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Create a Dynamic Strategic Plan that Engages the Enterprise

Having a strategic plan is a vital aspect of any successful organization. Unfortunately, most organizations have strategic plans that are really financial plans in disguise.

Profits are only one element of a strategic plan. You need a plan that outlines what you’re going to do to differentiate yourself from your competitors and one that details your innovation strategies. Those key elements are often missing in a financially focused strategic plan.

Thorough strategic planning also looks at how you gain new competitive advantages and other broader concepts that accelerate growth beyond a financially focused plan. Therefore, your strategic planning needs to be a mix of financial planning, strategy-focused planning, long-range planning using research to determine future positions, and tactical planning to determine your execution strategies.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” That saying is true for companies today, which is why having a strategic plan is essential. It’s important to build change into the plan and have the ability to adapt it in real time.

Dynamic versus Static Planning

These days, a traditional static plan is less desirable and less effective than a dynamic plan. The difference is a static plan is a document that is published, shared with key employees, and then filed away. A dynamic plan goes beyond one-way informing and communicates the plan in a two-way, ongoing dialogue to everyone in the enterprise. It’s a living, breathing, and evolving entity engaging everyone. In short:

  • A dynamic strategic plan is a two-way dialogue that communicates with the company leaders and the employees.
  • A dynamic strategic plan reaches beyond the company walls and goes out to strategic partners.
  • A dynamic strategic plan is continually refined and improved by eliciting dialogue and input from others.

These three points are crucial; with a typical static strategic plan, people may not have time to read it or agree with it, so they may not take action. If they find major flaws in the plan, there is no means to provide risk-free feedback.

A dynamic strategic plan allows communication with people and encourages feedback. You’re not telling people the plan; you’re showing them the plan and asking for their help with identifying foreseeable challenges, solving problems before they occur.

Here are some hallmarks of a dynamic strategic plan:

  • Break it down. Long lists are rarely completed. It’s important to highlight and break down the plan into its basic elemental strategic imperatives so everyone identifies with them. If these go unknown, they won’t be accomplished. Allow the plan to stay top of mind. When it’s top of mind every day, people will know what the strategic imperatives are and are more likely to attain them.
  • Tell stories. Bring the words of your company’s strategic plan to life by making it visual. If you’ve never seen the visual of what E=mc2 means, then you still don’t understand Einstein’s theory of relativity. However, those who see it in a visual format understand it. A strategic plan can be complex and just as hard to understand, so some companies create an infographic that depicts the plan, printing it on a banner and hanging it in a main gathering area as a visual reminder of the plan.
  • Go multimedia. While your dynamic strategic plan could be a document, it could also be a video that people watch or an interactive game they play. Some people prefer to watch a video, while others prefer to play an interactive game. The people who prefer to watch the video wonder why anyone would play a game, and those who prefer to play a game wonder why anyone would sit through a video. Since we all learn in different ways, it only makes sense to put the strategic plan in various formats.
  • Get social. Social media is an ideal way to make a strategic plan dynamic. The key word to remember is “social.” It’s about creating engagement and involvement. For example, as employees execute the plan, you can create Instagram stories using pictures of success, accomplishments, and roadblocks in an effort to gain feedback and ideas. Additionally, you can be using internal online collaborative tools to work with the different groups executing the plan so help can be provided if need be. A dynamic strategic plan breaks down barriers and gets everyone headed in the same direction.

Gain Engagement

Today, truly successful and innovative companies have a dynamic strategic plan in motion. They have a document that can be added to and refined with graphics, video, and interactive media. They have something that’s moving.

Leaders need to engage people with their plans rather than inform them of their plans.

With the rapid pace of change, the traditional static planning system is a dinosaur. Now is the time to redefine what a strategic plan is supposed to be—dynamic.

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The Anticipatory Organization offers a comprehensive way to identify game-changing opportunities. Using the principles of this proven model, you will learn how to elevate planning, accelerate innovation, and transform results by pinpointing and acting upon enormous opportunities waiting to be discovered.

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Best Practices Growth Management Skills Technology

Turn Cognitive Challenges into Opportunities With Technology Built the Way You Think

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

Technology can function as a key enabler for higher cognitive performance. Technology is as important for cognitive roles as it is for transactional ones, since cognitive work in organizations drives transactional tasks. With performance gains realized through transaction management software, the next game changer is to evolve the cognitive infrastructure in the operating model.

