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.

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.

Use Anticipation to Turn Disruption Into Opportunity

For the longest time, cable television was a miraculous technology that not everybody had in their homes, mostly because not everybody could afford it. Now, not everyone has it in their homes because YouTube TV, Sling TV, and other new, emerging technologies have disrupted the broadcast industry. So why didn’t Spectrum think of it first? Why did they become the disrupted and not the disruptor?

For the longest time, cable television was a miraculous technology that not everybody had in their homes, mostly because not everybody could afford it. Now, not everyone has it in their homes because YouTube TV, Sling TV, and other new, emerging technologies have disrupted the broadcast industry. So why didn’t Spectrum think of it first? Why did they become the disrupted and not the disruptor?

At some point, Spectrum and many others established a cash cow — a product or service that generates the majority of your income and profits — and got comfortable building a successful business around it while protecting and defending it. The fact that most of us are all busy, focused, and needing to meet or exceed our quarterly numbers keeps us from looking far enough ahead in our industries to see disruption.

In order to thrive in this time of exponential change, it is imperative to actively scan far outside of your industry looking for new ways to disrupt yourself first. When you discover a new technology or disruptive technology-driven trend, it is important to separate what I call the Hard Trends that will happen from the Soft Trends that might happen.

Anticipating disruption before it happens defines whether you’ll be the disrupter or the disrupted, using predictable Hard Trends to create the new cash cows that will disrupt your competitors and grow your future.

Another reason so many companies fail to see disruption is that the strategy most often invoked is to protect and defend the status quo. The amount of time and money organizations spend protecting and defending their current cash cows is astounding, as in the past, this was a valid strategy producing good results. However, digital disruption is different, as it tends to be game-changing with a low cost of entry.

A key to success for an established company that’s facing early-stage disruption is to adopt a strategy of embrace and extend. Spectrum continues to spend millions on bringing in customers for cable, Internet, and phone packages, mostly campaigning on the grounds that you can’t watch sports without cable. Unfortunately, Spectrum and other cable providers saw Internet TV like YouTube or Sling as a Soft Trend, much like Blockbuster viewed Netflix, that could be protected and defended against. It was definitely a Hard Trend. YouTube and Sling have conquered broadcast sports and are quickly leaving Spectrum in the dust.

The assumption that disruption won’t happen to you and your business is dangerous. Today, there are many industries still ripe for disruption. Taking the time to look outside of your industry at the Hard Trends shaping the future will amaze you. Understanding that digital disruption will happen to you if it has not already happened is important.

Ask yourself if you are looking inside and outside of your business. What are your blind spots? What fundamental assumptions about the “way things will always be” do you operate on? And what are you doing to become your own disruptor?

What is a hotel? What is a taxi? What is a bookstore? Companies like Marriott and Barnes & Noble, and even government agencies like New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, thought they knew the answers to those questions, and Spectrum and other cable providers are currently thinking the same way.

What do you think you know about your industry?

The connectivity of the Internet has changed so many industries. The emergence of Netflix, Hulu, and even Spotify for music has not only revolutionized the entertainment media industry and consumers’ consumption of said media, but it has also closed up some of the loopholes that fostered piracy of content. They are problem solvers, and now they are solving the problem of customers having to pay exorbitant fees to companies like Spectrum and DirecTV to merely cling to one favorite sports channel.

If these cable providers offered a cost-effective alternative with a price and framework similar to YouTube TV’s, they would be using this current disruption to their advantage. But is it too late for them? Are the days of cable as we know it over? Better yet, will Spectrum shrink exponentially until it’s merely an Internet provider? If so, it’d be foolish to ignore the possibility that a more affordable means of accessing the Internet is on the horizon as well.

Letting your ideas about consumers calcify and ceasing adapting or anticipating is when you start inadvertently digging your own grave, no matter how outlandish the disruption may seem. Believing that your business is immune to changing circumstances is the common thread between all disrupted organizations. The fundamental assumptions of so many industries have turned out to be wrong.

You need to become your own disruptor, your own best competition. Don’t get comfortable. Disrupt yourself, or someone else will.

Which technology innovations could be a game-changer for your industry? Learn how to tell with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Marketers Must Learn to Anticipate Content Trends

Every company, regardless of size, knows they must advertise if they are to grow. Yet with all the money that is being spent, it is increasingly difficult to get your message to the right audience. This is where it pays to be anticipatory. Using the systemic method outlined in my Anticipatory Organization Model, you can ready your organization for the disruptive transformations ahead.

Do you remember when MTV was the best way to get in front of the teen and young adult audience? Once mobile technology became popular, it didn’t take long for that age group to be on the move.

In no time, videos were streaming on iTunes. Though teens continued to watch, viewership dropped. Then came instant messaging, followed by social media. For a time, Facebook gave advertisers their niche audience of young consumers congregated in one place.

That is until Snapchat and Instagram came along.

To add to the challenges of the last couple of decades, smart speakers are now in about one-quarter of U.S. homes, and podcasts are gaining popularity. In fact, about 50 percent of households now say they listen to podcasts, with a majority of them joining the trend in just the last three years.

According to whypodcasts.org, 38 percent of listeners are age 18-34, and 64 percent listen on their smartphones.

