Posts Tagged ‘future’

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  The threat is that as the rules of success and failure are redefined, your business fails to keep up and becomes outdated – when the rate of change outside your business exceeds the rate of change inside, you are becoming a dinosaur.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.

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?

Posted on: October 16th, 2013 by admin-kablooey No Comments

pensionersThe famous lyric from the Beatles song of 1967 has moved from an individual plea to a loved one, to a more general appeal to society.  A lot has happened between 1967 and now: man has landed on the moon, the Communist Soviet Union has disintegrated, almost everyone has amazing technology at their finger tips and we are now living longer than ever before.

If you were an 18 year old in 1967 you would be one of the Baby Boomers joining the UK workforce for the first time.   You are now 64 and possibly looking forward to your pension and retirement.  The state pension age has been stuck at 65 for men and 60 for woman for that person’s whole life.  Whilst the rest of the world has changed at an alarming rate, the “Old Age Pension” age has remained the same.

The opportunity to be a retired pensioner is a relatively recent occurrence.  Prior to the Old Age Pension Act of 1908 there was no state help and it was looked at as being semi villainous to be old with no money or means to support yourself.  You either begged, starved, or if you were lucky (or maybe unlucky) you ended up in the Workhouse.  However, this act only came into force if you were over 70 and without means of over £31.50…….per year!  It wasn’t until the National Insurance Act of 1946 that we saw the introduction of a comprehensive social security system that covered unemployment, sickness and retirement, as we know today.

We all know that there is an ageing population problem, but what is it and what does it mean?  Let’s have a look at some of the data that is freely available at the UK Office of National Statistics.

In 1967 the life expectancy for a man was 69.1.  This meant that a man, on average, only lived for four years after reaching the state retirement age of 65.  In 2010 the life expectancy for a man in England had grown to 78.9, almost an eight-year increase in only 43 years.  If, however, you reached your 65th birthday in 2010 you were expected to live until a whopping 83.4.  This means that over the last 43 years a man has been living on average one extra year for every 3-5 years lived – really astonishing.

The trend looks to carry on, with the expectation that 33% of children born in 2012 will live to 100.  In 2012 there were 14,500 centenarians – by only 2035 it is forecast that there will be 110,000.

The actuaries have got their figures hopelessly wrong in the past.  Private and public pension promises that were made to workers cannot be fulfilled.  Bear in mind that in developed countries, 60% of the cost of an average pension is paid by the state.


Is it evil to avoid tax?

Posted on: June 7th, 2013 by admin-kablooey 1 Comment

Devil business manGoogle famously has the slogan “don’t be evil”. They are however embroiled in a worldwide issue – is tax avoidance evil? Not only have Google been dragged into the fray,  but Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Starbucks and even famous individuals such as Jimmy Carr have come under the spotlight for not paying their fair share of tax

Tax evasion is illegal, but avoidance is not. It is recognised that the more money you have, the more likely you are to be able to afford expensive accountants and lawyers to reduce tax. Apple, according to a study conducted by Millward Brown Optimar, for WPP is the most valuable brand on the planet, with Google second.

So how have Google only paid £10 million in corporation tax on revenues of nearly £12 billion, when they openly claim to make 25% profit? They carry out something called “Double Irish”. Their business is registered in Ireland where corporation tax is a lot lower and is allowed to move their profit offshore. In Google’s case this is the British Overseas Territory of The Cayman Islands, which has no income, capital gains or corporation tax. They end up with an effective tax rate of 2.4%. This obviously makes great business sense and if the British Government wants to change this arrangement they can obviously change the status of the Cayman Islands.

Google does indirectly pay tax though. All their employees in the country that they are working from pay income tax on their earnings, state taxes, national insurance and VAT. Google are also making a huge investment in the UK by building a massive HQ at Kings Cross in London, reputedly costing £300 million that will give much needed work for the construction sector. Once built it will directly provide jobs and indirectly give a boost to services such as bars, restaurants, shops, gyms, transport etc., in the local area.

