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24 “Future of Work” Voices You Should Know About In 2014

24 “Future of Work” Voices You Should Know About In 2014

Our colleague and co-founder of TomorrowToday, Dr Graeme Codrington, has just recently been included on a list of “24 Future of Work Experts” that you should know about in 2014. An impressive list and we’re extremely proud to see Graeme’s work included here.

“We all know that workplace and the constituents that make it, are changing. To understand and be ready for this change organizations need thought leaders, thinkers, writers and doers, to help them understand and navigate through it.

To get you started, we have created a list of important voices who understand “future of work” and have been sharing their thoughts about it for a while now. These experts are the ones you should listen to if you really want to understand how “future of work” is going to look like.”

You can read the full article here or continue reading below

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Three ways to deal with failure, by Seth Godin

April 10, 2014 Graeme Codrington Change, Innovation, Leadership, Personal Development No Comments
Three ways to deal with failure, by Seth Godin

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

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

Accuracy, resilience and denial

… three ways to deal with the future.

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

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

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

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The Leader’s Narrative – Utilising Common Denominators

April 5, 2014 Dil Sidhu Connection Economy, Diversity, Strategy No Comments
The Leader’s Narrative – Utilising Common Denominators

Working at a major global University I often encourage MBA and undergraduate students come to visit me in my office. I purposely seat them so they face 4 large movie posters and more often than not I can see the student’s eyes look at the posters and on many occasions they stop the conversation and ask about the movies I have chosen.

When communicating in a multi-cultural and diverse environment (the University of Manchester has over 40,000 students studying across 20 different institutes and schools of faculty and come from 157 countries and territories) it is important to send and receive messages, through conversation and dialogue, that are relevant, able to connect with the recipient and understood. We often hear about the ‘Leader’s Narrative’ and the power of storytelling and while it is a great approach many leaders, in my experience, feel they don’t have enough ‘interesting and captivating’ stories to call upon.

Finding common denominators for narrative can be a great way to get the point across using the metaphor of a movie as most people, across all cultures and different backgrounds have experienced the power of film. I have seen my colleagues at TomorrowToday using the metaphor of film to great effect when they deliver the ‘Adaptive Leadership in a Dynamic World’ session to senior teams from global corporate organisations.

So, what 4 movies appear on the wall behind my desk you may be thinking and why those 4? Let me take you through my choices:

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

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

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

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

And now Apple is making a move into healthcare.

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

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

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

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

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Partnership Working – What Habits Really Work?

March 27, 2014 Dil Sidhu Organisational Development, Strategy No Comments
Partnership Working – What Habits Really Work?

It really does take two to tango!

Strawberries and Cream, Lennon and McCartney, Laurel and Hardy, Batman and Robin, Gin and Tonic, Bonnie and Clyde (okay, that one didn’t end so well!) are cited as great partnerships that complement each other and illustrate that you can be better together than on your own.

In business today you hear a lot about the word ‘partnership’ and it has perhaps been so overused that it has damaged its image and pushed it into cliché status. This is partly because partnership arrangements inevitably end up in a ‘win-lose’ scenario rather than the coveted ‘win-win’. Human nature is such that we want to work with people that we know and who know us. This builds a certain degree of familiarity, trust and understanding about what each brings to a business relationship.

The irony is that organisations are looking more and more towards establishing partnerships and subsequently need to be more cautious about seeking and announcing partnerships. Business activities like; outsourcing, co-development, supplier integration shared-services and even gaining the much coveted but seldom realized ‘trusted advisor’ status all require a thorough understanding of what attributes make for a successful partnership. Defined this means that it is meaningful for both parties this approach also applies equally within the sphere of learning and development.

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The Potential – and Problems – of Being Generation X

March 24, 2014 Graeme Codrington Generation X and Y, Generations, Talent, Video No Comments
The Potential – and Problems – of Being Generation X

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

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Happy birthday World Wide Web

March 12, 2014 Graeme Codrington Disruptive Forces, Innovation, Technology No Comments
Happy birthday World Wide Web

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

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

The rest is history.

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

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

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47% of knowledge jobs are in “High Danger” of being automated by AI and ML algorithms

47% of knowledge jobs are in “High Danger” of being automated by AI and ML algorithms

Within the next decade or two 47 percent of job categories for knowledge workers, that includes: accountancy, legal work, technical writing and a lot of other white-collar professions – could be automated says the findings of a report by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of the University of Oxford. This study titled: THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO COMPUTERISATION? looks into the prospects of over 702 detailed occupations and they provide strong evidence that “wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relation- ship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation” meaning that even if your job is not replaced by computers your salary is going to remain stunted over this period too.

In this paper, Frey and Osborne address the question: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation? Doing so, they build on the existing literature in two ways. First, drawing upon recent advances in Machine Learning (ML) and Mobile Robotics (MR), and, Second, they estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, and examine expected impacts of future computerisation on US labour market outcomes.

We’ve long been tracking this trend in our TIDES of Change model and our suggestion to workers in jobs that are under threat (which includes doctors, lawyers engineers etc.) is this – Focus on the human connection. This is the one thing computers can not do, yet. They can not empathise , they can not show human compassion nor can they build relationship. If you want to remain at the top of your game, focus on the things that are most important to your customers, the relationship and human engagement. My colleague  Graeme Codrington makes an excellent case for this when he recently spoke to a group of professional services people. Here are his key points:

  • You have got to do things computers can not do
  • You can not continue to do things computers do, but with a smile. You will be replaced unless you are doing things computers can’t do
  • We live in a high-tech world, but computers are not so good in a high touch world
  • The things computers can not do is relationships
  • You need efficiency, but that is a given.
  • You have to have the right products and services, that’s a given for competitiveness
  • But if you want to win, the relationships are at the heart of future competitive advantage


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

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

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

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

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

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

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People connect with a sense of purpose, says Markus Kramer

People connect with a sense of purpose, says Markus Kramer

In this Video, TomorrowToday associate, international keynote speaker and ex-marketing director of Aston Martin, Markus talks about the importance of companies having a purpose that is appealling and relevant for their target market. Without an applicable purpose you can not win the hearts and minds of your customers.

