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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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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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Best Practices Economics Entrepreneurship Management Marketing Personal Development Technology

Tesla is Redefining the Customer Experience

One of the harsh realities of this fast-paced digital world is that almost everything we buy is out of date by the time we get it home. To obtain the most value of any purchase, especially if it is an expensive one, we need to adopt a future mind-set to help us avoid picking up legacy products.

Driving has long been considered a symbol of personal freedom — an open road going forward, with almost limitless possibilities and opportunities on the horizon. For this reason alone, car manufacturers like to add new features that make us feel like we are purchasing a car that is equipped to transport us into the future.

I recently found myself wanting to replace my hybrid SUV. I have been very happy with my Lexus, but before buying, I wanted to see what the other major brands — including BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Cadillac, to name a few — had to offer, to see which was most suited to me and my lifestyle. As you might guess, since I have been forecasting semi-autonomous as well as fully autonomous car features for decades now, I was interested to see what they had to offer at this point in time.

As you would expect, all of the high-end vehicles had great features, including automatic braking and various systems to alert you if you are about to change lanes and hit another car that is in your blind spot. However, it was when I drove the Tesla Model X that I felt like I was driving in the future. After that test drive, my view of the other brands was changed. All the others instantly felt like the past.

From a customer experience perspective, that’s a powerful shift. Any time you can make the competition seem like they are offering yesterday’s features and functions, and you are offering tomorrow’s, you can accelerate growth well into the future.

Buying a car has always been both a left-brain and a right-brain experience. On one hand, we would love to buy that just-out-of-reach dream car, the one that our emotional, creative side would love to have. On the other hand, our rational, logical, sensible mind wants the car to be safe, economical and not too expensive. Tesla has found a way to do both.

The realization that the Tesla is already offering a wealth of future-oriented features — features that can save lives, features you know we will all have someday — has the power to change how potential customers think.

Tesla, like Amazon, is what I call an Anticipatory Organization, one that identifies the Hard Trends that will happen and then uses that knowledge to turn disruption and change into its biggest advantage.

With all of this in mind, where would the greatest young engineering talent want to work? Ford, General Motors or Tesla? I suspect that Tesla would attract the talent because it is showcasing the future, today.

Rather than sitting around waiting to be disrupted, maybe it’s time to jump on board and disrupt both yourself and your industry, to become the disrupter. We often talk about legacy software and hardware holding businesses back, but the reality is that legacy thinking is far more damaging.

If your company wants to attract the most talented employees as well as the imaginations of future customers, you need to follow Hard Trends and learn to become anticipatory rather than getting better at reacting.

When I returned to the showroom a few weeks ago, it quickly became apparent that Tesla is a prime example of an Anticipatory Organization. The majority of competitors within the automotive industry are still taking incremental steps rather than exponential leaps. The majority have embraced the idea of agility as the best way to turn rapid change into an advantage. The problem they are finding is that all organizations are becoming agile organizations, which greatly decreases the advantage of agility and, more importantly, the main advantage of agility is that you can be far better than your slower competitors. Being agile is very important and we all should get better at it, but it is no longer enough.

It’s true that there is more uncertainty today than ever before. On the flipside of this coin is the science of certainty, learning to separate the Hard Trends that will happen from the Soft Trends that might happen. As the exponential pace of technological change continues, having the ability to foresee growing problems, disruptions, customer demands and new opportunities has never been more important.

Technology now surrounds us. The rapid rise of the internet of things (IoT) in our cities, businesses, infrastructure and even our homes will also raise the bar of both our expectations and demands. As our world continues to evolve, why would the automotive industry remain the same? Why would a dealership stay the same as it always has been? Why would I want to buy a new car that has only a few more new features than the car I’m driving now?

Having a business strategy based on certainty has low risk. Leaders now have a choice to anticipate today, before their competitors do, or find themselves left behind in the slow lane. What are you going to do?

Why deploy customer surveys when technology allows you to collect real-time user experiences? Learn to how an Anticipatory Organization saves money in R&D, marketing and other steps along the way.

Order Daniel Burrus’ book today!

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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 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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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.