Tax evasion is not illegal, so why all the fuss? At TomorrowToday we believe they are missing the point and are not taking notice of a major disruptive force; the opinions and power of the people within Generation X and Y. Even though Google was very famously founded by Gen Xer’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin they looked to a classic Baby Boomer in the form of Eric Schmidt to be the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011 He was recruited to run the company under the guidance of Venture Capitalists that are in turn Baby Boomers. He went about his task to make the business more productive, more efficient and more profitable, because that’s what is expected; companies are there to make money and deliver returns to shareholders. As the CEO, it is his duty to reduce costs and if tax can be reduced, so be it. His systems are still in place even though Larry Page took over the reigns in April 2011. Ironically Eric Schmidt is part of Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron’s Business Advisory Group. At Apple the CEO is Tim Cook, Microsoft is Steve Bulmer, Starbucks Howard Schultz, the list goes on of household names that are CEO’s of businesses that are not paying their taxes. All of these Baby Boomers might be great business people to increase productivity and decrease costs, but are they in touch with the values of the younger generations? The days are over of having only your shareholders to answer to. Today’s younger generations are more attuned to the creation of a fairer world that looks after the whole, not just the individual. If you want them to buy from you, you need to show how you care for the world and its people. People will vote with their feet (Starbucks) or more likely their fingers in today’s connected world if businesses are not trusted and do not contribute to society. Generation X and Y are not brand loyal; they will find another service or product that suits their needs and values.

Superstar businesses of today, be wary. Back in 2000 Apple wasn’t even in the top 20 companies and you had probably never even heard of Google. Already both Apple and Google have fallen out of the top 20 Most Trusted Businesses in the USA according to the Ponema Institute. Huge companies and famous brands such as Cisco, Yahoo, Myspace, AOL, Dell and Nokia have fallen from lofty heights. You are never too big or famous to fail (unless you are a bank of course, but that’s another story). Plug into the values of today’s people and ignore them at your peril. It would be a shame that worthwhile projects that are being progressed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, to try and solve the worlds energy and climate problems were cut short because they were not in touch with the very people they are trying to help be rid of evils such as pollution, famine and poverty.

The Fergie Factor: A Disruptive Force

Posted on: May 14th, 2013 by admin-kablooey No Comments 26 years in charge of Manchester United Alex Ferguson has finally decided to take life a little easier by moving to a new role as a Director and Ambassador for the club. At 71 years of age he wants to move on, he is not as healthy as he used to be and is probably finding it tough to continue his punishing regime, especially when he is in need of a hip replacement operation. He will be aware of his own mortality and will have memories of being by the side of his mentor, the then Scotland manager Jock Stein when he died on the touchline during an international match from a heart attack.

Along the way he has become recognised as the most successful British football manager ever and arguably the world’s greatest. He is a true leader in his field both in achievement and the way he has gone about it. In his managerial career he has won 49 trophies in 39 seasons, including two Champions’ League titles. He has kept Manchester United the top performing team in the Premier League for 20 years, seeing off the challenges of tactician Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, the charisma of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and the vast wealth of Manchester City. While other teams have constantly made managerial changes in the pursuit for glory, Ferguson has remained the captain of the United ship. The once great Liverpool of the 70’s and 80’s are a poor shadow of itself today after a host of poor performing managers with the failures of Graeme Souness still being felt today.

The question has to be how has he done it for so long and so consistently? Those that would like to knock his achievements will point to how his first years at United were not fruitful, that he inherited the Golden Generation of Butt, the Nevilles, Beckham, Giggs ,Scholes and the wealth of United would make anyone succeed. So let’s have a look at how he has done it.

