Time Travel Audit: Find Success Now and in the Future

You don’t need a DeLorean for time travel. For example, you can visit remote parts of the Amazon River and meet people who live just as they did a thousand years ago, using blow guns and spears as their current technology.

You don’t need a DeLorean for time travel. For example, you can visit remote parts of the Amazon River and meet people who live just as they did a thousand years ago, using blow guns and spears as their current technology.

Even here in the U.S., you can visit Amish towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where people live just as they did merely a hundred years ago, getting their water from a well and using oil lanterns for light. For them, a horse and buggy is their Tesla Model X.

This same kind of time travel also occurs in business. You can time travel at organizations in your hometown that use legacy technology and antiquated techniques. These legacy systems may keep such businesses alive and well in the rapidly vanishing past, but surviving the present will become an impossible task.

Time travel is also possible between divisions within an organization. For example, the engineering department may be equipped with the latest technologies while HR is still using paper files and longhand forms. Today, you can even go from person to person and be time traveling, as some people are so past-oriented that the past is all that matters — to them, and the future is foreboding  … and therefore inferior.

Fortunately, you can also travel to the future. The individuals in your organization who buy the latest gadgets with their own money in order to experiment with and learn from them are already living in the future.

Some organizations are more future-oriented than others, even in same or related industries. For example, the manufacturing industry has moved into Industry 4.0, while its construction counterpart has been slower to adapt and change. And some leaders in every industry — Apple being the most notable — roll out products and services consumers never knew they wanted, yet find to be indispensable once they have them in hand.

This mindset is what I discuss in my best-selling book The Anticipatory Organization. By paying attention to Hard Trends that will happen, savvy organizations like Apple are able to become more anticipatory and to turn disruption and change into opportunity and advantage.

If you are ready to become an Anticipatory Leader at your organization and help lead it into the future, consider taking these three steps:

  1.   Do a time travel audit of yourself and your colleagues. Where in time do you and your colleagues live? Who is future-oriented, present-oriented, or past-oriented —  and how are those outlooks serving the company? Remember, while you can look at the past and learn from it, it should not hold you back. Your windshield is larger than your rearview mirror for a reason. To drive safely, you need to keep your eyes focused on the big picture in front of you and only occasionally look back. 
  2.   Turn past thinkers into Anticipatory Leaders. Some people in your organization may be past-oriented and dread the future — but their experience and wisdom are still incredibly valuable. You can either choose to let such people go, and lose the valuable assets they possess, or turn them into Anticipatory Leaders by placing them in roles that suit their personalities. Encourage them to enrich their perspectives by asking them what they believe is vital for the organization to keep as it moves forward in order to thrive. This question forces them to consider both the core capabilities that got the company to where it is today and the Hard Trends that are shaping the future of the industry. Overall, this approach positions your past thinkers strategically based on what they like doing and helps them become more anticipatory. 
  3.   Relate to others at their point in time. Do a time travel audit on the people you interact with. If you have a new product or service that is future-oriented, but are talking to someone who is past-oriented, leading with your future perspective will frighten him or her. You can’t force individuals into the future; you must transition them into the future. Relate to their position in the past; acknowledge why they are comforted by where they are, the technologies they use, and the principles they’re working under. Help them understand the Hard Trends that are the undeniable truths about the future, and in this way walk them slowly into that future instead of trying to shove them into it. Remember that many people are naturally timid about stepping out of their comfort zone, so be careful not to place blame. You’ll be more likely to succeed if you can help them see that change is the only constant and that we all must adapt in order to thrive.

The Future Is Yours

Years ago, it was possible to have a past or present mindset and still do quite well, because the pace of change was relatively slow. But now, technology is moving at the speed of light, transforming everything we’ve come to know. As an Anticipatory Leader, you must migrate your people and your organization to become anticipatory as well. Remember, time doesn’t move in reverse; it is always moving forward. Help everyone in your organization to see the future, embrace it, and thrive in it to ensure long-term success.

Think about the actions you can take today to personally or professionally move toward the future. Read more about performing Time Travel Audits to Elevate Communications in my latest book The Anticipatory Organization

Positive Disruption using Hard Trends and Soft Trends

Strategies based on uncertainty come with high levels of risk, but strategies based on certainty dramatically reduce risk and produce superior results. This is the difference between Soft Trends and Hard Trends.

If you don’t like a Hard Trend, there isn’t a way for you to change it. However, if you don’t like a Soft Trend, you can easily change it to your advantage. I’ve discussed the three digital accelerators responsible for today’s rate of exponential change, transforming every business process in a short amount of time. This is a Hard Trend, while a Soft Trend would be whether you will transform your business processes.

Knowing where to find certainty makes the future more visible. For example, let’s say you want to start a smart watch company. The smart watch business is already filled with competition; however, by using Hard Trends, you can stack the deck in your favor.

Using the certainty provided by demographics, you can create a successful watch business based on the demographic Hard Trend of aging baby boomers and their parents. Simply design a watch for people who are 70 and older — and keep in mind the fact that it will likely be their children who buy it in an effort to keep their parents healthy and safe.

You could design the watch with sensors to detect blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, pulse, temperature and much more. If the wearer falls, the accelerometer in the watch will activate an alarm and send a text message to his or her caregivers. The watch’s GPS and digital assistant will help a wearer with Alzheimer’s get home — and, more importantly, make it possible for caregivers to find him or her from anywhere.

By using the certainty of Hard Trends, you can see new opportunities to create winning products in industries that may already seem saturated.

Next, let’s look at an example of a technological Hard Trend using speed and bandwidth to grow sales. Domino’s Pizza is using a voice-activated personal assistant to increase the speed and efficiency of ordering pizzas. The app even has a “pizza tracker” that allows you to follow the process of your pizza, from creation to delivery. They’ve taken this technological Hard Trend a step further and have created a partnership with Ford Motor Company, making it possible for you to order your pizzas directly from your Ford! With these simple steps, Domino’s has gone from being just a food company to a technology company.

Today, it seems I hear more and more people complaining about government regulations. But what these individuals are missing is that these same governmental regulations are actually Hard Trends that offer visible opportunities. Take the case of the state of California’s requiring nonfiction reading for first through third graders, with a two-year window to comply. I recently met a savvy entrepreneur who capitalized on this new law. She contacted the largest school districts in the state to see if they were interested in getting help meeting this reading requirement. The districts were very interested, which made it easy for her to secure outside funding to develop and supply the online reading products schools need to comply with the new state law.

This entrepreneur took the Hard Trend of a seemingly impossible-to-navigate governmental regulation burdening teachers and administrators and created a new business opportunity out of it. In part thanks to having guaranteed sales by partnering with the large school districts, she cornered the market and successfully developed and supplied the online reading products by the required deadline.

Remember, strategy based on certainty has low risk and high reward. Base your strategies on certainty, on the known future ( the Hard Trends), as well as on the Soft Trends you can manipulate, and you will build something that will not only survive but even thrive in the years ahead.

Merely hoping that disruption is not on your horizon is not a strategy; it is avoidance. Paying attention to a certainty is a strategy. If you don’t make this perspective shift today, it will be far more difficult to lead from behind tomorrow. As dizzying as the pace of change has been these past few years, that pace will only increase.

It’s not uncommon to limit yourself by focusing on all the things you don’t know and all the things you can’t do.

Instead, create the habit of starting with a list of all the things you do know and all the things you can do! Every time you run into something you aren’t certain about, focus harder on the certainties involved.

Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization. 

Apollo 11 Moon Landing – Doing the Impossible

Several years ago, I was speaking in Jordan at a leadership summit when I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Armstrong. Of all the people I’ve met, I must admit that this meeting was the one I was most looking forward to. Given that fact and Mr. Armstrong’s incredible legacy, myself and millions, if not billions, of others around the world were saddened by his passing. In his memory, and in lieu of the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 moon landing, I wanted to share a story he shared that I believe has a profound message for our time.