Categories
Marketing Personal Development Sales Technology

Boosting the Shopping Experience

Estimates hold that more data will be produced in 2018 than in all years previously. Much of that is consumer-focused—what we buy, how we buy it and why we buy it, among other information.

Thanks to the leverage and insight afforded by big data analytics, retailers of all sorts have the ability to enjoy an enormous opportunity to better focus and improve their customers’ overall shopping experience.

Big data analytics can now be used at every stage of the retail process, including identifying consumer trends, forecasting demand, pricing and pinpointing the most efficient means of delivery. That’s a proactive form of decision making, one of the benchmarks of my Anticipatory Organization Model.

That’s also good news for both shoppers and the organizations that serve them. Here are just a few areas in which data analytics is crafting a more rewarding shopping environment for everyone.

Product Recommendations

Most every Internet shopper has experienced “If you like this, consider this” and other similar pitches based on buying history and preferences. But, advances in data analysis and other related forms of technology hold the promise of more interactive, personalized forms of shopping guidance and suggestions. For instance, clothing retailer The North Face now offers an online tool called Fluid Expert Personal Shopper. The system, which uses IBM’s Watson cognitive computer technology, employs a “personal shopper” that can ask consumers questions about gender, location and even the sort of weather conditions where the clothing will be worn. From there, the system can provide specific recommendations.

Although still in an initial, limited stage, programs such as Fluid Expert Personal Shopper hold the potential for an even more comprehensive and useful customer experience. For instance, Watson is now using additional data to develop a “sentiment analysis” feature, which will allow systems to gauge changes in customer moods to better manage interactions with consumers. In effect, shopping systems will be able to interpret in an intuitive manner whether customers are pleased with a purchase, dissatisfied or interested in some other item.

More Useful, More Focused Apps

An increasing number of retailers are using mobile apps as a means to improve in-store shopping experiences and better interaction with store employees. That can begin well before a customer arrives at the store itself. For instance, retailer Nordstrom’s mobile app allows customers to check details such as product availability, size and color before they visit a Nordstrom store. The system also offers personalized recommendations based on gathered customer data. Customers who opt in can also have their profiles—including purchase histories—forwarded to in-store salespeople when they enter a store so they can receive immediate, personalized service.

In another example, Target’s mobile app leverages product location data, a store’s physical layout and customer profiles to offer personalized promotions to customers as they shop in-store. To that end, the company has begun installing beaconing technology at dozens of locations to gather movement and shopping pattern data from customers who agree to be monitored. This, in turn, promises to help customers not only make better buying decisions but to do so more efficiently instead of wandering up and down aisles in search of a particular item.

Greater Delivery Choices

The convenience of mobile Internet-based shopping has afforded consumers a greater range of control over not only when they shop but also where and when they receive items they buy. Locational data provided by the proliferation of smartphones takes that level of convenience and specificity to a completely new level. In one respect, that opens up the possibility that items can be delivered to customers wherever they happen to be—at home, on the job, at a restaurant having lunch and at any number of other locations.

Alternatively, by leveraging geolocation data, companies can also immediately notify shoppers when purchased goods have been dropped off at their homes or other spots. Not only does that lessen the chance of a delivery being missed, but time-sensitive deliveries—such as a gift that the buyer wants to keep secret from a family member—become that much easier to manage.

Consumer data isn’t limited to information about a particular shopper. Big data analytics allows organizations of all sorts to apply that information to make shopping more enjoyable, efficient and customer-focused for a broad range of consumers.

Ready to see the future and plan with greater confidence? Subscribe to my publication, The Technotrends Newsletter, now in its 35th year, and join thousands of leaders who have accelerated innovation and results by applying the principles I teach in my award-winning Anticipatory Organization Learning System.

Categories
Growth Health and Wellness

Put Your Phone Down – WARNING: Attention Fireworks Rant Ahead

If you know anything about me, you will know my most favorite thing in the world, besides my honey, is fireworks. I mean I love them, I’m totally captivated by them.