While machines learn, disrupt and occupy the defined and known cognitive tasks of humans across industries, technologies to advance cognitive performance in the mind and with teams have remained relatively stagnant to move uncertainties into higher certainty frameworks.

Professionals utilize many technologies in their cognitive work everyday, but were not built to advance their cognitive performance. These every day technologies include:

  • spreadsheets
  • presentation software
  • documents

The Tools Leaders use for Critical Thinking in your Organization Today

All too often, critical thinking runs through spreadsheets. You may be surprised to discover the collage of spreadsheets your enterprise utilizes in its operating model — hundreds and thousands of spreadsheets (depending on the size of your business).

With spreadsheets, it’s challenging to arrive at informed decisions with 85%+ effectiveness. It’s also challenging to manage future uncertainties with 50%+ effectiveness.

How Leaders Communicate with Stakeholders in your Organization Today

Beyond their voices, leaders and managers communicate with stakeholders primarily through multipurpose presentation software. A tremendous amount of time, money and effort is expended to build presentations as snapshots in time for stakeholders. Presentations to equity investors, lenders, internal management, operations teams and supply chain partners, among many others, do not provide a framework for dynamic communications that shape the thinking in the minds of your stakeholders. Their questions are all too often unresolved during meetings, which delay decisions. When additional meetings are scheduled, you resolve the initial questions from stakeholders without a clear understanding of the impact on outcomes.

Presentation software makes it challenging to communicate perspective and address stakeholder concerns in real time with 90% effectiveness.

How Stakeholder Expectations are Conveyed in your Organization Today

Professionals primarily express their expectations verbally. They also write them in reference documents that are accessed infrequently, such as job descriptions, performance reviews, supplier agreements and annual reports, to name a few.

As documents are not actionable frameworks, it’s challenging to achieve expectations in dependent thinking with 85%+ effectiveness.

Imagine if the Stock Market Operated the Way Business Operates Today

The stock graph transforms how you synthesize information in your mind to arrive at informed decisions. Let’s go back to the time when you couldn’t visualize stock graphs for your decisions. Before stock graphs existed, imagine you met with your wealth advisor who expected you to make decisions to invest your monies and said:

I’m glad you are interested in investing in the market. We have over 10,000 companies in our exchange. To help you make an informed decision, I’ll introduce you to the analysts; there are hundreds of them. Each of them will show you their spreadsheets. Then each will walk you through your options via presentations, while attempting to answer all your questions. I thought you’d want to know this will take time because the analysts structure their spreadsheets their own way; there isn’t any consistency between them. Nor is there consistency among their presentations. After you synthesize all this information in your mind, you should be in a position to arrive at an informed decision about how to best invest your monies.

If decision processes for investors worked that way, individuals could not make high-fidelity decisions effectively. They’d be attending a lot of meetings to gain insight. As a result, many stocks wouldn’t have performed as well and many portfolios wouldn’t have grown. Nor would have the market evolved as it has.

Yet this is Exactly How Decision Processes in Business Work Today

As executives continue to invest in their transactional operations over decades, it’s time they prioritize and invest in their cognitive operations. The technology in the transactional operations is far ahead of the technology in the cognitive operations. Yet the cognitive operations drive activity in the transactional operations.

Is ‘Being Human’ Enough Today in the Cognitive Era?

Historic methods to advance critical thinking and stakeholder communications using human mental models, past experiences, personal networks and fundamental analytics are no longer enough in today’s business world. As machines increasingly coexist with humans, anticipatory tools and advanced performance analytics are needed to survive, differentiate and grow businesses and their professionals.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Leader System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

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Best Practices Growth Industries Management Skills Technology

Eliminate Cognitive Friction to Maximize Human Performance

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

Improving cognitive performance is a strategic imperative for anticipatory leaders. Yet, cognitive performance slows down due to cognitive friction. Cognitive friction occurs when professionals can’t think through uncertainties clearly in their minds. These uncertainties include:

  1. Risks
  2. Opportunities
  3. Outcomes
  4. Consequences
  5. Implications
  6. Impact
  7. Causations
  8. Causes and effects

In an organization, cognitive friction occurs frequently across many professional roles, minds and perspectives. For the 15 areas in a cognitive operation below, cognitive friction not only spans many responsibilities, it also impacts relationships and shapes cultures.

