists around the world was important, otherwise your readers would be left out of a story everyone else knew about. And being in sync let a reporter know she was working on the right stories.

It wasn’t lazy. It was smart. Your job was to report to the people in your town first, and to report what would be important tomorrow, which was the same thing everyone in every other town was doing….

Of course, now there is pretty much no such thing as local when it comes to news. Anyone in the world can read about anything in the world. As a result, this habit of being in sync completely undermines what we need from professional journalists….

Did I need a newspaper to write precisely the same story days after I read it for the first time? How much do we care about the race for ‘first’ when first is now measured in seconds or perhaps minutes?

We don’t need paid professionals to do retweeting for us. They’re slicing up the attention pie thinner and thinner, giving us retreaded rehashes of warmed over news, all hoping for a bit of attention because the issue is trending. We can leave that to the unpaid, I think.

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Women take the fast track – and we’re part of the process

Posted on: March 5th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

The FT yesterday ran a piece about a programme for the development of women leaders at Novartis. The programme was headed by Duke Corporate Education MD, Liz Mellon.

The reason this article caught my eye, is that our workshops and programmes team from TomorrowToday were involved in this programme when it kicked off last year. And we agree with the FT: it’s a fantastic initiative! And was incredibly well put together by Duke CE.

As the FT put it: “Novartis, like other big companies eager to develop internal talent, runs plenty of executive development courses,” explains Claudia Bidwell, head of talent management, organisation development and staffing for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Novartis turned to Duke for a customised project, after a beauty contest, because there was nothing like it on the market. “I spent a lot of time trying to find a programme like this.”

What was particularly unusual – apart from the single-sex composition – is the scheme’s breadth. Spread over a year, the programme involved 10 days of group sessions, in three blocks. Participants engaged not just in conventional team building exercises, but much deeper and wider development modules. Those included leadership skills, from strictly personal, to leading others, to leading a business. There was also an unusually close involvement with top management. Apart from direct coaching, participants were split into groups, each directly mentored by a member of Novartis Pharmaceuticals’ executive committee and each addressing a genuine strategic issue.

I am sure that Novartis are seeing the benefits of this investment.

By the way, you can see a list of TomorrowToday’s clients and a selection of client testimonials at our company website.

Reimagining Capitalism – as Principled, Patient, and Truly Social

Posted on: March 5th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington 2 Comments

Polly LaBarre has written an excellent and thought-provoking piece on the Harvard Business Review blog (thanks to Pete Laburn for alerting me to this). It is becoming increasingly clear that unfettered, free market capitalism is a discredited system. Communism was discredited when it became obvious that the leaders considered themselves (in the immortal words of ‘Animal Farm’) “more equal” than everyone else. Free market capitalism is being discredited for similar reasons, as the investment bankers and Wall Street CEOs (sorry, I mean “job creators”) prove that they’re mainly in it for themselves too.

So, we need to reimagine capitalism. LaBarre suggests three ways it could be changed: principled, patient and truly social. Here article encourages thought, interaction and a response. You can read it here, and an extract below.

While the global financial meltdown and its aftershocks have unleashed a flood of indignation, condemnation, and protest upon Wall Street, the crisis has exposed a deeper distrust and implacable resentment of capitalism itself.

Capitalism might be the greatest engine of prosperity and progress ever devised, but in recent years, individuals and communities have grown increasingly disgruntled with the implicit contract that governs the rights and responsibilities of business. The global economy and the Internet have heightened our sense of interconnectedness and sharpened our awareness that when a business focuses only on enriching investors, managers view the interests of customers, employees, communities—and the fate of the planet—as little more than cost trade-offs in a quarter-by-quarter game.

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Reimagining Capitalism – as Principled, Patient, and Truly Social

Posted on: March 5th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Polly LaBarre has written an excellent and thought-provoking piece on the Harvard Business Review blog (thanks to Pete Laburn for alerting me to this). It is becoming increasingly clear that unfettered, free market capitalism is a discredited system. Communism was discredited when it became obvious that the leaders considered themselves (in the immortal words of ‘Animal Farm’) “more equal” than everyone else. Free market capitalism is being discredited for similar reasons, as the investment bankers and Wall Street CEOs (sorry, I mean “job creators”) prove that they’re mainly in it for themselves too.

So, we need to reimagine capitalism. LaBarre suggests three ways it could be changed: principled, patient and truly social. Here article encourages thought, interaction and a response. You can read it here, and an extract below.

While the global financial meltdown and its aftershocks have unleashed a flood of indignation, condemnation, and protest upon Wall Street, the crisis has exposed a deeper distrust and implacable resentment of capitalism itself.

Capitalism might be the greatest engine of prosperity and progress ever devised, but in recent years, individuals and communities have grown increasingly disgruntled with the implicit contract that governs the rights and responsibilities of business. The global economy and the Internet have heightened our sense of interconnectedness and sharpened our awareness that when a business focuses only on enriching investors, managers view the interests of customers, employees, communities—and the fate of the planet—as little more than cost trade-offs in a quarter-by-quarter game.

(more…)

One billion Chinese mobile phones

Posted on: March 3rd, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Today, 3 March 2012, marks the moment that the one billionth Chinese mobile phone contract is taken out. India are not far behind, with just about 900 million contracts. Together, these two countries account for one quarter of all mobile phone contracts.

The USA comes in third, with 327 million (which means an average of more than one cellphone contract for every man, woman and baby in the country). The top nine countries all have over 100,000 million contracts, with Germany and the USA having more contracts than people.

You can see the full list of countries by number of mobile phones in use here.

Of course, another way to look at this list would be by percentage penetration per country. Usage statistics would also be interesting, as this would probably be correlated with revenue and profitability of the industry. If you know where I can find up-to-date global data on these metrics, please let me know.

For now, though, let’s revel in the knowledge that China is the most technologically and mobiley connected nation in the world. By far.

How well do you really know your Gen Y employees?

Posted on: February 29th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

As Gen Y employees continue to enter the workplace with their own approach and new expectations of what the world of work should be like, research continues to provide valuable insights for employers. Two recent reports were particularly interesting.

In the first, reported on in the Huffington Post on 2 Feb 2012, Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Millennial Branding LLC, partnered with Identified.com (a data and analytics company) to research how Generation Y (defined by them as current 18-to-29-year-olds) is using Facebook to define their personal lives while often disregarding their professional identity. The research provides insights into social media usage, but also offers broader comment on how Gen Y want to work.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Gen Y may seem cavalier to some with their social media obsession and their desire to have more control over their time, activities, and work culture – even as rookies. We need to not begrudge them this so-called “perk”, but rather learn from multi-generational wisdom and meet them half way in their use of technology.
  • Work/life integration is something employers are finally addressing, since burn out, stress related illness and toxic work environments continue to cause serious problems in the workforce. Gen Y’s requests for this “balance” up front could generate a paradigm shift and help to restructure the workforce since balanced, healthy people perform better on the job.
  • Gen Y must still strengthen their professional competencies in written and verbal communication, active listening, empathy, resilience, and self awareness. The Huffington Post author, Caroline Dowd-Higgins (author of the book “This Is Not the Career I Ordered”) says, “Whether you are an entrepreneur, working in a Fortune 500 company, or a non-profit organization — these skills are a deal breaker and imperative for professional success.”

The second piece of research comes from one of my favourite researchers on generational issues, Jennifer Deal of the Center for Creative Leadership. She has spent most of the past decade working hard to dispel generational theory myths and prick the “pop psychology” bubbles that exist around this topic. She needs to be listened to. She has written an excellent article for Booz and Co’s Strategy + Business blog. You can read it here, or an extended extract below.

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The Revolution Starts Where? A presentation for the meetings industry

Posted on: February 28th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few weeks ago, Graeme Codrington ran a workshop at EMEC2012, the conference for Meetings Professionals International (MPI) in Budapest. He was asked to speak on technologies that are going to shape the meetings industry in the next few years.

He took an interesting approach, not just listing a whole host of technologies, but rather looking at some key technology trends and drivers that were shaping how people used, implemented and integrated technology into their meetings. Some of the content might not be brand new for you, but when taken together, this hour long session is an eye opening look at the near future of meetings.

The session was recorded and is available as a Silverlight powered webcast here.

When you’ve watched it, we’d really value your feedback by way of comments here at this blog.

Thanks.

The Revolution Starts Where? A presentation for the meetings industry

Posted on: February 28th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A few weeks ago, Graeme Codrington ran a workshop at EMEC2012, the conference for Meetings Professionals International (MPI) in Budapest. He was asked to speak on technologies that are going to shape the meetings industry in the next few years.

He took an interesting approach, not just listing a whole host of technologies, but rather looking at some key technology trends and drivers that were shaping how people used, implemented and integrated technology into their meetings. Some of the content might not be brand new for you, but when taken together, this hour long session is an eye opening look at the near future of meetings.

The session was recorded and is available as a Silverlight powered webcast here.

When you’ve watched it, we’d really value your feedback by way of comments here at this blog.

Thanks.

Heading in the right direction, fast: Some excellent South African wage data

Posted on: February 27th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

The outstanding team at “South Africa: The Good News” recently highlighted some really encouraging wage data from the latest Adcorp Employment Index (released on 13 February 2012). Three important personal income trends have emerged in South Africa:

  1. After-inflation incomes have risen sharply, from R44,431 on average per year in 2000 to R61,645 per year in 2011 – a real increase of 39%, or a respectable 3.3% per year.
  2. Income inequality between the races, especially between blacks and whites, has declined sharply. In 2000, the average black South African earned 15% of the average white South African’s income, whereas in 2011, a typical black person earned 40% of a typical white person’s income. Currently 1.3 million blacks (or 14% of the black workforce) earn as much as or more than the average white, up from 270,000 in 2000 – an increase of more than 1 million, or 378%.
  3. A lot of the improvement in inequality is down to government’s involvement in the wage market. A significant number of black people now work for the government, and have experienced significant increases in salary and wages. (Nonetheless, three in five of South Africa’s highest-earning black earners are employed in the private sector – numbering around 820,000 at present.)

You can read the full report and analysis here. In my opinion, there is a slight warning sign about the number of civil servants and their bloated salaries – this MUST be offset by a focus on their efficiency and productivity, and experience in other countries is against this happening. But in general, this is a great report and excellent information, providing a healthy balance from the badly skewed data that comes out of the government’s Labour department.

Insider Trading is legal for US Senators: unbelievable corruption at the heart of US government

Posted on: February 27th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

At the heart of capitalism is a set of rules that govern how economies work – they make the whole system function. One of the pillars of capitalism is the understanding of an efficient market, which requires that everyone in the system has access to the same information. That’s why “insider trading” (using information that will be public soon but is only known to a small group of people at the moment to make investment decisions) is so outlawed. People who trade on inside knowledge are tracked down with ruthless efficiency and sent to jail. Even if they’re as nice and wholesome as Martha Stewart!

So, imagine my surprise last week when I discovered that US Senators and Congressmen and women, and their staff, are exempt from insider trading rules. It sounds unbelievable. What’s worse, is that it seems they have been using their exemptions to great effect, by trading on knowledge they have of upcoming laws and regulatory changes to buy and sell stocks at tremendous profits in companies that are about to be affected by work they’re doing behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. And even more unbelievable is that attempts to change their exemption (why should the leaders of a country be allowed to do things that would be illegal if they were not leaders?) are being blocked. Yes, you guessed it, mainly by the Republicans (but also some prominent Democrats).

Read the CBS report that sparked outrage a few weeks ago.

This is simple and straight forward corruption, jeopardising the free market system and right at the heart of American democracy.

I was outraged when I read this story. But maybe even more so, because also this past week, I was reading on the Global Poverty Project blog about how corruption is endemic across Africa, right the way down to some children needing to bribe their teachers to grade their exams in Sierra Leone. These claims come from a BAFTA award winning documentary from 2007 by Sorious Samura called, “How to get ahead in Africa” – admittedly made while Sierra Leone was in the middle of a very serious war. While I have an issue with how the documentary uses examples from two known hotbeds of crime to extrapolate across an entire continent, there can be no doubt that one of the things holding back Africa’s development is corruption.

And Western governments and media get all high and mighty about “darkest Africa” and how emerging economies have so many problems with corruption that some seem to be beyond help. But how many people are shouting about the corruption at the heart of American government and free markets?

We live in a sad world of double standards, where the rich get richer and can get away with anything, it seems.