What’s Next in Target Marketing?

As technology-driven change changes direction, it is easier, and far more profitable, to change direction with it. “It’s easier to ride a horse in the direction it is going.” That’s what my grandfather told me as a little boy working with him on his farm in Texas.

Every company, regardless of size, knows they must advertise if they are to grow. Yet with all the money that is being spent, it is increasingly difficult to get your message to the right audience.

This is where it pays to be anticipatory. Using the systemic method outlined in my Anticipatory Organization Model, you can ready your organization for the disruptive transformations ahead.

Three Hard Trends and Two Tech Trends to Watch

In my work as a technology and business futurist, I have found the most effective way to approach becoming an AO is to focus on demographics, government regulations, and technology. In addition, it is always good to know which consumer technology trends will stick around. I call these Hard Trends (as opposed to Soft Trends, which may come and go).

  • Demographics drive opportunity. There are nearly 80 billion baby boomers in the United States. Not a single one is getting any younger—a definite Hard Trend.

  • Government regulation is a constant. As a general rule, will there be more or less government regulation in the future? Of course, there will be more, and that’s true regardless of the industry or organization. That’s also a Hard Trend.

  • Technology will continue to grow. From the ever-increasing functional capabilities of our smartphones to the growing use of 3D printing, technology is inevitably going to become more functional, more sophisticated, and more widespread. That’s another definite Hard Trend.

  • Multi-layered media is here to stay. According to research, our attention spans are shorter than ever, and consumers demand instant gratification and quick fixes—not a litany of product features and benefits.

Today, content channels such as social media, Apple Watch, and Google Home provide the perfect vehicles for interactivity at any time, in any place, and with any person.

  • Consumer attention is likely to stay at a premium. At least for the foreseeable future, multi-layered media is here to stay. Consumer attention remains at a premium.

Advertisers know the harsh reality: Running an ad on a major television network and supplementing it with web banner ads is no longer a guarantee of reaching the audience.

If you use my Hard Trends Methodology to look ahead to the future of marketing, you’ll be able to anticipate the fast-moving innovations to come. New devices are likely to be developed, and their connectivity doesn’t show signs of slowing any time soon.

Learn to be anticipatory—start with my book, the Anticipatory Organization, available on Amazon.com.

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.

Thriving After A Layoff

You lost this job and that sucks. Now you have the opportunity to get more of what you want out of your next job!

We heard from many of you after our Surviving A Layoff post last week. Some of you mentioned that you were feeling stuck and unable to come up with a list of your top skills and strengths because you’re so drained from the experience of the layoff.

We get it. We’ve been there and we know it’s hard to think about the positive stuff when you’re in the midst of questioning whether you ever added value. And forget about possibility thinking, right?

So, we’d like to offer you a couple of small steps you can take this week to help you think about the skills you want to offer and the environment in which you’ll thrive.

We’ve seen that it can be easier to voice what you want by thinking about what you don’t want.

  • First, start with what you didn’t like about your job. Think about things like:
    • Skills used
    • Level of responsibility
    • Level of visibility
    • Level of stress
    • Pace of the work
    • Team dynamics
    • Projects
    • Processes
    • Commute
  • Now, if you’re able, think about what you did  like, using the above list as a prompt.

  • Finally, it can be powerfully helpful to reach out to colleagues, family (even young kids), and friends, and ask them, “What do I do well?”
    • This can feel awkward to do, so blame your coaches here at CSC . . . that can make it easier to ask.
    • You’ll likely start to see themes in the answers that people are giving you.

If you’ve sped through those steps and are wanting more, don’t forget about our recent Dream Job posts where we walk you through some additional ways to get clear about setting yourself up for success.

Remember, it’s important to be gentle with yourself if you’re struggling to move on. If you were talking to a dear friend, you wouldn’t say, “Just get over it!” You’d likely say, “I believe in you.” or “You can do this!”

Perhaps this experience will help to point you in the direction of where you’re supposed to go next. You lost this job and that sucks. Now you have the opportunity to get more of what you want out of your next job.

We believe in you!

Just a few sessions of Career Strategy Coaching
can help you get traction on identifying what’s next
and moving forward to make it happen.
Let us know if we can be helpful.

Surviving A Layoff

Keep moving forward – even if it’s just one small step.

Last week, we spent some time talking about how to prepare if you believe you may be laid off. This week, we want to speak to you about the normal response to a layoff and ways you can take care of yourself or support a friend or loved one who has been laid off.

If you’ve been laid off, you may find yourself wanting the feeling of trauma and disorientation to go away. It’s painful, uncomfortable, and demoralizing. And, it takes time and intentional focus to heal and move on.

After being laid off, you’ll likely experience many of the feelings and thoughts you’d associate with a death: feelings of grief, loss, helplessness, anger, rage, disorientation, depression, and anxiety. While unpleasant, these are all sane emotional responses to a layoff.

Because many of us get a sense of our identify and value from our jobs, we may feel that the world isn’t safe and then our confidence in ourselves becomes diminished.

Research about people who have been laid off show us that the pain in a layoff is also manifested physically. Research shows increased health issues after a layoff, from high blood pressure, insomnia, and cardiovascular problems, to nausea, stomach problems, and headaches.

