Leadership in 2017: The end of corporate leadership and the Machiavelli matrix.

The changing dynamics of how and where we work, are changing what people need in a leader.  Leaders used to inspire, inform and create an atmosphere. Do they do so now, and do you even need them to?

At some point as you go through your career, you have to make a decision about what type of a worker and what type of a leader you are going to be. The learning process is to understand more about people and different cultures, and to work out how you get the best out of those people. There are a million books and random motivational messages to support you in the process but that is all nonsense unless you can apply what they say.

As Machiavelli said you can choose to be ‘loved’, collaborative and engaging or ‘feared’ directive and imposing. Everyone ends up on that spectrum but if you are at the extreme, you won’t be effective or happy. I.e. everyone takes advantage of you or everyone hates you. (see any leadership textbook anywhere for 500 pages on variants of this).

This has not generally changed but the context around it has. To summarise the change; consider a view of distance to people. Not just emotional but physical. You can be close to your team sat in the trenches under fire from the enemy (insane client requests and visiting leadership) or you can be sat behind the lines sending instructions from headquarters.

Machiavelli matrix

Line yourself up against the model being honest about who you are and what you enjoy the most.

Me, I love being in trenches close to the people and applying the iron fist in the velvet glove approach. It’s all smiles and laughs until a line is breached and then it is fire and brimstone (not for long, then it’s back to the laughs). I’ve trained myself over the years to adapt my approach and my mindset to be good at doing that and I’m pretty happy with where I am.

Big, massive however…….

If you look at where things are going at corporates. The fundamental dynamics of people working together are changing which means that the role of leaders I think is changing too.

Change from experience to efficiency – most if not all corporates are moving towards some type of activity based working with the addition of collaborative spaces. In addition, there are multitude of articles and surveys showing the changing preference towards working from home.

The foundation for all of this is built around people becoming more efficient, better use of space, and more effective allocation of resource.  To me, this goes against a core principle that I have worked to, namely you want to enjoy yourself at work. It’s not a question of the time spent but a value judgement about what you can create in the team. I’ve got more value in the osmosis from being next to people than I ever would have getting my work done an hour earlier and going home. The 30 minute coffee discussions, the Wednesday afternoon cake competitions, the side conversations have all contributed to knowing people better,

I grew up in consulting where you would often work away from home; breakfast in the hotel, you would leave as a group in taxis to go to the office, you would leave as group and commonly all go for dinner. It was a 14 hr a day engagement with the same group of people. I probably worked for 7 of those hours but I learned more in the other 7.

The role of a leader in that context was to create an atmosphere over the whole day where everyone could contribute to more than just the work. Think about graduates in particular, if you only see them in the course of their work during the day, you miss the opportunity to see their richness of knowledge and way of thinking in other ways. I know more about the people I worked with 10 years ago than I do about the ones I did last year.

Ask yourself now in the workplace in 2017 why so many people have large noise cancelling headphones? How much time do your leaders spend engaging you outside of core working? This is a skill and an environment which is disappearing. I can completely understand the opposing argument but we haven’t replaced that old fashioned approach which an equivalent and so the skills are becoming redundant.

Information and insight – it is the same for the tools and methods which enable collaborative working. The potential is huge to improve engagement and alignment in co-production of documents or in the sharing of information.  However, the increase in volume in information does not always equate to equivalent quality and value. Look even at Linkedin and consider how much original content you see produced vs content shared. I know a huge range of people who I’ve never seen write a single thing themselves. Spend a week reading and liking only an article that was written by the poster and see how you behaviour changes.

Sharing a link to the Harvard Business Review with no comment or insight is not entirely valuable. Should I get any credit for knowing something because I’ve shared it. This is translated into corporates too. Leaders now with access to a huge range of material don’t have to produce anything or promote their own thought leadership. Even more than this, because everyone has access to all of the information, younger people no longer are turning to leaders to see what they think in the same way.

Consider, when was the last time you were asked by a junior person what you thought about something or when was the last time you shared something that you did yourself to a colleague?

Inspiration –   a role of a leader was always to inspire the people that worked for them. It was a ethos that anyone would be happy with what they were doing if they felt inspired by the leadership. There’s a great but possibly apocryphal story of someone asking a janitor in 1967 what their job was with the response being ‘I’m putting a man on the moon’. The role to inspire was essential to building that connection with the organisation.

Now with twitter and LinkedIn etc . you can connect with very important global leaders and experts. You can listen to Richard Branson’s thought of the day or assess Justin Trudeau’s utterings on foreign trade. A bit closer to home, you can see the CEO of your own companies account, what she thinks, is reading or is listening to. Younger people in particular therefore, don’t need the inspiration as much from the lower tiers of management because they think they’ve got what they need elsewhere. I don’t need to know what Keith Logan thinks about AI because I can read what Mark Zuckerberg thinks all, of, the, time.