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Manchester and London showcases: ‘Leadership Under Pressure’ – 26 and 27 March 2012

Posted on: February 23rd, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Leadership Under Pressure

Your are invited to an inspiring event with five international speakers from the world of sport and business, focusing on the necessary mindsets needed for doing business in tomorrow’s world.

The events will take place on the evenings of 26 March in Manchester and 27 March in London, UK, and are hosted by MPI. Click here to make a booking.

We have never had to do business in more uncertain and turbulent times than we face right now. Leaders are being tested, business models stretched and many are struggling just to survive. And yet, some will thrive. In this uplifting, insightful and powerful workshop, you’ll hear from five top international speakers about what it takes to be successful in tomorrow’s world. They’ll show you key insights from the worlds of sport, personal branding and research into the innovative edges of the business world. You’ll leave energized and equipped to face tomorrow’s world with confidence.

Gary Bailey – Leading Under PressureGary Bailey
Gary uses his experience playing under intense pressure as a goalkeeper for 10 years for Manchester United (he was blamed for losing the 1979 FA cup final!) and England (World Cup 86) to illustrate how to cope with pressure, and how to raise leadership performance levels. He has learnt from his former manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest sports leaders of all time, and Gary also uses his MBA training from Henley along with the latest world research to add a different perspective to leadership. All this content comes with loads of humour as well as clips of Gary losing and winning FA Cup finals, and it all results in great take home value for delegates as he illustrates how you can:

  • Learn how to cope with pressure at the highest levels
  • Develop skills to keep performance at its peak in stressful situations
  • Find out how to recover quickly when you lose badly
  • Apply the lessons from leadership in sport to business

Graeme Codrington (live in Manchester) and Dean van Leeuwen (live in London) – Facing the Future: How to give effective leadership by understanding the disruptive forces changing the world of work right now.Graeme Codrington
Graeme and Dean are co-founders of the international research company, TomorrowToday Ltd. Their team tracks global business trends, identifying the disruptive forces that are shaping the new world of work. They believe that we’re not just experiencing an economic downturn – a new era is emerging, where new rules for success and failure are being written. In order to be successful – as an organisation and as an individual – you need to have a clear view of the forces that are causing this deep structural change, and how these mega trends will shape the world of work in the next decade. In their engaging, humorous and multi-media driven presentations, they will share their research team’s insights into the five disruptive forces shaping our world right now, and how we should respond. They’ll highlight both the threats and opportunities this new world of work will unlock for you and your team.

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Graeme Codrington at IBM’s Social Business Debate

Posted on: January 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In December, I participated in a panel discussion hosted by Ogilvy and IBM in London’s Canary Wharf. The purpose of the panel discussion series is to promote the concept that IBM has termed, “Social Business”. This is not to be confused with social enterprises, which are companies that are set up to do social good at a profit. Social business as IBM intend it is a new form of business that takes into account all the various technologies that are available to allow connections, interactions, collaboration and ‘the wisdom and energy of the crowd’ to be maximised.

The headline technologies are obviously in the social media space, with instant messaging, social networks and similar technologies changing the way we communicate and connect. But there are many other forms that social business will take, and many other ways in which a social mindset will change business.

And IBM want to take a leading role in defining the future shape of social business. See the introduction they provide at their Smarter Planet site – it’s excellent.

Our team has been working with IBM in South Africa on this concept, and now have started getting involved in the UK as well. We were invited to contribute to a panel discussion on the impact of social business in the HR, talent management and employee engagement space. The idea was to get a few key thinkers and practitioners in this field into a room and see what happened when they started chatting. The results are indeed interesting. No real final statements or specific outcomes, but an interesting video to watch.

The short version is just 7 minutes and available on YouTube, or below:

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Making the most of IM in your business

Posted on: January 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Our team in the UK have recently been involved in analysing the results of a new survey released earlier this week by Symantec. It focused on the issue of instant messaging, and discovered that although many people understand the benefits of using IM in business, not many companies have made its use easy or acceptable.

UK firms are missing out on the business benefits of Instant Messaging (IM) because of security concerns, according to the research that was released yesterday by Symantec Corp. This is despite the fact that 75% of office workers who use IM for work value the speed and immediacy it affords. TomorrowToday was asked to contribute to the research that Symantec released yesterday, and we definitely concur with their findings and endorse their recommendations.

If used in the right way and for the right purposes, IM can help ease the flow of information within organisations. 55% of those who use IM at work say it cuts down on email traffic and 50% find it a more efficient way of communicating than email. In fact, at TomorrowToday we predict that email usage will continue to fall as IM usage increases, and that we may even see the complete demise of email by the end of this decade.

Almost two thirds (64%) of those who use IM ask colleagues questions that need immediate answers, 46% use it to distribute information quickly and 47% acknowledge that IM allows them to multi-task. The real-time nature of IM also means that 29% of office workers who are able to utilise IM do so to conference colleagues while 45% say that because it’s more sociable it is better for relationship building than email communication within the working environment.

But there’s a problem. IT departments have been slow to support and encourage the use of IM. And so barriers to its usage exist. Only a quarter of offices are actually taking advantage of the benefits of IM. A general misunderstanding of the level of security of IM, combined with the perceived informality is hampering its uptake. Almost a quarter (23%) of office workers who don’t use IM at work say their companies restrict the use of IM in the workplace due to security concerns and a further 16% do not allow it because bosses deem it unproductive. It’s a trend likely to be exacerbated given that only 28% of those who use it at work could confidently say that their company monitors for the transmission of inappropriate content or confidential data and almost a quarter (23%) mistakenly believe that conversations on IM can’t be archived for retrieval at a later date.

TomorrowToday’s own research indicates that people are concerned about the privacy of their communications, the security of the IM system and whether the conversations are saved for later reference (and backed up, archived and stored correctly). Some industries, like banking and defence, are heavily regulated in terms of requirements for communication, but regulators will soon catch up with how IM can be used and this will further fuel IM usage. In this regard, I would wholeheartedly endorse Symantec’s dos and don’ts (see below).

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Making the most of IM in your business

Posted on: January 12th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

UK firms are missing out on the business benefits of Instant Messaging (IM) because of security concerns, according to research released yesterday by Symantec Corp. This is despite the fact that 75% of office workers who use IM for work value the speed and immediacy it affords. TomorrowToday was asked to contribute to the research that Symantec released yesterday, and we definitely concur with their findings and endorse their recommendations.

If used in the right way and for the right purposes, IM can help ease the flow of information within organisations. 55% of those who use IM at work say it cuts down on email traffic and 50% find it a more efficient way of communicating than email. In fact, at TomorrowToday we predict that email usage will continue to fall as IM usage increases, and that we may even see the complete demise of email by the end of this decade.

Almost two thirds (64%) of those who use IM ask colleagues questions that need immediate answers, 46% use it to distribute information quickly and 47% acknowledge that IM allows them to multi-task. The real-time nature of IM also means that 29% of office workers who are able to utilise IM do so to conference colleagues while 45% say that because it’s more sociable it is better for relationship building than email communication within the working environment.

But there’s a problem. IT departments have been slow to support and encourage the use of IM. And so barriers to its usage exist. Only a quarter of offices are actually taking advantage of the benefits of IM. A general misunderstanding of the level of security of IM, combined with the perceived informality is hampering its uptake. Almost a quarter (23%) of office workers who don’t use IM at work say their companies restrict the use of IM in the workplace due to security concerns and a further 16% do not allow it because bosses deem it unproductive. It’s a trend likely to be exacerbated given that only 28% of those who use it at work could confidently say that their company monitors for the transmission of inappropriate content or confidential data and almost a quarter (23%) mistakenly believe that conversations on IM can’t be archived for retrieval at a later date.

TomorrowToday’s own research indicates that people are concerned about the privacy of their communications, the security of the IM system and whether the conversations are saved for later reference (and backed up, archived and stored correctly). Some industries, like banking and defence, are heavily regulated in terms of requirements for communication, but regulators will soon catch up with how IM can be used and this will further fuel IM usage. In this regard, I would wholeheartedly endorse Symantec’s dos and don’ts (see below).

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Is China the most capitalist government in the world?

Posted on: January 5th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

A provocative question: Is China the most capitalist government in the world?

I mean this in a very specific way. They are clearly not a democratic or open government, and they preside over the largest socialist system in the world. The rulers still claim communism (at least, in name) as their guiding policy framework.

At the same time, though, China has more money and more foreign reserves than any other government. And they’re showing their desire to use this money in a very capitalistic way. A simple example: they were recently asked by an embarrassed European Union delegation to provide funds for an EU bailout. They declined.

Many diplomats tut-tutted about this, explaining that China continues to refuse to accept its “responsibilities” as “part of the international community”. I have a different view. China is waiting for the assets it was asked to buy to fall to even lower prices (as they surely will do in 2012), and then they’ll start buying them. Pure capitalism.

The same mindset governs when and how much American debt China is prepared to buy.

And a similar mindset governs the Chinese economic elite as they look around the world for investment opportunities. For example, Chinese investors are fuelling an unbelievable property boom in central London. This chart shows how prices have risen by 24% since November 2010. (Recession? What recession?).

When the recession in the West is over, I am pretty convinced that China will emerge as one of the big winners. Mainly because they did the most capitalist of things: buy low, so you can sell high.

So, I think my question is more than fair. At a time when America’s President is (unfairly and incorrectly) being accused (by some Republican presidential candidates) of turning America socialist, is China becoming the most truly, purely capitalist thinking government in the world?

It’s these sorts of subtle shifts that need to be watched if we don’t want to be surprised by change in the future.

Why people follow brands on social media – insights for social marketers

Posted on: January 5th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I was watching a video by one of Microsoft UK’s top digital marketing strategists (you can too, it’s available on YouTube, courtesy of Digital Surrey). In it, he shows research about why people follow brands on social media. It’s very insightful.

Before you look at it, ask yourself this: why do you (or would you) connect with a brand in a social media space (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc)? Marketers attempting to create a digital strategy would do well to try and establish why their customers (and potential customers) would connect with them in the digital social space. Let’s not forget that as social media slowly starts coming of age, people are beginning to learn how to use it more effectively as part of their “normal” lives. Only the geeks and public figures are in competitions for “the most followers” – most people are using social media to do precisely what it was designed for: to enhance and augment their real world social interactions and relationships.

So, why would people follows brands on social media?

Microsoft’s research suggests the following reasons:
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Why people follow brands on social media – insights for social marketers

Posted on: January 5th, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I was watching a video by one of Microsoft UK’s top digital marketing strategists (you can too, it’s available on YouTube, courtesy of Digital Surrey). In it, he shows research about why people follow brands on social media. It’s very insightful.

Before you look at it, ask yourself this: why do you (or would you) connect with a brand in a social media space (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc)? Marketers attempting to create a digital strategy would do well to try and establish why their customers (and potential customers) would connect with them in the digital social space. Let’s not forget that as social media slowly starts coming of age, people are beginning to learn how to use it more effectively as part of their “normal” lives. Only the geeks and public figures are in competitions for “the most followers” – most people are using social media to do precisely what it was designed for: to enhance and augment their real world social interactions and relationships.

So, why would people follows brands on social media?

Microsoft’s research suggests the following reasons:
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America in 2012 – an important, and scary year lies ahead

Posted on: January 3rd, 2012 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” I am not one of the doomsayers about America’s future. I think the American “empire” has a long way to go yet. Economics, productivity and demography are all in America’s favour (although politics, a widening gini coefficient and education are not). But even so, there has been a lot to concern even optimistic observers over the past few months.

In case you didn’t pick them up, here is my partial list of things that concerned me (some packaged in a fun way, via The Daily Show – note, if you can’t see the videos of the Daily Show, let me know and I’ll help you out):

  • President Obama signed a bill into law on New Year’s Eve that allows for indefinite military detention of American citizens suspected of terrorism. Obama says he will never use this legislation, but he has nevertheless made America quite a lot less free than it was. You could argue that if Islamic Fundamentalists hate America’s freedom and have been trying to destroy it (I don’t believe that analysis or pretext for the so called “war on terror”), then they have just won a big victory. See a news report here. Is Islamophobia even more dangerous than Islamic Fundamentalism to America? I think so.
  • Updated on 9 January 2012: The Daily Show investigated a Muslim American Republican who was battling to find support within the party, purely on the basis that he is Muslim. He was opposed, bizarrely, by a group called “Americans against hate”. Click here to see the video insert from The Daily Show. It ends with an absolutely genius musical reference to one of my favourite movies of all time, the satirical “Wag the Dog“. Pure genius!
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The challenges and opportunities facing South Africa in 2012

Posted on: December 28th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

Trevor Manuel was moved our of the Treasury some time ago and has spent much of his time in a new entity called the National Planning Commission (NPC) of South Africa. The NPC is tasked with identifying and responding to the key challenges facing the nation. They are releasing the results of their work in various ways, but I think the best of these is in a series of videos.