If you or someone you care about has been laid off, this is the time to focus on self-care – all those things we know we need to do but don’t. Eating healthfully as often as you can, moving regularly, sleeping, and reaching out for support are all good self-care steps.

And, remember, you’re not alone!

We’d encourage you to reach out to some trusted friends and colleagues and talk about your experience. You may be surprised to find that there are people in your world who have also gone through (or are going through) a layoff.

It can help to lean on each other and keep each other motivated as you think about what’s next for you in your career.

If you’ve been laid off, here are some things
that can help you move forward.

  1. PAUSE. Take a moment to breathe and honor that this has been rocking.
  2. Allow yourself to have your emotions AND don’t let them overwhelm you. Consider talking with a trusted friend or family member, clergy member, therapist, or coach as you grieve and find your way to what is next.
  3. Find a person who can be a mirror to you to remind you that you’re a capable and successful person. Understanding your worth through other people’s eyes is truly inspiring.
  4. Keep moving forward – even if it’s just one small step.
  5. Use this time to reconnect with your life priorities and what brings you meaning and purpose.
    • Name the skills you love to offer to the world and the environment in which you thrive.
    • Then tell everyone you know, “I’m looking for an opportunity to bring these skills to an organization.” vs. “I’m looking for this job.”
      • If you name the job, that can stop the conversation with “I don’t know of any openings in that job.”
      • If, instead, you ask for help finding opportunities to bring your gifts and talents to an organization, they’ll often join you in considering who you might talk with about your interests.

You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can work on how you respond.

Treat yourself like you matter… because you do!

Been laid off? If you’d like to work together
on your career strategy, contact us today.
We’re here to support you in finding work you love
in an environment where you’ll thrive.

Preparing for a Layoff

We have incredible respect for people who are dealing with the possibility of a layoff. Facing the loss of a role that provides a great deal of your identity as well as the means for living, can be very challenging.

THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS YOU CAN DO
IN THE FACE OF A POSSIBLE LAYOFF

Get support for the fear so you can pivot to taking action.

  • It’s important that you’re able to acknowledge how stressful a potential layoff is and how anxious it can make you.
  • Be sure to reach out to people who will honor your feelings while also supporting you in the pivot to action.

Do a quick inventory about what you love about your job and what you would change if you had the opportunity. 

    • Create a resume that represents you well and then tailor it for the specific opportunities you discover.
    • Being clear about what you love and want to continue to do and what you aren’t as satisfied with can help you as you look around for other opportunities within and outside the company.

Within the company:

      • Explore what opportunities are available should you need to look.
      • Sometimes the opportunities aren’t very appealing, but if they let you stay in a company that you want to work for, they can be a stepping stone until you find a better fit.
      • Knowing the skills you love to offer and the environment in which you thrive can help you find a role that’s more in keeping with your current interests and skills and the threat of layoff may be a gift.

Outside the Company: 

    • Generally, it’s still easier to get a job when you have a job, so consider the threat of a layoff as an opportunity to take action before you’re unemployed.
    • In addition to looking at job boards, start to meet with people you know throughout your community and industry.
    • Let them know that you’re considering what’s next and that you’d love their thoughts about who you should talk with.
    • You’ll need to share, in about 3 minutes, what you’ve been doing, the skills you want to offer, the kind of environment that’s great for you, and a few different ideas you have had for ways you could use those skills so that you prime your contact on ways to look on your behalf.

Consider a frank conversation with your boss.

  • You know your organization and whether or not this is ok to do.
  • If you have a good relationship with your boss or with someone in HR, consider having a conversation about your sense that there are layoffs in the works and that you’re starting to look around to protect yourself should that happen.
  • In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a separation package that lets you leave with benefits that you might not have received if you were laid off.
  • In others, the organization may be clear and direct about your value and fight for you to stay.

Reflect on whether there are things you can do on the side that bring in income and could create a bridge if you’re laid off.

  • Anything that gives you confidence that you will be ok supports you having greater confidence through this difficult time.

The threat of being laid off can be extremely challenging and you may find yourself frozen for a bit. But if you can start to take action on your own behalf, you’ll be much more prepared no matter what happens.

Waiting and hoping, while tempting, is not in your best interest!

If you’re fearing a layoff at your company
and would like to work together
on your career strategy, contact us today.

How to express gratitude to yourself

It is often said, that we are own worst enemies. It’s said so often that it has become cliché. The trouble with cliché is that buried within it – is truth.

Even the best people can find themselves at war with their own interests; they throw themselves into charity work, community work, business, family, etc. and all to avoid acknowledging their own needs.

Soon, they find that nothing they do is ever “good enough.” How could it be? If you set yourself impossible targets and dive into everything and never spend so much as a second on self-care; you’re going to end up exhausted and miserable.

If this sounds like you, I want you to know – there is good news. You can make a dramatic change, today, here and now that will benefit you every day for the rest of your life. This change costs no money and is incredibly easy to do.

Thank Yourself For Being You

Seriously, that’s it. If you’re not feeling appreciated in your life; the best source of validation is not in other people – it’s in you. And if you begin by showing gratitude to yourself for being you; very soon, you’ll feel more peaceful, more cantered and more capable of tackling anything life throws at you.