As I travel around the world as a strategic advisor and keynote speaker, I have the privilege of meeting many amazing people, including presidents, prime ministers, and Fortune 500 CEOs, just to name a few.

Several years ago, I was speaking in Jordan at a leadership summit when I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Armstrong. Of all the people I’ve met, I must admit that this meeting was the one I was most looking forward to. Given that fact and Mr. Armstrong’s incredible legacy, myself and millions, if not billions, of others around the world were saddened by his passing. In his memory, and in lieu of the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 moon landing, I wanted to share a story he shared that I believe has a profound message for our time.

Impossible Roadblocks

He said that in the years of research, innovation, and testing that led up to his first footsteps on the moon, there were many times that NASA engineers and scientists would reach an impossible roadblock. During these times, they would say, “We will have to halt the mission. There is no scientific solution to this problem.” Or, “We have tried everything imaginable to solve this problem, and we can’t solve it.”

He went on to say that every time NASA’s best thinkers and scientists reached an impossible roadblock, they were told, “We are going to the moon.” And every time, they would look at each other and say, “OK, got it,” and then they would try again and again. Soon, they would have a solution that worked. He said this happened many times, and each time, the impossible turned out to be possible once they were reminded of the impossible mission they were on.

Your Biggest Problem

This concept is a variation of my strategy of taking a problem and skipping it. Take into consideration your organization’s biggest problem, and you will come to realize that it is likely not the real problem; it is merely a roadblock, much like NASA’s several roadblocks on its way to the moon.

In your organization, “going to the moon” is likely a metaphor for accomplishing something that no other organization has accomplished before. Perhaps your organization is implementing my Hard Trend Methodology, through which you pay close attention to the Hard Trends shaping your industry and pre-solve your customers’ problems with a new product or service they never knew they needed. From an outsider’s perspective, that new product or service initially sounds outlandish; however, the organization acted in an anticipatory manner in realizing what a customer needed before it existed.

NASA going to the moon, solving problems to get to the moon, and piloting our country far ahead in the space race was NASA anticipating. Having a compelling vision for where you want to go or what you want to do—something that is bigger than any one person, something that might even seem impossible—is the kind of vision that can cause people to want to do more, want to reach higher, and want to keep trying.

Remember, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not stand up in front of all those people in Washington, DC, and say, “I have a plan.” Rather, he said, “I have a dream.” And his dream was not to get elected or make vast sums of money. His dream was to better mankind. Putting a man on the moon was similar. It was a dream we could all share—a vision that would not have us question the cost—so we did it.

When Neil Armstrong was about to take that first step off the ladder and onto the moon’s surface, he did not say, “One small step for a NASA astronaut, one giant leap for the United States.” He knew that going to the moon was a human achievement for all of humankind.

Whether you are the leader of a country, a company, a business, or a school, when you find yourself faced with something that seems impossible, remember how we put a man on the moon—by keeping a dream, an articulated vision of what we want to do, as a picture in our mind’s eye. You can take your organization’s biggest problem and simply skip it, propelling the organization to new heights and accomplishing things for the greater good of humankind. Human history has taught us that nothing is impossible when we have a big dream that can be converted into a shared vision.

Learn more with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization– get your copy here.

The Dangers of Legacy Thinking

Every successful company and organization inevitably must confront a powerful question:

Is what got us to where we are helping us move forward or holding us back? Your company or organization may be thriving, but is this record of success sustainable and can you keep going?

Every successful company and organization inevitably must confront a powerful question:

Is what got us to where we are helping us move forward or holding us back? Your company or organization may be thriving, but is this record of success sustainable and can you keep going?

Maybe you’re noticing kinks in your armor or a drop-off in your sales. You’re thinking and acting as usual, but something is misfiring.

This is what I refer to as “legacy thinking.” If left unchecked, legacy thinking can pose enormous obstacles to your continued success—or worse.

Legacy Technology—Dangerous but Also Diverting      

Legacy thinking has a better-known cousin—legacy technology. The issue of legacy technology is old news—in more ways than one.

As you probably know, legacy technology refers to old forms of technology that are simply no longer optimal. This includes everything from software, operating systems or almost any technology once groundbreaking but now well past its prime.

The issues reach beyond outdated technology. Trying to get by with legacy technology can be very expensive, from the cost of operating the systems themselves to paying people to make certain nothing goes wrong, an inevitability. For example, Delta Airlines’ entire fleet in the United States was temporarily grounded because of computer problems—the second shutdown over a period of six months also shutting down the carrier’s website and mobile apps.

A more serious example occurred last year when the British bank Tesco shut down online banking after 40,000 accounts were compromised.

Those major headaches do not mean legacy technology is a problem in and of itself—it can cause a dangerous comfort in legacy thinking.

Legacy Thinking Defined

Like legacy technology, legacy thinking refers to thinking, strategies and other actions that are outdated and no longer serve you to the extent that they once had. This can be problematic if legacy thinking accounted for much of the success you’ve been able to achieve.

Many organizations can point to business principles, strategies and other ways of thinking that underscored success. One example is agility—the ability to respond quickly to changing events and market conditions. Reacting as quickly as possible helped many organizations climb to the top of their industries. Being agile, both internally and externally, seemed like a bulletproof way to approach things.

However, we are now in a period of transformational change. Whether products, services or the marketplace, change is not slowing down, which means legacy technology is becoming outdated faster as well.            

The same is occurring with legacy thinking. As the rate of change increases, even the most agile of organizations will be hard-pressed to keep up—let alone leap ahead with new ideas and innovations—and agility will likely prove to be less effective.

Take that reasoning and apply it to other forms of thinking and strategies that may have served you well in the past. Are they moving you forward or holding you back? If they’re more a hindrance, that’s legacy thinking. 

Legacy Thinking—Changing Your Thinking Changes Your Results

The first thing to understand about legacy thinking is that it isn’t necessarily all bad. Overcoming legacy thinking doesn’t mandate erasing every strategy, idea or leadership concept you ever used in the past. Instead, identify those ideas and strategies that continue to serve you well while pinpointing others that may have worn out their value.

Agility in and of itself is not something to be completely discarded. There will always be fires and other immediate issues that warrant an agile response. However, it’s no longer the silver bullet it once was.

Consider other forms of legacy thinking. For instance, maybe you or some others in your organization are hesitant to embrace new technology critical to your future growth and success. I saw this firsthand when I worked with a major retail organization. Many key figures on the leadership team didn’t embrace the company’s commitment to technology and other elements of the future. Mobile apps, internet shopping and other innovations made the company’s future seem bleak.

To remedy the situation, management made lateral moves with some individuals so their attitude wouldn’t hinder the company’s vision, while others were tasked with identifying strategies, ideas and tools that would serve the company’s progress well. The result was twofold—not only did the company effectively separate elements of harmful legacy thinking from their workflow, but those once-hesitant executives saw firsthand how powerful those tools and ideas could be. They were walked into the future—and they liked what they saw.

The next time you’re considering the dangers of legacy technology, include the pitfalls of legacy thinking. Just as old software shut down an entire airline, legacy thinking can cripple your organization. Don’t forget that there’s always the opportunity for an upgrade in the way you think and act.

Redefine and Reinvent Your Career Before It Leaves You Behind

Going forward, the one and only thing you can depend on is transformation. Technology-driven business process transformation is a Hard Trend; it will happen, and it is happening now! However, the truth of the matter is that actually utilizing this Hard Trend to redefine and reinvent your business or your career is a Soft Trend; some will do it and prosper, others will not. For those who want to use the forces of change and transformation to grow and prosper, this article is for you.