15 Areas of a Cognitive Operation

Cognitive Friction Across Perspectives

Cognitive friction occurs when two or more professionals are challenged to get on the same page. They must resolve their perspectives — which can be very challenging. In business, professionals:

  • Perform critical thinking
  • Make decisions
  • Communicate with stakeholders
  • Collaborate with other professionals
  • React to uncertainties
  • Work with peers and stakeholders to address situational challenges
  • Advise other professionals about their cognitive work
  • Evaluate the thoroughness to think through situations in the minds of their thinkers
  • Review the risk-reward trade-offs among their team members

Cognitive Friction Within the Mind of a Professional

Cognitive friction exists within the minds of professionals and creates undue stress. The six reasons friction occurs is due to:

  1. The processing limitations in the mind
  2. Ineffective communications
  3. Unproductive collaborations
  4. Uncertainties in their minds
  5. Lack of cognitive insights and foresights
  6. Bias that leads to cognitive divisiveness


Processing Limitations in the Mind

When processing multiple data points in the mind, cognitive work can become a highly stressful activity. It’s amazing how many leaders are not equipped with cognitive tools to manage uncertainty across situations, close their knowledge gaps and achieve expected results. When a situation includes more than seven variables, it’s well-known that the human mind is not able to process this level of complexity. Think how we receive, process and remember phone numbers. Our minds are not wired to synthesize 10 or more digits at a time. In the U.S., people think about the 10 digits in a pattern of a 3-digit area code, a 3-digit prefix and 4-digits for the line number; our minds consume, process and recall smaller chunks of information.

Try this exercise in your mind to see how complexity increases quickly: spin all the digits of five phone numbers in your mind as if the numbers were on a slot machine. Can you keep track of the numbers? Most of us cannot; our minds get overwhelmed right away.

When multiple changing variables exist, that’s the type of stress professionals experience every day in their minds as they perform their risk-reward trade-offs. Without additional cognitive capabilities, leaders turn to their gut as a place to find answers; often, though, the gut isn’t a very good logic engine. Operating risk is introduced when critical thinkers and decision makers do not have access to complementary, cognitive tools to perform their cognitive activities at their best.

Effective Communications Accelerate Buy-in and Decisions

The challenges increase further for critical thinkers and decision makers when they communicate with their stakeholders, peers and dependents to gain agreement about multiple, interdependent variables. These heterogeneous thinkers add new perspectives to the decision process, which increases the complexity.

That’s when members of decision teams communicate from their emotional viewpoints. Decisions stall, lasting impressions impact culture and relationships, and people experience an impasse.

Productive Collaborations are Needed to Achieve Better Outcomes

Google Hangouts, Skype and Zoom represent a step forward in collaboration and reduce travel costs. Yet, as professionals move between face-to-face and online meetings, they still struggle to innovate with breakthrough thinking.

Often, we hear professionals say, “if I could see what’s in the minds of the people I’m working with, that would help me address the challenges I’m aware of, too.” Yet, given human limitations, most professionals can’t bridge that gap effectively. If meetings involved the ability to demonstrate thinking patterns, that would help professionals overcome this human hurdle.

As professionals join meetings, they commonly bring their mental models and biases from years of experience. Their mental models create barriers to synthesizing other people’s perspectives as well as new ways of thinking into their own thinking. Where they use their voices and presentation software to convey their thinking, most attendees try to follow the logic rather than elevate their own thinking. If they had a way to unify their thinking through the visualization of evidence that focused on addressing questions of uncertainty and their critical thoughts, they’d optimize their time, learn to pre-solve issues and focus on better outcomes together. That would advance productivity in thinking in a visual way.

When professionals conclude their meetings with follow-on questions, leaders wonder which questions weren’t brought up? Are their teams going down the wrong paths? How do these questions connect to the stakeholders’ objectives? Are they considering the Hard Trends based on future facts that are shaping the future? Professionals expend valuable time to get to clarity as they reflect on their learnings when they need insights and foresights more quickly. Anticipatory leaders seek to institute advanced collaboration processes that yield greater productivity among their teams. They see everyday innovation and breakthrough thinking as a competitive advantage today as well as tomorrow.