Here are some tips on saying “thank you” to yourself:

  • Stop beating yourself up when you’re not progressing towards a goal. Start saying “well done” for how far you have already come, instead.
  • Whenever you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself, take a step back, stop and think of something positive to say. Then say it.
  • Let some vanity and sincerity in. Find a mirror, right now, and go look yourself in the eye and meaningfully thank yourself for being you. “You’re awesome! Thanks for being me!” will do nicely.
  • Make a list of ten qualities that you recognize in yourself as valuable and which would matter to others too. Keep that list in your pocket. If you feel down; get it out and look at it. You rock!
  • Now make a list of ten times you made a positive difference in other people’s lives. Write that down too. Keep it in your bag or your wallet. Once again, if you feel blue – get it out and revel in your own hard-earned awesomeness!
  • Treat yourself. If you had a partner do something special for you, you’d treat them to something nice. Well, you do something special for you every single day – take yourself out on your own and celebrate that fact.
  • Make time for yourself. Seriously, you owe yourself at least 30 minutes of fun every single day of your life. Whether it’s gym time or computer game time that you crave – make room for it. Nobody ends their life wishing they’d spent more time in the office. So leave work earlier and have fun.
  • When people compliment you – don’t brush it off. Instead, work out how to accept compliments with grace and kindness. Positive reinforcement from others never hurts. You are special and when people tell you so, listen and thank them for noticing.

There are many other ways for you to thank yourself for being you but this should get you started. Remember, every single person on this planet is truly amazing and you are too. Feel better, feel free and say “thank you” for everything you do for you.

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.

More Powerful Questions for Powerful Leadership

We’ve witnessed the power that great questions have to create opportunities for innovation, problem solving, and higher levels of thinking.

Last week in Powerful Questions for Powerful Leadership, we offered you a series of questions that can help you invite higher levels of input and expand critical thinking.

We reminded you that, at Carpenter Smith Consulting, we define leadership as the willingness to influence your world and the willingness to be influenced by your world, which often means that you’ll need to invite influence.

One powerful way to create the dynamic where you’re influencing people and they’re influencing you, is to ask powerful questions. The tricky part is that questioning people without attention to the nuance of the situation can feel more like an interrogation than an invitation.

Asking questions to invite higher level thinking requires that you consider what’s right for the person(s), situation, and goals in that moment, and that you communicate verbally and non-verbally that you’re genuinely curious and want their thinking to influence your thinking.

The following questions can invite your teams and colleagues to explore what they can do to get the best out of their people and their teams.

QUESTIONS TO FOSTER ENGAGEMENT

Communication:
  • Do your people / teams know that they matter to you–that you care about them personally and that you value their contributions to the organization?
  • How will you know your team is aligned behind this vision? What would team success look like?
  • How can this team work together more effectively? How will we handle difference, conflict, and crises together?
  • What can I do to support you? What can I do that will support you without diminishing your credibility to our stakeholders?
  • What are you doing to increase your ability to have the impact that matters to you?
  • What needs to be said that you find yourself not saying?
Infrastructure:
  • Do we have the right people, with the right skills, and the right commitment at the right tables?
  • Why would great talent join or remain on your team?
  • Who are your high potential employees and what are you doing to grow them?
  • Who needs to take the lead on this and why?
  • Is the infrastructure in place to support the team? What needs our attention and resources?

We’ve witnessed the power that great questions have to create opportunities for innovation, problem solving, and higher levels of thinking.

We created a printable pdf so that you can access all of the powerful questions. Click here to download.

This week consider ways you can move from talking at people to engaging them in deeper conversations. Talking at people can seem efficient, and at times it may be, but asking questions brings people to greater ownership of success and engagement in the solutions.

If you’d like support in having
deeper engagement with your team,
contact us today about Executive Coaching.

Powerful Questions for Powerful Leadership

Today, we’re sharing some of the questions that we’ve found invite higher levels of input and expand critical thinking.

At Carpenter Smith Consulting, we define leadership as the willingness to influence your world and the willingness to be influenced by your world.

In practice, that often means that you’ll need to invite influence, and there’s no better way to do so than with a great question.

By great question, we’re talking about a question that’s right for the person(s), situation, and goals in that moment.

When possible, consider beforehand the questions you want to bring to a conversation, meeting, or presentation.

Today, we’re sharing some of the questions that we’ve found invite higher levels of input and expand critical thinking. Next week, we’ll share questions that invite an exploration of how to get the best out of individuals and teams.

Remember to pause after you ask a question and give people time to consider what you’ve asked. If you jump into the silence, you will teach them that they don’t have to answer if they can wait you out.

QUESTIONS TO FOSTER INPUT AND CRITICAL THINKING

Benefits/Concerns/Suggestions (one we use often!):
In response to a proposal, plan, or initiative, ask individuals or teams to consider these questions in this order:

  • What are the benefits of this idea? (It’s the norm to see the reasons not do something new and innovative. Getting them to think first about the idea’s benefits opens them to a more effective assessment.)
  • What concerns do you have?
  • What suggestions would you make?