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The art of asking the questions and seeing the weak signals

The art of asking the questions and seeing the weak signals

As information thunders through the digital economy, it’s easy to miss valuable “weak signals” often hidden amid the noise, says Martin Harrysson, Estelle Métayer, and Hugo Sarrazin of the consulting group McKinsey & Co. These “snippets” of data they say can help companies to “figure out what customers want and to spot looming industry and market disruptions before competitors do”. This article ties in nicely to many of the key messages in our leadership and development programmes. Recently we were running a future-proofing leadership bootcamp with John Lewis Partnership and we were discussing the important but seldom used leadership skill of asking questions. In a rapid fast pace complex and ambiguous world, predicting the future is a wasteful exercise. Rather leaders need to be asking questions that start or shift conversations, ask questions that motivate or inspire people to change and importantly ask questions that help identify the opportunities behind weak signals. By doing this leaders can identify disruptive forces and innovate to leverage the competitive advantage disruptions offer.

Weak signals are everywhere, of course, so deciding when and where to keep the antennae out is critical, the article by McKinsey provides a nice framework for a four step process to seeing weak signals:

1) Engaging at the top

Senior leaders need to get actively involved in the social media where weak signals are coming from. They need to engage with the thought-leaders and tribal heads of social communities. Tony Hseih is a great example of a leader who uses social media platforms to share his dreams, thoughts and aspirations. With over 2.8million followers most importantly Tony does not use the  platforms to sell his company, but rather as a way of having a dialogue with the people important to him both inside and outside his company.

You can view an excerpt of the remaining steps below or follow this link to MQ


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What the UK storms can teach leaders about gaining advantage from disruptive forces

What the UK storms can teach leaders about gaining advantage from disruptive forces

We are living in unprecedented times. The storms lashing the UK coast are the worst in living memory and the costs to the economy are in the region of £14b and growing as the weatherman reports two additional storms approaching. The calamitous disruption to business, homes and lives is  painful to see. Out of the chaos however, there are several lessons business leaders can benefit from. The tides of change are lashing the shorelines of businesses around the world (excuse the pun). Disruptive forces can now cripple a business overnight and have devastating and lasting effect. The storms hitting the UK this year whilst not predictable in magnitude, were identifiable as a growing trend. A warming planet has resulted in a wetter, warmer climate in the UK for the past decade. I wonder how many businesses that have been disrupted by the flooding of rail and road networks had plans in place before hand of how to not only deal with these disruptions, but to gain advantage over their competitors. We don’t have the figures to this question, but we can’t imagine many.  

But the signs have been there for the past few years. If you were a business observing and reading the weak signals you would’ve known to plan for a disruption of this nature. We work with business leaders around the world helping them to identify, understand and build competitive advantage out of disruptive forces. Using our TIDES of Change model we get companies and leaders to think about the questions they should be asking on disruptive forces  but are not. T-I-D-E-S stands for Technology, Institutional change, Demographics, Environment & Ethics and Shifting social values. There are other disruptive forces but our research from our Strategic Insights and Futures Lab shows that they are the five biggest forces of disruption.

Environment and Ethics are the most powerful of the five disruptive forces we track and their impact has the potential to disrupt businesses immediately. Yet we often find environment and ethics is the area of least focus by leaders. Take the storm, caused by changes in the global environment. The potency is massive and damage is immediate are you prepared and how can you turn the disruption into an advantage? During the devastating Cumbrian floods of 2009 the bridge in Workington over the river Derwent was swept away. The community in the Seaton and Northside areas of Workington faced a detour of up to 40 miles to just buy basic commodities. Tesco,  a leading food retailer, sprung into action. They had an emergency solution at hand. Advanced planning with Yorkon, a manufacturing company, allowed Tesco to spring into action and within  a week of the bridge being washed away a tempory store had been erectet to help ease some of the problems facing the flood-hit community. You can watch a video of this story on Youtube.

Because of advanced planning and quick action Tesco was able to turn the disruption into an advantage and build massive goodwill with the community. Out of every disruption there are opportunities to do good for society, build goodwill and competitive advantage. Are you having the right conversations about disruptive forces in your business?

Are you asking the right questions and developing the strategies to counter and leverage disruption? If you are not take the opportunity to talk to us we’d love to show you what we know and share our insights.

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Primary Blog contributors

The main contributors to this blog are:

Dr Graeme Codrington, co-founder of TomorrowToday, author, speaker and expert on the changing world of work
Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder and CEO of TomorrowToday UK & Europe, speaker, consultant and Chief Intellectual Adventurer
Catherine Garland, head of the TomorrowToday Strategic Insights team and previous MD of GFK Research in the United Kingdom
Keith Coats, co-founder of TomorrowToday South Africa, leadership development guru, speaker and author
Professor Nick Barker, director of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program at the East-West Center in Hawaii, leadership development expert
Markus Kramer, marketing director for Aston Martin and brand building expert
Keith Holdt, Visionary Enabler of business growth and change, currently works for LDC as an investment executive.
Dil Sidhu, Chief External Officer, Manchester Business School; Executive education specialist.
Dawna MacLean, expert on fostering meaningful change and creating authentic experiences through transparent and trusted partnerships.

Click here for a full list of contributors

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