We are no longer in a period of rapid change. We have now entered an amazing inflection point where true transformation happens. For example, we changed how we listened to music and catalogued our media when we went from CDs and floppy discs to all our smartphones holding music, photos, files, email and access to information. Technological change transformed our processes in these industries.

Going forward, the one and only thing you can depend on is transformation. Technology-driven business process transformation is a Hard Trend; it will happen, and it is happening now! However, the truth of the matter is that actually utilizing this Hard Trend to redefine and reinvent your business or your career is a Soft Trend; some will do it and prosper, others will not. For those who want to use the forces of change and transformation to grow and prosper, this article is for you. It is crucial to understand that you can’t go backward, and you can’t stand still. You can’t keep doing what you’ve always done and expect to thrive, even if you are improving at that rhetorical process. The only way to survive and thrive is to continuously reinvent and redefine everything you are doing.

Redefining and Reinventing

Transformation is an accelerated and magnified force of change. Redefining and reinventing is a way of harnessing that wild force and applying it to a product, a service, an industry, or a career. Redefining and reinventing mean seizing the opportunity to rewrite your own history—before digital disruption does it for you.

Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich reinvented an entire marketplace back in 1983 when they redefined the family station wagon with an entirely new automotive category—the minivan—that would continue to dominate for the next quarter century. At the time, station wagon sales were not growing, even though baby boomers were in their prime childbearing years and the nation was bursting with new families. Why? Because even though baby boomers needed a set of wheels with substantial family room, they did not want to look and act just like their parents.

A Powerful Strategy

Fast forward to more recent times. Basic minivans are not as cool to the next generations having families, as Generation X and millennials grew up riding in their parents’ minivans, and history tends to repeat itself: they do not want to look and act just like their parents, either! Now automotive companies produce what is called the crossover—sporty alternatives to minivans capable of safely and conveniently hauling both families and large purchases from the store. As it was a stroke of flash foresight with baby boomers, it occurred yet again, based on the Hard Trend of Generation X, millennials, and their needs (along with the eternal insight that people don’t want to look or act like their parents).

Reinventing has always been a powerful strategy. But in the past, corporate and product reinvention was an option; today it is an imperative. Today, we live in a unique context, where an absurd amount of processing power and bandwidth exists and has completely transformed our concept of stability. In the past, stability and change were two contrasting states: when you achieved stability, you did so despite change. Today change itself has become an integral part of stability. You can achieve stability only by embracing change as a continuous and permanent state.

But even change itself has changed. Information and new knowledge now travel around the world at the speed of light while technological innovation occurs almost as fast as the speed of thought. In this new frontier of vertical change, you cannot just reinvent now and then: to survive and thrive you must be redefining and reinventing yourself, your business, and your career continuously.

If you are a business, you are faced with an urgent question every day: Are your customers learning and changing faster than you are? Because they are changing and learning fast—and if you are not already designing and providing the solutions to the problem they are going to have next week and next year, you are already behind the curve. This truth spans industries and size, no matter if you are an individual, a small business, or a multinational corporation.

The question is whether we will become more anticipatory by paying close attention to the Hard Trends shaping our industries, or wait until we are inevitably disrupted by technology-driven change. Apple, Google, and Amazon are good examples of Anticipatory Organizations, and the results speak for themselves. Will you join them?

Eager for more insights? Find them in my new book,The Anticipatory Organization, now available for the price of shipping.

Future Insight: Changing the World with an Anticipatory Mindset

We are at a unique point in human history, marked by accelerating global change and enhanced by technological advances. We are always doing the impossible. Agile organizations learned how to change rapidly, but with change accelerating, we must go beyond agility and learn to anticipate disruptive problems before they happen.

We are at a unique point in human history, marked by accelerating global change and enhanced by technological advances. We are always doing the impossible. Agile organizations learned how to change rapidly, but with change accelerating, we must go beyond agility and learn to anticipate disruptive problems before they happen.

A New Incentive

With over 500 known cycles that repeat, such as biological cycles, celestial cycles and business cycles, and predictable linear changes, such as the retirement of aging Baby Boomers, there is a way to anticipate many of the problems we will have and pre-solve them before they happen. The good news is that there is a growing global supply of young, anticipatory minds paying attention to the Hard Trends with an interest in changing the world, now with a new incentive for them to anticipate ways to shape the future positively.

In celebrating its 350th anniversary in 2018, Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany, pioneered the Future Insight Prize to stimulate groundbreaking science and innovative technologies for the benefit of humanity. With a targeted 1,000,000-euro grant, the inaugural Future Insight Prize winner of 2019 will be announced in July, marking the first of many prize winners over the next 35 years that both stimulate and honor achievements in science and technology key for humanity, namely health, nutrition and energy.

The Pandemic Protector

The 2019 prize will be allocated in the field of pandemic preparedness, for work in anticipating a later realization of the visionary dream product coined as the “Pandemic Protector.” This breakthrough product begins with a clinical sample of a person infected with an unknown pathogen and produces an agent for cure or to prevent infection of others within a short, clinically relevant time frame. Researchers and entrepreneurs know we must anticipate, pre-solve and change in new, innovative ways in order to stay ahead of this problem.

First announced at Curious 2018, the first Future Insight conference, the event had more than 60 speakers, including six Nobel laureates, and was attended by more than 1,300 leaders from academic and corporate environments from all over the world. This announcement drew in more than 70 top scientists to the Future Insight Prize jury, collaborating to select the first year’s prize winner.

With antimicrobial resistance threatening the effective prevention and treatment of an always-transforming range of infections, this research is imperative for 2020 because the CDC estimates that in the United States alone, over two million people are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23,000 deaths as a result. Worldwide, there is evidence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause common and treatable infections, such as pneumonia.

The 2020 dream product is likely to build upon the 2019 “Pandemic Protector,” as innovators are already working to develop a series of novel, narrow-spectrum antibacterial agents capable of curing any bacterial infection without induction of drug resistance.

In yet another cumulative way, 2021’s prize is on the topic of dramatic population increase and how to sustain such an increase with innovative ways to produce food while avoiding compromising the integrity of our planet. Given the fact that the population is likely to hit 9.1 billion by 2050, overall food production must increase by 70% between 2005 and 2050.

The prize topics extend as far as 2022, which pertains to renewable sources of energy as to slow and ultimately cease the constant consumption of our natural resources for fuel. In conjunction with this concept, researchers hope to avidly avoid altering our atmosphere’s CO2, which will require us to utilize the sun in new and innovative ways.

Future Insight Prize

It is an honor for Burrus Research to partner with Merck to expand and advance the Future Insight Prize as a mainstream example of anticipatory innovation applied to the greater good of the human race. Professors and scholars of Harvard University, Princeton and many more Ivy League institutions are joining in to get as many innovative minds as possible focusing on pre-solving the world’s greatest challenges in the future sustainability of our planet by way of continuing research laying important foundations for the four published dream products as discussed here.

Change comes from the outside in, forcing us to react and manage crises. Transformation, on the other hand, whether it is business or personal, always comes from the inside out, and that gives us far more positive control while allowing us to actively shape the future. The Future Insight Prize is a perfect example of a company utilizing their available resources to anticipate and pre-solve global problems before they happen as they positively shape the future, not only for themselves, but for the future of humankind. I believe it is imperative that attention be brought to this incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators alike.

The Curious 2020 Future Insight Conference, will take place July 13 -15, 2020 in Darmstadt, Germany, The Conference will run with plenary sessions followed by three parallel work streams with attendance from all over the world.