Vision/Obstacles/Areas of Focus:

  • What are your hopes for the project, department, organization? What does success look like, feel like, live like?
  • What obstacles get in the way of success?
  • What can you do to get around the obstacles, and where do you need to focus your efforts to mitigate the obstacles?

Getting People to Move Beyond Initial (Often Flat) Response:

  • Tell me what went into your thinking? What’s your rationale for moving forward in this way?
  • Say more about that? or just Say more?

Predicting Impact:

  • Imagine describing your plan to the team/department/organization – what do you expect their response will be?
  • What do you anticipate will be the ripples of this decision across the organization?
  • How does this support our vision? Strategy? Success?

To Determine Risk:

  • What are the benefits of action? What are the costs of action?
  • Is this problem an event or a pattern?
  • If there were no risks, what would you do?

Resources/Rules:

  • If you had limitless resources, what would you do?
  • What rules do we need to follow? What rules should we be breaking?

This week, spend some time exploring whether you can attain higher levels of thinking, engagement, and ownership by asking questions that invite the wisdom and expertise of your colleagues and team.

If you’d like support in inviting higher levels
of input and critical thinking with your team,
contact us today about Executive Coaching.

An Anticipatory Leader™ understands that technology-driven change is accelerating at an exponential rate. They have learned from a large list of high-profile Fortune 100 companies that were great at both agility and execution but experienced dramatic downturns. Reacting to problems and digital disruptions, no matter how agile you and your organization are, is no longer good enough.

Anticipatory Leaders know that a high percentage of future disruptions, problems, and game-changing opportunities are predictable and represent unprecedented ways to accelerate growth and gain advantage. They understand that there is no shortage of trends or good ideas, and they ask which trends will happen and which ideas are the best to invest their time and resources in. They have overcome these challenges by becoming anticipatory. This happens by using the methodology of separating the Hard Trends that will happen because they are based on future facts from the Soft Trends that might happen because they are based on assumptions about the future. Then they apply these Hard Trend certainties to their innovation and decision-making processes, allowing them to accelerate innovation and jump ahead with low risk.

Anticipatory Leaders know that it’s better to solve predictable problems before they happen, and that predictable future problems often represent the biggest opportunities. They know that being anticipatory means creating strategic plans that are dynamic and then elevating their strategic plans to keep them relevant and stop them from becoming obsolete before they are implemented.

They have discovered the power of using the certainty of Hard Trends to give the people that report to them the confidence to make bold moves. They know that if what they are saying is seen as opinion, listeners will want another opinion, but if they speak in future facts that are undeniable future truths, there will be far less debate and much more forward progress.

They fully understand that we are at the base of a mountain of increasing disruption that does not happen just once. It comes in waves, giving every organization and professional only two options: to become the disruptor or the disrupted.

By using the Anticipatory Model and methodology to identify the disruptive Hard Trends that are approaching, they now have the opportunity to make a strategic choice to be the disruptor. They know there is no longer a middle ground.

Anticipatory Leaders know that disruption is often seen as something negative, because it happens to organizations and individuals, forcing them to react by changing quickly or face increasingly negative consequences. Disruptors, on the other hand, are creating change from the inside out, giving them far more control of their future. Disruptors are often using technology to eliminate problems or to reduce the friction that creates a less than desirable experience. I refer to them as “positive disruptors” because they tend to use technology to improve a process, product or service. They enhance the customer experience, and in most cases they transform it!

Anticipatory Leaders know the advantage  a shared Futureview® has when it is based on the Hard Trends that are shaping the future – a windshield view versus a rearview mirror view. The Futureview principle states “How you view the future shapes your actions today, and your actions today will shape your future. Your Futureview will determine the future you. ”Change your Futureview, and you will change your future.

For example, it’s clear that Sears, which is closing over a hundred physical stores, has a different Futureview than Amazon, which is opening over three thousand brick-and-mortar retail stores and over a hundred physical bookstores. These two companies’ Futureviews will shape their future.

Anticipatory Leaders elevate their organization’s shared Futureview, based on the Hard Trends and transformational changes that are shaping the future. They know that their Futureview will change, and in many cases they transform the future of the organization for the individuals involved for the better.

Become an Anticipatory Leader™

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 Anticipatory Leader System today.

Leading When Bad Things Happen

Last week, we talked about When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies. Sadly, it happens more often than you’d think; so it makes sense to be as prepared as possible to lead through it.

Leading through it requires communication, a commitment to transparency, and a plan of action that moves you forward. It requires that you step into The Leader in You.

The Leader in You is a transformative and practical framework for stepping into your leadership regardless of your role or title or industry.

Leadership, as we define it, is the willingness to influence your world and the willingness to be influenced by your world. It’s a way of being in the world that lets you effectively lead your life and lead in your life.

Our Leader in You framework has 3 steps to help you take back a sense of authority and control in the face of painful and difficult events.

These are extremely important in preventing and recovering from bad things!

1. Pause

Pause and ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to do or say in alignment with my goals and the organization’s goals?”

  • Take a moment before you react to consider the goals that need to guide your behavior.
  • Reacting is not leadership, but responding to the crisis at hand is.

2. Reflect

Ask yourself: “What am I afraid of in this situation? What do I do when I feel that? What would I do if I felt safe?”