Uncertainties, Cognitive Insights and Foresights

As connected teams in today’s data-driven world, data scientists and stakeholders strive for better outcomes together. Where data scientists focus on big data and use machine learning to ask questions about data, stakeholders focus on decision information and ask questions to solve situational challenges. The minds of stakeholders are as effective as the:

  1. Quality of their questions to resolve their problems and uncertainties
  2. Cognitive insights and foresights that arise from their mental models

Bias and Cognitive Divisiveness

In the minds of professionals, cognitive friction results from their cognitive biases and the synthesis of disparate data. Cognitive divisiveness exists among professionals as data synthesis and bias differ across perspectives. Cognitive friction and divisiveness affect velocity and outcomes.

In their roles, professionals:

  • Are often unable to access data structured the way they think about risk-reward trade-offs
  • Don’t know what they don’t know during decision making
  • Are challenged many times to demonstrate their points of view
  • Are frequently challenged to see alternative points of view during communications
  • Struggle to shape the thinking of team members due to predefined mental models
  • Are challenged to arrive at strategic foresights and engineer outcomes

A Critical Thinking Advantage

To gain an advantage in today’s world, cognitive teams must pre-solve issues through a continuous flow of cognitive insights and foresights. To achieve their objectives, they must find new wisdom within the cognitive gaps in their minds — i.e., to get from “here” to “there.” “Here” is where they are today in context to their cognitive responsibilities. “There” is where they need to go. This cognitive gap represents their current state and target state of their subject profiles. Their stakeholders depend on actionable knowledge and wisdom from their team of thinkers to improve business results. This starts with the capabilities of their cognitive resources and tools.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

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Best Practices Growth Personal Development Technology

A Strategic Imperative for Anticipatory Leaders Is Cognitive Performance

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

AI and cognitive computing have grabbed headlines. Yet, anticipatory leaders know that the elevation of cognitive performance among teams is key to maximize results. Leaders need to help their teams of professionals improve how they envision opportunities, manage downside risks and achieve greater results. Cognitive computing has to do more than deliver data-driven insights to their minds. It must help teams shape outcomes, act on implications and professionalize role-based, cerebral processes in the form of software processes. That’s where cognitive performance is front and center.

Cognitive performance involves how well professionals perform their cognitive work. Specifically, how they:

  • Establish vision
  • Identify problems
  • Ask questions of uncertainty
  • Arrive at critical thoughts
  • Analyze situations
  • Synthesize information
  • Reason
  • Judge
  • Solve problems
  • Communicate
  • Collaborate
  • Define follow-on actions

They perform these cerebral activities with their thoughts and their communications. These mini processes in their minds are nondeterministic and lead to decisions within organizations. As machine learning and deep learning move into organizations, professionals who want to increase their cognitive performance must step up their game at the same time. They must center their attention on addressing uncertainties and advance their abilities to identify and create greater certainty. In doing so, they must raise their levels of quality in decision-making processes and stakeholder communication processes that take place in their minds. Their stakeholders, customers, suppliers, employees and their industries depend on it. The status quo of gut-based decision making and misunderstandings among viewpoints leads to operational inefficiencies and monetary waste in downstream activities.

Change is accelerating in business, which creates more uncertainties that find their way into enterprises across all functional responsibilities — in strategies, integration, operations, supply chains, human resources, research, engineering, finance, process management, product management and consulting, to name a few. Today, cognitive performance is based on role-based experience, learning, frequency, recency and luck — all of which vary from role to role and person to person.

The cognitive activities in the minds of professionals are ripe for optimization. Optimization is possible by learning anticipatory skills and applying cognitive performance technologies.

The human mind is limited when it is engaged to:

  • Structure decision data
  • Process situational information
  • Store organized knowledge
  • Recall situations with specificity
  • Understand alternative viewpoints
  • Engineer outcomes with greater clarity

Although these are human limitations, the mind is extendable through the use of computing, which does a very good job of augmenting the mind for these activities. In today’s era of cognitive computing, the human mind can benefit from a digital extension to achieve the cognitive capabilities it cannot — and does not — realize on its own.

At work, professionals who think for a living formulate how to execute their work in their minds. They’ve built their cognitive expertise over time through on-the-job experiences and homegrown cerebral processes.

Business operations are both transactional and cognitive

Before transactional software systems codified the operating processes of transactional work into the business infrastructure – i.e., ERP, SCM and CRM processes – organizations created homegrown processes and systems to manage their transactional operations. ERP, SCM and CRM systems optimized task-oriented processes before, during and after a customer transaction within organizations, in supply chains and in demand chains. As a result, the transactional side of the operating model has become relatively frictionless.