Ask the junior people in your organisation who their business role model is. 10 years ago who would have been given a name in your organisation. Now, it’s likely to be a global CEO or a superstar TEDx er.

So then, the fundamentals for how we work have changed and we are perhaps becoming a industry of managers. So, have a think about your own organisation and look at your leaders. What is being valued and rewarded higher up and even more importantly, think about what’s important to you in a leader and think about the leader you want to be?



Customer experience; the Japanese way: Hyper-specialisation and what Kanazawa’s tiny, tiny whisky bar might mean for the future.

The Japanese know you have to be authentic, you have to have knowledge if you want to look like you care and you have to respect the crowd.

People naturally want to be a little different, they want to feel special or be special. As the world is getting more connected it’s actually becoming more homogenous. Teenagers internationally are all taking selfies, using social media and shopping at Zara. Whether you are in Beijing or Brisbane, you are going to be doing a lot of the same thing.

At the same time, you might all be using Facebook in the same way but you can link with people with really specific interests and ideas. The old fashioned equivalent is the difference between a city like London and a city like Brisbane. In London, you can find from amongst the 9 million people, a Star Wars absinthe bar with enough people who like Star Wars and absinthe, to be able to fill it. In Brisbane, you are more likely to see a range of different people in the casino or in the RSL; every taste in blended into something which is more generic and more middle of the road.

As regards products, services and experiences for customers; the progression is towards wanting the Star Wars Absinthe bar experience even though you live in Brisbane.  How do you build your service and product catalogue to meet that demand?

To do that, we can look to the land of the rising sun for advice.

I was recently in Japan on holiday (and it’s great) and we visited a town on the west coast called Kanazawa. (Until recently a 4hr trip from Toyko before the launch of the new bullet train service.) The town was busy because of their huge annual Oktoberfest celebrations (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen organised Japanese conga lines to oompa music). In this town was a bar called Machrihanish https://tabelog.com/en/ishikawa/A1701/A170101/17000104/ . It is named after a very small town in Scotland with a lovely golf course but it is obscure for Scotland never mind a town in Japan.

Anyone who has been to Japan will notice the incredible range of small bars and restaurants with really specific themes, you’ll see tiny shops selling unusual things. Even if you haven’t been to Japan you’ll have seen their levels of super-fandom and you will also have seen how most crazes- Pokemon, cosplay, tamaguchi etc tend to start over there. It’s a remarkable place to look at customer experience.

But why……how do they approach things in Japan?

You have to be small and specific – with so many people in Japan, you have to differentiate yourself to stand out. People are actively looking for things which are unusual and special. People look for experiences which are away from the mass market whilst at the same time everyone buys commoditised products like iPhones etc. Japan has an amazing dichotomy whereby for some things, everybody is the same and for others, hugely different. The owner of the Machrihanish hadn’t named his bar the Scottish Bar or even the Edinburgh tavern. He went to the depths of something unusual and specific to create an experience.

The logic is, you have to go the whole way to create authenticity and therefore engage people in your product.

Consulting bit

The capability exists for us to use digital to enable the build of these specific products, services and experiences but to what extent do we do so. We also have the capability to understand what are the small and specific things that will interest our customers. As an example in an Australian context; why not produce an insurance product very specific to surfers – bundle up life, car, travel insurance into one experience product which pays out double for surfing related claims.  You have to support the product by showing authenticity by knowing what a surfer really needs from an insurance product. (see design thinking, empathy interviews, CX design). However, specific insights if they are applied generically aren’t that helpful. E.g. the product and the service need to be specific enough to take advantage. I can tell you right now that customers like transparency, simplicity, speed, personalisation and accuracy but that’s not enough for a customer experience strategy.

Knowledge and attention to detail – If you are going for small and specific you really have to look like you understand or you lose the authenticity and the credibility.  My bar in Kanazawa had real menus in it from the clubhouse at St Andrews, it had pictures of golf clubs in Scotland which were put in alphabetical order on the wall. I ordered a whisky and tried to explain it was from the most southern distillery in Scotland. The owner then explained in some detail how there were five further south and I had missed the Mull of Kintyre (a common mistake he said). He then explained how he was a member of St Andrews golf club (showed me his membership card) and described the relative difference between the types of seaweed on the west coast (no joke).

Consulting bit

If you look like you care about something, you have to understand it as it takes a differentiating factor into one of advantage. For the insurance company selling the surfing product, if it looks like a gimmick it will be treated as such. If you hired even one surf expert, he/she could manage the whole case load regardless of where the people are located. If it’s popular and you need more, then great.

The impact is on how you design your service (operating model to handle the traffic). The design in the fabric of your CRM is how to create better routing to your operations. A first line AI engine (with the surfing add-on dude?), 2nd line service to Brad from Bondi or even a sales discussion via Skype at the beach (surfing tinder). It’s an old tactic powered by new technology.