  • It’s important that you know what you’re afraid of and what reaction that elicits. It’s also critical that you take action from the best of you.
  • What you would do if you felt safe?

Then ask yourself: “What are they (my team, all staff, my family, etc.) afraid of in this situation? What do they do when they feel that? What would they do if they felt safe? How do I help them feel safe?”

  • As a leader, you’ll want to try to understand and have empathy for all that your people are experiencing, and to help them feel safe enough to be at their best!

3. Act with POWER

  • Consider what’s Possible in the situation.
    • Great leadership includes trusting that there are always opportunities inherent in the obstacles and challenges you face.
  • Own that you’ll lead toward success and share why it matters to you.
    • People want to follow a human, not an idea.
    • For you to be clear that you’re committed to moving forward and through the crisis and sharing your passion for the company, builds alignment behind you.
  • Create some We-focused goals (goals that you can share with others).
    • Most of your team wants to be a part of the solution but don’t know how.
    • Last week we talked about communicate, communicate, communicate – not just to them but with them, so that they feel a part of the “we” that’s going to come out the other side.
  • Enable action forward.
    • Movement on the plan will help rebuild confidence, identify where you need to communicate more or differently, and will help you assess what you need to do to support resilience in your team and organization.
  • Review and Refine . . . and learn.
    • This isn’t a one and done process. Be sure to check in with the team regularly to make sure that they have what they need to move forward successfully.
    • Learning from and through challenge is powerful and empowering. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Then do it again!

To help you remember these steps, we’ve provided a link so that you can download our helpful action guide and pocket card. We hope that you’ll use them to embrace and develop the Leader in You.

Click to download the Leader in You Action Guide.

Click to download the Leader in You pocket card to support you day-to-day.

NOTE: This card will print at 3″ x 5” if you select “actual size” when printing. 

If the sh!t has hit the fan at your company and you’d like support in engaging with your team and creating a plan to move forward, contact us today about Executive Coaching.

When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies

We have recently been working with the leadership teams of two very different companies where the proverbial sh!t has hit the fan . . .  through no fault of their own.

A sad fact: Bad things can happen to good companies, which means that bad things can also happen to good people in those companies.

Figuring out how to move forward through a crisis is an important act of leadership, one that can help the company come out on the other side of the crisis with staff commitment and stakeholder confidence.

From our perspective there is one key behavior that can make or break success and that’s communication.

Communicate, communicate, and then communicate again.

It’s important to get control of the narrative within your organization as soon as possible. You may not be able to control what’s being said outside the company, but it’s your job to make sure that what’s being said inside the organization is accurate.

You’ll want to be as transparent as you can be within the legal bounds of the situation and then communicate in ways that help to mitigate the fear. When needed, seek legal guidance to ensure that your communications are within the bounds of the law and as open and transparent as possible.

Regularly bring the leadership team together to create a shared understanding of what has happened and to discuss corrective actions that the organization needs to implement to keep the crisis from escalating.

The team should develop a communication plan so that all staff members understand the details of the incident and how to deal with any misinformation. You’ll also want the organization to respond internally and externally with integrity and effectiveness so make sure everyone is on the same page before leaving the meeting.

If you, the team, or the organization contributed to the difficulties, own it, apologize, and be clear about what you’ve learned, how you’ll behave going forward, and how you’ll demonstrate this was the exception, not the norm. Occasionally, intentionally ignoring something makes sense but more often owning it, apologizing, and explaining next steps is the best course of action.

In business today, good companies can have bad things happen. The difference in the outcome is what the leaders do in the wake of the bad to create a more resilient and agile team, as well as to rebuild credibility and trust with external stakeholders.

This week consider whether you and the people you lead with are solid enough as a group to thrive in the wake of something bad happening in your company.

There’s no better time to build deep trust and credibility in your willingness to engage in the tough conversations, commitment to challenging self-reflection, and ability to support one another through derailing surprises than now.

If the sh!t has hit the fan at your company and you’d like support in engaging in the tough conversations, contact us today about Executive Coaching.

Your Dream Job – Next Steps

In last week’s post, Your Dream Job, we had you do a quick assessment about whether or not you were satisfied in your current job.

Today, we’d like to encourage you to begin to take some small steps forward toward the career of your dreams.

Whether it’s finding a new role, a new place to work, or influencing your current workplace, what are some small steps you can take to get closer to doing work that you love in an environment where you thrive?

  1. Look over the assessment checklist from last week (click here if you haven’t done it yet).
  2. Write down any items from the list that you wish you had but didn’t check.
  3. Identify 1-2 small steps you can take this week to start creating a working world where you’ll thrive.

It’s never the wrong time to evaluate your career and to think about whether or not you’re doing work that you love in an environment where you thrive.

You matter.

This year, our commitment is to support you in mattering to yourself so that you can live a full and successful life.

If this sounds good to you in theory but you’re having a hard time getting started, contact us today about Career Coaching.

Using Mobile Apps to Transform Business Processes

Although mobile applications are commonplace today, most consumers think “personal use” when they think of apps. We all understand that there is an app for our favorite social media site or a card game app we can kill time with while waiting, but in what other ways can apps be leveraged, and who can benefit from them?

