Over the past year, I have been working to create some kind of working guide to assist us as we transition into an era that is requiring a different type of intensity, planning, flexibility and real-time response.
As the pace of change continues to gain momentum, it is becoming increasingly more important to expand our view in order to see the multiple forces that are having such an impact on our professional lives, organizations, business partners and clients. Doing so will help us to prepare, respond and perhaps invent the future.
A Starting Point For 2013
After combing through several resources and trying some things out, I have included a list of 7 things that have been helping me to expand my view and adapt during this time of significant change - all while having some fun in the process!
I would like to share these steps as a starting point as we enter 2013. These steps help take stock of where we are right now, while keeping an eye toward the future. I hope that you will find them helpful. If you have some ideas that you would like to share, please feel free to add them to the comments section below as we continue down this journey together.
1. Start With A Holistic View – Read “The Big Shift”
The Big Shift, Why It Matters and The Deloitte Shift Index Report are my top two picks for getting a real serious picture of the converging trends impacting businesses and independent professionals today.
The Deloitte Shift Index Report includes a framework to help us understand, as well and quantify, the three waves of deep, long-term change affecting us all. It includes an overview of the “Big Shift” along with providing context, their findings and the implications.
The three indices, as defined in the report, are as follows,
- Foundation Index – The fast moving relentless evolution of a new digital infrastructure and shifts in global public policy are reducing barriers to entry and movement
- Flow Index – Sources of economic value are moving from “stocks” of knowledge to “flows” of new knowledge
- Impact Index – Foundations and knowledge flows are fundamentally reshaping the economic playing field
The authors of The Big Shift also wrote The Power of Pull: Why Small Changes, Smartly Made Can Put Big Things in Motion. This is a fantastic book that was featured in a past post. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
2. Dig Deeper, Watch Current Trends & Look for Signals
There are several resources out there that can help business and marketing professionals maintain a big picture view, while digging even deeper as we highlight the trends. Combining resources with different activities, can also uncover potential signals of change worth paying attention to. Here are my top recommendations for resources as well as specific people who I like to follow.
a. Recommended Papers, Articles and Studies
- The State of Human Capital 2012 False Summit
- Mary Meeker's 2012 KPCB Internet Trends Year-End Update
- Trendwatching.com's 10 Crucial Top Consumer Trends for 2013
- The World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers 2013
- The World Economic Forum The Future of Manufacturing
- Edelman Trust Barometer Executive Summary & Global Presentation (Updated 2013)
- IFTF 2012 Map of the Decade
- IFTF 2013 Research Agenda
- Pew Internet Latest Research and Statistics
- What’s Next Top Trends Blog
- Agent of Change: The Future of Technology Disruption in Business
- House Approves STEM Legislation
- The JOBS Act: What Startups and Small Businesses Need to Know [Infographic]
b. People to Read and Follow
- Educators: Sir Ken Robinson, Clay Shirky, Kevin Werbach, Ian P. McCarthy
- Futurists: Richard Watson, Gerd Leonhard, Ray Kurzweil, Ross Dawson, and Juan Enriquez (a more recent discovery for me)
- Business +: John Hagel, John Seely Brown, Mary Meeker, Brian Solis, Charlie Rose, Andrew Grove, Nilofer Merchant, Paul Greenberg, Chris Anderson (former Wired editor) and Tim Brown (IDEO)
c. Classes and Open Courseware
Taking classes, watching course lists as they get updated and following forward thinking educators are also helpful ways to keep up with emerging trends. This seems especially important now as businesses and colleges are working more closely to identify top talent to recommend for placement due to our growing global talent shortage.
d. Observe, Explore and Participate - See below.
3. Get Out There, Attend Meet Ups, Talk to People & Give Back
As you already know, nobody can do it all on their own. If you are working independently, with the access today, there is no reason to. And, if you are part of a company, it is good to get out there and speak with different people.
With all of the changes currently taking place, meeting new people online or at meet ups is a great way to learn, ask questions and give back to the community. And please, don’t be afraid of going outside your comfort zone if you are an “amateur” in the space. You will be amazed by how welcoming some of the communities can be when you start to exchange information about your journey and findings.
I met Daniel (above), at the 3DEA Popup store in Manhattan. He is a Scientist who is involved with Crowdsourcing Discovery and also happens to be part of another meet-up I recently joined. He was full of passion about what he does and openly shared his recent experiences, while confidently shaking my hand and welcoming me into the "Maker" community.
At another event called, The Secrets of Kickstarter: What You Need To Know To Have A Successful Campaign, successful “kickstarters” shared their stories of bringing new ideas to market.
Most of the panelists there were self-taught. They were able to learn what they didn't already know on their own by researching, taking classes online, experimenting and tapping into the expertise within their social communities. They generously shared their experiences with the creative process, product development, global manufacturing, prototyping and production. They also discussed some hardships and challenges, sharing some valuable lesson learned.
Through it all, they rose enough funding to go to market, make a profit and expand their product lines. If this isn’t a trend or signal worth paying serious attention to, then I don’t know what is. As Jamie Ferrell says in, The JOBS Act: What Startups and Small Businesses Need to Know [Infographic],
“As social media has created seismic shift in the way we market our products and connect with our customer base, crowdsourcing will change the way that we start businesses and build our consumer base from the ground-up.”
In some ways, this experience provided an interesting snapshot into the future of work. It also left me inspired to make a contribution to a new project - CLOUDS Interactive Documentary. Check it out.