Crowd power – recognise the power of changing demand and waves of interest. The power of social media can generate hype in an incredibly short space of time with the capability in the background to build things quickly (consider the immediate and overwhelming supply of fidget spinners). When I was in Tokyo, I saw a huge line for a tiny food stall and then about an hour later I saw another one. The reason; both were selling Maine Lobster rolls which was the ‘big thing’. My guess would be that it’s no longer the case and everyone is eating ‘Haggis balls’ or something. The capacity for people to wait for something ‘hip’, the speed of change and the scale of demand was remarkable. Just as soon as it came though, it would be gone so if you were a lobster roll only specialist you would be stuffed. (pun intended)

Consulting bit

Any time lag in meeting the demand or any inflexibility in being able to scale would have represented a huge loss in potential revenue. The local McDonaldsshu wasn’t selling lobster rolls because it couldn’t get there quickly enough. They were nonetheless doing some good trade in their usual fare. What you need then is the ability to have that two-speed business where you can maintain your core but you give yourself the capacity to change to meet specific needs which might come quickly from nowhere.

Where I’ve seen Japan mentioned, it’s not usually in the terms of it being a leader in customer experience it’s usually about efficiency, manufacturing, knowledge, accuracy, product design and creation. However, it’s possibly because they think about the latter ones so that they can deliver the former.

Arigato gozaimasu

See more blogs from Keith Logan san @ www.thecorporatefuturist.com

History for the future: Bitcoin and the 1781 Bank of North America Act of Congress – Bitcoin might be special but it’s nothing new

There is no argument that bitcoin has the potential to be revolutionary and is already starting to be. However, to predict what might happen in the future, we can look to the past.

In a nutshell; in the 18th century different banks and currencies were everywhere and popped up to launch frequently (most failed), the need for banking was pushed by the industrial revolution to fund investment and growth, a lot of the origins and the development were in China, there were several crashes and ultimately, governments saw the potential for profit and the need for regulation and took overall control. If you swap the 21st century for 18th the century and Information revolution for industrial, does it make you think of anything?

History (you can skip this bit if you are well read or easily bored)

The origin of banking and money is a fascinating one and well worth a read. (See below) here is a very rough history for you. The origin of paper money comes from China in AD 700ish where they also came up with the word cash. It didn’t take off in Europe until much later where promissory notes started to replace hard currency in the 18th century, this happened at the same time as the creation of stock markets, a number of bubbles (Tulips, South Sea) and a change in the way governments funded war (i.e. the British needed a way to get money to fight the French).

In the US, the desire to have separate currency was a cause behind the wars of revolution and the post war years led to the creation of a large number of banks at state and federal level, several of which were fraudulent or corrupt with people swept away with the potential for profit. Alexander Hamilton (of the Musical fame) even ended up losing a duel to the vice-president of the US (Aaron Burr) built on a hatred gained from the creation of Banks. The 1781 Bank of North America lasted 6 years before corruption destroyed it and after another wait, there was a second and more successful federal attempt.

In this manner, creating for ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power, and we have no interest to pay to no one.” Benjamin Franklin

The Chinese created paper money as part of millennia long campaign of innovation and ideas growth, the British created a state monopoly (Bank of England) to ensure the money and control stayed with Britain and the Americans were hugely entrepreneurial, had a fight about it and ultimately settled on the government option (which importantly meant tax revnenue.) (see below for further reading)


What does this tell us about today?

Drivers for development and success – the development of central banks and paper money were driven by in particular, the industrial revolution which required a new method of finance to fund and support growth in technology. In a period of huge disruption and change in industry (which can be strongly argued is much larger in scale to the disruption of this age. i.e. think of the impact of a horse ride of day being reduced to an hour on a train.) The underlying drivers supported the development of the system and the fundamentals of finance changed towards debt and investment without which the progress would not have been as quick or as ‘sticky’. Britain at the time as the leaders in industry and war, become the leaders in finance too.

Skip to 2017 and look at the drivers in today’s market.

Global disintermediation – like the Americans in 18th Century who didn’t want to be beholden to the British to run their finance, the unstoppable force today is towards a reduction in intermediaries and the closer connection globally between any two points. The power of globalisation is both driven by and enabled through Blockchain and Bitcoin.

The fundamental disruption of the information age is doing what the industrial revolution did, providing huge change and therefore growth opportunity. One of the biggest constraints to global trade for small business is risk/confidence and efficiency in transfer costs (FX etc). If you remove that then there will be a huge change – what does Blockchain/Crypto do again??

There was no stopping central banking once they got going and there’s every evidence showing the same now for Crypto.

Boom and bust – any new wave in finance is usually met by some aspects of a bubble. Namely, there are some first movers who know enough to profit which builds as demand grows, the less informed public jump in pushing the price higher until it’s unsustainable and then collapses. If there is value in the product then there is a return to a more sensible long run price.