As our need for just-in-time information flourishes, our reliance on traditional technological processes has decreased significantly. The shift from personal computers to mobile devices has picked up now more than ever. It is difficult to determine whether stationary computers will vanish into obscurity; however, there is no doubt that mobile devices are here to stay. Our reliance on these ingenious pieces of technology is overwhelming. Tremendous time and energy are saved through the use of a mobile device, as we can access information anywhere with ease.

The expansion of new types of tasks that are carried out using mobile devices has arrived. Smartphones can solve nearly every need of their users, from providing detailed directions anywhere around the globe to enabling access to the cloud at all times. We take these benefits for granted as the opportunities provided by our devices become more and more integrated into our everyday lives.

The information that we seek is not freely floating on our devices. Mobile applications are the key to the success of these devices, as they provide a gateway to our needs as consumers. Whether it’s the weather forecast, the highest-rated local coffee shop, a traffic report, or a stock market update, it’s an app that provides the answer.

At just over one hundred billion, the number of app downloads around the world to date is astonishing. And this number is expected to grow even further in the coming years.

Although mobile applications are commonplace today, most consumers think “personal use” when they think of apps. We all understand that there is an app for our favorite social media site or a card game app we can kill time with while waiting, but in what other ways can apps be leveraged, and who can benefit from them?

The answer is businesses.

I have seen businesses of nearly every size begin to see the potential behind creating an app for customers. Retailers can now move even further online to adjust their business model to the changing times. Transportation services have created apps that convenience users by helping them navigate routes and times, all while providing pricing. Some financial institutions allow their customers to scan and digitally deposit checks from their smartphones. These applications are beneficial; however, they are far from the only practical mobile business apps.

Mobile applications for business processes are now more prominent when it comes to how businesses run from day to day. Applications created specifically for the operational side of an organization have gained traction. The benefits of employing an app for use on a mobile device to transform a business process begin with the very reason we use apps in the first place: convenience.

For example, instead of handwriting notes on data or inventory while out of the office, an application that allows data to be entered on the spot by typing or talking removes an otherwise lengthy process. That saved time can then be better spent visiting clients and prospective customers, providing convenience in an otherwise tedious operation.

Another example of a mobile app for a business’s internal use is one that facilitates mobile sales. For deals that close quickly or unexpectedly, organizations can have contracts signed electronically, no matter where a meeting may have taken them. Presentations and data can be displayed at a moment’s notice if needed, as well. Data on previous deals made with a customer can be easily accessed while heading to meet with him or her.

Mobile apps can streamline processes, including supply chain, purchasing, distribution, or maintenance processes, so that a business can run as productively as possible. With information available on demand via mobile device from one accessible location, organizations tend to increase productivity and identify areas that need further improvement, which can reduce cost inefficiencies while increasing revenue.

Communication and collaboration are improved through mobile apps for business processes, as employees begin to more clearly understand roles and discuss the discrepancies highlighted by the application. Employees instantaneously become more productive, as time is saved through the assistance that mobile applications provide.

Business applications can be purchased and modified by organizations, or designed from scratch to fit the unique needs of a business. By creating a mobile app tailored to its business, an organization gains a competitive edge from having something unique in its industry. There are dozens of businesses that specialize in creating mobile apps to fit the unique needs of their customers.

The ways in which mobile applications can be used is seemingly endless, and right now, mobile apps for business processes represent a growing Hard Trend that every organization should address, as such apps can streamline internal processes. If productivity and effectiveness are your long-term goals, ask yourself how you can use mobility to improve every business process.

Innovation leads to disruption, not being disrupted. Learn more with my bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization. I have a special offer for you.

Pick up your copy today at www.TheAOBook.com

The Industry 4.0 Advantage

This visceral image of “industry” being gritty and exclusively blue-collar is true to some degree, but when “4.0” is added to it, it takes on a whole new meaning, and blue-collar workers end up believing the narrative that robots and artificial intelligence (A.I.) will delete their jobs.

Though common, this fear is unwarranted. Despite the now-proven Hard Trend that A.I., advanced automation and robotics, 3D printing, and other industrial Internet of Things (IoT) advancements often replace mundane tasks in manufacturing, Industry 4.0 transformations allow us to work alongside machines in new, highly productive ways.

Industry 1.0 to 4.0

Manufacturing in every industry has evolved as four distinct industrial revolutions since the 1800s. The first industrial revolution took place between the late 1700s and early 1800s. Manufacturing evolved to optimized labor performed by the use of water- and steam-powered engines with human beings working alongside them.

The second industrial revolution began in the early part of the 20th century, introducing steel and use of electricity in factories. These developments enabled manufacturers to mobilize factory machinery and allowed for capitalizing on manpower in mass production concepts like the assembly line.

A third industrial revolution began in the late 1950s, which brought with it automation technology, computers, and robotics, increasing efficiency and repositioning the human workforce. Near the end of this period, manufacturers began experiencing a shift from legacy technology to an increase in attention to digital technology and automation software.

The current industrial revolution is Industry 4.0, which increases interconnectivity and networked intelligence through the Internet of Things (IoT) and other cyber-physical systems. Industry 4.0 is far more interlinked than revolutions before, allowing for improved company communication and collaboration.

