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Five Steps to Change Your Thinking

When you make changes, are they coming at you from the outside in or inside out? In my 30 years of working with top leaders from business, health care, government and education, I have found that the majority of change comes from the outside in. When a new law is passed, you have to make changes in order to comply with it; when a competitor comes in offering lower prices, you probably have to change some aspect of how you do business; and when a new technology comes out that changes customer behavior, you’ll likely request that your IT department get you on the new products ASAP.

Most of us are conditioned in both our personal and professional lives to make changes based on outside factors. For example, when the stock market goes down, people often sell, and when it goes up, they buy.

Whenever change comes from the outside, we are forced to react to it. Rather than being proactive, we find ourselves constantly putting out fires and managing the latest crisis.

Instead, let’s look at two examples. Did the crowd-sourcing disruptor Kickstarter become a dominant force because it was fast to react? Was being reactionary the driving force in Facebook’s dominance in social media? Nope.

One reason for Facebook’s success is that it picked up where the limitations of other platforms left off. Kickstarter developers took a popular altruistic concept – used by Caring Bridge and others – and applied it to entrepreneurship. I sometimes call this approach to innovating a new business going in the opposite direction.

So, how do you stop reacting to outside forces and become a disruptor instead? Think about the Hard Trends that are sure to impact your organization. Think about the problems and opportunities that derive from them. What can you do now to not only pre-solve those problems before they become genuinely disruptive, but also leverage those Hard Trends into game-changing opportunities?

5 Quick Tips for Thinking Inside-Out  

It is essential to spend at least a small portion of time thinking about your future in an opportunity mode.

1. Build thinking time into your schedule. Try spending a minimum of one hour a week unplugging from the present crisis and plugging into future opportunity.

2. Find certainty in chaos. Instead of feeling blocked by all the things you are uncertain about in your work and life, ask yourself: What am I certain about? Those are the Hard Trends.

3. Be Anticipatory. Based on Hard Trends, think through these key questions: What is sure to happen in the next two to three years? What problems will your company be facing? What problems will your customers be facing (and how can you address those pain points)?

4. Dream a Little. Another good question to ask is: What is my ideal future? What are the steps to get there – whether it’s a business goal or a retirement dream? Or, it could be a bit of both.

5. Put Ideas into Motion. Once you are clear on your vision and have identified the Hard Trends that will impact you, spend some of your opportunity time solving problems before they happen.

The level of pervasive disruption that you need comes from the inside out (making the first move) rather than the outside in (moving in response to something). What events and developments can you anticipate by using your inside-out thinking?

If you need help getting started, try my Hard Trend Methodology, which is the mindset I describe in my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage.

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Best Practices Economics Entrepreneurship Industries Marketing Personal Development Sales Technology

How Technology Changed the Billion-Dollar Ad Game

The advertising industry has had a long and successful history. It has been a very big business, especially for brands like Procter & Gamble, which topped AdAge.com’s list of the world’s five largest advertisers with $10.5 billion in advertising spending.

For decades, the personal care company kept its products front and center in the minds of consumers – on TV, in print and eventually online. The formula was simple: P&G would spend a huge amount on advertising and loyal customers would respond by buying its products.

That is no longer the case. Technology has changed the ad game for P&G – and not in a good way.

Brief Timeline of Advertising Game-Changers

So if your company is like P&G, what should you do? Start with a fresh look at how much technology and advertising have changed over the last 30 years.

As you look at this timeline, pay attention to how technology worked for – or against – advertisers throughout recent history. Then, use my Hard Trends Methodology to predict what’s next.

1990s – Hundreds of cable channels and the Internet launched, and advertisers jumped to buy space wherever their audiences would be.

Early 2000s – TiVo was one of the first disruptors to these seemingly endless advertising avenues. For the first time, consumers had power over when they got their content and began to skip the ads.

2001 – Next came iPods, which could play downloaded media while consumers were on the go.

2004 – Amazon.com launched as a virtual bookstore and began laying the groundwork for online retailers

2006 – Social media pioneer Facebook opened the News Feed, in which anybody – and any brand – could self-publish content. Facebook ads, for which advertisers once again had to “pay to play,” wouldn’t come until later.

2007 – Netflix went from DVD to streaming and never looked back. Consumers could now also choose what to watch, whenever they wanted to.

Also in 2007Smartphones came on the scene, allowing consumers to carry all types of media in their hands. The ad industry had to go mobile – often in addition to going traditional. Though it wasn’t easy to navigate at first, by 2015 mobile ad spending would top $28 billion.