The first one worth watching is 10 minutes outlining the 9 most significant challenges facing South Africa. Similar to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, this lays out a great programme for South Africans to support. Watch it here, or below:

Trevor then personalises these big picture issues by focusing in on just one person: a young person who is facing a tough future in difficult circumstances. He outlines the difficulties she faces, and some of the solutions that will help her. Watch the video here, or below:

As Trevor says, “This must be shared by all South Africans… If as a nation we know where we want to be in 2030, we will share the burden of the journey along the way… there are both costs and benefits to be had. Very importantly, we need to act together in our collective interests.” Precisely right!

Follow the NPC on Facebook or Twitter

Christmas card etiquette in a digital age

Posted on: December 22nd, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

It used to be an art form. Sending Christmas cards, that is.

You had to select just the right card to portray the right message: not too wintry if you’re southern hemisphere, not to secular if you’re religious (or vice versa), and always consider buying from a charity – it showed you cared. Then, you had to spend a long time making your list of recipients. Was there anybody to add? Anyone to remove? And, of course, you then had to hand write each one of them, and send them individually.

It was costly: in money, time, effort.
It was personalised.
It meant something.

That was then.

But it’s different now. It’s been happening for a while, but I only noticed this past week how many people have now gone digital with their Christmas cards.

That’s not a problem – it makes sense. But I don’t think we’ve got the etiquette quite right. Too many of the email “cards” I’ve received as Christmas greetings this year have been sent out as mass mailers. People haven’t even taken the time to customise the greeting for me, preferring to just hit “send to all”. I recognise that some have taken some time and effort to craft. And I have enjoyed some of them as they’ve helped me catch up on the lives of some of my friends. That’s been useful for friends who still haven’t started chronicling their lives on Facebook.

But mostly, I have just deleted the emails after a very cursory reading. They really haven’t made a connection.

I don’t think I am turning into a grumpy old man who yearns for the “good old days” before all of this “dehumanising technology” took over. I firmly believe that, correctly used, technology can help us to connect more, and connect better, than we ever have. But sending out mass mailer “Dear friend , you mean so much to me” emails is not such a correct connecting use of technology. It doesn’t feel that way to me, anyway. I’d be interested in your thoughts, and am always keen to see the world through other people’s eyes. Feel free to help me out in the comments section of this blog entry.

In my view, we either have to downgrade what we think Christmas cards are (maybe they were never heartfelt before, and maybe we weren’t as friendly with all those people anyway). Or we need to take the time and effort and energy we used to take to make a personal connection with people who mean something to us. I did not send Christmas greetings this year, and I am sorry I didn’t. It feels like an opportunity to connect has been lost. But sending out a generic greeting is equally a lost connection opportunity.

I don’t want to downgrade my view of Christmas cards. But I want us to upgrade our use of technology to make personal connections at this time of year.

Let’s use technology to enable a better humanity, rather than detract from it.

What do you think?

Selling to Generation X: you must connect to their families – in their way!

Posted on: December 14th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

One of the keys (not the only key, but a very important key) to advertising and selling to Generation X is to connect to their families. Gen X are the generation who were born and grew up in the 1970s and early 80s. They are not “the young people” anymore, although this is still how Boomers think of them.

They’re in their 30s and early 40s, have families, mortgages and mid life issues. They’re as settled as they’re ever going to be (although this isn’t what it looked like for the Boomers). One of the things they’re very focused on is their families. Some of these middle managers, for example, are turning down promotions – not because they don’t want to move up in their companies, but because they don’t want to move their families to a new location (their son just made the first sports team at school, and they don’t want to move him). And they will prioritise family time more than any previous generations.

So, if you want to impress them, get their attention, touch their emotions and connect with them, it would be a good idea to connect with their sense of family values. But it’s a new type of family these days, isn’t it?

Microsoft’s latest campaign attempts to do just that – and they get it mainly right. “It’s a great time to be a family” is the tag line, and the series of adverts portray families using technology to do traditional family activities in exciting new ways. Here’s a great example (see more below):

They are really well put together and strike a chord with Gen X. To connect with Gen X you need to show that you understand the new rhythms and relationships of today’s families. They’ve also been adapted for different cultures (there are some excellent changes made for different countries in the homework video, for example – I like the Indian version best; compare it to this).

But they also show the limitations of traditional advertising these days. If you’re an Apple fan, for example, you’d be very unlikely to change across to a PC with Windows based on these adverts – you might even laugh a bit as you realise how simple graphics, videos and multimedia are on Apple compared to Windows. And if you own a PC, you get Windows standard, so I am not sure what these adverts are trying to do. Surely, Microsoft can funnel their creativity (and awesome budget) into something that achieves a lot more.

The connection with a generation’s value is important – in fact, a vital starting point. But you then also need to connect with the experiences of that generation and communicate with them in ways that make sense to them. This series of adverts from Microsoft does the first thing brilliantly, but falls short on the rest. But, that’s better than most, who don’t even pass the first connection hurdle with this middle aged, but still much misunderstood, generation.

Some other adverts from this series include:
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Education for the new world of work (vidcast)

Posted on: December 12th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Last week I was asked by the great team at Enviable Workplace.com to experiment by doing a video podcast for them instead of something written. So, here’s a 12 minute discussion on the role of education in the new world of work, and what we need to do to change schools and universities to provide us with the type of people we need for the future world of work.

The learning websites referred to in the video are:

  • O2 Learn
  • iTunes University
  • Also see:

  • My book for parents of primary school age children: “Future Proof Your Child” (Amazon.co.uk)
  • 101 Great YouTube video resources for teachers
  • TED video: Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity
  • TED Video: Ken Robinson follows up: Bring on the learning revolution!
  • TED Video: Gever Tulley on 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do


  • Education for the new world of work (vidcast)

    Posted on: December 12th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Last week I was asked by the great team at Enviable Workplace.com to experiment by doing a video podcast for them instead of something written. So, here’s a 12 minute discussion on the role of education in the new world of work, and what we need to do to change schools and universities to provide us with the type of people we need for the future world of work. This links in very well with the work TomorrowToday is doing around the Future of Education and providing resources for schools and teachers.

    The learning websites referred to in the video are:

    Also see:

    If you would like more information about our vision for education and training in the future, please contact our team to schedule a time for us to come and meet with you.

    Updated edition of ‘Mind the Gap’ available now

    Posted on: December 9th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Exciting news: My best-selling book, “Mind the Gap” originally published by Penguin in 2004 has been fully revised and updated and is now available. Buy it from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or Kalahari.net.

    Nearly 25,000 copies of the book have already been sold, making one of the best selling South African published business books of all time.

    And now it’s even better.

    This new edition includes a few new chapters. You’ll find our predictions for the latest generation, and maybe you’ll agree with what we’ve decided to label it (there were many options). We’ve added information (and some predictions) about today’s children, and completely revamped the section on Generation Y.

    You’ll find an entirely new section at the end of the book about how to apply generational theory around the world, to different countries, regions and people from different economic classes. Our team has spent the last ten years applying generational theory on every continent, and we’ve learnt a lot from people all around the world. We hope these new chapters distil some of what we have learnt into helpful lessons for you.

    You’ll also find a few new ‘quick info boxes’ scattered through the book. We know from feedback that these were a much enjoyed feature of the first edition. We have updated almost all of the first edition lists too.

    There is not one single chapter that hasn’t had a thorough update. Some chapters have been almost rewritten, while others have had significant additions and expansions. The bibliography and further reading list at the end has also been updated to reflect some of the latest research into generations.

    The only downside is that right now the book is not available in ebook format. Penguin, the publisher, are still negotiating author rights across the world for all their authors, and have not yet released any of their titles in ebook format. They are hopeful this will happen in early 2012. Watch this space for more info. Or just buy the physical book for now! Thanks for your patience on this issue – I can promise you it’s not our choice that this book is not yet in ebook format.

    I continue to be humbled by the way the concepts presented in this book have had an impact on so many lives. We’ve worked around the world with big corporate organisations, where we’ve helped teams develop new products, revolutionize marketing and advertising, and significantly improve HR, talent management, recruitment, leadership and teamwork. We’ve worked with governments and states, and helped to influence policy that will last for decades. We’ve had the pleasure of helping non-profit organisations, schools and charities, as well as many faith-based organisations (from many different religions).

    But my favourite moment of the last few years was when a middle-aged woman came up to me after a presentation recently. She had tears in her eyes. She explained that about five years earlier she had seen me present ‘Mind the Gap’ as a keynote at a community centre one Friday evening. She had been battling to connect with her 14-year old son, and was afraid she was losing him. That talk helped her to understand how her son saw the world, and opened up a bridge into his life for her. Her tears accompanied her thanks: ‘You saved my relationship with my boy’.

    Of course, my team and I have done no such thing. All we have had the privilege of doing is showing people things they probably already knew about themselves and others. But we seem to have found a way to do it that rings true and spurs people to change and action. We’re thrilled at all the stories we’ve heard since we wrote this book. We’re honoured to have touched so many lives.

    We hope this updated and expanded edition of our book continues to have an impact.

    Don’t forget: it’s the edition with the orange cover!

    Updated edition of ‘Mind the Gap’ available now

    Posted on: December 9th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Exciting news: My best-selling book, “Mind the Gap” originally published by Penguin in 2004 has been fully revised and updated and is now available. Buy it from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or Kalahari.net.

    Nearly 25,000 copies of the book have already been sold, making one of the best selling South African published business books of all time.

    And now it’s even better.

    This new edition includes a few new chapters. You’ll find our predictions for the latest generation, and maybe you’ll agree with what we’ve decided to label it (there were many options). We’ve added information (and some predictions) about today’s children, and completely revamped the section on Generation Y.

    You’ll find an entirely new section at the end of the book about how to apply generational theory around the world, to different countries, regions and people from different economic classes. Our team has spent the last ten years applying generational theory on every continent, and we’ve learnt a lot from people all around the world. We hope these new chapters distil some of what we have learnt into helpful lessons for you.

    You’ll also find a few new ‘quick info boxes’ scattered through the book. We know from feedback that these were a much enjoyed feature of the first edition. We have updated almost all of the first edition lists too.

    There is not one single chapter that hasn’t had a thorough update. Some chapters have been almost rewritten, while others have had significant additions and expansions. The bibliography and further reading list at the end has also been updated to reflect some of the latest research into generations.

    The only downside is that right now the book is not available in ebook format. Penguin, the publisher, are still negotiating author rights across the world for all their authors, and have not yet released any of their titles in ebook format. They are hopeful this will happen in early 2012. Watch this space for more info. Or just buy the physical book for now! Thanks for your patience on this issue – I can promise you it’s not our choice that this book is not yet in ebook format.

    I continue to be humbled by the way the concepts presented in this book have had an impact on so many lives. We’ve worked around the world with big corporate organisations, where we’ve helped teams develop new products, revolutionize marketing and advertising, and significantly improve HR, talent management, recruitment, leadership and teamwork. We’ve worked with governments and states, and helped to influence policy that will last for decades. We’ve had the pleasure of helping non-profit organisations, schools and charities, as well as many faith-based organisations (from many different religions).

    But my favourite moment of the last few years was when a middle-aged woman came up to me after a presentation recently. She had tears in her eyes. She explained that about five years earlier she had seen me present ‘Mind the Gap’ as a keynote at a community centre one Friday evening. She had been battling to connect with her 14-year old son, and was afraid she was losing him. That talk helped her to understand how her son saw the world, and opened up a bridge into his life for her. Her tears accompanied her thanks: ‘You saved my relationship with my boy’.

    Of course, my team and I have done no such thing. All we have had the privilege of doing is showing people things they probably already knew about themselves and others. But we seem to have found a way to do it that rings true and spurs people to change and action. We’re thrilled at all the stories we’ve heard since we wrote this book. We’re honoured to have touched so many lives.

    We hope this updated and expanded edition of our book continues to have an impact.

    Don’t forget: it’s the edition with the orange cover! ISBN: 9780143528418

    Good to Great… to Gone!

    Posted on: December 9th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Jim Collins got it wrong. Not totally wrong, but wrong enough that we need to be careful (as always) about who we listen to when designing companies for future success. Too often, leaders take a shortcut and blindly apply models they find somewhere else, without doing the work to adapt it to their culture and context.