Today’s friction exists within the minds of professionals on the cognitive side of the operating model. A key to future success is to eliminate this friction. That’s where anticipatory skills, combined with cognitive performance software, comes into play.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

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Best Practices Growth Management Skills Technology

Cognitive Performance — The Human Side of Cognitive Computing

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

As a leader, your responsibilities exist on the cognitive side of your business, where you think critically, make complex decisions, collaborate among your network, communicate with your stakeholders, comply with regulations and monitor uncertainties, to name a few. These activities represent your cognitive work. Given today’s rapid growth in organizations using AI, you are most likely exploring the current state of cognitive computing and how it can help you with your responsibilities beyond the collection, storage and retrieval of data through computers as data appliances. You are also considering how the highly marketed definitions of cognitive computing from IBM Watson can help you?

How cognitive performance computing can help you as a critical thinker in business  

As we meet with leaders in business, management consulting and government around the globe, they, too, are wondering how they can leverage cognitive computing for their work.

These professionals occupy roles in the cognitive operations of their organizations, where there is a constant set of unknowns. Senior executives are responsible for closing their gaps in knowledge about the future state of their businesses. Trusted advisors must do the same for their clients. As standard setters must set guidelines as best practices, regulators create the laws that require cognitive compliance from organizational leaders. The next evolution of cognitive computing addresses their cognitive responsibilities — i.e., helping executives and management consultants work through their risk-reward trade-offs in context to situational context and criteria, while standard setters and regulators build the required thresholds into the thinking of organizational leaders. This segment of cognitive computing is known as cognitive performance. Enhancing cognitive performance improves critical thinking, stakeholder communications, decision making, advisory collaboration, monitoring of uncertainties and cognitive compliance. Cognitive performance software extends the human mind with computing to help humans learn, compete and grow the impact of their own intellects.

Leverage cognitive computing for what your mind can’t do

Where machines continue to learn role-based tasks, it’s necessary for humans to work in harmony with machines to better navigate through areas of complexity and uncertainty. For business to advance, enhancing human performance needs to be a strategic imperative for business executives rather than accepting the status quo. With stronger human performance, culture will transform with faster cognitive insights and foresights to create an environment of deeper human learning. Without higher performance from our minds, we’re all operating the same way — figuring out situations on our own in a sequential order and learning from hindsight. Computers, available data and applying the four pillars of the Anticipatory Model will help us learn with foresight. To compete in industry today, we need cognitive computing to do more for our minds than provide data-driven insights. We need cognitive computing to assist the cerebral processing in our minds, help us gain perspective and put us in a position to make high-fidelity decisions. The human computers on top of our shoulders need turbochargers. As visual learners, wouldn’t it be great if we made our thoughts visual through thinking patterns to make the most of our risk-reward trade-offs! That would change the velocity of decision making and stakeholder communications! To move the needle much further in business requires a focus on the performance of human minds across teams — from senior executives and mid-level managers in business to those in their supply chains, consulting circles, insurance relationships, investor partnerships and professionals across the sciences, among others. Enhancing cognitive performance needs to be a strategic imperative to gain a competitive advantage.

Improve reasoning and judgment

Professionals know they rely on instinct and gut reactions all too often. Their ability to process information in their minds or to understand someone else’s viewpoint is often challenging. It’s a human limitation, and that’s where responsibility-based computing can help. The batting averages of professionals in reasoning and judgment must improve in today’s business world. The cognitive era is the time to break through these limitations and leverage computing to extend the capabilities of our minds.

Digital advancement in cognitive performance

Many teams responsible for operating processes on the transactional side of their businesses are now involved in digital transformation. They are automating their manual activities using AI, question-answering systems, big data and other software. Within the cognitive side of their businesses, the cognitive operating processes are ready to digitally advance as well. Those who spend time prioritizing and enhancing the cognitive performance of their teams will leapfrog their competitors as they will strengthen human performance.

The benefits of exponential advances in computing must now be applied to human performance. There’s a long, bright road ahead for the performance of the human mind. We’re just at the beginning.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

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Best Practices Growth Management Personal Development

Converting Information into Knowledge-Based Assets

When I developed my forecasting model in the early 1980s, I could see that a digital revolution would unfold, and as it did, an advanced form of capitalism would emerge, one where ideas and knowledge stimulated economic growth even more so than labor, land, money or other tangibles. It later became known as the Knowledge Era – or the Knowledge Age – in contrast to the Industrial Age.