Something that we talk about a lot in TomorrowToday are Disruptive factors in a business. Alex Ferguson was certainly a disruptive factor; he had already proven this in Scotland by upsetting the domination of Rangers and Celtic in Scotland whilst managing Aberdeen. When he arrived at United in 1986 things weren’t quite how he had hoped: the previous manager Ron Atkinson had spent all the money on dubious signings and the Edwards family were looking for a buyer and needed to re-fill the coffers. Ferguson systematically sold most of the players that Atkinson had brought in and United went from a pre-tax loss of £930K in season 87/88 to a profit of over £2 million in 88/89. Utimately the sale fell through, but this gave Ferguson the opportunity to spend time on his youth system, which he passionately believes in. Even though Ferguson was born in 1942 and would be considered to be from the Silent Generation he has great insight and respect from the then young Generation X development players. He went about nurturing them, caring for them and protecting them. He has many times been referred to as a father figure and continues to understand the Generation Y players that he has recently developed. He recognised the talent and went about keeping them. He made sure that they had good contracts, were well paid and looked after. The ensured the talent would have no desire to leave. He did however bring in tough rules that were to be broken at their peril; if they wanted the softer Gen X values, they would have to put up with the tough Silent Generation values of duty, discipline and dedication. Regardless of their stature, if they went against Ferguson’s values they would be subjected to the famous “hairdryer” and found themselves leaving the club regardless of who they were. Just ask Jaap Stam and David Beckham, respectively the world’s best defender at the time and the Golden Boy of English football. He insisted on being called Mr Ferguson or the Boss. He would show great loyalty to players and staff, but it would be according to his rules. By 1989 the chequebook was opened up to him and he brought in a host of talent to complement his budding stars.

He understood that if he were to pay top wages to keep and attract talent it would result in a better league position. A higher league position would result in increased annual revenue and then the cycle would begin again.

He has turned a provincial club with an annual turnover of about £7 million in 1986 to an International Superstar with a turnover of £320 million. He has attracted a host of footballing star talent to the club; Cantona, Keane, Ferdinand, Ronaldo and recently Van Persie. He has retained Giggs, Gary Neville and Scholes for their whole professional playing careers. He has inspired a host of former players to go into management – Robson, Hughes, Bruce, Coppell, Keane, Ince, Kanchelskis and the new Scotland manager Gordon Strachan to name a few.

What he has done is truly remarkable and of course there has to be an element of luck in it, but to have remained top of his chosen profession for over 20 years is outstanding He has done it through foresight, planning, understanding, professionalism, recognising talent, hard work and outstanding leadership. These were the Disruptive Factors of Ferguson that he brought into football.

What are the Disruptive factors that you should be looking at in your business sector that are going to change the way you work and operate? Understand these and you too could be the next Ferguson. Ignore them and you could be the next Graeme Souness.

Where have all the jobs gone?

Posted on: May 7th, 2013 by admin-kablooey No Comments

yay-2730481It seems hard to believe that it was a year ago that Britain was excited, but nervous about hosting the Olympic games of 2012. There were many voices of doom that predicted the games would be a disaster and we would embarrass ourselves as a nation. The doom-mongers were proven wrong and the 2012 games are recognised as being the most successful games ever and one of the most refreshing and innovative opening ceremonies to ever be seen.

The opening ceremony was a clever potted domestic history of Britain showing the traditional pastoral existence of working off the land being transformed by the Industrial Revolution and then in turn the changes that we have today in relation to society, benefits and technology.

In reality of course the transition portrayed of the First Industrial Revolution (approx. 1760 to 1840) didn’t happen overnight and it certainly wasn’t harmonious for millions of working people and their families. Farmers and workers lost their jobs to machines. There were population shifts, people and children exploited, un-safe working and some of the worst living conditions ever seen were created. The second Industrial Revolution of 1840 to 1870, which saw the use of steam and electricity to power large-scale manufacturing didn’t produce an overnight change for the average man. It would take at least one or two generations before improvements in society could be seen and opportunities could be realised in complementary technologies. All the time though, the world’s GDP was going up, the world was getting richer – even if it didn’t feel that way to millions of people.

The Industrial Revolutions were all about multiplying our muscle power. We are now in the midst of another equally monumental revolution that in time will have its own name, perhaps: The Social, Machine, Digital or Technology Revolution. This revolution, though, is all about multiplying the power of the brain. This modern day revolution is changing the way that we have traditionally gone about our work and business. Robots or droids are taking our jobs and how do you operate in a society where so much is given away for nothing on the Internet?