There is the example of the East India Company who in the 18th century tried to convince the government to convert government debt with the Bank England into shares in the East India Company. It came close to tying the British nation’s finances to a bubble. Consider the range of ‘Initial Coin Offerings’ today mirroring the myriad of new banks and ventures in the US and UK at the time.

Have a look at these graphs below, one is the classic view of a bubble, another the the price of bitcoin in the past 5 years, and finally the last 15 years of Amazon.


The question is, is the Bitcoin one like Amazon which went through a correction (couple of spikes and drops) and then run into a sustainable period of growth? Or is it going through the mania phase before a real drop?

It was only after a period of adjustment and a few false starts that the systemic, controlled and stable banking system came to pass. Which takes us to;

 Government regulation – there came a point where the government stepped it to take charge of the banking system. Partially as a response to the range of newly created banks; the risk of fraud, boom and bus, in order to protect its citizens. More importantly perhaps in order to take control and ultimately build in taxation to create revenue. Central banks use a range of levers to steer the economy which includes the management of money supply, debt, interest rates etc. At the point that Crypto reaches (or threatens to reach) a scale that it can influence economies, there will most certainly be a desire to bring it under the wider banner of the government. However, because it is decentralised like the internet, there will be a need to have a international joined up approach.

However, power talks so whoever takes the initial control in regulation will take the lead in better leading its adoption. It may be most prominent in Japan but it’s the Chinese interesting pushing the Americans into regulation. This was not the case with the Internet.


For all you Brexit fans out there, this is type of thing that Britain used to lead a couple of centuries ago. It is demonstrably not the case now. For all the America First Trump fans; it’s time to start getting a bit worried that it’s China leading the way.

So then…

All in all, if you are betting on an outcome. You can put your house on Crypto being a huge part of international finance and business in the future. If you want to consider what might happen as part of that trans, it’s worth turning to history.

“Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws.” Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1790


Further reading

The 20 second option – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_banking

The great fiction but still informative option – https://www.bookdepository.com/Conspiracy-of-Paper-David-Liss/9780804119122?ref=grid-view&qid=1508195359685&sr=1-1, History of paper money and the stock market (with some sex and violence) https://www.bookdepository.com/Whiskey-Rebels-David-Liss/9780812974539 History of US banking (with some sex and violence) – both books are brilliant, ask me about my money back guarantee

Crypto trading – have a chat to my good friend at VANAM http://www.twitter.com/J_van_Amerongen

Background to blockchain – https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-blockchain-technology/

Harry Potter and the Organisation Design of Destiny; we are increasingly segmenting customers by behaviour but why not your own people? What you need is a sorting hat.

Consultants are now designers, designers are now consultants, an operating model is now a service design, are you a technologist or a CX delivery consultant? It’s all getting wonderfully mixed up so maybe it’s time to recognise that putting people in teams based on what they do might be yesterday’s thing. What would they do at Hogwarts?

Once you’ve been discovered as a wizard (HR recruitment process) and you’ve bought your wand (your area of SME), you arrive at Hogwarts (induction week). The first thing that happens is that you are allocated into your House (service line). Hogwarts has the benefit of a mystical Sorting Hat who allocates you based on what’s in your heart.  It’s nothing about how much you know and even what you know, it’s about who you are.  How about a corporate equivalent?

harry potter

Imagine a scenario; everyone you work with leaves the company tomorrow and goes to a new one. Do you choose to stay with the company or do you go with your colleagues? It takes an incredibly strong brand or corporate culture or level of success to ensure that you stay. Much more likely is that you would choose to go with your colleagues. People power is absolute in maintaining the culture, the performance and ultimately to get the best out of the individuals.

So pick your heads of house; if you don’t have a blend of leadership personalities and approaches then you have bigger problems so assuming that you do. Select people to be the marquee personality types to align people with. They don’t have to be the smartest or most successful but they don’t need to be, they need to be people you can look up to and see yourself in them. Maybe a Slytherin type; all confidence, cunning and black magic or a Ravenclaw type; thoughtful, intelligent and balanced.

You then allocate people based on suitability with these people; personality types, approaches, ideas and connections.

You all still go to classes together; as with the pupils at Hogwarts, you still go the same classes with each other. Your knowledge is separated from the House you are in. There are experts in Potions in every house who end up together, but they go back to their common rooms to get support and build their personality.

The work you do and the projects you are in can be kept away to your house and managed in a more procedural numbers driven way. When skills are becoming increasingly connected, it’s already a challenge to distinguish teams and the structures are becoming increasingly arbitrary anyway.

Create a house competition; it’s human nature that you are not going to like everyone in your organisation (there will also be people who don’t like you). Rather than try to fix the unfixable, embrace the competition between different teams. Gamification often hits a wall when it’s kept in a small group of people or where it’s not visible enough. Perhaps the Slytherin team needs a strong individual competitive environment with league tables etc whilst the Hufflepuff gang would hate that. Perhaps they would prefer collective incentives. To give you an example; ask yourself, would you rather have a competition in your team where everyone gets a $1000 bar tab if your team hits a target or the top two performers get a $1000 Michelin star 12 course degustation menu?