2008 – Spotify started running on advertising dollars initially, but also offered premium, ad-free packages to consumers at nominal prices.

2009 – In the late 2000s, YouTube began allowing pre-roll ads; advertisers were once again able to recapture a very captive audience.

2012 – Facebook purchased Instagram. It would be five years before the $1 billion gamble would pay off, but in the meantime, real people became the faces of brands. The newest media-buying currency was the influence of the crafty, hip or carpool moms who had become spokespeople.

2015 – Amazon.com hit a milestone as it accounted for at least half of all e-commerce growth. Many experts attributed sales success to the debut of the company’s one-click ordering.

2018 and beyondNot only is data-driven advertising becoming more popular, it’s expected in today’s “show me you know me” consumer culture.

If you use my Hard Trends Methodology to look ahead to the future of advertising, you’ll be able to anticipate that the next decade will move even faster. Even more devices are likely to be developed, and they will ultimately be connected to each other as an integral part of our lives.

Now is the time to learn to anticipate the next wave of technology. Start with my book, The Anticipatory Organization, which is fittingly available with one-click ordering on Amazon.com right now.

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Best Practices Culture Economics Entrepreneurship Industries Leadership Marketing Personal Development Technology

To See the Future, Think Both/And

Whenever a new game-changing technology is introduced, our instinct is to assume that the current technology we are using will quickly become obsolete and will vanish from our use.

History has shown that the hottest new breakthrough technologies do not necessarily replace older ones. Instead, they often coexist side by side because the old technology has its own unique profile of functional strengths that the new technology never fully replaces.

How many times have you greeted a new innovation with an either/or assumption? Either you use the old or the new. But this is not an either/or world we live in; it’s a both/and world. It’s a world that is both paper and paperless, online and in-person, old media and new media.

Yes, No or Some of Both

In my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage, I teach readers how to gain a major competitive edge by learning to accurately anticipate the future. This is a skill that can be learned, and in this blog I’ll share one of the principles I have used for decades to accurately predict the future of technological change, one that you will be able to apply in countless ways: the Both/And Principle.

First, a bit of history. In the early 1980s, I developed the Both/And Principle and started applying it with great success. Here are some examples that will help you to see how to use it yourself.

Either/Or Assumption #1:

The introduction of digital documents meant that we would all be 100% paperless in a few years.

For example, in the late 1980s, when CD-ROMs were introduced, industry experts, the press and futurists predicted that by the mid-1990s, offices would be completely paperless. At the time I applied the Both/And Principle and predicted that we would have increasing amounts of both digital documents as well as paper documents in the future. It’s now 2018 and we are still managing both paper and digital documents.

Why is paper still around? Paper is inexpensive, portable and can be folded and tucked in a pocket or purse. It is an inexpensive display medium that does not need power. In addition, a handwritten paper note of gratitude to an employee is far better than sending a text or an email.  So instead of asking “How can I eliminate all paper?” a better question I had my clients ask was, “What is the best use for paper and the best use for digital?”

Either/Or Assumption #2:

E-commerce will render brick-and-mortar retail stores completely obsolete.

In the mid-1990s, around the time that Netscape, Yahoo!, eBay and many other Web-based businesses started rapidly growing, many futurists and the media predicted that bookstores, auto dealerships, shopping malls and retail stores in general would soon be obsolete.

The logic was that a physical store can only hold a few hundred or several thousand items while a virtual store gives you access to millions of items or titles 24/7.

So why do retail stores continue to survive and why are many even thriving? The answer is that physical shopping is experiential, not just transactional. Brick-and-mortar stores and malls that have continued to elevate the customer experience are social gathering places that create a sense of community, which technology can’t fully replace. In addition, many products are difficult to buy without physically seeing them and trying them out. Others require a knowledgeable person to help you make a decision. Why did Apple open an Apple Store? If you have been there, you know why. Why is Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores? Now you know why.

Either/Or Assumption #3:

Smartphones will replace laptops.

Not that long ago, business publications were having a debate about the future of computing. They asked the question, “With our smartphones and tablets becoming our main personal computers, won’t this make laptops obsolete?” The answer is still “no.”

The reality is, we still have the equivalent of mainframe computers, we just use them differently than 20 – or even five – years ago. If they have a smartphone and/or tablet, the majority of business users are already using their laptop differently, and perhaps much less, but they are still using both.