Currently there has never been so much money held by so few: the wealthiest 300 people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3 Billion. Corporations’ have been making huge profit and are sitting on vast war chests of cash not knowing what to do with it. In the UK alone there is £700 Billion sitting in corporate accounts. The Dow Jones index has for the first time exceeded 15,000. Businesses as a whole are not hiring though. There were fewer people working in the USA in 2010 than 2000. This was the first time on record that this has happened. We are seeing the same stagnation in jobs that occurred during the Industrial Revolutions. The gap between the amount of workers and the amount of jobs is getting bigger and will continue to grow. Robots are not only doing work in factories and assembly lines they are, using algorithms to write press articles, trade in stocks and shares and are even carrying out complicated translations. Machines are now intelligent and are capable of learning whilst they work. Every industry will be affected from medicine to banking and legal to musical. Moore’s Law of doubling the power of computing every two years looks likely to hold true for at least another two decades. A child’s Play Station of today has more computing power than a military Super Computer of 1996. We are again in the situation where productivity is increasing without the need for hiring and in many cases with a lower head count. People are being left behind, how can a skilled worker compete against a computer?

So, if all jobs are to be done by machines is the working life of the human obsolete? In traditional working areas the answer is probably yes. What will we do? The Victorians believed that work prevented; boredom, vice and need, it’s hard not to agree with them. We will however have a fantastic opportunity to harness this technology and be free to address poverty, oppression, misery, exploitation, drudgery and the environment. Everything in the past will seem trivial compared to what could be done in this utopian future. We are currently seeing some complimentary industries surfacing and booming such as; personal coaching and training, experiential pursuits (restaurant’s, coffee shops, nail bars, cinema etc.) and of course social media.

What really needs to be addressed is what should we be teaching our children? Can you be sure that what they graduate in will be needed in the future unknown world? Better content is required that is more relevant and closer to the world of today .Old staid education is not good enough. Why learn facts and figures when they can be obtained freely and instantly from the Internet? The students of today need to understand life and the consequences of actions. Technical schools and vocational working need to be encouraged. The world can be educated so much more cheaply and equally by using technology.

This latest revolution needs to be embraced. There is much to be optimistic about but economies are going to be run on ideas and not on traditional pursuits. The best working days are ahead of us, not in the past.


The Passing of an Icon

Posted on: April 12th, 2013 by admin-kablooey 2 Comments you liked, loathed or are somewhere in the middle it cannot be denied that Baroness Margaret Thatcher will be known as a major figure in British history. The Britain that she took control over in 1979 was very different to the Britain that she left in 1990. The same can be said of the Britain that Maggie was born into and the one today. Margaret Hilda Roberts as she was then known was born in 1925. This was the year that: Calvin Coolidge was inaugurated as President of the United States of America. Many believe that it was his reduced regulation by government to “thin to the point of invisibility” and his reliance on market Capitalism directly contributed to the Great Depression. Benito Mussolini became the Dictator of Italy and Hitler wrote his Mein Kampf. We all know that all three of these events eventually led to the largest conflict that the world has ever known resulting in the death of over 70 million people.