    Jim Collins is, of course, the international superstar guru author of “Built to Last” (buy at Kalahari.net or Amazon.co.uk), “Good to Great” (buy at Kalahari.net or Amazon.co.uk), “How the Mighty Fall” (buy at Kalahari.net or Amazon.co.uk), and “Great by Choice” (buy at Kalahari.net or Amazon.co.uk). His first two books are the two best selling business books of all time. His latest two seem bound to follow suit.

    Collins’ focus as a management guru is simple and elegant: he is obsessed with what companies – and the leaders who lead them – do to be successful. His messages to business have also been consistent, and consistently simple, over two decades. The Economist, 26 Nov 2011 edition had an excellent piece on Collins’ contribution to management thinking.

    I have to declare that I am not the wildest fan of Mr Collins. I have read too many reports from the research teams that have worked with/for him, and are very disgruntled at how he has used their work without giving them any credit. When I received my copy of “How the Mighty Fall” I was amazed to turn to the back cover of the book and see a single quotation, made by none other than… Jim Collins. I wonder if “hubris” and “arrogance” are possible ingredients in how the mighty fall? (Certainly “humility” was a key element of his “Level 5 Leadership” principle). I’ll say more on this at the end of this (long) post…

    But, then again, maybe I’m just jealous. He is probably the most successful and influential management guru of our time.

    That personal comment aside, though, the question nevertheless remains: Are the models Jim Collins presents worth following? This is especially important since two of his “Good to Great” companies have recently gone bankrupt (and one has destroyed billions of dollars of taxpayer money), and on average the whole lot have performed WORSE than the general stock exchange index over the past few years of recession. Are the principles in Collins’ books eternal? Or do they belong to an era that no longer exists? Or were the companies he selected just lucky? And, whatever the answer to these questions, one more is vital: can you achieve success by following his principles?

    (more…)

    Everything you know is wrong (Or is it?)

    Posted on: November 30th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Here’s a superb thought experiment for you and your team. What if everything you think you know is wrong?

    Just in case you think this is too big a thought experiment, let me tell you about an event that is shaking the scientific community – and quite possibly the world as we know it.

    Scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN have discovered something that could change everything. They have discovered a particle that looks as if it might move at faster than the speed of light. If you know anything about science, you’ll probably know that “nothing moves faster than the speed of light”. But maybe that’s not true. You can read an article about this here. The world’s most expensive and ambitious science experiment has come up with the possibility that neutrinos move faster than light.

    The scientific community has reacted with scepticism and disbelief. And the race is now on to prove the experiment wrong. It would astounding if it turns out to be true. Much of the basis of modern science would be called into question.

    While it’s not certain yet, it is a glorious thought experiment, isn’t it? And a bit ironic, too. When Einstein’s theories first reached his colleagues, there was general outcry – how could it be? The simple headline was that time was not time. It changed, and could be “faster” or “slower” under certain circumstances. Only light was constant in the speed it moved (OK, that’s too simple a summary, but it will do for this blog entry).

    (more…)

    Strikes in the UK: ‘You promised! We demand! Our children will pay!’

    Posted on: November 28th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    This coming Wednesday, possible millions of public sector workers will go on strike for 24 hours to protest against changes in their pension provisions. Many will join marches around the country (quite a few will probably also go Christmas shopping, but why not?). They promise to make it feel “like Christmas Day” (not because of food, presents or family time, but) because only essential services will be operating.

    The reason for their strike is changes to their pension plans. Over the past few years, the government has indicated that the pension promises previously made to public sector workers are untenable. They have put forward proposals that will require people to work a little bit longer (delaying retirement by a few years), pay slightly more into their pension saving schemes while they are working, and accept slightly less payout when they do retire. You can read the details of the changes here.

    I don’t understand why the government is using up so much political capital to make such small changes. They have agreed to delay implementation until 2022, for example. And they are only asking people to retire at age 67 (rather than 65). Much, much more reform is going to be needed before we get to 2050. Be that as it may, I have a slightly different point to make today.

    My question is this: who do the strikers think is going to pay for their benefits? They do sound very whiny: you promised us!! We demand you give us what you said you would!!

    Sure. The government promised to pay them a certain pension from the age of 65 until they died. But these people essentially “promised” the government that they would be dead by about age 75! So, maybe the government should just point out that this deal is two sided: you die when you promised you would, and you can retire with your full promised benefits at age 65.

    But if you’re going to live longer, and not contribute more, then I ask the question again: who do these strikers think is going to pay for it?

    The answer is simple: it’s their children, and their grandchildren. They’ve already changed the rules to force UK young people to clock up huge student loans and start life with a big millstone around their necks. Now they want to add to this a massive life long obligation to fund 30 or 40 years of non productive living. Are they serious?

    I really do get worked up about this. Are they SERIOUS? Is this really what they want to give their children: a massive debt and a life long unsustainable obligation? It’s selfish. It’s short-sighted. And ultimately, it won’t work. The next generation won’t allow that to continue when they get into power in a few decade’s time.

    Better thinking is needed. And better debate about this issue too.

    I do not support this strikes, and urge the strikers to consider the implications of their demands.

    The need for Social Reinvention

    Posted on: October 28th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    One of our colleagues in South Africa, Mike Saunders, is a leading expert in digital media and the emerging world of social business. To explain what he means by this, he wrote an excellent blog entry which we’re thrilled to syndicate here.

    When you drop a mentos mint into a bottle of Diet Coke the rough edges of the Mentos are filled with Diet Coke and a chemical reaction takes place producing CO2 . The CO2 causes the Diet Coke to fizz more than usual and the liquid is forced through the funnel shape at the top of the bottle. The funnel then creates additional pressure and the liquid explodes out of the spout of the Diet Coke bottle.

    The end result? A huge mess!!

    The interesting thing is that two scientists/entertainers have found a way to harness the power of Diet Coke and Mentos to create a Rocket Car powered only by Diet Coke and Mentos.

    Granted the car only went 222 feet but this is still a remarkable transition from a ‘mess’ to a form of ‘transportation’.

    I want to use this illustration to draw a parallel between social media and business.

    Think about replacing the Mentos with social media and the Diet Coke is the industry that you operate in.

    Social media has already been ‘dropped’ into your industry. This has created cases for concern as well as opportunities that never existed before.

    (more…)

    Doing “something” – not a clever way to live your life

    Posted on: October 26th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    “Something has to be done”. “We have to be seen to be doing something”. These are basic human responses to crisis and fear: a deep seated desire to respond, react, control. It’s instinctive, and hard to ignore.

    But it is almost always ill-advised.

    I had this thought while watching a TV programme (Steven Spielberg’s Taken, if you must know) and one scene showed a young boy who refused to join in the exercise the teacher was taking the young people through. The teacher blew a whistle – to warn the students of a nuclear attack. The students all jumped under the desks. This was standard practice in US schools in the 1960s.

    I remember doing exactly the same exercise in the 1980s in South Africa. We were told that the Russians might attack our schools with jets and missiles, and that the best way to protect ourselves was to dive underneath our desks. I am not sure any of us kids actually believed the story (why would the Communists target our school, after all?), but we had great fun when classes were disrupted by those bomb drills.

    It was ridiculous of course. But it came straight out of government’s “we have to do something” playbook. That’s the same playbook that is in operation today with, for example, airport security. The stringent security measures imposed since 9/11 are easily bypassed by any frequent flier, and make very little logical sense to anyone. But we all dutifully take off our shoes and belts, carry only 100ml of liquids and submit ourselves to the authoritarian powers of the security personnel every time we fly. Why? Because “something had to be done”. We couldn’t just do nothing, could we?

    It’s ridiculous.

    And yet, that’s how many companies behave too. A few people spend too much time online, so Facebook is banned for everyone; one person abuses their expense account, so the whole system is shut down; one client complains, and the whole company’s focus shifts to respond; and so on. I am sure you have plenty of examples in your world of rules and regulations that are there simply because “we had to do something”. (I’d love to hear some of them, by the way).

    This is the instinct that causes people to react so badly during online interactions. Without taking the time to try and understand what has been said and its intent, we take offence, feel indignation and respond aggressively. We’ve all done it. Something had to be done. But it would have been better if we hadn’t done it.

    This is not a clever way to live your life or run your business. What do you think can be done to escape this mindset?

    Talent is About to Change – Surprising thoughts on a new world of work for talent

    Posted on: October 24th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    This post was first published in the WITS Journal, June 2011.

    The “Great Recession” of the past few years has been more than merely an economic downturn. As this decade unfolds it will become increasingly clear that it also acted as an accelerator for a few key trends that have the potential to fundamentally change the way we work. Companies that recognize the shifts taking place, and begin to act in response, will find themselves clear winners in the “war for talent” that is about to be rejoined.

    It was common in the 1990s for HR directors to declare that the biggest challenge facing their organisation was a “war for talent”. Booming industries and growing companies were demanding more and more highly skilled staff to fuel their expansion. Head hunters and recruiters were driving Ferraris and the brightest stars in each industry could name their price and move companies whenever they wanted to.

    All of that stopped abruptly on 15 September 2008 – the day Lehman Brothers collapsed. Since then employee attrition has dropped dramatically as companies stopped hiring and talent stopped moving. And business leaders have rightly focused their attention on surviving the downturn. Over the next few months and years, the inevitable upturn will gather momentum and growth will return. Companies that anticipate growth need to start planning for it now, or be left behind in the turbulence that lies ahead. And that especially includes strategic human resource planning.

    A Talent Exodus

    I work with a global team that researches the trends shaping the world of work. We’re increasingly sensing that our corporate clients should brace themselves for a tidal wave of key employee departures over the next few years – especially among their 20- and 30-something staff.

    (more…)

    Talent is About to Change – Surprising thoughts on a new world of work for talent

    Posted on: October 24th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    This post was first published in the WITS Journal, June 2011.

    The “Great Recession” of the past few years has been more than merely an economic downturn. As this decade unfolds it will become increasingly clear that it also acted as an accelerator for a few key trends that have the potential to fundamentally change the way we work. Companies that recognize the shifts taking place, and begin to act in response, will find themselves clear winners in the “war for talent” that is about to be rejoined.

    It was common in the 1990s for HR directors to declare that the biggest challenge facing their organisation was a “war for talent”. Booming industries and growing companies were demanding more and more highly skilled staff to fuel their expansion. Head hunters and recruiters were driving Ferraris and the brightest stars in each industry could name their price and move companies whenever they wanted to.

    All of that stopped abruptly on 15 September 2008 – the day Lehman Brothers collapsed. Since then employee attrition has dropped dramatically as companies stopped hiring and talent stopped moving. And business leaders have rightly focused their attention on surviving the downturn. Over the next few months and years, the inevitable upturn will gather momentum and growth will return. Companies that anticipate growth need to start planning for it now, or be left behind in the turbulence that lies ahead. And that especially includes strategic human resource planning.

    A Talent Exodus

    I work with a global team that researches the trends shaping the world of work. We’re increasingly sensing that our corporate clients should brace themselves for a tidal wave of key employee departures over the next few years – especially among their 20- and 30-something staff.

    (more…)

    Fathers then and now

    Posted on: October 22nd, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    The world has changed. Fatherhood has changed with it – dramatically. As a father of three, who also researches and speaks on social change, I want to highlight just a few of the changes since my grandfather became a Dad for the first time. And allow me to suggest that things might not have changed that much after all.

    My grandfather, Reg Codrington Sr, was posted to Cape Town during the Second World War as a member of the British Merchant Navy. There he met and married my grandmother, Ethel Ball. As was common then, she fell pregnant fairly soon after they were married. As a British serviceman serving abroad, he had an important privilege: any children born to him while in uniform anywhere in the world would be considered British by birth. So, he and my grandmother stayed in Cape Town.

    When my grandmother went into labour, my grandfather was so determined to ensure his child would be British that he first quickly got dressed in his military uniform before taking her to the hospital. He wanted to be literally “in uniform” when my aunt was born, so there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind that she was British. This was more important than my grandmother’s birth pains.

    These days, of course, expectant fathers make sure the bags are permanently packed and ready to go. Some even practice driving the route to the hospital. But, given modern technology and our penchant for choosing C-sections, most fathers these days book the birth date and time of their children in their diaries months in advance.

    How times have changed.