A Few Strategic Questions to Consider

There is a big difference between data, information, knowledge and wisdom. Today we are all focused on big data, and we should be because it provides the foundation for the three higher levels. We all have a database, and as we all know, there is no shortage of information, but do you have a knowledgebase? Is your organization creating new revenue streams by converting information into actionable knowledge, sharing that knowledge internally to increase its value, and then selling it in non-competing industries? I helped a large global organization do this several years ago and they generated over $100 million in the first year. All too often we fail to see the hidden value of the people part of the business. Are you actively using web-based technology to leverage the talents, knowledge and wisdom of employees to create new high-margin products, as well as solve problems faster?

All too often, as we grow larger and move faster, we can easily lose track of the wide variety of intellectual property (IP) we have created. Are you actively formalizing, capturing and leveraging your intellectual property(IP) to create higher value assets? Using today’s digital tools, it has never been easier for any organization, regardless of size, to create new revenue streams by leveraging their enhanced IP.

Three Must-Have Components to Leverage Intellectual Capital

1. Everyone in the organization must see the tremendous opportunity and added value in going beyond the current activity of converting data into information, to higher levels of value by creating and delivering actionable knowledge and wisdom. In addition, auditing and evaluating intellectual assets must be seen as a strategic direction.

2. Everyone in the organization must see that its technology infrastructure and organizational culture are the keys to unlocking the vast wealth of knowledge within the organization, both for the organization and your clients. Knowledge increases in value when it is shared within the organization, and that means shifting from being an Information Age organization to entering the Communication Age. Informing is a one-way activity that does not always produce a result. Communicating is two-way and dynamic and almost always causes action. That’s why social media has grown so fast; it is a Communication Age enabling technology. An internal knowledge-sharing strategy, focused on fostering two-way communication and dialog, is crucial because as I said earlier, knowledge increases in value when it is shared.

3. Everyone in the organization must see their participation as essential to building a strong foundation for the enhancement, sharing and delivery of knowledge. When we have collective knowledge and wisdom at out fingertips, everyone can accomplish their work with less time and effort.

Keep in mind that you get the behaviors you reward; therefore, there must be a rewards system for sharing knowledge. Remember, there are many ways to reward people and not all have to involve money.

If you would like to learn more about how to convert information to knowledge and then productize it for revenue, I recommend reading my latest bestselling book, The Anticipatory Organization.

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Best Practices Growth Personal Development

Monetizing Intellectual Capital

Your most valuable business asset may not be the raw materials, cash reserves, or even the technology found within your company. It’s the knowledge of the people on your team. Yet, a good number of executives overlook the value of this collective knowledge, commonly called Intellectual Capital.

Case in point: Several years ago, I attended a meeting with executives and managers from one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world. One of the top executives stood before the large crowd and exclaimed that their most valuable asset was their brand recognition. At that point, I knew this company was heading for trouble.

As I watched the business news headlines over the next couple of years, I could see how this icon of American manufacturing struggled to survive.

The lesson: Brand recognition is very important, but there are other things that are even more valuable to a company’s health and longevity. One of those things is something less tangible, but extremely impactful.

Intellectual Capital can be Leveraged 

Intellectual capital is a term that covers the value of intangible assets. The three dimensions of intellectual capital are Human, Relational and Structural.

These are all exactly how they sound – human resources are your company’s people; relational capital is comprised of your relationships with customers, vendors and other constituents; and your business structure includes infrastructure, processes, and databases of information. An example of structural capital is intellectual property.

Over the past 35 years, I have observed that the most valuable assets of an organization tend to be the knowledge, talent, experience, capabilities, and vision of the people within the organization. These, coupled with the value of their patents, customer bases, and good will, equal what is called their intellectual assets.

Managing Intellectual Capital

When leaders understand how to formalize, capture, and leverage their intellectual capital to produce higher-valued assets, their profits tend to soar. There is even an emerging business strategy that focuses on creating, shaping, updating and taking “stock” of intellectual capital.

It requires having the strategic vision to blend all dimensions of intellectual capital (people, relationships, and structure) to develop a management system that is measurable, yet pliable enough to change how the intellectual capital dimensions are blended.

There is more to the process than will fit into this one article, but the concept is this: By using a multiple stage process that is governed by evolutionary logic, the intellectual capital management includes interconnected sets of practices: strategic alignment, exploration and exploitation, measurement and reporting.