Being born in 1925 Thatcher is recognised as being one of the first to be part of  the generation called the Silent Generation; those born between 1925 and 1945. Growing up she would have had memories of hardship and warfare. Even though she was born into a reasonably well off stable family (her father owned two shops and was a local politician and Methodist Alderman), she would have still had to experience rationing, the death of people she knew and the general feeling of uncertainty and lack of security. It’s no wonder that these experiences would have led to her not wanting these experiences to happen again in her lifetime. It’s not a surprise that she opposed a Europe that was dominated by Germany and France, acted decisively when Argentina attacked the Falklands, fought passionately against Unions that threatened to over throw democracy and through privatisation she wanted to give the common man more affluence. It’s no wonder that she like others from her generation felt that to get on they had to work hard, be dedicated and disciplined. They felt it was their duty not just to themselves, but also to their businesses and the general community and world. Generational theory can be used to explain many past, present and future people and events. We can see that our present business leaders and politicians have a different view to Thatcher. For all of Thatcher’s faults one thing that you cannot deny is that she had passion, was a patriot and believed that what she did was for the benefit of the majority and was right, even if some of her actions led to devastation in parts of traditional working class Britain. When she came to power we had just had the Winter of Discontent, three-day working weeks. We were the “sick man of Europe” and we were held in the grip of nationalised industry that constantly and consistently kept going on strike. When Thatcher came to power she went on a crusade to cure the ailing economy. She did it because she thought it was the right thing to do for the long term good of the country. It wasn’t political it was personal, she didn’t particularly take into consideration whether it would win votes or not. It is quite likely that she would have lost the 1983 election if it hadn’t been for the success of the British troops in the Falklands war that made her popularity soar.


Today our politicians have different, but equally massive problems to deal with. The political world is very different with its legions of advisors, spin doctors and opinion polling. Our leading politicians are Baby Boomer/Generation X cuspers. Cuspers are those people born towards the end of a generation or at the beginning of a new generation. These political leaders of today are constantly looking for short-term rewards, they change their minds and policies to suit voters, and they are pragmatic, but cautious and are likely to build coalitions to try and suit everyone. Can you imagine one of these politicians dealing with the Unions of the 80’s today? There is however the huge Elephant in the Room in todays political world…………the ageing population. It is obvious that Society can no longer afford the medical bills, the care costs and the pensions that older people have become accustomed to over the last 50 years. The current proposed changes to retirement age aren’t even keeping pace with the forecasted extended life-spans (we are currently living one extra day for every seven days lived), the recent welfare cuts did not touch health care or pensions. The problem though is that it is the over 55’s that are the voters. They hold the political power and also hold the purse strings. Any politician that alienates this large section of society will be committing political suicide. So don’t expect any change soon, unless of course a war comes along!


Nine key workforce trends for the next decade

Posted on: November 12th, 2010 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

How the next few years will shape the future of the workplace in unprecedented and astounding ways.

I was recently asked to contribute to a discussion about the most important forces that will shape the next decade of work. I think the following nine trends are going to be hugely disruptive, and clever companies will start now to craft their strategies for each of them:

1. More older workers

Especially in the developed world, but increasingly in every market and country we will see people delaying retirement and staying longer in the workforce. This may be because governments change retirement ages, or because those in the private sector just choose to work longer – either way it has the same effect. There will also be more older entrepreneurs. Luckily, they will also be an increasingly important older consumer market too. In 1900, the average length of retirement was 1.2 years. In 1980, it was 13.6 years. In 2010, it is 30+ years. By 2020, it will have reduced again, mainly because older people are not retiring. This will also bring age-related challenges for occupational safety and health, including limitations that come with age. But it might also be true that in developed countries (especially the USA) younger workers will face their own health issues, especially related to obesity.


Why unemployment will rise as the economy recovers in 2010

Posted on: December 17th, 2009 by Graeme Codrington 6 Comments

This is a simple insight, but might help a few people as they think ahead to 2010. At this time of year it is fashionable to make all sorts of predictions for the year ahead – since I am a futurist and make my money by helping people to make sense of the new world of work, I’d better put my money where my mouth is.

I believe that 2010 will see a slow, but consistent economic recovery throughout the world. I would hope that the new UK government would have the guts to cleanse the banking industry, by demanding a full audit and accounting of their liabilities. But I doubt this will happen. Nevertheless it appears that the last of great banking surprises has now come and gone, and that we can start to rebuild. Growth will probably start first in technology, medical and green industries, with a slow growth in construction. But construction has a problem coming as government money that has been brought forward from future years runs out. And that will probably be the biggest factor that inhibits growth and keeps it slow and steady.