Introducing Both/And Thinking

While others were predicting the end of laptop computers, printed paper and retail stores, I did not fall into the trap of those bad predictions because I had developed a series of research-based guiding principles that would help avoid such mistakes, and the Both/And Principle is a major one.

The premise is simple: Your technology works well for you, but you discover a new app, gadget or process that could significantly transform your business. You don’t want to part with what’s been working for you, but you also don’t want to be left behind.

The Both/And Principle allows you to keep bridging your legacy systems with the new technology or processes. Integrating them in a way that will create higher value than either has by itself provides a pathway forward.

It is a powerful corrective measure to either/or thinking, meaning that the future will only be either one way or the other. The Both/And Principle recognizes the folly of assuming that the “new” will totally supplant the old, and it recognizes that they can be integrated. Once you try it, you will see the Both/And Principle can accelerate your team’s performance because you haven’t settled for one or the other.

Powerful Both/And Duos

Digital documents have powerful strengths; they are here to stay, but so is paper. Here is a short list of Both/And Principle examples:

  • Brick-and-mortar retailers and Internet retailers
  • Digital and analog
  • Paper mail and email
  • Nautical charts and GPS
  • Full service and self service
  • Wiring such as copper and  fiber-optics and wireless
  • Traditional media and digital media
  • Gasoline engines and electric motors
  • Digital music playlists and live concerts
  • Video conferencing and face-to-face meetings

A key success strategy is to integrate the old and the new based on the strengths of each. In fact, the hottest breakthrough technologies tend to coexist and integrate to create new value with their predecessors rather than completely co-opting them. Why? The old technology has its own unique profile of functional strengths.

Case Study: Amazon.com and Kohl’s

In August 2017, Kohl’s announced it would sell Amazon products in its retail stores. But that was just the beginning of this Both/And Principle business maneuver. Kohl’s department stores and Amazon.com have been piloting a retail model that even more perfectly demonstrates an integration of the old and new.

Since September 2017, the two have been running a pilot program in which Amazon.com purchasers who want to return an item can return it to a Kohl’s customer service desk. Customers who bought a product online can now skip the post office and instead return it to an ever-increasing number of Kohl’s stores.

Consumers enjoy the convenience, and according to a number of recent studies, total visits to Kohl’s stores with Amazon’s return program have outperformed other stores in sales by about 8.5%. In other words, customers returning items end up finding more to buy at Kohl’s. Kohl’s also reported an increase in new customers.

Both/And Thinking and You

What are some examples of Both/And thinking that could benefit you? Are there any new technologies that would give you amazing new capabilities that could become something you feel your business could not live without? What are some of the newest technologies that you believe will disrupt and transform your business? What would happen if you combined the old and the new in a way that creates higher value than either has on its own?

If you would like to learn more anticipatory skills so that you can turn disruptive change into your biggest advantage, read my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage

Click here for a special offer from Daniel Burrus

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Economics Growth Industries Personal Development Technology

Will Your City Be a Smart City Soon?

Despite the apparent trade-off between privacy and efficiency, authorities across the globe are intent on becoming known for achieving smart city status and for the right reasons. Politicians are seeing the real benefits and cost savings that smart city initiatives can provide, and as citizens we need to get used to the idea of our towns collecting and making use of more and more data to reshape the world around us for the greater good.

As the number of connected sensors, machines and devices rapidly grows in crowded cities, the data generated will provide the ubiquitous big data that we often hear about. But we are only just beginning to realize the value in a network that increasingly consists of everyday objects. Everything from buildings, energy, traffic flow, education, healthcare and even elevators contains information that represents both the daily grind and natural flow of every city.

This increasing volume of data that is generated every second of every day should and will be put to great use in the months and years ahead. Now that we have fully embraced the concept of smart devices with our phones, and we are beginning to experience it in our cars and homes, it’s only natural that we now look to make our cities much smarter too.

Although we are slowly obtaining a greater understanding of the data that surrounds us, the good news is that positive results are already happening. Authorities are faced with a double-edged sword in which almost every choice comes with a compromise. For example, video surveillance in high crime areas has proven to reduce crime rates from 5% to 20%, but as a society, are we willing to reduce crime by introducing cameras watching our every move? This is the kind of trade-off we will have to face if we want to dramatically lower crime rates.