Dematerialization—A Pathway for Innovation

The ability to make products and features smaller is called dematerialization. Dematerialization is a key strategy for innovation and improving what we utilize in business and society.

The ability to make products and features smaller is called dematerialization. Dematerialization is a key strategy for innovation and improving what we utilize in business and society.

Technology is ever-changing and constantly improving. The ability to reduce the amount of material it takes to build the physical things that accomplish digital tasks is revolutionary and, likewise, growing as fast as the industries they serve a purpose in.

A Perfect Dematerialization Example

Wearable technology—which in recent years has increased in speed and memory while becoming one of the smallest computer devices in our lives—is a perfect example of how quickly dematerialization has improved modern technology. Smart watches, among other wearable digital devices, are the current example of how computers have shrunk and ultimately become more integrated in our lives because of how easily they can be worn and ignored until needed. They are lighter, more portable, more economical (in terms of the materials it takes to produce them), and softer in environmental impact.

Prior to the abundance of wearable technology, tablets and smartphones slowly put laptops and desktop computers to shame, as even the most portable laptops used to be several inches thick and weigh six or seven pounds. The market for a smaller, streamlined personal computing device brought us the iPad and the Microsoft Surface; however, today, wearable devices use a fraction of the material and accomplish far more than their ancestors—and cost far less. Plus, your main personal computer—the computer you use the most—had become your smartphone, which was something portable, multipurpose, and a device that supplied you with far more beneficial features than any computer you have used in the past.

Transformation

 A different example associated with wearable technology and smart devices is the progression of recorded music. Decades ago, record players and in-home audio systems were the only means to listen to recorded music. Eventually, car radios came along, where you could hear music while you travel. Soon after, the emergence of cassette tapes and compact discs brought the creation of portable CD and tape players, and the early ‘90s saw the dematerialization of bulky sound systems down to mini-boomboxes to bring outside while you played basketball.

Steve Jobs and the iPod yet again revolutionized and dematerialized recorded music players by allowing you to have thousands of songs in your pocket, though even those were clunky when they emerged. As streaming services displaced CD sales, smartphones and wireless headphones yet again made listening to music at the gym or on a bicycle ride even simpler, though you’d often have to strap the smartphone to your bicep. Finally, wearable technology now allows the same streaming technology paired with wireless headphones, making listening to music anywhere while doing nearly anything completely possible.

Whatever your company has, you can make it smaller—that is, if you want to. On the other hand, we don’t necessarily want to make everything smaller, and dematerialization doesn’t necessarily mean miniaturization. For example, we have the capacity to make our cars much, much smaller, but we may not necessarily want that for all models. Smart cars and some fully electric vehicles can benefit; however, a Ford F250 becoming the size of a Chevy Volt will take away from the hauling capabilities.

So how do you make something lighter without shrinking it completely? Dematerialize components of it, as seen in the newer models of Ford’s GT500. Its components have been dematerialized and are now lighter, making it faster than the Dodge Demon in a quarter mile, while not needing as heavy of an engine. Same size car, faster than ever before.

Ask yourself, “What would we want to make smaller? What would add value by making it smaller?” Take a look at just about everything you have related to your products and your services, and always consider the pros and cons of what you can dematerialize.

Learn about the Eight Hard Trend Pathways to Innovation and how you can identify and develop game-changing opportunities in my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Learning to Master the Art of Your Career

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living — whether you work in medicine or retail, law or construction, software engineering or writing — there’s an art and science to every career. Each profession has its scientific aspects, those more mechanical facets, rules, and methods you must know to succeed. Yet no matter how dry, straightforward, or technical, these professions also have creative qualities that foster critical thinking.

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living — whether you work in medicine or retail, law or construction, software engineering or writing — there’s an art and science to every career. Each profession has its scientific aspects, those more mechanical facets, rules, and methods you must know to succeed. Yet no matter how dry, straightforward, or technical, these professions also have creative qualities that foster critical thinking.

This dichotomy is the reason no two professionals within the same industry are identical. These people may work within their careers for the same amount of time, possibly went to similar schools, or perhaps have the same position at the same company. However, they differentiate themselves in the ways they apply creativity and critical thinking to their jobs.

This idea impacts our personal lives as well. Consider medical professionals with the same specialty. If all dentists were the same by virtue of having identical skill sets and nothing more, you would have no preference for whom you go to for a root canal. But this isn’t the case; you prefer your dentist over one you have never been to due to their individual touch.

A real-world example occurred with one of my brothers, as some years back he struggled with pain in his legs. He visited three different orthopedic surgeons, all with identical skill sets and backgrounds. The doctors examined my brother. One suggested invasive surgery and the second proposed a more exploratory surgery. Both of these were unfavorable options. It wasn’t until we saw the third orthopedic surgeon that creative critical thinking took place. The doctor took one look at him and asked if he always wore his leather belt around his hips in the same place. When my brother answered in the affirmative, the doctor recommended he switch belts, replacing his leather one with a softer, more elastic material. With this change, his ailments were cured within a week.

All three doctors had the same impressive credentials and experience in the science behind their specialties; however, the third doctor utilized creative critical thinking to problem-solve.

Whether you’re training or in any level of schooling for a career, the “science” of that field is where the education lies. You’re receiving a hard, factual, standardized education, based on data and a proven methodology. Likewise, whether it’s accounting or food service, you’re also being schooled in the best practices of your industry.

Even in the creative fields, you still learn both the science and the art of your craft in order to find professional success in it. Writers must learn grammatical and syntactical convention, but they also have to learn how to write something everyone must read. Musicians need to learn scales, notation, and instrumental technique, but they also need to learn how to touch the hearts and souls of listeners to achieve musical greatness.

So where does the “art” come into these fields?

Artistic aspects of a career are picked up by professionals through years of experience and another, more flexible, less standardized type of “education,” one of induction. The first method of becoming more creative within your career through personal and professional experience is somewhat obvious — the longer you do something, you’ll become better at problem solving and thinking “outside the box.”

The second method, the nonstandard educational method of developing intuitive insights coupled with creativity, involves gleaning the best-kept secrets and most well-honed, time-honored methods, the knowledge and wisdom of your profession from other professionals. These should be people who’ve already distinguished themselves through their own creativity. You might seek these people out, like a musician choosing to take lessons from one of his favorite players, or an entrepreneur asking the advice of someone who’s already established herself as a success in business. You might also stumble into these people during the course of your life, like having a captivating, inspirational professor or being trained by a capable manager who knows the secrets to making your job fun and interesting.

You can learn the science of your job from books, manuals, and classroom lessons and know that you will be good at what you do — but you need to learn the art from the artists of your field to become exceptional. This knowledge and wisdom transfer is key not only to success, but to a rewarding career as well. Not only does it provide professionals an essential balance of skills, it’s what keeps industries thriving and innovative. It’s what pushes us to compete with others by bettering ourselves and, in doing so, to push our very professions forward.

Pick up a copy of my latest best selling book The Anticipatory Organization to help shape your future and accelerate your success.

Bitcoin’s Highs and Lows: Where to Next?

Since the critical acclaim of Bitcoin and digital currencies in 2017, there has been a lot of talk about its future. Bitcoin was the first digital currency to attract mainstream attention, and after that, 2018 was less than glamorous, with the price plummeting. Are cryptocurrencies a thing of the past already, or a Hard Trend of the future?

Since the critical acclaim of Bitcoin and digital currencies in 2017, there has been a lot of talk about its future. Bitcoin was the first digital currency to attract mainstream attention, and after that, 2018 was less than glamorous, with the price plummeting.

Are cryptocurrencies a thing of the past already, or a Hard Trend of the future?