One indicator, however, will put some people off and confuse many pundits. Unemployment is likely to rise and keep rising in 2010. Many will take this as a sign that the recovery is not happening. But they would be wrong. This is a simple lesson in knowing what a trend actually tells you.

In most countries, the unemployment figure is actually the number of people who have signed up for unemployment benefits or assistance. In many countries, it is actually the number of people who are actively seeking work. In the midst of a deep recession, as we have experienced over the past year, many people who are actually unemployed don’t bother to register themselves as job seekers. They reason that there’s no point. But as news of a recovery begins to seep through the media, their hopes begin to rise and they sign up as job seekers, hoping to find work.

And that’s why official unemployment figures will probably rise as the economy begins to recover.

It’s not going to be easy to be a strategist next year. 2010 is going to be a wild year. And my guess is that fortune will favour the brave… and the well informed.

TIDES of Change: the five trends disrupting business in the next 5 years

Posted on: December 3rd, 2009 by Graeme Codrington 9 Comments

Updated in May 2010

Download a copy of this article in PDF format – right click here. The contents of this article can be presented as a keynote or a workshop for your team. Contact our UK or South African offices to find out how.

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As the world slowly emerges out of recession over the next few years, it will become increasingly clear that this was more than just an economic downturn. Disruptive forces are significantly reshaping the world of work. Some of these changes have been brewing for a decade or more – and now this recession has exacerbated their influence and speeded up their effects. Companies that have survived the downturn need to shift their focus to surviving the upturn. We are not ever going to “get back to normal” – a new normal is emerging for everyone, everywhere.

The most successful companies will be those that find ways to be strategically responsive. To do this, it is important that everyone – at every level of the organisation – has an understanding of the forces that will be shaping the next decade. Some key trends that were already vaguely evident a few years ago have now been catalysed by the downturn, and will fundamentally change the way we work, the rules of the game and the methods by which companies will gain and retain competitive advantage in their industries. When your people understand this, they can contribute meaningfully to your company’s success. You can develop these insights through regular analysis of your environment and strategic conversations throughout your organisation with all of your people. Their understanding will help them buy into your vision and strategies. And it is also essential for problem solving, creativity, innovation and the proactive identification of opportunities and threats in your industry and marketplace.

There are at least five key drivers of disruptive change that every organisation in every industry and sector needs to track. These are the T.I.D.E.S. of change. (It’s a corny acronym, I know, but hopefully it will help with both remembering the framework, as well as making it easy to use on a regular basis in team meetings and informal conversations throughout your organisation). Here then are the key drivers of disruptive change in the next decade, and some questions to ask yourself and your teams as you plan to respond to them:


The James Martin 21st Century School – understanding the future

Posted on: November 19th, 2009 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I am a huge fan of James Martin. Not the celebrity chef. Nor the inventor of the aircraft ejection seat. Nor any of the other famous James Martins. I am a huge fan of James Martin the futurist and author of one of the best books of all time, “The Meaning of the 21st Century” (see a previous post about the book here).

I recently discovered that a think tank “school” has been created at Oxford university, and named in his honour. It’s the James Martin 21st century school. It seems to be a fantastic institution. You can see an 8 minute video of the Dean of the school, ex-South African, Ian Goldin, speaking recently at TED. Follow the school at Twitter/21school.

The school’s aim is to tackle the toughest challenges of the 21st century, and provide input and resources for the Oxford university community on these issues (see the list below). They aim to formulate new concepts, policies and technologies that will make the future a better place to be. Very nice!


The increasing bankruptcy of 24 hour news media

Posted on: August 20th, 2009 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

I enjoy Jon Stewart’s Daily Show – the satirical news program from the States. Sometimes puerile, sometimes just dumb, but quite often genius, it is an (irreverent) look into US politics, culture and media. This past week, Stewart once again poked fun at the US media giants and the dumbing down of mainstream news media.

If it wasn’t so sad, it would be hysterical. Mainly, it’s just sad that the people we’re supposed to trust to report on what’s happening in our world have descended to these depths.

Watch the video below, or go here if you can’t see it.