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Insights on Beer, Vinegar and Customer Experience

beerI have come to believe that we are all spinning our wheels in our efforts to change until we learn to understand and embrace our irrationality.  I watched anotherDan Ariely talk this weekend and he shared an analogy that really helps illustrate why we are so irrational about understanding our irrationality.  Humans by nature are irrational beings, so how can we become rational about our irrationality?  He speaks about a study where they provide two types of beer and ask the participants for their preference.   One group is told they are tasting one beer with vinegar added and another beer without; in this case the participants all prefer the one without.  Then they offer the same two beers to a second group only this time they don’t share that one has vinegar in it; and in this case the participants prefer the one with vinegar.  Turns out that vinegar enhances the taste of beer but our preconceived notions of what vinegar would do to beer trump how we experience it.  In other words, our preconceptions shape our experiences and trump reality.  Which highlights that we don’t even have a clue when we are being irrational.

So how can companies design products and services that account for what we are unaware of?  And how can we advocate change when we are neurologically wired by our preconceptions that inhibit us from embracing what we really would otherwise prefer.

I think it is fair to say that most companies are finally focusing on Customer Experience as a key imperative.  But they are doing this with little to no regard for how we human beings actually experience products and services.  These days data and rational strategies are typically the drivers behind most Customer Experience initiatives, with high rewards.  But with this approach we are only scratching the surface of the opportunity to maximize the value and returns of our efforts.  If we layer in mechanisms to interrupt or disguise our preconceptions that block us from a positive experience than I believe we can exponentially impact outcomes both for our customers and financial stakeholders.

Ariely gives a powerful example of this in context of social conflict.  An example I see time and again in business is when companies deliver a new message, or create a new product or service that they are certain is of great value for their customer.  Yet it gets received with reluctance, caution or even rejection.  Typically the response to this is to either push harder, re-engineer, or to abandon the change altogether.  When really what is needed is to better understand the preconceived beliefs that are in our way.  To complicate this challenge further, our own personal preconceived beliefs about what our customers needs are may be in our way too.  Bottom line is that we need to invest in a sophisticated understanding of human behaviour.  This awareness needs to begin academically, and once we begin to understand the nuances of it we will see, hear, and experience everything differently.  Only then can we really begin to expand on the rewards of designing meaningful experiences for our customers.

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Recent media mentions

Recent media mentions

Graeme Codrington has appeared in the media a few times in recent weeks. Here is a sampling of his contributions:

Speaking on Gen Y at the British Hospitality Association annual convention, Graeme focused attention on the impact that a younger generation is having on an industry that needs to employ significant numbers of young people to succeed. His presentation and contribution to a panel discussion was captured in the June/July 2014 edition of Hospitality Today (page 24-25): read it online here.

Graeme spoke at an Extended Knowledge Conference for Baloise Insurance Group in Germany recently. Here is a summary of the session.

Graeme was recently interviewed on CapeTalk 567 radio, on how to future-proof our children. Listen to the 15 minute interview on SoundCloud here.

A number of the TomorrowToday team have been featured on yourBusinessChannel’s Inside Finance TV channel. See their briefings videos here. We especially like the video on “Blowing Industries Apart”.

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The Mindfulness Circle

Mindfulness CircleConceptually understanding the Cycle of Self is key to maximizing our potential.  It explains our “why”. Why we believe what we believe, why we think what we think, and why we do what we do.  We can leverage Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle to help illustrate the “why”, “how” and “what” of mindfulness.  Simply put, Sinek’s Golden Circle is based on the principle that great leaders take an inside out approach.  Starting with the “why”, then the “how”, before getting to the “what”. More commonly leaders focus on the “what”, which does not motivate or inspire us to act.  The “what” informs people with rational, logical information but it is the “why” that ignites purpose, emotion and instincts that motivate us to act.