    (more…)

    A brief primer on #occupy and the 99% – what’s going on, and why it matters

    Posted on: October 17th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    I am sure you’ve been following the news of protests around the world. The OccupyWallStreet protest that started a few weeks ago spread this past weekend to other capitals with protestors clashing with police in places such as London and Rome. What are they protesting against or for, though? Maybe you haven’t been watching very closely.

    You should. History is going to judge these events as the beginning of something big. The way the rich have been behaving in many countries is now under unprecedented scrutiny, and will not be allowed to continue. How this will all play out is not yet clear. History tells us that when the rich and poor get too separated, the poor rise up and kill the rich. That’s unlikely to happen (although it can’t be ruled out, even in the most ‘civilised’ of nations), but something will happen.

    Society is changing. Right now. All around us.

    We need to stay informed. And involved.

    I was recently made aware of an excellent ‘primer’ on the issues underlying the current protests. It is from Vanity Fair of all places, but by the amazing economist Joseph Stiglitz, and is available on their website here, or in an extended extract below.

    Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
    By Joseph E. Stiglitz

    It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

    (more…)

    A brief primer on #occupy and the 99% – what’s going on, and why it matters

    Posted on: October 17th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    I am sure you’ve been following the news of protests around the world. The OccupyWallStreet protest that started a few weeks ago spread this past weekend to other capitals with protestors clashing with police in places such as London and Rome. What are they protesting against or for, though? Maybe you haven’t been watching very closely.

    You should. History is going to judge these events as the beginning of something big. The way the rich have been behaving in many countries is now under unprecedented scrutiny, and will not be allowed to continue. How this will all play out is not yet clear. History tells us that when the rich and poor get too separated, the poor rise up and kill the rich. That’s unlikely to happen (although it can’t be ruled out, even in the most ‘civilised’ of nations), but something will happen.

    Society is changing. Right now. All around us.

    We need to stay informed. And involved.

    I was recently made aware of an excellent ‘primer’ on the issues underlying the current protests. It is from Vanity Fair of all places, but by the amazing economist Joseph Stiglitz, and is available on their website here, or in an extended extract below.

    Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
    By Joseph E. Stiglitz

    It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

    (more…)

    A brief primer on #occupy and the 99% – what's going on, and why it matters

    Posted on: October 17th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    I am sure you’ve been following the news of protests around the world. The OccupyWallStreet protest that started a few weeks ago spread this past weekend to other capitals with protestors clashing with police in places such as London and Rome. What are they protesting against or for, though? Maybe you haven’t been watching very closely.

    You should. History is going to judge these events as the beginning of something big. The way the rich have been behaving in many countries is now under unprecedented scrutiny, and will not be allowed to continue. How this will all play out is not yet clear. History tells us that when the rich and poor get too separated, the poor rise up and kill the rich. That’s unlikely to happen (although it can’t be ruled out, even in the most ‘civilised’ of nations), but something will happen.

    Society is changing. Right now. All around us.

    We need to stay informed. And involved.

    I was recently made aware of an excellent ‘primer’ on the issues underlying the current protests. It is from Vanity Fair of all places, but by the amazing economist Joseph Stiglitz, and is available on their website here, or in an extended extract below.

    Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
    By Joseph E. Stiglitz

    It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

    (more…)

    Let’s build a better world: Clem Sunter the futurist on Karl Marx the visionary

    Posted on: October 7th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    A few weeks ago, Clem Sunter, South Africa’s most well known scenario planner, wrote a very interesting article for News24. It got me thinking, and I have come back to it again and again, so thought I’d share it with you. He argues that maybe Karl Marx had a point. He certainly did anticipate where unbridle capitalism would lead.

    And maybe he was also right that one response to this eventual world situation (the one he foresaw, and the one we’re living in over 150 years later) would be the “under class” rising up. I don’t doubt that this is one possible future for us. History tells us that when enough people are unhappy, they tend to get together and start burning stuff and killing rich people. We shouldn’t think that couldn’t happen today. Sunter and Marx are both futurists and visionaries. It’s time we listened more to them, and started building a new world.

    On your Marx

    by Clem Sunter, first published on News24 in July 2011

    I am not a closet Marxist; but I have always admired the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto as a prophetic analysis of the modern trend of globalisation. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were spot on with many of their views on the nature and shortcomings of Capitalism. It was just that their conclusion that everything should be put in the hands of the State has, in retrospect, proved disastrously wrong. Stalin and Mao bear testament to this statement. However, the long-bearded Karl and Friedrich can hardly be blamed for the distortion of their ideology by dictators who used it in order to remain in power. The authors’ objective was to protect workers’ rights.

    (more…)

    Let's build a better world: Clem Sunter the futurist on Karl Marx the visionary

    Posted on: October 7th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    A few weeks ago, Clem Sunter, South Africa’s most well known scenario planner, wrote a very interesting article for News24. It got me thinking, and I have come back to it again and again, so thought I’d share it with you. He argues that maybe Karl Marx had a point. He certainly did anticipate where unbridle capitalism would lead.

    And maybe he was also right that one response to this eventual world situation (the one he foresaw, and the one we’re living in over 150 years later) would be the “under class” rising up. I don’t doubt that this is one possible future for us. History tells us that when enough people are unhappy, they tend to get together and start burning stuff and killing rich people. We shouldn’t think that couldn’t happen today. Sunter and Marx are both futurists and visionaries. It’s time we listened more to them, and started building a new world.

    On your Marx

    by Clem Sunter, first published on News24 in July 2011

    I am not a closet Marxist; but I have always admired the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto as a prophetic analysis of the modern trend of globalisation. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were spot on with many of their views on the nature and shortcomings of Capitalism. It was just that their conclusion that everything should be put in the hands of the State has, in retrospect, proved disastrously wrong. Stalin and Mao bear testament to this statement. However, the long-bearded Karl and Friedrich can hardly be blamed for the distortion of their ideology by dictators who used it in order to remain in power. The authors’ objective was to protect workers’ rights.

    (more…)

    Let’s build a better world: Clem Sunter the futurist on Karl Marx the visionary

    Posted on: October 7th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    A few weeks ago, Clem Sunter, South Africa’s most well known scenario planner, wrote a very interesting article for News24. It got me thinking, and I have come back to it again and again, so thought I’d share it with you. He argues that maybe Karl Marx had a point. He certainly did anticipate where unbridle capitalism would lead.

    And maybe he was also right that one response to this eventual world situation (the one he foresaw, and the one we’re living in over 150 years later) would be the “under class” rising up. I don’t doubt that this is one possible future for us. History tells us that when enough people are unhappy, they tend to get together and start burning stuff and killing rich people. We shouldn’t think that couldn’t happen today. Sunter and Marx are both futurists and visionaries. It’s time we listened more to them, and started building a new world.

    On your Marx

    by Clem Sunter, first published on News24 in July 2011

    I am not a closet Marxist; but I have always admired the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto as a prophetic analysis of the modern trend of globalisation. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were spot on with many of their views on the nature and shortcomings of Capitalism. It was just that their conclusion that everything should be put in the hands of the State has, in retrospect, proved disastrously wrong. Stalin and Mao bear testament to this statement. However, the long-bearded Karl and Friedrich can hardly be blamed for the distortion of their ideology by dictators who used it in order to remain in power. The authors’ objective was to protect workers’ rights.

    (more…)

    What I learnt from Steve Jobs’ life and death

    Posted on: October 6th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

    The passing of Steve Jobs will no doubt bring a deserved flurry of eulogies over the next few days and weeks. He will be remembered by history as one of the architects of a new age, and I feel it is a privilege to live in a world at least partly shaped by his vision of it. I did not know him, nor did I ever meet him, not even in passing. But I do feel that his life has taught me some valuable lessons.

    Without too much comment, here are some of the key lessons I have learnt from Steve Jobs’ life:

    • One man can change the world. It will probably work best with a great team and a growing tribe, but one man can change the world.
    • You don’t have to be normal. You can break the rules.
    • You don’t have to listen to all the voices. You can give people what they need, and not just what they want and what they know to ask for.
    • There are second chances.
    • You can change the world. Steve Jobs devoted his life to giving human beings the most powerful devices ever to be put into the hands of individuals (you’re reading this on one of them). He has given me power and abilities that were only available to royalty just a few centuries ago.
    • Beauty matters. Design wins. Do gorgeous work.
    • Steve Jobs showed us that presentations can be exciting, visually stimulating, enriching and uplifting. We should not copy his unique style, but we should understand the principles that made his presentations so compelling: simplicity, personality, visually gorgeous, “edu-taining”.
    • The 1950s were a great time to be born. Baby Boomers are a privileged generation.
    • You can keep doing what you love until you die. You don’t have to retire. No-one is asking, “If he was that sick, why did Steve keep working to the end?” Everyone knows the answer.
    • Cancer sucks!
    • And finally, his death to cancer teaches me that no matter how rich, powerful, connected, clever or technology advanced you are, death comes to us all. I need to live my life in the knowledge that this life is not all there is. I don’t know what Steve Jobs believed would happen after he died – whatever he believed, he now knows the truth. Each of us will soon know that truth too; some sooner than later; some sooner than we think. We need to be sure we are ready to face that. I am. Are you?

    RIP Steve Jobs. Thank you. Your legacy is assured.

    (more…)

    What I learnt from Steve Jobs’ life and death

    Posted on: October 6th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    The passing of Steve Jobs will no doubt bring a deserved flurry of eulogies over the next few days and weeks. He will be remembered by history as one of the architects of a new age, and I feel it is a privilege to live in a world at least partly shaped by his vision of it. I did not know him, nor did I ever meet him, not even in passing. But I do feel that his life has taught me some valuable lessons.

    Without too much comment, here are some of the key lessons I have learnt from Steve Jobs’ life:

    • One man can change the world. It will probably work best with a great team and a growing tribe, but one man can change the world.
    • You don’t have to be normal. You can break the rules.
    • You don’t have to listen to all the voices. You can give people what they need, and not just what they want and what they know to ask for.
    • There are second chances.
    • You can change the world. Steve Jobs devoted his life to giving human beings the most powerful devices ever to be put into the hands of individuals (you’re reading this on one of them). He has given me power and abilities that were only available to royalty just a few centuries ago.
    • Beauty matters. Design wins. Do gorgeous work.
    • Steve Jobs showed us that presentations can be exciting, visually stimulating, enriching and uplifting. We should not copy his unique style, but we should understand the principles that made his presentations so compelling: simplicity, personality, visually gorgeous, “edu-taining”.
    • The 1950s were a great time to be born. Baby Boomers are a privileged generation.
    • You can keep doing what you love until you die. You don’t have to retire. No-one is asking, “If he was that sick, why did Steve keep working to the end?” Everyone knows the answer.
    • Cancer sucks!
    • And finally, his death to cancer teaches me that no matter how rich, powerful, connected, clever or technology advanced you are, death comes to us all. I need to live my life in the knowledge that this life is not all there is. I don’t know what Steve Jobs believed would happen after he died – whatever he believed, he now knows the truth. Each of us will soon know that truth too; some sooner than later; some sooner than we think. We need to be sure we are ready to face that. I am. Are you?

    RIP Steve Jobs. Thank you. Your legacy is assured.

    (more…)

    Facebook highlights the new generation gap

    Posted on: October 5th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Lucy Kellaway, a columnist in the Financial Times, wrote a brilliant piece some time ago about how older generations engage with social media, and why the battle to understand the value of Facebook.

    I think she has hit the nail on the head. It’s not a technology issue, it’s about a mindset. And she’s right about the eventual outcome, too. It’s inevitable. The sooner Boomer’s accept this, the sooner they can start engaging with a new world of work.

    You can read her article here (it’s really worth reading – she’s brilliant), or an extract below.

    Generation game plays out on Facebook

    extract from FT.com, By Lucy Kellaway, March 21 2010

    …. Facebook has become bigger than Google. In the US, more people now visit the social networking site … than turn to Google [for information]…

    (more…)

    Facebook highlights the new generation gap

    Posted on: October 5th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Lucy Kellaway, a columnist in the Financial Times, wrote a brilliant piece some time ago about how older generations engage with social media, and why the battle to understand the value of Facebook.

    I think she has hit the nail on the head. It’s not a technology issue, it’s about a mindset. And she’s right about the eventual outcome, too. It’s inevitable. The sooner Boomer’s accept this, the sooner they can start engaging with a new world of work.

    You can read her article here (it’s really worth reading – she’s brilliant), or an extract below.