The traffic in every major city across the world is probably our biggest concern, given we have all experienced gridlock. Once again, technology comes to the rescue. Traffic signal optimization has shown to reduce travel times by up to 20%.  And let’s not forget the joy of trying to find a place to park. The average person spends 18 minutes per day trying to find a place to park. Smart parking systems can reduce up to 30% of congestion without authorities even needing to build new lanes and roads.

There is already a wealth of statistics available now that major technology research in cities has revealed the scope of the cost savings. For example, 40% of municipal energy costs comes from street lighting. Intelligent lighting can reduce energy costs by up to 20%. Lansing, Michigan, put in smart street lighting and was able to reduce costs by 70%, a big win for the mayor who championed the initiative.

As a word of caution, it appears that we are still very naive when it comes to security and our responsibility in this digital age. With so much of our lives and infrastructure getting connected, we all need to step up our game and appreciate the implications of ignoring security warnings.

For example, a recent report revealed how vulnerable our hospitals are to cyber-attacks and hackers. Maybe it’s our self-awareness that is in need of a 21st-century upgrade. In years past, 18 USB sticks were dropped purposely on multiple floors of a hospital. Within 24 hours, one of them had been plugged into a nurse’s station, infecting the network with malware, which gave the hackers access to the entire network.

With the majority of public-serving institutions at risk from hackers intent on causing chaos and disruption, it’s more important than ever to re-evaluate your level of security and threat prevention. Threats can appear in many different forms, such as ransomware that will lock all files and demand payment to unlock your data. The only positive aspect of ransomware is that it informs the user instantly of an infection.

However, there is also much stealthier malicious software that can be secretly stealing data or compromising systems completely under the radar of the establishment. Eliminating these risks by upgrading old systems is key, but so is educating users about understanding the vulnerabilities in the workplace and how to prevent them.

The creation of closed systems with hardware-embedded security will make it easier to predict and prevent cybercrime. Crime will continue to be a risk, but new advanced intelligent systems can help predict an attack and prevent it before it happens.

These security challenges should not damage the level of excitement and energy around the future possibilities. In this digital transition, we are merely taking another brave step forward, and there is no doubting how cash-strapped local and state agencies can become more efficient by better using data and implementing new technology.

Many large companies are involved in making cities smart, including Cisco, IBM, and Siemens. Cisco will happily advise governments that a smart city can save energy by 20%, reduce water consumption by 50%, crime by 20%, traffic by 30%, and so on. These facts, backed up by data, will be tough for those in control of budgets to resist.

Businesses, local and state agencies, committees, etc., will always be cost and data driven. Our evolving digital economy will ensure that smart cities, IoT, and local services will all become a natural part of our lives. Yes, there will be security and even privacy challenges, but this is a hard trend that will happen, so the time to start solving predictable problems is before they happen.

Many of our fears of a technology-fueled dystopian future are based on fictional literature and Hollywood movies. But we seldom stop to think that our future reality could be quite different from 1984 or the rise of machines that the Terminator franchise warned us about.

Real life is not always as interesting as art. The implementation of computerized sensors for nearly everything we know and love to drive down costs and improve efficiency could be as exciting as it gets. Is it such a bad thing?

Eliminating waste, intelligent traffic management and vast improvements to public transport during peak periods are mouthwatering prospects on their own. The belated arrival of e-government services, allowing faster access at a lower operating expense for taxpayers, should also be enough to convince even the biggest cynics.

I don’t believe this is an either-or situation. Technology should be able to improve every aspect of our lives in our homes, cities and world. We now interact with each other more than ever before, not less—contrary to popular opinion. The rise of the global community is enabling a greater understanding that shapes our world view and challenges age-old stereotypes.

As citizens of a global community, we expect our smartphones to provide us answers to any questions as they pop into our heads. We have developed an insatiable thirst for real-time information. Reliability and simplicity are expected to be standard, meaning this is how cities will soon be judged by both their inhabitants and visitors.

We now connect and interact in many different ways, which illustrates how technology is bringing us closer together. The real spirit and character that live inside every city across the world do not need to be sacrificed and will continue to thrive as long as we work to keep the best of our past and present, as we build a better future together.

Concentrating on resisting change or fearing the unknown is counterproductive. I have advised major businesses and governments for decades that the best way to improve planning is by learning to separate hard trends, the trends that will happen, from soft trends, the trends that might happen, and use this knowledge to shape the best future possible.

Innovation leads to disruption, not being disrupted. Learn more with the book, Anticipatory Organization, now available for purchase at www.TheAOBook.com
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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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