You can build the right incentives for individuals within the teams because people are fundamentally driven by different things.

Sounds magic right but it’ll never work

It’s already happening, have a think about the current graduate recruitment process where experience and content is loosest. There are lots of conversations about bringing together grads into a single group or having them rotate. Even the process tends to pick the grads first and then you allocate them into teams. This is a very small step from Hogwarts.

How about performance reviews, we are always trying to connect qualitative and quantitative measures. Why not separate them completely? You get you exam marks from your classes (quant) and you get a report from your house master (qual) and the overall success of the business is measured by the house competitions (your numbers).

Disruption is everywhere for clients but we’ve not necessarily changed enough about how we structure ourselves to deliver that disruption. Tacking on a design bit, blending tech teams with non tech, carving out bits and pieces. Why not something new?


PS As regards enabling services, I am wary of making to suggestion but how about ‘house elves’. Effective, efficient, loyal and actually much more magically proficient than most of the wizards and witches. Comments about remuneration are also worthy of discussion………

Donald Trump’s unofficial guide to customer engagement.

Donald Trump’s unofficial guide to Customer Engagement: you may have all the best products and be so smart, so smart but….you have to keep it simple, you have to find what the individual wants and you have to think about the customers you normally don’t. Anything else is fake news.

A lot of people have been saying that Donald Trump isn’t necessarily the best president that ever lived (fake news) but I think he’d make a great Chief Customer Officer and it’s possible he might be available soon. The Donald has much to teach us about building great customer engagement so here are his top tips.

Keep it simple – people like simple, the Facebook generation is both hugely capable at research and is connected to a huge network of information and influence. Paradoxically, they are also much quicker to believe things that they read and only apply their capabilities to things they are interested in. For example, if you asked a range of <30 year olds if they would rather have their superannuation divested from Fossil fuels, they would say yes. If you ask them if they are invested in fossil fuels; they don’t know and if you ask if them if they’ve taken steps to move their fund…. you get a very low number. At the same time, there is an assumption that things are just easier now. I’m to used to having to try and flag a cab at 1am in the rain but not many university students do the same now.

The objective is to find a way to connect the simplicity with something people care about. I would bet you my own superannuation that a link to Facebook with the banner ‘One touch to divest yourself from Adani’ would get some serious traffic and it’s pretty much possible already. Donald is way ahead of the game of this one. His message is; don’t worry about the details of what it means or the practicality. Here is something simple that you care about and here is something good.

Find out what the individual wants –the fascinating trend at the moment is towards hyper-personalisation where everyone can essentially get exactly what they want. This is also a core tenet of economics where there is perfect price discrimination – e.g. I pay the exact amount I am prepared to pay for any given good or service (which is not what everyone else pays.) The essence of behavioural economics is to do the same for behaviour namely; how can we influence behaviour to reach a particular outcome. ‘Nudge’ is essentially about targeting messages or engagement that lead to the desired outcome for an individual. For example, the most effective thing to say on a sales call is generally meant to be ‘Most people choose this package …….’. But there will be a line that will work on everyone, it’s just a question of finding it. ‘Your brother in law couldn’t afford this package’, ‘Every CEO in Australia does x…….’ ‘only someone very different chooses……’

The way you get to this is with data and insight. The more you know about how someone acts and thinks, the better you can target messages. This is not more so the case than with politics and voting. Wins for Trump and Brexit, and even Macron in a way reflect a huge change to how voters (customers) are targeted. You might not like Donald Trump but you have to recognise the way his potential ‘customers’ were laser targeted and mobilised based on behavioural insight. The right messages in the right place however unpleasant, were very effective.

Find the customers you usually don’t – There was a remarkable insight from Trump’s victory that suggested that people knew he was bad but given that people never got a break regardless of the party they chose. They thought that choosing to annoy the people who’ve benefited in the past was still preferable even if it was worse for them. They would rather burn down their own house if it led to the destruction of their smug next door neighbour’s. The conventional wisdom was to go after the same kind of people in the same way. Not for the Orange one.

This is hugely applicable to a customer context. You don’t have to position yourself as the best, you can be the anti-option. Commonwealth Bank has had some publicity challenges recently so rather than try to be the best bank in the market, you could try to be the absolute opposite of CBA. Contrary to the example of the fossil fuels above, there remains enough support for coal etc that you could take advantage. If all the mainstream banks are edging towards more carbon balance, why not create the Queensland Coal Bank: Resources and tradition (anything else is un- Australian.) If you worry about the long-term, surely Trump shows that people have an incredible capacity to forget when you change the narrative a little. For example, with very little research you can see that one of the world’s largest producers of organic food is very connected to one of the worlds biggest cigarette sellers.