By applying the same inside out approach to ourselves we can mindfully design our life experiences.  Starting with our “self”, then tuning into our “awareness”, before trying to “change” ourselves.  Most of us set goals to change or add habits without understanding why our habits exist.  Few of us examine what false beliefs we have that are keeping us stuck.  Trying to change ourselves without understanding our motivations assumes we are rational and logical, but the fact of the matter is we are not.  We are human first.  That is why most New Years resolutions fail, along with all the other attempts we make to start or stop our habits.

My last post examined “self”.  But how do we move beyond conceptually understanding the significant of self?  We do this through “awareness”.  Awareness is tricky business.  It has cyclical complexities similar to the Self Cycle.  It takes discipline to become and remain aware and it takes kindness to ourselves to own ourselves with empathy and without judgement.  And we need to accept ourselves as we are, unconditionally, with the discipline to pay attention to when we act on our false beliefs.  And when we do, we must be kind to ourselves.  Meditation, yoga, golf, walking; essentially any activity that brings us closer to nature and our spirit will help us mindfully navigate through awareness.

Then as we become aware of the parts of self that do not serve us, the parts that get in the way of what we want, we can begin to explore how to create meaningful change in our life.  Our “self” + “awareness” will inspire our intent.  And our intent will take lots of practice.  Quite frankly we will fail (many times) before we succeed.  Which is why we need to reward ourselves each every time we succeed.  This will reinforce the value of our new habit(s). We must keep reminding ourselves or our intent, with discipline, kindness and acceptance, trusting our beliefs and thoughts will design the experiences we desire.

This journey will feel a lot like taming a wild horse.  We need to have patience with the parts of ourselves that like to run free, fast and wild.  But we will also need focus and concentration to  have the discipline to resist distractions that are not aligned with our beliefs and intentions.  This is a life long journey, not a destination.

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Peugeot unveils a new car that runs on air.

Peugeot unveils a new car that runs on air.

We are living during a era of great technological innovation. At TomorrowToday we love technology that has the ability to disrupt not only products but entire industries, even countries. Peugeot Citroën  appears to be doing just that . The car manufacturer has unveiled a new hybrid drivetrain that uses compressed air instead of electricity to provide a secondary source of propulsion. They call this innovation Hybrid Air and it’s a technology they claim will be available in their compact models (Citroën C3 or a Peugeot 208) by 2016 for a price of £16,000. The company claims that the car using a hybrid system emits as little as 69g/km of CO2 i.e. 2.9l / 100km. Peugeot aims to reduce this to 2l/100km by 2020 

 An innovative full-hybrid gasoline solution. An important step towards the 2l/100 km car by 2020 

The car travels on compressed air propelling it to speeds of 43mph where after the petrol or diesel system kicks in. 60-80% of journeys can therefore be completed, in an urban city environment, using just air!

A car that runs on compressed air has the potential to not only disrupt the motor industry, but the massive oil industry too. This is great news for environmentalist, but not for those who invest in the future of fossil fuel. Understanding the impact of this disruption needs to be a boardroom topic for energy companies. TomorrowToday is partnering with London Business School and our facilitators are working on a leadership programme for Kuwait Petroleum Company. We’ve learnt that 80% of the Kuwaiti economy is depedent on the oil industry. What happens when an abundant, cheap and pollution free source of propulsion replaces or reduces significantly the demand for their liquid gold? It’s a question we will put to them at the next session with KPC senior leaders in Spetember. The answers should be interesting.

 

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Cut away view of the hybrid air compression propulsion system

 

Ray Massey became the first UK journalist to test drive the new car in Paris. Here is an excerpt on his driving experience:

Driving feels a little different to a conventional automatic car. It’s nimble. A visual display on the dashboard screen tells you when you are in zero pollution or petrol mode. It chugs happily along in town running only on air. It certainly didn’t run out of puff and giving the accelerator a quick burst — vital on Parisian roads to keep you out of trouble — meant the combined force of the 82bhp petrol engine and the 40bhp air motor kicked in together to put wind in its sails.