A Bitcoin Overview

Cryptocurrency uses peer-to-peer technology, similar to the file-sharing technology of the early 2000s. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, it being virtual and decentralized. This means no one is in charge of it and it isn’t backed by the government. Bitcoin’s value is protected only by a distributed network that maintains its ledgers and protects its transactions by means of cryptography.

The concept behind Bitcoin first emerged in 2009 by an anonymous programmer (or programmers) using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. A single Bitcoin is today valued at $8,204, while the market cap is now at $145.66 billion.

Every Bitcoin is connected to an address and every Bitcoin is sent or received by a digital wallet attached to the address. Names aren’t associated with the transactions, creating a system that is wholly transparent while remaining functionally anonymous.

Bitcoin: A Soft Trend?

What exactly can you do with Bitcoins? It’s digital currency, so saving or spending them seems to be the immediate answer. However, in order to spend them, individuals and, more importantly, businesses must accept your Bitcoins. While a growing number of businesses accept Bitcoin, such as Overstock.com, most popular merchants and service providers including Amazon do not.

Let’s first discuss my Hard Trend Methodology and the differences between Hard Trends and Soft Trends to assess Bitcoin’s longevity.

A Hard Trend is a trend that will happen and is based on measurable, tangible, and fully predictable facts, events, or objects. They are future facts that cannot be changed.

A Soft Trend is a trend that might happen and is based on an assumption that looks valid in the present, and it may be likely to happen, but it is not a future fact. Soft Trends can be changed.

While Bitcoin itself grew in popularity, its future success is still a Soft Trend. During 2017, Bitcoin was treated by many as more of an investment than actual currency and likewise faced backlash when it was used for illegal online transactions.

However, the concept of cryptocurrencies is a Hard Trend, and here’s why:

Cryptocurrency: A Hard Trend

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay, including the underlying technology (blockchain) that enables them to function. Cryptocurrency, as well as blockchain, represents a radically new idea in finance: a decentralized system for exchanging value. Due to its open-source nature and its copyright-free core program, there will always be room for improvement. Programmers around the world have already developed military-grade encryptions and new ways to trade, thus stabilizing the prices.

Cryptocurrencies exist as mere entries in a blockchain-enabled accounting system. That system acts as a transparent public ledger that records transactions among “addresses.” Owning cryptocurrency isn’t analogous to having paper money in your pocket. Instead, it means a personal claim to an address, with your own password, and the right to do with it as you see fit. Over time, this will increasingly disrupt traditional models and global currencies, playing a role in a number of future digital transformations.

The Future of Currency: Digital Payments

Imagine you want new shoes, and your favorite shoe store accepts some form of cryptocurrency. If you don’t already possess cryptocurrency, you purchase some from a crypto-currency kiosk or an online exchange and assign it to your online account, known as a “wallet.”

When paying for your new shoes, you open your “digital wallet,” which is unlocked with passwords and/or biometrics, and the currency network is publicly informed that you’ve transferred $100 worth of cryptocurrency to the store. This happens fast, and there are almost no fees and no personal information divulged. Compare this with the slow debit or credit card counterpart, often with a third party involved. The benefits become more clear.

Other Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin was the first digital currency, but not the last. A large number of cryptocurrencies now exist, and the list is expanding. Litecoin, for example, was launched back in 2011 on the same blockchain as Bitcoin and was meant to improve it. Ethereum was created in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin and is a blockchain-based platform that can be used for developing decentralized apps and smart contracts. The list of cryptocurrencies is actually quite large and, as I said earlier, growing. And the enabling technology, blockchain, is being applied to a rapidly growing number of industries creating both disruption and new opportunities.

In Conclusion

Bitcoin versus the technology category of cryptocurrency gives us a clear example of the difference between Soft Trends and Hard Trends. Cryptocurrencies will continue to evolve and integrate into our economy and everyday life, as will the enabling blockchain technology, making cryptocurrency a Hard Trend, while the future success of individual cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is a Soft Trend: It may or may not have a bright future. When you’re able to distinguish between the Soft Trends that might happen and the Hard Trends that will happen, you will dramatically improve your ability to understand and manage risk as you become more anticipatory.

Learn how to accurately manage risk with my latest bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization.

Beyond Bitcoin: The Future of Blockchain Technology

Unlike bitcoins, blockchain development has showed no signs of slowing down and represents a Hard Trend that will continue to grow. The rapidly evolving technology of blockchain holds enormous promise for game-changing disruption across any number of industries and fields.

Bitcoins were introduced in 2009 to great fanfare. Although there had been predecessors, Bitcoins were framed as the first form of cyber currency.

Shortly after Bitcoins were introduced, I labeled them a Soft Trend—one whose future was looking good, but not a future certainty. I also labeled cyber currency a Hard Trend that would continue to grow, predicting that there would be many more cyber currencies.

Since then, I’ve seen no need to change either designation, as there are now more than 100 different cyber currencies. At the same time, as Bitcoins struggled to gain widespread use, blockchain—the technology Bitcoin transactions are handled with—were growing.

Unlike bitcoins, blockchain development has showed no signs of slowing down and represents a Hard Trend that will continue to grow. The rapidly evolving technology of blockchain holds enormous promise for game-changing disruption across any number of industries and fields.

O’Reilly Media presciently noted in early 2015: “The blockchain is the new database—get ready to rewrite everything.”

Blockchain Explained—Security in Numbers

A blockchain is a system of decentralized transaction records. This means a transaction is created without any input from a controlling entity. A blockchain also employs cryptography to keep exchanges secure, incorporating a decentralized database, or “digital ledger,” of transactions that everyone on the network can see. This network is a chain of computers, needing exchange approval before it can be verified and recorded.

The Game-Changing Opportunity in Financial Transactions

Roughly $20 billion in gross domestic product is currently held in blockchain form, according to a study by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. However, projections show blockchain use will increase significantly in the next decade as banks, insurers and technology firms embrace the technology to boost transaction speed and security, and trim expenses. This is already taking place, for example, with Swiss banking giant UBS and banks such as HSBC, Santander and BBVA, which launched corporate venture funds to make equity investments in financial technology companies.

More Than Just Money

The future of blockchain is exciting. Outside of its use solely in financial transaction applications, it can transform several other industries. Other examples include:

  •      Data Storage—Current storage services using cloud technology are centralized around a single provider. A blockchain lets users store data and information via a decentralized platform, improving security and lessening reliance on any one provider.
  •      Voting—A blockchain voting network is inherently more reliable than paper or electronic ballots, since changing one vote would require changing multiple votes simultaneously. A blockchain voting network has already been used—Denmark’s Liberal Alliance employed a blockchain for internal voting back in 2014.
  •      Military Use—The U.S. Department of Defense and NATO are actively investigating the use of blockchain. Among other applications, they’re interested in messaging platforms capable of transferring information by way of a secure decentralized protocol.
  •      The War on Terrorism—In May 2015, the Isle of Man implemented the first government-run blockchain project, leveraging it to create a registry of digital-currency companies operating on the island. The system also counters money laundering, helping prevent terrorist financing since the flow of money can be traced specifically to the source of the transaction.
  •      “Smart” Contracts—The idea behind a smart contract is that it self-manages the fulfillment of the agreement and is verified programmatically via the blockchain instead of a third party. Two or more parties agree on terms, program those terms into the blockchain, and allow for payments and other transactions once those terms are fulfilled and validated by the blockchain.
  •      Regulation—Because a blockchain cannot be changed without a majority of participants agreeing to do so, the underlying technology might be used in place of a variety of regulations, such as those mandated by Know Your Customer (KYC).
  •      Identity Management—Labeled the first comprehensive blockchain-based identity service, Onename allows users to create tamper-proof digital identities for themselves called Passcards that replace conventional usernames and passwords.
  •      The Music Industry—In October 2015, Ujo Music unveiled a working example of how blockchain-based technology would allow consumers to purchase registered works directly. We can also pre-solve the problem of legalities, where artists publish policies on how their music may be used to avoid legal action against misuse.