4. Try New Things, Share, Collaborate & Get Hands-On
As our work-scape continues to change, we need to be prepared to find new ways to continue our learning processes while employed full-time, part-time or as contractors. This also applies to business organizations. There is a hard reality to the pace of change along with the economic turbulence being felt in and outside of companies.
As we grow and build upon our current expertise, we will have even more to offer our clients, future employers, independent initiatives, social communities and collaborative efforts like the examples listed in the section above. It is critical if we are going to be able to compete - as businesses and as individuals in the talent pool.
a. Independent Professionals
Depending on our work situation or industry, at times it can be a challenge to get some hands-on experience to deepen our foundational knowledge of an emerging subject. With a little research and resourcefulness, you will find that outside of a business organizations, are additional opportunities to apply our learning. It could be at home, via technological platforms and in communities where we can “tinker" together.
As an example, I had been reading and watching the evolution of 3D printers for quite some time and kept running into challenges while trying to get access to a place where I could use one. The more I learned, the closer I got. Then, just when I was planning a trip to a library upstate in effort to try one out, a popup store called 3DEA opened in midtown where I was able to print the item in the image above using my finger, a tablet and a 3D printer.
This experience might not seem like much based on the yellow piece of plastic in the "BRT" image above, but it was victory for me that day because I finally got to apply what I had been reading about while exploring some of the technology’s strengths and limitations. I ended up meeting some incredible people in the process, sharing some of what I had learned a long the way as well.
b. Organizations and Individuals
Businesses can also encourage different types of collaboration and the exploration of these types of learning opportunities with their internal teams and external business partners. There is an incredible opportunity and value in sharing here, as well as a risk if ignored.
Some companies are already doing this and others are experimenting with ways to encourage these efforts. John Seely Brown speaks about this along with the importance of being an "entrepreneurial learner" in the video above, which is definitely worth listening to.
5. Take Time to Digest Your Findings, Curate Content & Keep Your Notes
Don’t forget to pause, think things through and digest your findings. And take time to refresh. This is an absolute must if we are going to innovate and create. I wrote about this in Deep Thinking, Imagination and Time... and Creative Words for Inspiration. I can’t reinforce how important this really is.
Write, sketch, draw pictures and keep the “stupid” ideas…sometimes you will find that they aren’t so stupid after all. I have several notebooks, poster boards, this blog and a great big wall to help lay things out and connect the dots. Take pictures and digitize your notes and store them safely.
Trying different approaches to observation can also provide different vantage points of the forces impacting business today. I have found that Pinterest boards provide and opportunity to create a nice big-picture visual, along with additional layers of depth on a topic - especially with some of the shared boards. As simple as it may seem, there is an opportunity to make different connections when you are able to place a single topic on several boards.
And don’t forget to engage others. All of these things assist in providing a nice interactive platform to engage others and solicit feedback to build upon different ideas. Some forward-thinking organizations are implementing social enterprise strategies and updating to more robust collaboration systems to assist with this.
You pick what works best for you, your team and/or your organization. And again, feel free to add to this list.
6. Exchange Ideas, Consider Different Points of View & Discuss the Implications of Change
As excited as we can get about the new information, late breaking headlines or opportunities presented to us during these times, there are some serious implications that we need to think about.
Ray Kurzweil and Juan Enriquez were featured at a recent Tedx Silicon Alley event here in New York (video above). They both presented and at the end, there was an intriguing fireside chat. This discussion inspired me to think about the implications of some of the changes taking place. It also demonstrated the importance of considering several points of view.
We should continue to seek
these types of experiences out – they can help to stretch and inform our thinking and
strategies as we deepen our expertise and develop our own positions on a
7. Take Risks, Invent the Future & Stay Passionate
The video above is a 10-minute interview with Salim Ismail. What I found interesting was the approach that Singularity University is taking to the curriculum challenge that is worth paying attention to. In it he says,
“The metabolism of our economy is actually accelerating, so you need to keep pace at that level…”
He discusses real time curriculum development and provides some advice for businesses on how to “future-proof” or protect us as much as possible. He outlines these three main focal points,
- "Look for competition coming from the craziest places - Today you can pick up an ipad, build an app and go compete in any industry you want.
- Very aggressively and constantly innovate - If not, you will be left behind. If you are building something using today’s technology, you are often out of date before you get to market. So you have to actually leapfrog that.
- Keep on top of what breakthroughs are coming."
He goes on to say, "Make sure you take the risks and as you are taking them, make sure your organization is flexible enough to encapsulate that and keep moving forward.”
This brings me to the final point on passion. This is also written about in the Power of Pull along with many other of the resources mentioned above. Based on my personal experience, it is key.
From what I have been experiencing and from what I can see, the era that we are now entering into requires genuine interest and passion, self motivation and an even deeper level of collaboration. Just writing this post reminded me of the energy that I felt when I heard the quote below.
I do recognize that the uncertainty that comes with all of this change can be unsettling at times. And as much as we need to tackle some deeply serious topics being placed on the table, it is also a very exciting time full of incredible opportunity.
There are a lot of passionate people out there trying to figure out how best to evolve and contribute in their own unique ways. There are optimists, pessimists, realists and everything in between having some amazing conversations and doing some great work in effort to make an impact and shape the future that lies ahead. Sign me up.
I hope that you found some of these resources and experiences helpful. If you have any ideas that you would like to share, please feel free to add them to the comments section below. I look forward to continuing on this journey together :)
Enjoy your Holidays and Happy New Year!