And what you may also know about me is as an Australian, the only night that I get super homesick for Sydney is New Year’s Eve, because if you know anything about Sydney and New Year’s Eve, it’s summer, and I used to live on the harbor and I had an apartment that looked at the Harbor Bridge. So, can you imagine the fireworks display?

Every year when I’m freezing cold on the East Coast, I get homesick. So, one year my honey and I decided to go back to New Year’s Eve in Sydney, so that I could fix my homesickness. Just recently, I celebrated New Year’s Eve in Turks and Caicos, what a beautiful place.

But let me tell what happened that totally made me crazy. First, you should know,  I’m little.  I’m four ten and a half.  I have to work hard to see above the heads of others in a packed crowd. Can you imagine my horror when I looked up in the sky, only to have my view blocked by people’s outstretched arms holding up their cell phones? Every single person all around me pulled out their stupid devices in a crazy attempt to record the display.

It’s not just that it made me crazy because I couldn’t see, it made me crazy realizing they weren’t being present in that moment. There they were in the presence of the most magnificent fireworks display. I mean in Sydney it was incredible, and this year in Turks and Caicos it was right above me and spectacular. Yet all people did was record it on their cell phones, which, by the way they will probably never watch. And I asked my honey why on earth are they doing this, his response surprised me. “They just want to post it on social media and show off to their friends.” Sad, yes, and likely true.

I mean seriously, this has got to stop. This is crazy. We need to make the most of every moment. Start by putting away devices, be present and make the most of the moment.

So, if you ever watch fireworks with me I warn you now, put away your cell phone. I just want to be with you and experience the joy and the magic of the captivating fireworks. So, this year I challenge you, start paying attention. Join me in the attention revolution and realize distraction decays, but attention pays.

Categories
Best Practices Culture Growth Health and Wellness Leadership Technology

Stop Playing a Game of Relationships Roulette

Attention is about connection. Attention is critical for cultivating healthy relationships – personally and professionally. Studies have shown us that when people fail to get the attention they need from a relationship, they will begin to seek it elsewhere.

Giving attention to someone is our way of prioritizing the relationship and showing them they are important to us.

When we give our attention to our spouse or partner, our relationship deepens.

When we give attention to our friends and family, our relationships become stronger.

As leaders, when we give attention to our employees, we retain their talent and create a sense of loyalty in the partnership.

My latest book Attention Pays, recently released and I’ve been ah-mazed at the number of people who have reached out to me about their experience reading it. Many of them have admitted they finally recognized the fact they were neglecting their more important relationships. Some even felt compelled to put the book down to give their focus to those they love in that very moment.  That makes me so happy. I am a work in progress, just like you. I need these reminders too.

I believe attention is our new currency. The more undivided attention we give to those that matter most, the more value they see in the relationship.

Here are a few strategies to help you focus your undivided attention on those in your life:

1. Device-free meals. Choose to keep the table a device-free zone. No matter the meal, no matter the company, choose to put it away. If you’re having a team luncheon, challenge others to do the same. Having dinner with friends? Make a deal with them that the first person to engage on their phone will have to pay the bill. Instead, use the time at the table to focus on those in your presence. Honor them and their importance in your life by engaging and gifting them with your undivided attention.

2. Purposefully plan. Be mindful and intentional about when you will spend time with those who matter most. Schedule time in the office to meet with employees to check in on their well-being. Set aside time each day to ask your children about their day. Consider planning a vacation with your friends or family that you can look forward to. Plan a date with your partner, child or friends. By planning ahead, you are letting others know how much you value the relationship.

3. Little things matter. Have you ever been surprised by someone who bought you a coffee on their way to work one morning? Maybe you’ve come home to find a small, unexpected package in the mail from a friend. Little things matter. They are one way to give attention to those who matter in your life. They let others know you care. Consider grabbing your partner’s favorite dessert on the way home as a special surprise. Or, pop an unexpected hand-written note in the mail to a friend or loved one. Reward an employee with a coffee or sweet treat for a hard day’s work.

What ideas do you have? Feel free to share in the comments below. Relationships are critical to our happiness and are important to our personal and professional well-being. Invest yourself in relationships and show those in your life they matter most.

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