More Reasons for Excitement

Blockchain use is largely restricted to private forms of transactions, but when looked at in an anticipatory way of thinking, blockchain could be used for anything that requires proof of identification, the exchange of goods or verification of contract terms.

One executive involved in the development of blockchain summarized its potential in a framework we can all appreciate: “‘Check it on the blockchain’ will be the phrase of the twenty-first century. It will be as commonplace as people saying ‘Google that.’”

When it comes to blockchain, get ready to rewrite everything.

The Risks of Sticking with Legacy Technology

Legacy technology is like that old pair of jeans you wore as a teenager. “They are comfortable” was always your answer to any inquiry.

Legacy technology is like that old pair of jeans you wore as a teenager. “They are comfortable” was always your answer to any inquiry.

Move that anecdote onto a larger stage and you have a fairly accurate picture of why many organizations hold on to legacy technology—tools that are long outdated: comfort.

In a world of exponential change, legacy technology is trouble. Continuing to use outdated technology of all sorts is costly beyond the financial spectrum.

Legacy Technology Defined

A definition of legacy technology describes the term as “an old method, technology, computer system or application program, of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system.”

This particular definition frames legacy technology in a negative light. There’s no getting around the fact that legacy technology is pervasive.  

In more recent news, several organizations have experienced setbacks from legacy technology:

  • Last year, Data Breaches compromised 15.1M patient records with 503 incidents.
  • In late 2016, British bank Tesco shut down online banking in early November after 40,000 accounts were compromised, half by hackers for fraudulent purposes. Andrew Tschonev, technical specialist at security firm Darktrace, stated: “With attackers targeting everyone and anyone, today’s businesses cannot safely assume that it won’t happen to them.”
  • In July 2016, Southwest Airlines canceled 2,300 flights when a router failed, delaying hundreds of thousands of passengers. The same issue grounded 451 Delta Air Lines flights weeks later.
  • In November 2015, Orly Airport in Paris was forced to ground planes for several hours when the airport’s weather data management system crashed. The system was Windows 3.1.

Bad PR? Yes, but Much More Than That

Reputations are important, and high-profile incidents like these don’t create great headlines. But the reasons to move on from legacy technology stretch further:

Data breaches. As Tesco discovered, legacy technology is open to cyber crime. Vendor support is often nonexistent, which limits valuable upgrades. Furthering security risks, advantages of improvements in security measures are not easily accessible for old systems.

Expensive functionality. Revamping outdated technology can be an expensive proposition, but running outdated technology increases operating costs also. Old hardware versions lack modern power-saving technology and the systems’ maintenance is expensive.

Compliance penalties. Depending on your industry, legacy technology may not be in compliance. In the medical industry, outdated software will fail to meet compliance standards, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), resulting in severe financial penalties.

Customer loss. No matter the industry, offering outdated solutions and ideas derived from equally outdated technology will prompt customers to look elsewhere for better answers.

Unreliability. Many organizations hold on to legacy systems in the belief that the systems still work. If that’s not the case, consider what happens when something goes wrong, as seen in the detrimental examples above.

Perception issues. Leaders need to be aware of the message they’re sending to their employees. Consider how a younger employee who’s comfortable with technology might react to coping with the limitations of legacy technology. Aside from lost productivity, they may consider a new employer more willing to invest in current infrastructures.

“No” Can Be More Costly Than “Yes”

Replacing legacy technology is not entirely devoid of downsides, the most obvious being cost. Other deterrents include legacy replacement projects failing or the time and cost involved in system testing and end-user retraining.

But the question remains: Are you and your organization comfortable with the old, or are you identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and embracing the new? Are you anticipating the need to invest and upgrade before tragedy occurs? There’s not one organization in the examples provided that doesn’t wish to go back and pre-solve the problems of outdated systems.

Before making any decisions, assess both Hard Trends and Soft Trends that affect your organization and industry. Consider the positive and negative impacts that replacing legacy systems may carry both internally and externally. Be certain that every element for the new system serves a well-defined business goal, now and in the future.

As I emphasize in my Anticipatory Organization Learning System, saying yes can be expensive, but saying no could be catastrophic.

Smart Construction: How AI and Machine Learning Will Change the Construction Industry

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is when a computer mimics specific attributes of human cognitive function, while machine learning gives the computer the ability to learn from data, as opposed to being specifically programmed by a human. Here are ten ways that AI and machine learning will transform the construction and engineering industries into what we’ll call “smart construction.”

These days, seemingly everyone is applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. I have written about disruptions in the manufacturing industry, such as Industry 4.0, while illustrating the Hard Trends that indicate where improvements will be made in the future.

The construction industry, which makes up 7% of the global workforce, should already have applied these technologies to improve productivity and revolutionize the industry. However, it has actually progressed quite slowly.

Growth in the construction industry has only been 1% over a few decades while manufacturing is growing at a rate of 3.6%. With the total worker output in construction at a standstill, it is no surprise that the areas where machine learning and AI could improve such statistics were minimal. Yet, those technologies are finally starting to emerge in the industry.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is when a computer mimics specific attributes of human cognitive function, while machine learning gives the computer the ability to learn from data, as opposed to being specifically programmed by a human. Here are ten ways that AI and machine learning will transform the construction and engineering industries into what we’ll call “smart construction.”

  1. Cost Overrun Prevention and Improvement

Even efficient construction teams are plagued by cost overruns on larger-scale projects. AI can utilize machine learning to better schedule realistic timelines from the start, learning from data such as project or contract type, and implement elements of real-time training in order to enhance skills and improve team leadership.

  1. Generative Design for Better Design

When a building is constructed, the sequence of architectural, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing tasks must be accounted for in order to prevent these specific teams from stepping out of sequence or clashing. Generative design is accomplished through a process called “building information modeling.” Construction companies can utilize generative design to plot out alternative designs and processes, preventing rework.

  1. Risk Mitigation

The construction process involves risk, including quality and safety risks. AI machine learning programs process large amounts of data, including the size of the project, to identify the size of each risk and help the project team pay closer attention to bigger risk factors.

  1. More Productive Project Planning

A recent startup utilized 3D scanning, AI and neural networks to scan a project site and determine the progress of specific sub-projects in order to prevent late and over-budget work. This approach allowed management to jump in and solve problems before they got out of control. Similarly, “reinforcement learning” (machine learning based on trial and error) can help to collate small issues and improve the preparation phase of project planning.

  1. More Productive Job Sites

Professionals often fear machines will replace them. While intelligent machines will take over first repetitive and eventually more cognitively complex positions, this does not mean a lack of jobs for people. Instead, workers will transition to new, more fulfilling and highly productive roles to save time and stay on budget, and AI will monitor human productivity on job sites to provide real-time guidance on improving each operation.

  1. Safety First

Manual labor not only has the potential to be taxing on the body, but also to be incredibly dangerous. Presently, a general contractor is developing an algorithm that analyzes safety hazards seen in imagery taken from a job site, making it possible to hold safety briefings to eliminate elevated danger and improve overall safety on construction sites.

  1. Addressing Job Shortages

AI and machine learning have the capacity to plot out accurate distribution of labor and machinery across different job sites, again preventing budget overruns. One evaluation might reveal where a construction site has adequate coverage while another reveals where it is short staffed, thereby allowing for an efficient and cost-effective repositioning of workers.

  1. Remote Construction

When structures can be partially assembled off-site and then completed on-site, construction goes faster. The concept of using advanced robots and AI to accomplish this remote assembly is new. Assembly line production of something like a wall can be completed while the human workforce focuses on the finish work.