    Generation game plays out on Facebook

    extract from FT.com, By Lucy Kellaway, March 21 2010

    …. Facebook has become bigger than Google. In the US, more people now visit the social networking site … than turn to Google [for information]…

    (more…)

    Better events – for Generation Y

    Posted on: October 3rd, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    I spend two or three days a week at conferences and formal, large group meetings. And it’s ever more obvious that this part of our business lives is out of date. Most of this is because events and conferences are not keeping up with the new expectations and demands of the younger generations of attendees and delegates.

    Pete Roythorne, Joint Editor in Chief of Meetings:Review recently wrote about this – read his article here, or an extract below. He makes some very good points, but I would add a few to his list, too. Here’s a summary, without much explanation – read on for some detail:

    • Your communication has to be short, to the point, visually stimulating, with beautiful design, customised and targeted for individuals as far as possible
    • Your conference spaces should also be visually enticing. What would your event look like if Apple designed it?
    • Be creative about using interesting spaces and venues
    • Use technology better, especially interactive, collaborative and social media
    • Make sure your venues are technologically enabled – lots of power points, good quality wifi, and experiment with interactive technologies
    • Sustainability is vital – Gen Y demand a green mindset
    • Have shorter sessions, with lots of changes in energy and flow
    • Your event can start before people arrive and finish long after they’ve left – keep connected using technology
    • Ensure your content is top quality, with world class speakers – don’t skimp on costs here (there are many mediocre speakers who will talk for free or cheaply; be careful of using them).
    • Allow space in the programme – Gen Y want experiences, they want to network, and they need space to keep connected to their world.

    These suggestions might be targeted for Generation Y, but they’ll work for other generations too and improve the quality and take-home value of your events.

    IT’S GOOD TO TALK : Why Generation Y is leading the way we communicate at events

    Meetings:Review on 07/09/2011 by Pete Roythorne, Joint Editor in Chief

    Generation Y is currently the most economically influential demographic group. Pete Roythorne looks at why its members demand fruitful dialogue rather than a stream of marketing messages, and how meetings and events organisers can best engage with this key audience.

    (more…)

    Better events – for Generation Y

    Posted on: October 3rd, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    I spend two or three days a week at conferences and formal, large group meetings. And it’s ever more obvious that this part of our business lives is out of date. Most of this is because events and conferences are not keeping up with the new expectations and demands of the younger generations of attendees and delegates.

    Pete Roythorne, Joint Editor in Chief of Meetings:Review recently wrote about this – read his article here, or an extract below. He makes some very good points, but I would add a few to his list, too. Here’s a summary, without much explanation – read on for some detail:

    • Your communication has to be short, to the point, visually stimulating, with beautiful design, customised and targeted for individuals as far as possible
    • Your conference spaces should also be visually enticing. What would your event look like if Apple designed it?
    • Be creative about using interesting spaces and venues
    • Use technology better, especially interactive, collaborative and social media
    • Make sure your venues are technologically enabled – lots of power points, good quality wifi, and experiment with interactive technologies
    • Sustainability is vital – Gen Y demand a green mindset
    • Have shorter sessions, with lots of changes in energy and flow
    • Your event can start before people arrive and finish long after they’ve left – keep connected using technology
    • Ensure your content is top quality, with world class speakers – don’t skimp on costs here (there are many mediocre speakers who will talk for free or cheaply; be careful of using them).
    • Allow space in the programme – Gen Y want experiences, they want to network, and they need space to keep connected to their world.

    These suggestions might be targeted for Generation Y, but they’ll work for other generations too and improve the quality and take-home value of your events.

    IT’S GOOD TO TALK : Why Generation Y is leading the way we communicate at events

    Meetings:Review on 07/09/2011 by Pete Roythorne, Joint Editor in Chief

    Generation Y is currently the most economically influential demographic group. Pete Roythorne looks at why its members demand fruitful dialogue rather than a stream of marketing messages, and how meetings and events organisers can best engage with this key audience.

    (more…)

    Innovation and the Future Workforce: key trends for the decade ahead

    Posted on: September 29th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington 3 Comments

    We are currently living in an era of unprecedented change. It’s not just that technology has speeded up business cycles, or connected us into a pulsing 24-7 never-stop global community. It’s not even that stakeholders require instant responses in the midst of turbulent markets and increasingly complex supply chains and business partnerships. It’s more than all that.

    We are actually at a point in history where fundamental and deep structural change is happening at multiple levels of society, politics and economics. This could be scary, since we’re in uncharted waters.  But it is here that true innovation is possible, and real innovators have the chance to shine. There will be winners and losers, of course. The winners will be those that understand the forces that are driving the changes we sense around us and take advantage of those insights to choose a direction and focus that outsmarts and outplays their competition.

    My research team’s particular interest is in the new world of work, and how people will influence and be influenced by it. We have identified a number of key workforce trends that will be key in changing the shape of the world over the next decade. Many of these forces will be both the cause and means of deep change and innovation in the near future.  But ask yourself this: to what extent had you already been anticipating these changes?

    1. More older workers

    People all around the world – not just in developed countries – will be delaying retirement and staying longer in the workforce as they adjust to longer lifespans. In 1900, people spent 1.5 years in retirement. Today this has extended to over 30 years, but it should start reversing as people realize this is both unaffordable and undesirable. This will have three workforce effects: older employees, older entrepreneurs and older consumers. They are a relatively healthy and wealthy group, and most companies would do well to focus on fulfilling their needs and wants.

    How many products and services do you have specifically focused on the older age group? Have you thought about what they might want and need as they get older? How many older people do you have in your research team, and what systems do you have in place to listen to and engage with older people in your marketplace?

    2. Population growth and migration – more power to the developing world and to cities

    The world’s population will reach 7 billion in October 2011, and is destined to reach 8 billion in about 2025. But all around the world, the rate of population growth is declining. Family sizes are decreasing. It’s likely that we’ll peak at a world population of 9 billion people in 2050. In the next decade, 95% of the population growth that does happen will be in developing countries. In fact, about 50% of population growth will come from just a handful of countries, including Mexico, Nigeria, Indonesia, India, China, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Congo and the USA (mainly Hispanic communities). Except for the USA, these countries are also seeing significant growth in middle class communities, and therefore in consumer demand.

    At the same time, there will be increasing movement of people around the world. The migration of talent now plays a much bigger role in shaping the skilled work force, especially for multinational companies and growth industries. Previously, the United States and Western Europe have benefited from skilled workers arriving to work (and thus creating ‘brain drains’ for other countries). But now the global migration of talent is happening in all directions, and the US and EU are not as attractive (or as easy to enter) as they used to be.

    In the developing world, migration from rural to urban areas will continue at pace, increasing the power of cities.

    Have you developed appropriate talent strategies in order to attract and retain the right skills in the right locations at the right time?

    3.  More women in the workplace

    Canada, the US and Australia have all already passed the tipping point, with more women employed than men.  The UK will be there by 2012, with many European nations following suit in this decade.  (By the way, in parts of Africa and the developing world this may already be the case if you count informal workers.)

    But this decade will see continuing focus on not only bringing more female bodies into the workplace, but actually bringing a feminine influence as well.  This might be the biggest change in corporate culture in a century, if more women rise up through the management ranks, and also decide not to ‘play the game’ in a testosterone fueled business world.

    It is not just a woman’s issue, though. Men also need to develop an understanding of a feminine approach to leadership, collaboration, product development, marketing and more.  Interestingly, research shows that companies with more women in leadership do better than companies dominated by men.

    What is your male-female ratio at key leadership levels? What is your plan to support women in moving up through the ranks? Are your female leaders allowed to be feminine, or do they need to act like men to succeed? What other diversity issues should you be considering: religion, culture, language, region, age, sexuality, etc?  How do you deliberately incorporate different worldviews into your innovation processes?

    4. Jobless recoveries, unemployment and the paradox of skills deficits

    The next decade is going to be a frustrating and confusing one in the job market.  On the one hand, we have unemployment. In almost every country that releases age stratified unemployment statistics, right now there are more unemployed young people than ever before.  In addition, in many of these countries these young people are burdened with the largest student loans ever recorded.  To make things even worse, we’re at a moment in time when computers will start taking over professional jobs (see next trend). Expect more riots and protests!

    But, at the same time, key industries are experiencing a lack of skilled people. For example, for many years, the number of engineers has been declining (especially civil and mechanical engineers).  Right now, in Brazil, there is a demand for about 30,000 engineering graduates every year, but less than 15,000 actually qualify.  India and China are beginning to run out of qualified workers, which will put upward pressure of salaries and remove the wage differential advantage of those countries.

    Do you know what skills you will need to deliver your strategy five years from now? What are you doing now to attract and retain the skilled people you will need?

    5. Artificial Intelligence and big data

    We have just reached a point where computers are powerful enough to deliver on all the promises of automation and artificial intelligence.  Increasingly in the next decade we’ll use machines to analyse data and do complex processing work, uncovering patterns and spotting problems amid a mountain of data.

    Real-time data collected from transactions, data streams and even sensors on physical objects, will be analysed and used by computers to make decisions about how to maximize the efficiency of fleets, machinery, people and activities.

    What data are you collecting?  What data could you collect?  How are you using that data to impact your strategic insights and feed your innovation processes?

    6. Significant entrepreneurial startups and small businesses

    Both unemployed young people and an older generation looking for post-career alternative working options will fuel a new wave of startup businesses.  Add to this that we expect explosive growth in many emerging markets, with the world experiencing its largest economic growth ever (probably only really kicking off from 2020 to 2030, as global real purchasing power will have quadrupled by 2050).  All in all, it’ll be a good time to be a small business in the next decade (as long as banks and governments finally wake up to their specific needs).

    Are any of your products and services suitable for small businesses and startups? How do you engage with this community and ensure you learn from them and about them?

    7. Blended lifestyles and flexible working arrangements

    We will continue to see the breakdown of the ‘traditional’ office, with ‘normal’ office hours. There will be more flexibility and working virtually.  But there will also be an increased shift to 24/7 workplaces.  In a quest to reach new customers in foreign time zones and to speed up production and services, more and more companies in the future will be open for business around the clock, seven days a week.

    In all of this, there is the potential for more than ‘work-life balance’. What people will be doing involves a new way of thinking about how to arrange the puzzle pieces of a typical life.  Again, this will be driven by both the young and old workers, who may work for a few months then leave that job to travel or take time off, then return to a different job for a while.  They may develop ‘portfolio careers’ or have multiple consulting engagements at a time.

    How open are you to flexible and virtual work arrangements? Do you have products and services that can support a workforce that is transitioning towards ‘work life integration’?

    8. Generational conflict

    For the first time, four generations are working side by side in the workplace. And their attitudes are significantly different on what a ‘normal’ workplace looks like.

    In society, generational conflict is likely to grow as young people realise the Baby Boomer generation is mortgaging the future to maintain an unsustainable lifestyle now.  This will lead to conflict on issues as wide ranging as environmental concern, pensions and politics.  The Social Security systems of most Western nations will be another ongoing issue for the aging work force in the coming years.  They are unsustainable – particularly those that are unfunded (i.e. they rely on the income from current workers to pay for the pensions of those currently retired).  Young people are going to rebel against this, especially in countries where concessions are made for older workers.

    Do you have a mentoring and reverse-mentoring programme in place? What are your systems for capturing and sharing wisdom across the generations of your company? How are you using different generations in your innovation processes?

    How should you respond?

    There is no ‘one right way’ to respond. Each of these trends, and many others that will shape our world in the next few years, bring both threats and opportunities. They will challenge the status quo, but this is precisely what can feed innovation and change.

    It was Peter Drucker, the management author, who said: ‘The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence, it is to act with yesterday’s logic.’ The most important first step in responding to – and taking advantage of – these trends, is to change our mindset, and see the opportunities they each provide.

    Dr Graeme Codrington is a futurist, author, presenter and expert on the future world of work. He is co-founder of an international research and strategy firm, TomorrowToday, and can be contacted via http://about.me/graemecodrington

    Keeping the sense of wonder in your work

    Posted on: September 18th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    I’ve had a busy and long week, speaking at five different conferences, in five different cities in five different countries. Each client needed me to customise my content, and so it’s been a blur of planes, airports, taxis, hotels, creating presentations, meeting technical teams, delivering and interacting with delegates. It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve had to work hard to ensure that I give my very best to each audience, and it’s taken a lot of me to do so. I hope I succeeded.

    We all have times like this. It’s important to continue to give our best though. I recognise that in my business, there is a danger of giving less than the best in three areas: (1) the research my team and I do that allow us to have the most cutting edge content, (2) the packaging of our content, and the quality of the resources we make available by way of presentations, books, articles, blogs, etc, and (3) the delivery of our content in live presentations and workshops.