So, when you are hiring your next Chief Customer Officer, think about the Donald. As regards opening slots in strategy, operations, finance and especially HR; it might be worth broadening the search away from the Whitehouse.

I’ve got all the best websites – Thecorporatefuturist.com

Believe me (Cambridge Analytics it’s coming to Australia) https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/apr/05/donald-trumps-data-mining-advisers-to-meet-liberal-mps-in-canberra

Many people have been saying that Nobel prize winning economics is interesting http://freakonomics.com/2017/10/09/congratulations-nobel-laureate-richard-thaler/

Be a disruption seagull; you don’t need to know where the fish are, you just have to follow the boat.

Some companies are making the disruption and some are benefiting from it. They aren’t mutually exclusive, so in a period where there is some big stuff happening, how do the little guys line up behind it?

Rather wonderfully, driverless electric cars are almost certain to be the way of travelling in what could be less than 20 years. This means my hoverboard should be ready shortly after. Have a look at this article from a former colleague Jack Basley. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/car-wars-driverless-disruption-jack-basley/?trackingId=Wvh89xrLmODzWZgN3P%2BV5Q%3D%3D

Now, where Jack has really got me thinking is in positioning driverless cars in the context of public transport. The price point for Uber vs the cost of public transport is already not miles away from parity – per passenger trip in Sydney it costs around $15 for the government. Public transport relies on scale to be profitable so small, rural towns in particular could make real savings. They already are in some places (including this one in Canada https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/04/03/innisfil-taps-uber-to-fill-public-transit-void.html). Driverless just removes another constraint which makes it even more efficient.

However, this mostly benefits councils, Uber, the car companies etc. You perhaps need to go a level deeper to identify opportunities around the main disruption where ripples in the pool lead to all sorts of opportunities. The initial wave is easy is to see and to guess the value. The real opportunities are in the waves which follow and the changes they cause. You just have to look at the use cases and reimagine what might be possible. For example:

Travel is about point to point?? – most cafes and restaurants are based in urban areas or especially beside main roads where there is parking. If that is no longer a constraint then you can take detours to anywhere you like. You can normally assume people want to get places quickly but if you aren’t driving, you can be working, or having fun. So if the restaurant doesn’t have to be on the main street, it can anywhere you like.  So here is my business idea number 1; taking a leaf from Indian colleagues with their wonderful looking home cooked lunches; I would create a network of domestic lunch makers at which you could stop on your way to work to get. The disaggregation and democratisation of lunch. A sort of Uber eats run by your granny. The same Granny could also provide a cleaning service for the cars, she pushes one button and fleet of Googlemobiles arrive for a spruce-up.

However, even this idea is based around a fairly standard view of transport so I maybe need to think a little differently. The mindset is to see travel as the means to an end rather than the means itself, therefore everything is a factor of time or distance. If you change the mindset, you start to see the opportunity. Here are three such ideas.

Future of Parking – is generally considered to be an economic and environmental disaster in that the efficiency of parking spaces is typically very low, it paves over space which could be better used to generate utility (happiness or money) and it’s not good for run-off of nasty chemicals and even the reflection of heat. There is also a huge use of space alongside roads where cars are not moving for the vast majority of time and accordindly serve no purpose. Where then are the opportunities to reformat, repurpose and rethink parking when you don’t need the space? Urban gardens, markets, micro-distribution centres or hubs for commerce http://freakonomics.com/podcast/parking-is-hell-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/. An investment now in parking might be brilliant move.

Future of Education – Sydney in particular is renowned for a huge migration of children every day going off to schools all over the city. With driverless cars, you would unleash all sorts of potential for mischief making. Why not then build the first lesson of the day into the commute. Facial recognition knows what children are where, whether they are looking and you can deliver a lecture, homework, verbal exams whilst they are on the move. A bespoke language learning course would do just the trick, AI bots to have conversations, immersion in the language, connection internationally with kids overseas. You could have the whole population of Australian children speaking Mandarin without ever having a teacher know a word.

Future of healthcare –  a typical Doctor’s surgery and pharmacies require a range of stock to support the different Doctors with different specialities. There is a company in Mexico; Cemex who revolutionised cement delivery by putting geotagging on their trucks and then sending them out into cities with no specific orders to fulfil; when the orders came in, the trucks would be directed to the need. Why not apply the same principle to Doctors, ignore a base location and send them around in a driverless car going where they are required. A much more efficient use of resources. A series of pharmacy vehicles does something similar roaming around the city waiting for the orders to come in.

The driverless car industry will be a $1trillion business over the next 50 years. Not everyone is going to be able to get much from the big disruption bit; the first half of the money is going to go the tech companies, the next chunk to the car companies, the next chunk to insurance companies and government etc. But even being left with a wee tiny bit at the end, it’s still a lot of money. The objective today is to start to imagine the future and take the first steps towards the potential opportunities. There is nothing above which can’t be done today in some format, the real money is just over the horizon.