  1. Construction Sites as Data Sources

The data gathered from construction sites and the digital lessons learned by AI and advanced machines are all tools for improving the productivity of the next project. In this way, each construction site can contribute to a virtual textbook of information helpful to the entire industry.

  1. The Finishing Touches

Structures are always settling and shifting slightly. It would be beneficial to be able to dive back into data collated by a computer to track in real time the changes and potential problems faced by a structure — and AI and machine learning make this possible.

Given the inevitable changes on the horizon, and the potential for costs to drop up to 20% or more with increased productivity, professionals in the construction industry must pay attention to Hard Trends, become more anticipatory, and ultimately learn to turn disruption and change into opportunity and advantage.

Know What’s Next

Discover proven strategies to accelerate innovation with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization. Follow this link for a special offer.

Shape the Future–Before Someone Else Does It For You!

Augmented Reality Defined with Opportunities

Now that the Three Digital Accelerators have improved enough to enhance smart glasses, consumer use will increase. Imagine walking down a busy street in New York City searching for the perfect slice of pizza. It would benefit you to be wearing AR glasses that can quickly scan the area for a highly recommended restaurant per consumer reviews. Wearing the technology rather than having your eyes divert to your phone is faster and safer.

Several years ago, I started using an augmented reality (AR) app for my smartphone whenever I ventured into the mountains. It was quite useful; I could point my device at any mountain to see information overlaid on the image. When I moved my device around, the information changed to correspond with what I saw.

Google Glass was an early example of AR glasses. However, the Three Digital Accelerators(computing power, digital storage and bandwidth) I first identified in 1983 as the drivers of predictable exponential change were not advanced enough when this product emerged, and miniaturization of components had not reached the level needed to make the glasses look like regular glasses.

While few consumers tried them, Google Glass opened the eyes of entrepreneurs to see future possibilities. Surgeons used Google Glass to watch a patient’s vitals without taking their eyes off the surgical area, warehouse workers used them to locate products needing boxing, and universities used them to enhance student engagement in science lab classes.

The Future of AR

Now that the Three Digital Accelerators have improved enough to enhance smart glasses, consumer use will increase. Imagine walking down a busy street in New York City searching for the perfect slice of pizza. It would benefit you to be wearing AR glasses that can quickly scan the area for a highly recommended restaurant per consumer reviews. Wearing the technology rather than having your eyes divert to your phone is faster and safer.

I envision that the earpiece of your AR glasses will act as a rheostat, allowing you to fade the information in or out. As a keynote speaker, wearing a pair of AR glasses that allow me to see the names of audience members would be helpful, and by adjusting the fade control, turning off the information as needed will be helpful. This does not exist – yet. One of the principles I teach is “If it can be done, it will be done, and if you don’t do it, someone else will.”

It’s clear that practical uses for AR are ripe with opportunity. After acquiring smart glasses lens manufacturer Akonia Holographics in August 2018, Apple has been working on AR products. This positions the company to positively disrupt the industry, along with Microsoft and Facebook, which are working on AR glasses of their own.

Outside the US, Chinese technology giant Huawei is creating its own version of smart glasses. Its latest device, the Mate 20 Pro smartphone, already utilizes augmented reality apps predominately, but the company suggest that AR glasses are definitely in the works.

The company will bring more AR experiences to the Mate 20 Pro so its customers can use AR more widely before releasing its smart glasses. By better perfecting the user experience, they are pre-solving predictable problems, following one of my core principles.

Outside of AR, Huawei is a serious player in consumer electronics. It recently displaced Apple as being the world’s second-largest smartphone maker, expanded its digital products and even ventured into the world of smart speakers.

In comparison with virtual reality (VR), AR is developing faster for several reasons.

1)   VR requires the user to be cut off from the real world in order to be fully immersed in a virtual world,while AR allows the user to see the real world simultaneously.

2)   VR requires time-intensive graphic programming in order to create a photo-realistic 3D world, limiting the ability to attract the talent needed to grow as fast as AR.

3)   VR headsets are cumbersome compared to AR glasses.

Augmented reality represents a new platform for launching game-changing products and services. If you want to profit from this fast-growing industry, focus on being anticipatory by identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and their related opportunities to lead change.

If you would like to learn how to become more anticipatory in the new world of augmented reality, be sure to pick up my latest book The Anticipatory Organization today!

Embracing the Power of Blockchain Technology

We often forget just how much technology has changed our lives in the last few years. Therefore, it should be no surprise that our love of cold hard cash could be the next twentieth-century casualty to fall by the wayside.

During the digital transformation, we have witnessed traditional forms of physical media fall out of favor as users abandoned their treasure trove of CDs, DVDs, books, magazines and even photo albums to partake in an entirely clutter-free life. Digitally optimizing our lives has enabled us to remove shelves, cabinets and dust magnets while we get our entertainment fix from the likes of Netflix, Spotify and the endless list of streaming alternatives.

We often forget just how much technology has changed our lives in the last few years. Therefore, it should be no surprise that our love of cold hard cash could be the next twentieth-century casualty to fall by the wayside.

Over in Europe, Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbors Norway and Sweden are leading a charge toward a cashless society that will see the end of tooth fairy payments for children, but will equally wave goodbye to a world of money laundering, fraud and tax evasion. The bonus of replacing scrambling around for loose change for a purchase, or riding public transportation with contactless payment by swiping a card or smartphone, is incredibly appealing for most users.

The concept of handing over a handful of silver coins in exchange for any product or service can feel quite primitive in our modern world dominated by technology. However, contactless and smartphone payments are not the end-all, be-all payment options, as there is another game changer in the form of a cyber currency. But does this technology disruptor have the power to transform our traditional banking system?

Blockchain is the digital ledger software code that powers Bitcoin. As this system has grown in popularity, the CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, Blythe Masters,has her sights set on changing the way banks trade loans and bonds in a way that could dramatically change the way we look at both business and banking. Blythe delivered a massive wake-up call to finance leaders when she compared the influx of changes to the arrival of the internet when she advised, “You should be taking this technology as seriously as you should have been taking the development of the internet in the 1990s. It’s analogous to email for money.” The speed in which technology trends can go viral illustrates how an internet of finance could become a reality sooner rather than later.

The interesting aspect of Bitcoin is the ability to buy and sell without the need for an intermediary. This represents a paradigm shift in the management and structure of the financial services industry. However, adopting innovation and changing entire ecosystems is not something that the notoriously cautious financial industry and affiliated regulation committees are famed for.

Because this technology has the potential to reduce the role banks play in the lives of individuals, it is understandable why financial institutions are skeptical. However, these developments cannot be written off just yet. They could save consumers and the financial industry billions of dollars while also removing their reliance on middlemen to offer a speedier, modern and more efficient banking experience.

The ultimate goal is to move payments globally much faster while simultaneously becoming more transparent and lowering costs. We will likely begin to witness early adopters making waves in the private market before the ever-cautious big players speak of standardization and implementation. However, there are already a few of them dipping their toes into the water.

According to the PwC, there are already over three hundred technology startups developing ideas that will allow blockchain to revolutionize the financial industry. Big players like Visa and Nasdaq are already investing heavily into a blockchain startup, and there are also plans to modernize the London Market. Lloyds is looking to blockchain technology to improve its data access and reduce costs associated with administrative paperwork.

There are daily stories of heavyweights within the financial industry becoming increasingly eager to capture the tamper-proof benefits offered by a future web-based cryptocurrency. Technology leaders such as Microsoft also have thrown their hats into the ring to demonstrate the possibilities that blockchain technology can offer.