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Ray Massey test driving Hybrid Air

You can read his full review of the car at the Daily Mail

 

 

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The 10 Most Important Work Skills in 2020

Last week I was sent a link to an interesting infographic on the ten most important work skills in 2020. It is a graphic respresentation of research done by the University of Phoenix and the Institute for the Future (see their PDF report here). What I like about this is that the team that put it together has looked at the significant drivers of change in society and then worked out what work skills will be required to address these.

It’s a thought provoking read for parents, educators and businesses alike. Whilst none of the skills listed are really new, the emphasis is on their growing importance. The timeline is only 6 years away anyway, and so the focus was not on new skills but on what is becoming vital for success right now in our workplaces. You can find the infographic here, and a summary of their points below.

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Just for fun: Why you really, really want a drone at home

June 20, 2014 Graeme Codrington Future Trends, Innovation, Technology No Comments

It’s Friday, and the weekend is here. So, for a bit of fun check out this wonderful use of a drone. Drones are now readily available. My brother, a video producer based in Atlanta USA (see his video channel here) has one of his own that he uses to create amazing camera shots.

These drones can be programmed to follow GPS co-ordinates, and one smart guy has programmed his drone to take his dog for a walk around the neighbourhood. Here’s the video:

Dogs and drones

What would you use a drone at home for?

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Sharing Your Secrets: What Elon Musk’s latest move at Tesla means for you

Sharing Your Secrets: What Elon Musk’s latest move at Tesla means for you

I’ll admit it: I have a huge man-crush on Elon Musk. I like everything this guy does. From his passion for space exploration and madcap vision of a one way trip to Mars, to his recent announcements about building both flying and submerisble cars, Elon is the very eptimony of a swashbuckling hero for the modern age. He’s also a South African – land of my birth too. Yet, in between the media hyped pronouncements there is some serious thought going on about the future shape of the world. Every industry he touches he also changes.

Yesterday, Elon’s electric sports car company, Tesla, announced that it will release all its patents to the world for free. Now anyone can build an electric car like they have.

There is some sanity behind this madness. In order for Tesla to grow now it really does need an entire electric car around it. Elon has seen that instead of protecting the slice of the pie he currently has (which is quite big), it’s going to be better for him to build a bigger pie. I think he’s spot on. Too many businesses spend too much time and effort protecting their piece of a pie, rather than building the pie. Lesson #1 right there.

But the bigger lesson, and the more important issue for everyone else is that Elon and Tesla understand that we’re increasingly living in a world where information is no longer power and everyone will know everything anyway. Many industries are currently built on what I call “knowledge arbitrage”: you and your company know things that other people (very often including your customers) don’t. By 2020, this will not be true. Good examples include investment banking, financial planners, pharmaceuticals and law firms.

What would your industry look like if everyone knew everything that everybody else did? What would your business model look like if it could not be based on having a corner on a set of information no-one else has? How would you add value to your clients if they already know everything you know? You may not need the answer to these questions this year, but you will need them by 2020. So you might as well start now.

Elon Musk is already one step ahead of you.

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Surprising ideas about the future from TED2014 speakers

May 24, 2014 Graeme Codrington Disruptive Forces, Future Trends 1 Comment
Surprising ideas about the future from TED2014 speakers

At TED2014, the speakers and attendees were asked to think about the conference’s theme, “The Next Chapter” and then suggest what might radically change society, life, technology and the world in the next 30 years. Their insights may surprise you.

“One of the things about learning how to read — we have been doing a lot of consuming of information through our eyes and so on — that may be a very inefficient channel. So my prediction is that we’re going to ingest information. You’re going to swallow a pill and know English. You’re going to swallow a pill and know Shakespeare. The way to do it is through the bloodstream; once it’s in your bloodstream, it basically goes through and gets into the brain and when it knows it’s in the brain it deposits the information in the right places. I’ve been hanging around with Ed Boyden and Hugh Herr and a number of people… This isn’t far-fetched.”
Nicholas Negroponte, founder, MIT Media Lab

“I hope it will be a rejection of technology that makes us more isolated from one another and more easily surveilled. I also hope we will have a sudden, dawning realization that we forgot to read books for a while and came to regret it.”
Laurel Braitman, writer, TED Fellow