The Knowledge Era Put A Focus On Intellectual Assets

One important part of capitalizing intellectual capital is to keep the knowledge pipeline full. One of the best ways to do that is to convert information into actionable knowledge.

In 1990, I predicted organizations worldwide would increasingly create new economic value by converting information into knowledge, sharing that knowledge internally to increase its value, and then selling it in non-competing industries to a global client base. When the icon-based, user-friendly World Wide Web spawned a new digital industry in a short length of time, organizations began to want their intellectual property formalized, captured and leveraged for higher values. And they wanted it online.

It became known as the Knowledge Era or Knowledge Age, in contrast to the Industrial Age. By the end of the 21stCentury, we saw an advanced form of capitalism; one where ideas and knowledge stimulated economic growth even more  than did labor, land, money or other tangible resources.

Around the same time computer companies saw their profits shift from hardware manufacturing in the 1980s to software creation in the 1990s and beyond, businesses of all sizes and in all industries started using web-based technology to leverage the talents, knowledge and wisdom of employees to create high-margin products.

Three Must-Have Components to Create Intellectual Capital

When I consult with executives today, it’s often important to review the components that are necessary to leverage a process for monetizing intellectual capital to make sure they have them in place.

1. Everyone in the organization must see the tremendous opportunity and added value in going beyond the current activity of converting data into information, to higher levels of value, by creating and delivering knowledge and wisdom, which clients can quickly act upon. In addition, auditing and evaluating intellectual assets must be seen as a strategic direction.

2. Everyone in the organization must see that its technology infrastructure and organization are the keys to unlocking the vast wealth the Knowledge Era had to offer, both for the organization and your clients. Knowledge increases in value when it is shared within the organization, and that means the Communication Age could not have come at a better time. Informing someone of your knowledge is very different than communicating with them. That’s why a knowledge-sharing technology strategy, focused on fostering two-way communication and dialog, is so crucial to organizations in achieving their goals.

3. Everyone in the organization must see the importance of his or her own participation as essential to building a strong foundation for the enhancement, sharing and delivery of knowledge. You get the behaviors you reward; there must be a reward system for sharing knowledge. I like to remind my consulting clients that there are many ways to reward people, and not all of them have to involve money.

At this point in time, technology is no longer a barrier to creating a Knowledge Era enterprise. Below is a case study about a knowledge-based product that was created in the midst of this era, and serves as a great example of the value of intellectual capital.

An Early Example: Mayo Clinic’s First Knowledge-Based Product

In the 1990s, one of the largest health systems in the country, Mayo Clinic, was looking at a future of decreasing reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid, and increasing losses in their emergency rooms. For the Mayo Clinic and other health systems, the future looked bleak.

In a consultation with their executives, I asked a simple question: “Why don’t you sell your knowledge?” Though their initial response was skeptical, further thinking led them to put Mayo Clinic knowledge on a CD, which was a relatively new technology at the time.  That meant that any time, day or night, people who purchased the CD could put it in their PC and determine if, for example, their child’s rash and fever required just aspirin, or a trip to the emergency room.

The Mayo Clinic put a $100 price tag on their CD product when it first came out, and in the first year, I was told they sold 670,000 copies. A light went on for the clinic executives; leveraging internal knowledge could create value.

It was their first-ever knowledge-based product, and it was a precursor to not only MayoClinic.org, but also to a host of other online consumer health information portals that are heavily used today. One side benefit they discovered was the impact on their brand; by using knowledge as an asset, Mayo Clinic developed a new and powerful image in the health care marketplace that they continue to leverage right up to the present.

Knowledge is (Branding) Power

Before putting actionable knowledge on a CD (keep in mind this was before people were on-line), in order to get help from the Mayo Clinic, you had to go to one of their locations. But with a CD of knowledge that was then translated into French, German, Spanish, and Japanese, the clinic could help people anywhere around the world at any time. And, keep in mind, this was long before the phrase 24/7 accessibility became popular.

From there, Mayo Clinic decided to customize the knowledge product for various audiences, including elementary schools, high schools, medical schools, and nursing homes.

The result was new value and new revenue; they had opened their customer base up, not only to people who were geographically close, but also to the world. And in the case of the Mayo Clinic, the name recognition isn’t regional or national anymore; it became international.