    Where are the critical points of “wonderment” in your work? What do you do to ensure that you continue to deliver “wonder”, and don’t slip down to merely “adequate”?

    It was Seth Godin that reminded me of this. Read his blog entry here, or an extract below.

    (more…)

    Keeping the sense of wonder in your work

    Posted on: September 18th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    I’ve had a busy and long week, speaking at five different conferences, in five different cities in five different countries. Each client needed me to customise my content, and so it’s been a blur of planes, airports, taxis, hotels, creating presentations, meeting technical teams, delivering and interacting with delegates. It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve had to work hard to ensure that I give my very best to each audience, and it’s taken a lot of me to do so. I hope I succeeded.

    We all have times like this. It’s important to continue to give our best though. I recognise that in my business, there is a danger of giving less than the best in three areas: (1) the research my team and I do that allow us to have the most cutting edge content, (2) the packaging of our content, and the quality of the resources we make available by way of presentations, books, articles, blogs, etc, and (3) the delivery of our content in live presentations and workshops.

    Where are the critical points of “wonderment” in your work? What do you do to ensure that you continue to deliver “wonder”, and don’t slip down to merely “adequate”?

    It was Seth Godin that reminded me of this. Read his blog entry here, or an extract below.

    (more…)

    How Beer Can Offer Insights into Gender Difference

    Posted on: September 18th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Saffron Baggallay is head of our South African TomorrowToday Training company. She has great insights into the new world of work, and has written this very interesting piece on women and the beer market. It reminded me of how important it is to have a feminine perspective throughout our organisations. Not just more women. A feminine perspective!

    I read a few months ago I came across a YouTube advert from Carlsberg Copenhagen which portrays their latest beer offering to the market – especially the female market, a beer called ‘Copenhagen’.

    With the number of women who drink beer on the rise (in fact roughly 27% of the beer-drinking market in the United States is now women, up from 6% in 2009) producers are clearly seeing the need to market specifically for the gender who allegedly come from Venus. Historically; and by Carlsberg’s own admittance, beer has been marketed almost exclusively to men; and advertised at events perceived to be ‘male’ dominated. What is interesting about the Copenhagen is that the beer come in a bottle that looks more like a wine bottle (the drink historically preferred by women) and is described as:

    so insisting that natural beauty needs no make-up, so tastefully stating that blonde is the new black….so not the usual suspect, so not like any other beer. The design for this “refreshingly different” beer’s packaging is sleek and minimal, also a departure from most other beers. Copenhagen is intended for modern women and men, who appreciate a refreshing taste delivered in a stylish design.

    (more…)

    Great questions about your self education and development

    Posted on: September 16th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Thanks to Brainpickings for this find.

    In an excellent and inventive book, “344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment” designer Stefan G. Bucher presents a compendium of flowcharts and lists to help you figure out life’s big answers (buy it Amazon.co.uk). The author himself says: “There are many great how-to books and biographies out there, and even more gorgeous collections of current and classic work to awe and inspire. But looking at catalogs of artistic success won’t make you a better artist any more than looking at photos of healthy people will cure your cold. You’ve got to take action!” Good point.

    One set of questions caught my attention immediately. It’s about how you approach your own continued education and development, and some key questions to ask yourself to ensure it’s happening well. I like these. Take some time to consider your answers:

    • How are you educating yourself?
    • What price are you paying for your education?
    • How do you choose your teachers?
    • Are you intimidated by your fellow students?
    • Why the hell not?
    • Where will you find people that intimidate you?
    • or would you rather that people are intimidated by you?
    • What would you learn from that?

    I’d add just two more questions near the start of this list: What you learnt, UNlearnt and RElearnt over the last year? What do you need to learn, UNlearn and RElearn in the year ahead?

    Seriously, pause now for a moment of reflection, and actually answer these questions for yourself.

    Great questions about your self education and development

    Posted on: September 16th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Thanks to Brainpickings for this find.

    In an excellent and inventive book, “344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment” designer Stefan G. Bucher presents a compendium of flowcharts and lists to help you figure out life’s big answers (buy it Amazon.co.uk). The author himself says: “There are many great how-to books and biographies out there, and even more gorgeous collections of current and classic work to awe and inspire. But looking at catalogs of artistic success won’t make you a better artist any more than looking at photos of healthy people will cure your cold. You’ve got to take action!” Good point.

    One set of questions caught my attention immediately. It’s about how you approach your own continued education and development, and some key questions to ask yourself to ensure it’s happening well. I like these. Take some time to consider your answers:

    • How are you educating yourself?
    • What price are you paying for your education?
    • How do you choose your teachers?
    • Are you intimidated by your fellow students?
    • Why the hell not?
    • Where will you find people that intimidate you?
    • or would you rather that people are intimidated by you?
    • What would you learn from that?

    I’d add just two more questions near the start of this list: What you learnt, UNlearnt and RElearnt over the last year? What do you need to learn, UNlearn and RElearn in the year ahead?

    Seriously, pause now for a moment of reflection, and actually answer these questions for yourself.

    Noam Chomsky reflects on 9/11, a decade later and America’s Imperial Mentality

    Posted on: September 11th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Noam Chomsky is one of my favourite thinkers and commentators on geopolitical issues. As we remember the events of 9/11 2001 a decade on, he has turned his formidable focus onto how 9/11 changed the world and America’s position in it. As can be expected, it’s controversial and probably will upset more conservative Americans.

    He argues that in its actions in response to 9/11, America actually played into Osama bin Laden’s hands. In fact, he goes further to say that the strategy bin Laden used was exactly the same strategy the US had previously used in 1973 in Chile. Ironically (or maybe not), it was September 11, 1973, “when the U.S. succeeded in its intensive efforts to overthrow the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile with a military coup that placed General Pinochet’s brutal regime in office.” Now there’s a bit of history I am sure is not taught in American schools.

    Chomsky finishes by comparing what Bush’s White House should answer for to principles that emerged out of the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. The blatant assassination of bin Laden (ordered by the Obama White House, who have been complicit in continuing America’s culpability in this “war on terror”) earlier this year, and the unbelievably named “Operation Geronimo”, indicate that America’s mindset is one of Imperial domination. And he concludes ominously warning America that its own doctrine of revoking “the sovereignty of states that provide sanctuary to terrorists” (applied to Iraq, Pakistan, and others recently) could work against itself as America harbours terrorists and sponsors State violence – the very things it accuses the “axis of evil” countries of doing.

    This is a typically provocative read from Chomsky. It might be difficult to read, especially for Americans, especially today on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. But it is hard to argue with Chomsky’s analysis. You can read his article at the Commondreams.org website here, or an extended extract below.

    It’s hard not to think that the last decade’s American policies have made the world a worse place, not a better one; and that it’s correct and rational to see America as part of the problem and not part of the solution.

    Hopefully, on this anniversary of 9/11, Americans can reflect on their role in the world, and make a choice to become who they think they are, rather than continuing to allow their government to act as an unaccountable Imperial overlord who stops at nothing to have its way and dominate all others with brutal power.

    (more…)

    Generations in Brazil

    Posted on: September 8th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Over the past six years, since I published “Mind the Gap”, the best selling book about different generations (buy it at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or Kalahari), my team and I have been able to speak on the topic all around the world, and have done work to make it locally applicable.

    We are constantly updating our research to take account of regional difference. So, for example, we recently did a summary of how generations are playing out in a number of Asian and sub continent countries. You can read our summary here.

    We’ve also been able to connect with many other researchers and experts on the topic of why younger and older people see the world in different ways. One of the people we like most is Tammy Erickson, who is an author, HBR contributor and generational expert.

    On her personal site, she has a Q&A section, and recently was asked about Generations in Brazil. With the focus of the world beginning to shift to Brazil as hosts of the upcoming Football World Cup and Olympics, it’s as good a time as any for us to turn our attention there as well. Tammy’s insights are a helpful starting point in looking at generations in Brazil. Read it here, or an extract below.

    (more…)

    Generations in Brazil

    Posted on: September 8th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Over the past six years, since I published “Mind the Gap”, the best selling book about different generations (buy it at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or Kalahari), my team and I have been able to speak on the topic all around the world, and have done work to make it locally applicable.

    We are constantly updating our research to take account of regional difference. So, for example, we recently did a summary of how generations are playing out in a number of Asian and sub continent countries. You can read our summary here.

    We’ve also been able to connect with many other researchers and experts on the topic of why younger and older people see the world in different ways. One of the people we like most is Tammy Erickson, who is an author, HBR contributor and generational expert.

    On her personal site, she has a Q&A section, and recently was asked about Generations in Brazil. With the focus of the world beginning to shift to Brazil as hosts of the upcoming Football World Cup and Olympics, it’s as good a time as any for us to turn our attention there as well. Tammy’s insights are a helpful starting point in looking at generations in Brazil. Read it here, or an extract below.

    (more…)

    Why industry ‘best practice’ is not ‘best strategy’ for you

    Posted on: September 3rd, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    I am an educator, speaker and facilitator, and work mainly with large organisations, helping them make sense of the new world of work. Most of the time I do this through workshops and keynote presentations. As I work through briefings and preparation with clients, I am often asked about “best practice” – ‘what are others in our industry doing?’ Often, the award of a contract to me and my team depends on us having access to these industry best practices, and we often include these details and some case studies in our presentations.

    While I have a world class research team available to me and am able to provide ‘best practice’ insights, my team and I are always concerned when a client asks for them. The reason is that they are often set up as targets, rather than starting points (regardless of what the executive requesting them says). Two recent McKinsey Quarterly articles highlight perfectly the concerns we have, especially for clients working in fast-moving, turbulent or dynamic markets (that would be all of us at the moment, then!).

    McKinsey correctly argues that spurious frameworks and torrents of data often obscure the basic principles of good strategy. “To beat the market, companies must exploit imperfections that stop (or at least slow) its workings. Such competitive advantages are scarce and fleeting because markets drive a reversion to mean performance as middling companies emulate the best and the worst exit or undergo significant reform. Good strategies therefore emphasize difference — versus direct competitors, potential substitutes, and potential entrants — not industry-wide best practices.” This is especially true in turbulent times such as these. Best practice is an anaesthetic at best, and a diversion at worst. What is needed now is true innovation and ‘standing out from the crowd’.

    The first article from McKinsey is about ‘Remapping your strategic mind-set’ (read it here). The author suggests looking at the world in different ways to help you create a differentiated strategic view of your market. The “rooted maps” the author uses are very similar to those that can be found at WorldMapper.org, a resource I have always found intriguing and useful. Check them out for your region and industry – they will shift your perceptions of what is ‘normal’, ‘right’ and ‘best practice’ for you.

    The second article adds some practical actions to these thoughts, providing ‘Ten timeless tests can help you kick the tires on your strategy, and kick up the level of strategic dialogue throughout your company‘. Use their ten question checklist to check your strategy. Be warned: this article will take you some time to work through, especially if you follow the reading lists they suggest for each of the ten questions you sense weakness in your company’s strategy. It is worth the effort. You might also be interested in supplementing McKinsey’s insights with my business partner, Dean van Leeuwen’s business SCRIPT concept.

    But ultimately on this topic, I agree with CEO coach, Mike Myatt (author of “Leadership Matters… The CEO Survival Manual”) who says: “There is no such thing as best practices”. Read his thoughts here at a Google knol, or an extract below.

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    Why industry ‘best practice’ is not ‘best strategy’ for you

    Posted on: September 3rd, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    I am an educator, speaker and facilitator, and work mainly with large organisations, helping them make sense of the new world of work. Most of the time I do this through workshops and keynote presentations. As I work through briefings and preparation with clients, I am often asked about “best practice” – ‘what are others in our industry doing?’ Often, the award of a contract to me and my team depends on us having access to these industry best practices, and we often include these details and some case studies in our presentations.

    While I have a world class research team available to me and am able to provide ‘best practice’ insights, my team and I are always concerned when a client asks for them. The reason is that they are often set up as targets, rather than starting points (regardless of what the executive requesting them says). Two recent McKinsey Quarterly articles highlight perfectly the concerns we have, especially for clients working in fast-moving, turbulent or dynamic markets (that would be all of us at the moment, then!).

