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Help Me…To Help You.

If you’ve ever read an article you liked from me, thank you (whether you hit a “like” button or not). To keep the research-based quality of my articles up, I need something from you.

Here’s the thing:  The time I spend writing is dwarfed by the time I spend reading and studying.  I want to be the person who can consume information and curate key insights for my readers.

One of My Main Resources is You.

Indirectly, at least. I have been called a data hound. Sure, I read a lot of books from authors in the fields of economics, marketing, psychology, leadership, and more. I also consume research, and always have. Research is built when people like you invest your time in a researcher’s data gathering.

A key research source that I use in my articles is CSO Insights.  They are the pre-eminent research house for sales intelligence.

  • They have the world’s foremost authorities on Sales Enablement
  • They conduct the world’s most complete and insightful research on Sales Operations.
  • They have the world’s most sophisticated tracking data into best practices in B2B sales.
  • They are the world’s best resource for benchmarking data. They help you answer questions like “is my attrition rate something I need to do something about?”
  • Their Study of Sales Performance helps leaders know what works and what doesn’t.
  • They study buyers.  Because of CSO Insights, I can keep up-to-date on how buyers want to buy, and what kind of sellers they want to buy from.
  • Their data drives talent and hiring tools to help you hire the right people, and put them in the right roles.
  • They produce the information I use to help clients put the right analytics in place.

In short, these are researchers who build the data you need most in order to do your job.  When people contact me for advice or help, it’s informed by this research, among other things.  I’m grateful for all of those in years past who have contributed their time.

You Need Me on That Wall.

Even if you don’t want to read research yourself, you benefit from it.  When you read my articles, you are consuming this research indirectly. If you find value in what I write, you benefit from CSO Insights’ work product.  For those who have asked me for insights, I have an admission:  it’s not just my brilliance.  My advice relies on people who gather hard information.

Please help me to help you. This year’s Sales Practices study is open, and I respectfully ask your help by participating. Especially if you’re in a leadership role in the sales, sales operations, sales enablement, or corporate management disciplines.  I know that surveys are tiring, but this one’s important..

And I Need You…Your Time, at Least.

For those who wonder if this is going to lead to a sales solicitation, the answer is no.  I will repay your time with mine if you want, though. Use this link and, if you provide your name, I’ll not only send you my personal thanks, I’ll make sure you have access to research reports (if you want them.).  Following up with all of you who respond is becoming a time investment, but I am happy to do it. Of course, you’ll also continue to see the research reflected in my articles.

Thank you, and I look forward to being notified that you helped, when you use this link.

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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

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 Human Resources Leadership Skills Technology

How Gamification Can Alter Our Behavior

During this unique period of technology-driven transformation, the education sector has so far been slow to embrace the power of digital tools that can be used to accelerate learning. Spending time, energy and money protecting and defending conventional teaching methods only postpones the inevitable and keeps the transformative power of digital disruption, when used wisely, from taking training and education to a new level of success.  

The problem is that whether it’s a child in a classroom or an adult in a corporate training environment, the young and old have one thing in common. Our attention span is now officially lower than a goldfish now that external stimulation from digital, social and mobile access has reshaped our world.

Recent studies have shown that the average smartphone user checks their phone over 100 times a day. Checking any one of our four to five screens for emails, messages and notifications every few minutes is finally starting to take its toll on our ability to focus on a task at hand. This is forcing a dramatic rethink of how we can help people of all ages learn, comprehend and retain the knowledge they need to take their lives and careers to the next level. In a world littered with distractions, it seems that providing a dynamic, immersive, engaging and social experience is the key to accelerating learning.

One powerful way to accelerate learning for both business and education is to add gaming elements (gamification) to teaching and learning. Why gaming? When you play a game, you are not alone; there is a social element combined with a competitive element that forces you to both engage and concentrate, and that is a powerful combination if you want a student to learn something. It is also a way to make education and training fun as well as creating a personalized experience.

In the past I have written many articles about implementing gamification elements into learning, especially for younger students who grew up playing video games. In this article, I want to take a look at how gaming can be applied in a simple way to both change behavior and achieve goals—in this case, the success organizations are getting from the use of a simple wearable, the Fitbit activity tracker.

On its own, wearing a wristband that counts your daily steps is relatively simplistic, and some would even say uninspiring. But, when it comes to technology, it’s not the tool, it’s how we use it. In this case, by setting up internal contests within organizations that are not only competitive but also have prizes, in some cases as simple as virtual badges for walking a certain amount of miles a week, seems to create positive and healthy behavior changes. One large organization is currently having a competition for its employees to climb Mt. Everest in the steps they take and track their progress with their company-provided Fitbit. There is a virtual map that shows where each employee is along the journey. A major health benefit is that employees are losing weight, lowering their cholesterol levels, and some are getting off their medications to lower their blood sugar levels.  

I have also run across a few organizations that have taken this a step further by allowing employees to add friends to a leaderboard, and once again it’s all about snatching glory by rising to the top on a cold dark Wednesday evening that is helping both Fitbit and its users lose weight and achieve their performance targets.

Most of us are naturally competitive and can’t resist comparing ourselves to others. When a company hosts a walking competition and measures their employees’ performance and progress with a wearable activity tracker, it’s usually the “who will finish at the top of the leaderboard” aspect that typically captures the imagination of everyone involved.

The success of Fitbit alone is a testament to how this simple form of gamification has become very big business. Being assigned goals and then being rewarded for achieving them with a virtual badge or small prize illustrates how even this simplified principle can produce fantastic results in changing behavior. There is even an argument based on some early research that indicates momentary gratification from screen-based media can increase our visual-spatial intelligence.

Over the years we have been told that television and even calculators would make us stupid, so we shouldn’t be too surprised to see many pointing the finger of blame at technology again. It’s true that for many low-level jobs, employees no longer need to know how to add or subtract, much less multiply and divide, not to mention reading a map. Our smartphone can deliver answers almost before we even think about the question. In reality, technology is not stopping us from thinking, but it is changing the way in which we look for, process and retain information.

We might not want to admit it, but thriving on instant gratification and frequent rewards has almost become a way of life. As we drift from screen to screen on up to five devices, we shouldn’t be too surprised to learn how we increasingly need to visualize content to digest fully or comprehend subject matter.

I often hear people even likening their work experiences to that of a video game. Many find parallels with gaming characters by learning and mastering skills so they can “level up” in life just as they would in a video game. If these unconventional methods can engage audiences but also teach persistence and resilience, is that such a bad thing?

In this fast-paced digital world, classrooms often run the risk of feeling uninspired, dull and dare I say boring to students of any age. Engaging with users to provide a fun, personalized learning experience that is also interactive, game-like and competitive is the secret recipe to capturing our attention.

Gamification is often misunderstood or seen as either too complex to implement or just another gimmick. But these examples of using a simple form of gamification to accomplish a goal illustrates that it is possible to start small and learn to walk before you run. The next time you’re in a meeting, take a quick look around the room and notice how many already have wearable tech attached to their wrists as they discuss achieving fitness goals and even winning company competitions.

It is estimated that 13 million wearable activity tracking devices will be integrated into employee wellness programs by the end of 2018, and most will involve a competition to get increased engagement. Has your organization created a competition to achieve a group or individual goal by using a wearable like a Fitbit or Apple Watch yet?

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