The general definition of Industry 4.0 is the rise of digital industrial technology. To better understand, let’s take a look at nine building blocks of Industry 4.0.

Big Data and Analytics

Industry 4.0 allows for streamlining, collecting and comprehending data from many different sources, including networked sensors, production equipment, and customer-management systems, improving real-time decision making.

Autonomous Robots

The ability for robots to interact with one another while accomplishing rhetorical tasks increases productivity and opens new job opportunities for employees willing to learn new things. These future autonomous robots will cost less while having greater range of capabilities.

Advanced Simulation

Advanced simulations will be used more extensively in plant operations to leverage real-time data, mirroring the physical world in a virtual model. This includes machines, products, and humans and allows operators to test and optimize the machine settings in the virtual world first, accelerating a predict-and-prevent operational strategy for downtime issues.

Horizontal and Vertical System Integration

Universal data-integration networks in Industry 4.0 increase connectivity among departments, suppliers, and partners. This resolves lack of communication or miscommunication within a project crossing departmental boundaries.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Decentralizing analytics and decision making while enabling real-time feedback is key in today’s age. IIoT means connected sensors, machines communicating with each other, and more devices having embedded computing enabling Edge Computing, where networked sensors get new data instantly and automated decisions happen faster.

Agile and Anticipatory Cybersecurity

Secure means of communication and identity management is quite important to cybersecurity in Industry 4.0, as increased interconnectivity brings the risk of security issues. Manufacturing companies must pre-solve problems in cybersecurity and implement anticipatory systems by adding a predict-and-prevent layer to A.I.

Advanced Hybrid Cloud and Virtualization

As data increases, local storage will not suffice, which brings us to Cloud Services and Virtualization. Elements of high-speed data analytics coupled with A.I. and machine learning enable real-time knowledge sharing. Advanced Cloud Services also enable anticipatory predict-and-prevent strategies.

Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)

Advanced additive-manufacturing methods will be integrated into mass production systems, providing a new level of speed and customization along with the ability to solve complex manufacturing problems while also functioning as a standalone system for custom manufacturing.

Augmented Reality

According to my Hard Trend Methodology, this relatively new technology will gain more traction as augmented reality (A.R.) apps for business and industry are developed. For example, in Industry 4.0, AR can help quickly find parts in a warehouse by looking around from one location.

The adaptation of any of the new technologies in Industry 4.0 will face an uphill battle, as blue-collar manufacturing industries are not often open-minded about embracing new technology often seen as a job eliminator. Embracing the ever-changing spectrum of Industry 4.0 technologies allows acceleration of innovation, pre-solving seemingly impossible problems, and developing and implementing digital manufacturing solutions.
Leaders should help their managers and employees anticipate disruption and change to get excited about learning new skills that will keep them employed and ensure development in their careers. Start with my latest book The Anticipatory OrganizationI have a special offer for you!

The Beliefs That Can Help You Power Through Life

If there’s one tragedy in life, it is this – billions of people are trapped by their own beliefs into leading lives that are less fulfilling and less amazing than they ought to be. They have been taught to frame themselves in the negative and their beliefs that they cannot do things are self-fulfilling.

Yet, it is easy to see such beliefs as false when you place them under examination. Better still, it is relatively simple to restate such beliefs in a true context so that they empower us to succeed rather than cause us to fail.

Here are some limiting beliefs and new ways to see them to free your mind and soul to achieve great things:

Limiting Belief – “I Can’t Be Me”

“I can’t be me. I might be judged for it.”

It’s easy to see how this might stop someone from embodying their true-self, isn’t it? If you’re scared that other people are sneering at you, why try at all?

The good news is that you can reject this belief. Try replacing it with these two instead:

“It is not my role in life to please other people.”

“I can be me. There will never, in all of history, be another person like me.”

The good news? These beliefs are true. They free you from the limiting belief and replace it with a positive.

Limiting Belief – “They Might Say No”

This is usually expressed as, “I can’t ask for what I need, what if someone says no?”

The fear of rejection is a peculiar one. It stems from being part of a social species. It hurts when we are rejected. Yet, the fear is often debilitating and not real. It just holds us back.

These beliefs are better:

“Everybody hears ‘no’ at some point in life. Each ‘no’ carries us closer to ‘yes’.”

And… “If I don’t ask for something, you probably won’t get it.”

This may be one of the biggest signs of successful people. When they let go of the fear of rejection, life becomes much easier.

Limiting Belief – “I Can’t Trust People”

Sure, “I can’t trust people they might betray my trust.” might feel true. But in reality, if you don’t trust people, how can you expect to work with them and to benefit from their help and love as you help and love them?

A fear of something that may never come is not your friend. Many people are completely trustworthy and given your trust they will grow it into something amazing with you.

These beliefs will help you strengthen your bonds with others:

“Unless someone shows they are untrustworthy, they are deserving of my trust.”

“I must trust people, in order to form meaningful relationships.”

All Limiting Beliefs Can Be Reversed

If you have a limiting belief in life, it can be reversed. Nothing you believe needs to be objectively true, unless you really want it to be. Freedom in life comes from choosing the right beliefs for your mindset.