There’s plenty of fish to go round if you go looking.

The Icelandic Football team’s guide to Digital Transformation

Yesterday, the Iceland football team qualified for the World Cup in Russia ahead of Croatia, Turkey and the Ukraine and in doing so became the smallest ever country to achieve that feat. Iceland has 330,000 people, almost non-existent football league, a very small number of recognisable players, weather that could be considered ‘not ideal’ and an economic legacy of near Armageddon. They have continued on from the European championships where they not only qualified but managed to beat England 2-1 (TV rights for English football $18b AUD). 10 years previously they were ranked 120th in the world and their best ever result was a 1-1 draw with Turkey.

In summary; they have very little money, huge restrictions in their talent pool, conditions which don’t provide a natural advantage for success, no legacy of success and they exist in an area of huge competition. They have nonetheless, achieved a transformation so remarkable as to be quite unbelievable. If the situation sounds similar to many corporates, that’s because it is.


So what would the Icelanders recommend

1) Have a plan and stick to it – on the field Iceland have a style of play which is entirely based around what their players can do, they play on the counter attack and don’t try to take on the bigger teams at their own game. They are rigorous in training, coaching and managing players to fit to that system. In a recent game against Turkey (a 3-0 win), they had the ball for only 25% of the time but still managed to score three goals. Their game plan is based around every single player knowing the job they have been given to do and executing it well.

Off the field it is the same, they designed the transformation of the game which required players, coaches, the leadership and even the fans to buy into an approach and a design and every decision was taken to support that. For example, they had a long term coach who built a succession plan to the current coach which started 5 years ago. They resisted the temptation to change the structure or the resources after a few bad results. Their 10 year plan was to create a new system to support the the game overall, invest at all levels, pick the style and the approach for playing and build everything around that.

How often do we change around structure to fit to a new direction and how often does your company build a strategy or transformation plan?

2) Change needs to be everywhere – the problem was not viewed as simply as the Icelandic national football team being bad. The approach was not to spend lots of money on the team itself rather, to see the challenge as football in Iceland as a whole. Much of the investment has been on coaching young children, providing facilities and a system to support everyone. Women’s football, youth teams, children’s teams are not treated as anything different.

For example, young children in the system are able to go and train with a professional club and anyone is allowed to apply to be a coach. Accordingly, Iceland has the highest number of coaches per capita of anywhere. The investment and the engagement is spread across the whole organisation.

How often do we in organisations think about how to transform the whole business? The view is that scale of the challenge is so big that it needs to split into boxes, new teams are created or devolved from other parts. The strategy process and the planning sits with the higher levels and the steps to get there are communicated down rather than built up. The England Manager is on a salary of $5m AUD, but that’s not where they should necessarily be putting the money.

3) Change the dynamic of your constraints – one of the biggest challenges for Iceland is that the winter is cold and extremely dark and at other times, they have huge amounts of rain and low average temperatures. Manly Beach in the Spring it is not, and their beach volleyball team is extremely ropey. As a Scotsman, I can appreciate the astonishing natural advantage Australia has for playing sports outside but you have to imagine Sydney with the weather of Glasgow. It would be a different place and would need a different response.

Iceland though have changed the dynamic completely. The have built a series of huge, heated indoor halls with full football pitches rather than small practice ones. They have made access to these easy, cheap and have put investment into ensuring the experience of going to these halls is as good as it can be. There is actually an incentive to go to training when the weather is bad.

To add to this, they have taken a very small player base relative to other countries so they’ve applied a real ‘hothousing’ approach to manage and nurture talent. They have a learning pathway for development built off the range of coaches and the successful ones are managed into programs overseas. One of their players recently sold for $70m AUD (Glyfi Sigurdson).

The lesson here for corporates is to not to try and be something that you aren’t. I’ve had this conversation with a number of corporates; ‘we need to be customer centric’, our ‘customer experience needs to be best in class’, ‘we have to be agile’, ‘we have to get best use from our data’.

The trouble is, everyone says the same thing and everyone is trying to do the same thing. It therefore becomes a factor of investment or commitment. What would be the Iceland Football team answer?


Judge Dredd: Judge, Jury and Execution of leading practice Agile

In a future world with increased urbanisation, huge disruption due to climate change, a series of ‘judges’ double as police, jury, judge and executioner to make immediate decisions on crimes and conduct immediate remediation up to and not limited to instant execution with a range of exotic weaponry. They are supported by an huge AI engine with all information on each individual delivered through a Google glass type device which supports the ultimate decision. An ethereal Siri type voice provides the information direct to Judge Dredd who then makes the decision.