There is exciting potential to completely revolutionize the way in which the finance industry works. But in its infancy, many will continue to exercise great caution before rushing into a shiny electronic cash system that is fully peer-to-peer. The future of cash and pockets full of loose change is indeed looking numbered, as many wonder if in just a few years we will be looking back at our quaint primitive payment methods in the same way many do with physical media now.

Cryptocurrencies that thrive in a transparent environment might seem like a foreign concept today, but the rise of blockchain technology is one Hard Trend that will quickly prove to be impossible to ignore.

Finance trends can be anticipated – when you know how to look. The Anticipatory Organization Model has the power to shift an organization’s operating mindset from the default of reacting and responding to changes coming from the outside in, to a place of empowerment by anticipating and shaping the future from the inside out.

Solve Problems and Innovate as an Anticipatory Leader™

Anticipatory Leaders™ understand that we are at a unique point in human history, filled with waves of disruption and opportunity. We are doing things today that were impossible just a few years ago. If you look at the Hard Trends that are shaping the future, you can easily see that we will be doing things two years from now that are impossible today. That means the old rule, The Big Eat the Small, is being replaced by a new rule, The Fast Eat the Slow.

Anticipatory Leaders™ understand that we are at a unique point in human history, filled with waves of disruption and opportunity. We are doing things today that were impossible just a few years ago. If you look at the Hard Trends that are shaping the future, you can easily see that we will be doing things two years from now that are impossible today. That means the old rule, The Big Eat the Small, is being replaced by a new rule, The Fast Eat the Slow. They know this new reality is driven by the exponentially increasing rate of technology-driven change. Many wonder why so many established organizations of all sizes are moving so slow. The answer is simple: they think they are moving fast. But in this new era, they’re actually moving slower than they realize.

Young professionals are aware their organization’s pace is too slow as their mindset is less historical. They have looked around and seen others outside of their industry moving much faster. The best and the brightest of the younger employees often see the older leaders in their organization as almost fearful of making a bold move.

Anticipatory Leaders leverage the complementary strengths and weaknesses of all generations to enable the organization to move forward faster. They combine the wisdom and experience of the older employees with the out-of-the-box thinking and awareness of new technology that the younger employees have to accelerate innovation and growth. They use the confidence that comes from the certainty of Hard Trends to jump ahead quickly with low risk. They know that not moving faster and bolder is the bigger risk, and that if they don’t take advantage of new technological capabilities, someone else will!

Here is a big insight that Anticipatory Leaders know: trying to keep up in today’s world will only keep you behind. The reality is that the company you are trying to keep up with is not standing still. It is most likely ahead because it is anticipatory and moving far faster, keeping a good distance ahead of you. It embraces the fact that in a world of exponential change, advantage comes from jumping ahead of the change curve with the confidence that comes from high levels of certainty, and not relying on reacting quickly after the disruption or problem happens.

When we think of innovation today, we tend to think of the big innovations that disrupt industries or create a new product or service line. This type of innovation doesn’t happen very often in traditional organizations, and often has long time frames from ideation to implementation. In addition, only a small percentage of all employees will be involved in the process. Anticipatory Leaders go beyond reactive innovation, even fast, reactive, agile innovation, and empower employees with two new types of anticipatory innovation: Everyday Innovation and Transformational Innovation.

Everyday Innovation empowers all employees to implement inventive solutions to everyday problems by providing easy-to-use methods for rapid problem-solving. This includes applying Problem Skipping and the Law of Opposites, as well as keeping their opportunity antenna up to look for potential problems to pre-solve before they happen. It’s amazing how innovative people can be when they know a few basic principles and are empowered to take positive action immediately.

Transformational Innovation involves identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and using them to become a positive disruptor, jumping ahead with the low risk that comes from certainty and the knowledge that if you don’t do it, someone else will.

If you would like to go beyond agility and become an Anticipatory Leader, pick up a copy of my latest bestseller, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage, and consider our online Anticipatory Leader System.

Don’t Miss AR’s Amazing Opportunities

Augmented reality (AR) is a new industry growing at an exponential rate, loaded with opportunities for job creation. It offers a playground for entrepreneurs who want to use the certainty of Hard Trends to their advantage.

Augmented reality (AR) is a new industry growing at an exponential rate, loaded with opportunities for job creation. It offers a playground for entrepreneurs who want to use the certainty of Hard Trends to their advantage.

What’s most exciting about AR is that it is much easier to develop than virtual reality (VR), which requires a lot of programming and photo-realistic graphics in order to create a fully immersive virtual world.

AR takes less time and money to develop. Data is overlaid onto a live view of something, and users can multitask, allowing them to work while simultaneously accessing important information.

Both AR and VR have a bright future, but AR represents a much more dynamic world of opportunity. For example, I use an AR app that allows me to hold my smartphone up to any mountain, and the app will tell me the height of the mountain, the length of the trails, and other useful data that can help me determine where I might want to hike, climb or bike on vacation.

AR can also engage tourists who are in a new city for the first time. When you’re on a street in New York, you can tell an app what type of shoes you’re looking for, and all you have to do is hold your smartphone up and pan around to see if any nearby stores have what you want.

Soon we’ll be wearing AR glasses that are connected via Bluetooth to an AR app that will allow keynote speakers like myself to see the people we’re talking to, but also see their names, and by moving our fingers along the earpiece of the glasses, we’ll switch from no data to full data.

The Augmented Reality Job Market

We are in the beginning stages of a burgeoning AR market. I would highly recommend entering the world of AR professionally sooner than later. The wide-scale application of AR is only limited by our imaginations, and early developers in the field have barely scratched the surface of what is possible.

Given the wide range of industries that will benefit from AR, I predict that in the next few years we will see a multitude of usages, especially when AR glasses hit the market. Likewise, the glasses themselves will be more aesthetically pleasing thanks to the growth of miniaturization. Prescription AR glasses will be made available for those who need them, changing the usage dynamic from smartphone apps to wearables.

If you are considering a career in AR, it’s important to think about the ideal industry that would benefit from it, such as sales, service, maintenance and repair, factories, retail stores, and real estate offices. There’s a market for it in the trades as well, as AR glasses can be used to help people train quickly to become tradespeople to keep up with growing demand.

Within five years, we will see high-fashion AR glasses worn by many people. Data will be more frequently overlaid on our surrounding environment, and video media will be included. It is already possible to 3-D print a 4K camera that is the size of a fly’s eye, and with advances in solar charging, getting energy from ambient light will help us avoid the concern of charging AR glasses.

The Positives and the Negatives

With every new industry there are positives and negatives. In augmented reality, the greatest positive is quite clear: increasing humankind’s ability to make better decisions faster.

However, there is always a downside that we must look to solve before it occurs. The most obvious risk is that you might be paying more attention to the data than to the visual reality and walk into danger. When it comes to using digital technology, there is always a time to unplug. The concept of misinformation also exists, where the data overlaying your environment could be hacked and also put you in danger. Always remember to anticipate risks and think critically.

The future is bright for augmented reality for entrepreneurs and consumers. Ultimately, the industry will develop practical uses much faster than in the world of virtual reality. Virtual reality business applications will find many great niche markets, but augmented reality can be used by anyone anywhere due to the user’s ability to multitask.

The best thing about augmented reality is that you can use it while still interacting with the real world, which is very powerful. It does not encourage us to close ourselves off from our physical existence; it allows us to see insightful information in real time. It will give us a new way to discover the hidden facts that bring the things in our world to life.

We’re only at the base of the mountain of change, and the time to start your climb upward is now!

Technology-driven change is accelerating at an exponential rate, but moving fast in the wrong direction will only get you into trouble faster! Reacting to problems and digital disruptions, no matter how agile you and your organization are, is no longer good enough. If you don’t already have a copy of my latest bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization, click here to get your copy now!

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