    McKinsey correctly argues that spurious frameworks and torrents of data often obscure the basic principles of good strategy. “To beat the market, companies must exploit imperfections that stop (or at least slow) its workings. Such competitive advantages are scarce and fleeting because markets drive a reversion to mean performance as middling companies emulate the best and the worst exit or undergo significant reform. Good strategies therefore emphasize difference — versus direct competitors, potential substitutes, and potential entrants — not industry-wide best practices.” This is especially true in turbulent times such as these. Best practice is an anaesthetic at best, and a diversion at worst. What is needed now is true innovation and ‘standing out from the crowd’.

    The first article from McKinsey is about ‘Remapping your strategic mind-set’ (read it here). The author suggests looking at the world in different ways to help you create a differentiated strategic view of your market. The “rooted maps” the author uses are very similar to those that can be found at WorldMapper.org, a resource I have always found intriguing and useful. Check them out for your region and industry – they will shift your perceptions of what is ‘normal’, ‘right’ and ‘best practice’ for you.

    The second article adds some practical actions to these thoughts, providing ‘Ten timeless tests can help you kick the tires on your strategy, and kick up the level of strategic dialogue throughout your company‘. Use their ten question checklist to check your strategy. Be warned: this article will take you some time to work through, especially if you follow the reading lists they suggest for each of the ten questions you sense weakness in your company’s strategy. It is worth the effort. You might also be interested in supplementing McKinsey’s insights with my business partner, Dean van Leeuwen’s business SCRIPT concept.

    But ultimately on this topic, I agree with CEO coach, Mike Myatt (author of “Leadership Matters… The CEO Survival Manual”) who says: “There is no such thing as best practices”. Read his thoughts here at a Google knol, or an extract below.

    (more…)

    How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule

    Posted on: August 29th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    David Korten is an amazing thinker. His book, “The Great Turning” (Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com) is a remarkable vision of where we find ourselves in history, and what we should be doing in the next century.

    He, and a whole team of people, have now turned their attentions to the American economy as it currently stands. In his normal insightful way, Korten has cut to the core of a very real problem: the rich (individuals and corporations) have disconnected themselves from society as a whole, and have entrenched themselves. He doesn’t say it specifically, so I will: whenever this has happened for a sustained period in the past, the people have always risen up against the elite and brought them crashing down. David and his team suggest a less brutal approach to overturning the inequitable status quo.

    Their manifesto summary was published on July 19, 2011 by YES! Magazine. The full report with details of the suggested actions can be downloaded as a PDF.

    I have reproduced their summary below. It is well worth reading, even if you don’t have time for the full report.

    How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule

    How is it that our nation is awash in money, but too broke to provide jobs and services?
    summary by David Korten

    The dominant story of the current political debate is that the government is broke. We can’t afford to pay for public services, put people to work, or service the public debt. Yet as a nation, we are awash in money. A defective system of money, banking, and finance just puts it in the wrong places.

    Raising taxes on the rich and implementing financial reforms are essential elements of the solution to our seemingly intractable fiscal and economic crisis. Yet proposals currently on the table fall far short of the need. …

    (more…)

    How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule

    Posted on: August 29th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    David Korten is an amazing thinker. His book, “The Great Turning” (Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com) is a remarkable vision of where we find ourselves in history, and what we should be doing in the next century.

    He, and a whole team of people, have now turned their attentions to the American economy as it currently stands. In his normal insightful way, Korten has cut to the core of a very real problem: the rich (individuals and corporations) have disconnected themselves from society as a whole, and have entrenched themselves. He doesn’t say it specifically, so I will: whenever this has happened for a sustained period in the past, the people have always risen up against the elite and brought them crashing down. David and his team suggest a less brutal approach to overturning the inequitable status quo.

    Their manifesto summary was published on July 19, 2011 by YES! Magazine. The full report with details of the suggested actions can be downloaded as a PDF.

    I have reproduced their summary below. It is well worth reading, even if you don’t have time for the full report.

    How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule

    How is it that our nation is awash in money, but too broke to provide jobs and services?
    summary by David Korten

    The dominant story of the current political debate is that the government is broke. We can’t afford to pay for public services, put people to work, or service the public debt. Yet as a nation, we are awash in money. A defective system of money, banking, and finance just puts it in the wrong places.

    Raising taxes on the rich and implementing financial reforms are essential elements of the solution to our seemingly intractable fiscal and economic crisis. Yet proposals currently on the table fall far short of the need. …

    (more…)

    Where are the jobs you promised: Universities sued by Gen Y graduates

    Posted on: August 27th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

    This is a story I should not have enjoyed. I have many friends and family in higher education, and many colleagues whom I respect and admire, including two who have founded colleges. I know it’s a tough gig, and generally underpaid for the value it adds to society.

    And yet, I can’t help but feel that many universities, especially those offering professional qualifications that lead into the business world, have lost their way. With ever inflated claims as they compete more and more with each other, increasing business mindsets (read ‘profit motive’) in their structures and operations, and a cookie cutter approach to education, they are failing to adequately prepare a new generation of graduates for success in a rapidly changing business world.

    They promise to generate innovators, business leaders and to ‘give you an edge’, but are none of these things themselves. I am generalising, of course, but this is definitely the norm. And it seems that the more successful the institution, the more likely it is to be conformist.

    So, although I should be more supportive of my family, friends and colleagues in higher education, I did take some delight in a recent news story about a group of graduates who have decided to sue the universities they attended. The universities had made certain claims in their advertising, specifically about the jobs the graduates would get. Now graduated, the students have found no jobs, and so they’ve decided to sue. I should read this story and shake my head in disgust at an American litigious culture out of control (I think it is). I should also see it through a generational lens, and tell the students to suck it up and make their own future (they should).

    But it is the generational lens that also causes me to love this story. Generation Y is unlike their Gen X older siblings who were more phlegmatic, reactive and pragmatic. This younger generation is not going to accept that they’re being handed a world that is less than the world their parents experienced. In America, and many other countries around the world, this will be the first time in many centuries that has happened. And Gen Y are not going to just accept that. They are not going to allow an older generation to use up the world’s resources – whether those are natural resources or jobs or societal assets – and leave scraps for them.

    So, I like this story. They might not win, but this is an indication that a new generation is coming into political and social life, and they need to be taken seriously. The full story is at Washington Post, or read the Huffington Post summary here, or an extract below:

    (more…)

    Where are the jobs you promised: Universities sued by Gen Y graduates

    Posted on: August 27th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    This is a story I should not have enjoyed. I have many friends and family in higher education, and many colleagues whom I respect and admire, including two who have founded colleges. I know it’s a tough gig, and generally underpaid for the value it adds to society.

    And yet, I can’t help but feel that many universities, especially those offering professional qualifications that lead into the business world, have lost their way. With ever inflated claims as they compete more and more with each other, increasing business mindsets (read ‘profit motive’) in their structures and operations, and a cookie cutter approach to education, they are failing to adequately prepare a new generation of graduates for success in a rapidly changing business world.

    They promise to generate innovators, business leaders and to ‘give you an edge’, but are none of these things themselves. I am generalising, of course, but this is definitely the norm. And it seems that the more successful the institution, the more likely it is to be conformist.

    So, although I should be more supportive of my family, friends and colleagues in higher education, I did take some delight in a recent news story about a group of graduates who have decided to sue the universities they attended. The universities had made certain claims in their advertising, specifically about the jobs the graduates would get. Now graduated, the students have found no jobs, and so they’ve decided to sue. I should read this story and shake my head in disgust at an American litigious culture out of control (I think it is). I should also see it through a generational lens, and tell the students to suck it up and make their own future (they should).

    But it is the generational lens that also causes me to love this story. Generation Y is unlike their Gen X older siblings who were more phlegmatic, reactive and pragmatic. This younger generation is not going to accept that they’re being handed a world that is less than the world their parents experienced. In America, and many other countries around the world, this will be the first time in many centuries that has happened. And Gen Y are not going to just accept that. They are not going to allow an older generation to use up the world’s resources – whether those are natural resources or jobs or societal assets – and leave scraps for them.

    So, I like this story. They might not win, but this is an indication that a new generation is coming into political and social life, and they need to be taken seriously. The full story is at Washington Post, or read the Huffington Post summary here, or an extract below:

    (more…)

    The new network of emerging markets

    Posted on: August 26th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    We all know that emerging markets are important for any company wanting to develop a global footprint and grow internationally. But what might be less apparent is that emerging markets are not just waiting around for the titans of the West to arrive – they’re developing their own markets and networks in unexpected ways.

    In the latest S+B ezine from Booz & Co, an excellent article highlights the new networks, partnerships and agreements that are being forged. The article highlights the Middle East as one hub point for these relationships. You can find similar hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, Brazil, Turkey and elsewhere. It is important to track and understand the dynamics that these networks will create. Read the S+B article here, or an extended extract below:

    The New Web of World Trade

    The Gulf economies of the Middle East are forming partnerships with other emerging markets, redefining the ancient trade routes that once linked East and West.

    by Joe Saddi, Karim Sabbagh, and Richard Shediac

    When King Abdullah bin Saud, the current ruler of Saudi Arabia, came to power in August 2005, he wasted little time in demonstrating his vision for the country’s future. His first official overseas visit, in January 2006, was not to U.S. president George W. Bush, U.K. prime minister Tony Blair, or German chancellor Angela Merkel — but to Chinese president Hu Jintao.

    (more…)

    Nostalgia: a key to creating great customer experiences

    Posted on: August 25th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Maybe it’s because the Baby Boomers have started to turn 65, or maybe it’s because we are living in an historical epoch where we expect things to just keep changing. Whatever is causing it, nostalgia is as big as it has ever been. Nostalgia first caught marketer’s attention back in 1999. As the turn of the Millennium approached (anyone remember Y2K paranoia?), Baby Boomers used the milestone as an opportunity for some serious reminiscing.

    The best selling albums that year included the “best of” hits albums for ABBA, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The Stones had the highest grossing concert tour (in fact, the highest grossing of all time). The best selling Christmas toys were Meccano, Hornby Railway sets and Scalextric. Nostalgia ruled. And it continues to do so.

    But nostalgia can also be used by young brands and newcomers. Our nostalgia is based on our memories, and we know these can be fickle. We actually pine not for reality or specifics, but for a feel, an inkling, an emotion of the past. These can be invoked. And some brands are doing this very well indeed.

    Brand guru, Martin Lindstrom, recently wrote an excellent piece for Fast Company. Read it at their site here, or an extract below:

    (more…)

    Why Gen Y isn’t buying from you

    Posted on: August 22nd, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    Last year, I was sent this extract from an article entitled: “Why Generation Y isn’t buying your products”. I think it was originally published in the “Retail Customer Experience” magazine.

    It is a reasonably good insights into how we need to be thinking if we want to connect with a different generation of young people, especially in middle class suburban areas. It’s not true for everyone, everywhere, but it is something that might get your marketing team into a good conversation.

    As a 23-year-old consumer, I can tell you this: my attention is short, my demands are great and my purchases are diverse. I live in a day and age where social media apps, slogan tees and even Nike sneakers can be customized to fit my lifestyle.

    I represent Generation Y, or Millennials as we are often called. While we may seem fickle, limited and spoiled to most retail professionals, we’re quite the contrary. Our lifestyle and shopping habits will determine the sales revenue of the retail industry, affecting everyone from big-box retailers to mom-and-pop stores, for the next 15 years. We are responsible for the return of our nation’s thriving economy.

    To put it bluntly, if you’re uncomfortable with marketing to Generation Y, or refuse to understand our unique demographic, your store will not see 2020. To understand Generation Y is to overcome many obstacles in the retail industry.

    (more…)

    A note to Generation X: Learn How to Manage Up

    Posted on: August 17th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

    The concept of “managing up” is well established in management and leadership theory. As someone who reports to a boss, you need to use many different techniques to get your boss’s attention, and influence your boss to act, think and react in certain ways. This is a critical skill for people at all levels of organisations.

    It is only complicated when their is a worldview divide between boss and subordinate. This can happen when the people are of different genders, religions, cultures, personality types and different generations. This last item is one I have spent many years researching and helping clients to manage (see my book on how to “Mind the Gap”, and the many white papers we have written on this issue, for example).

    A brief “management tip” by Tammy Erickson in a recent online edition of the HBR reminded me of how important it is right now for Generation X (born in the 1970s and 80s) to learn how to manage up, as they deal with the Baby Boomers (born after World War II, into the 1950s and 60s) who are currently leading their organisations. Here are a few key things Gen Xers can do to more effectively manage up to Boomer bosses and bridge the generation gap in understanding what your Boomer boss wants from you:

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    Gary Hamel on Generation Y

    Posted on: August 15th, 2011 by Graeme Codrington No Comments