This history lesson illustrates the power of using new tools to create new income streams and elevate your brand in powerful new ways.  It doesn’t matter what industry you are in; we all have intellectual capital that can be formalized, captured and leveraged using today’s new and powerful tools.

Are you leveraging the most valuable assets in your organization?

If not, what are some ways you can convert information to actionable knowledge and then productize it for revenue? In today’s mobile, social, virtual online world, you are  limited only by your mindset.  If you feel stuck, I recommend subscribing to my Anticipatory Leader System to determine what intellectual assets will be important to your consumers in the next 5 years and beyond.

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Best Practices Growth Management Personal Development Technology

Four Big Brands Blindsided by Accelerated Change

It’s one of life’s universal lessons: Look both ways before crossing the street. Parents have been impressing its importance on every generation since Henry Ford tinkered with the internal combustion engine. However, many of us forgot that good advice, or assumed it didn’t apply, when crossing from one decade of business into the next.

From the 1970s into the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, the prevailing assumption was that the future would be relatively similar to the past, and that major changes only took place over long stretches of time, which provided plenty of leeway to adjust.

We stepped off the curb, looking straight ahead—and wham! Individuals and organizations were blindsided by massive changes. It happened to big companies like IBM, Motorola, Research In Motion, Sears and countless others.

Four Big Brands That Were Blindsided

IBM. The original computer giant was late to act on the Hard Trends shaping the future of computing and missed the huge need for personal computers, entering the market late. Then in 2005, IBM sold its personal computer portfolio of products, including the popular ThinkPad brand, to Lenovo, which is now the world’s largest personal computing vendor. IBM was also late to embrace the Hard Trends of increasing use of mobility and the cloud.

Motorola. Similarly, the historic telecommunications company failed to anticipate exponential changes of the early 21st century, though it had many telecom firsts—first car radio, first handheld mobile phones in the early 1970s and the first smartphone using the Google Android OS. Unfortunately, the Motorola Mobility branch relied on being Agile, reacting after a disruption occurs, while leading companies were Anticipatory, using Hard Trends to see the future first and jump ahead and stay there.

Research In Motion. The company’s BlackBerry was the undisputed leader in business mobility, with a highly usable mini keyboard and tight integration of mobile email and calendar functionality. When Apple released the first iPhone, Research In Motion’s leadership failed to see the new future Apple had enabled and focused instead on making improvements instead of embracing the Hard Trends that were shaping the future of mobility and taking its loyal user base into the smartphone future.

Sears. Widely considered the first “everything” store, Sears had a winning business strategy: a notoriously large selection of goods in a catalog that was mailed to just about everyone. Products that were ordered were delivered right to the customer’s home. Like many big brands blindsided by game-changing Hard Trends followed by disruptive innovation, Sears didn’t see how serious competition had become—for both brick and mortars like Walmart and online-only retailer Amazon. Their past success and organizational ego limited their view of the future.

Based on these and other painful experiences, the prevailing assumption was dramatically adjusted: Change is speeding up—get used to it. But then with each passing decade, crossing the street of change became an exercise in advanced risk analysis. Dodging oncoming traffic was the name of the game.

Seeing Change Is Only Part of the Solution

Spotting technology-driven change provides only part of the solution, however. Literally thousands of important high-tech breakthroughs are zooming at us from left and right. Not only do we need to carefully look both ways, it is essential to actually see and understand the ramifications of what’s coming.

Hopping out of the way in a panic or jumping onboard the next new thing isn’t the answer; nor is taking a wait-and-see attitude. By reinventing how welookat technology-driven change, it is possible to reinvent the way we thinkabout change. Once that happens, the reinvention of how we actin response to change takes place.

Look. Think. Act. These distinct steps are the key to both finding and profiting from the many new opportunities that are headed our way.

Look at the Hard Trends that willhappen and the game-changing opportunities they represent. Look at the Soft Trends that might happen and the opportunities to influence them.

Think about your list of opportunities and refine them into a few Must-Do actions.

Pick at least one opportunity and act on it now, because if you don’t do it, someone else will!

Today, agility—reacting quickly after a problem occurs or after a disruption disrupts, is not good enough. It’s time to learn how to become Anticipatory, using Hard Trends to anticipate disruptions beforethey happen, turning disruption and change into a choice.

If you would like to learn more, check out my latest bestseller, The Anticipatory Organization: How to Turn Change and Disruption Into Opportunity and Advantage.

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