“20 years from now, we’ll have nanobots — another exponential trend is the shrinking of technology — that go into our brain through the capillaries and basically connect our synthetic neocortex and the cloud, providing an extension of our neocortex. Now today, you have a computer in your phone, but if you need 10,000 computers for a few seconds to do a complex search, you can access that for a second or two in the cloud. In the 2030s you’ll be able to connect to that directly from your brain. I’m walking along, there’s Chris Anderson, he’s coming my way, I’d better think of something clever to say. I’ve got three seconds — my 300 million modules in my neocortex won’t cut it — I need a billion more. I’ll be able to access that in the cloud. Our thinking then will be a hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking.”
Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist, CEO, KurzweilAI

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The greatest challenge facing the future of business, requires your attention now.

The greatest challenge facing the future of business, requires your attention now.

Peter Menzel, is an award winning photographer, takes photographs of people posing next to their possessions taken out of their home and piled high on the pavements. The pictures paint a vividly clear picture – we live in a Material World, also the name of his book. You do not need to look at the pictures for long before it becomes clear that around the world, the industrial system has been immensely successful. Our parent’s parents bought into the system, our parents bought into the system and so have we because it has given or promised to give us a lot of cheap stuff. But here is the catch; whilst capitalism has served us enormously well – it has helped reduce property, improved standards of living around the globe, there are a number of perversions and the system  come at an enormous cost: unsustainable levels of public and private debt, excessive consumerism, and, way, too many people who are left behind. As Paul Poleman explains in a recent Mckinsey article: “Any system that prevents large numbers of people from fully participating or excludes them altogether will ultimately be rejected. And that’s what you see happening. People are asking, “What are we doing here?”

The facts of the situation are alarming:

  • we currently use is 1.5 times the world’s resource capacity.
  • Over a billion people still go to bed hungry.
  • The richest 85 people have the same wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion.

None of this is sustainable. If the post industrial capitalist system does not change itself it will be changed through the power of protest. Just because we are living in the 21st Century does not mean that the power of protest will not result in another “French Revolution.” As digitisation and the Internet give consumers enormous abilities to connect and aggregate their voices,  we will see the impact of power being dispersed and the pressure in the system will rise while wealth remains concentrated. Further development and population growth will put a lot more pressure on our planet and more and more people will ask why so few do so well when so many suffer. We are sitting on a powder keg of disruption like no other ever seen in the history of our planet.

Addressing the perversions of capitalism needs to become a strategic priority for all companies. Virginia Rometty, the Chairman of IBM cucintley puts it in her message to shareholders “How will we engage with an emerging global culture, defined not by age or geography, but by people determined to change the practices of business and society?”

I believe this is the single biggest threat facing the world of business today. By 2035, a single person, through a bio-pathegen will have the ability to end it all. But that should not be the motivating principle to find a solution. Capitalism on the whole is a very good system, but it can be made better and in doing so business can make a lot of money and society can prosper. So, I’m on a quest, to change the future of capitalism. It’s a big quest, and ideological one but it is a quest worth fighting for. Let me make this clear, I am a capitalist, it is a system I believe in, but…and this is a big BUT, capitalism needs to change if it is to be the relevant economic system propelling economic growth and prosperity into the future. I fear for society if it does not. But there is good news on the horizon because increasingly a number of hard nose business leaders and successful businesses are positioning themselves for the changes that will redefine capitalism as we know it. We are entering an exciting time and whilst there will be naysayers and people who want to protect the current status-quo I’m optimistic that business leaders will find solutions. Want proof? Here’s a starter-for-ten. Unilever chief executive Paul Polman explains why capitalism must evolve, his company’s efforts to change, and how business leaders are critical to solving intractable problems.

 

 

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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 two lists of business experts worth following. Switch & Shift named him amongst their “Top 75 List of Human Business Champions“. Global Workforce Transformation included him in “24 Future of Work Experts” that you should know about in 2014. Both are impressive lists and we’re extremely proud to see Graeme’s work included.

GWT said this: 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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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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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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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
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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