‎Now, it might seem like a leap but this is basically the perfect description of good Agile management (without the executions). Here’s why;

‎With the risk of being controversial, Agile is increasingly the de facto project delivery approach but it is commonly poorly delivered or is morphed into a hybrid which doesn’t help anyone. It all sounds so good to start with; flexible and quick delivery of outputs, visible and engaging, easy to see progress and all you need are two core principles;

‎ 1) that you don’t know exactly what you are going to get at the end and 2) You have to have the ability to make quick decisions of some importance.

‎This is where the cunning plan can fall down, the client needs some clarity of the outcome and some decisions are delayed to get the right group. It is very quick to end up with a series of small waterfalls against a big project plan. A simple test for your project is to count how many people are in the PMO or PM team and to have a quick look at your project plan. From a consultant’s perspective, you can be in the position where the length of a Sprint creates a hugely increased level of bureaucracy and actually restricts the ability to be flexible because you are constantly defending small changes or delays. Most of us never work harder than on Agile projects and you know what; it’s not always the consultants fault.

‎In the comic, Judge Dredd came about because of the slow speed of the decision making process in ‘Megacity One’ to deliver justice. Decisions were stacking up, cases were overwhelming the Steering Group (Megacity Courts) and nothing was getting done. So, they armed the Judges with authority to make decisions immediately, stuffed them full of information available and put in some checks to measure their performance. Judge Dredd even went around with a deputy who provided an ongoing psychology summary e.g. the voice of the customer embedded right there in the decision process.

‎It’s time then to apply some Judge Dredd to the corporate Agile process as part of the governance. Each member of an overall program steering group could be nominated as a Judge. Each are armed with a Judge’s visor (or an iPad would probably do) loaded with all the decisions, strategies, an overall Judge Yammer group and any project document. They are supported by a Deputy Judge who represents the customer (they too could get a cool uniform). Decisions are made in the moment and are recorded into the central store. You could even use the Judge Dredd story to explain the process for Agile and actually build it into the project lexicon. I’d love to go to a Sprint start-up, close-down when dramatic music herald the feared arrival of the ‘Judge’.

‎What’s even more important is to consider the impact of Agile on overall project delivery. The biggest change in IT project delivery in the past decade has been the reduction in the time from idea to execution. My first project as a grad was a 3 year ERP implementation (in fairness, it was meant to be 2 years) but a typical cycle now can be 16 or 20 weeks. Back then when things were more customised and bespoke, you still spent half the money on the change and business piece. Now you are talking about an even bigger change for people in a hugely reduced time period.

‎So you have to be quicker, more visible and more direct. Send for the Judge.


Darth Vader’s approach to a two speed Digital corporate culture

‎Say what you like about Darth Vader, he ran a tight ship. He was consistently results driven and he delivered feedback (usually fatal) in a timely manner rather than wait for the Death Star half yearly appraisals. I also never saw him punish a stormtrooper, not one single lower level employee, Darth reserved his ire for the senior members of the team, make changes quickly to improve performance and always, always promoted from within. I’m sure he was seen as a wonderfully charismatic figure by the rank and file and he was always diligent in applying the wishes of the Emperor. He is therefore, a fine example of a CXO in modern corporate business.

‎He is a strong symbol externally to the market, he works his leadership hard but never seeks to micro-manage. It is also impossible to challenge the remarkable political and technological achievements made by the ‘Empire’. The creation of a seriously killer app (literally) and the subvention of the entire system of government without military intervention. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/30/google-silicon-valley-corporate-lobbying-washington-dc-politics, http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/speculation-about-a-mark-zuckerberg-presidential-run-refuses-to-die/news-story/e42cb11b82f8a527709c61349de2eae8.

‎This year perhaps more than in the past 10 years; conversations about moving corporate culture have been more prevalent. There is a general realisation in the power of the force (culture) being required to adapt to a digital, customer centric world as a pathway to Digital Transformation. If you add the technology of the empire and the scale of managing the galaxy without getting the people right. You’ll never defeat the rebellion.

‎However, with all the will in world you aren’t going to change everyone to the right culture in the time available before the next wave of innovation and progress arrives; so do we have to take advice from Darth?

Your clone army

‎You need to respect your clones – the basis of the stormtroopers was a clone army which was superior to the robot equivalent as the power to think creatively was preferred. These clones are easy to manage due to training, repeated performance and a strict adherence to orders. All due respect to them, they aren’t going to progress up the ranks and actually, you don’t need them to. You need to keep them focussed on tasks, reward them well for performance (shore leave on Naiboo maybe). You want them to focussed on details, rigorous and engaged. Success is commonly it’s own reward and pride at every level in the organisation’s performance is hugely powerful.

Your leaders and your leading edge

‎You also need some charisma and some fun as you live your values – https://hbr.org/2017/07/stop-putting-off-fun-for-after-you-finish-all-your-work. All of the lead bad guys in Star Wars are gloriously compelling – gravel voiced with masks, red spiky faces and cool double lightsabres, giant worm things or Christopher Lee. They all have their gimmicks, their specialist skills and they all have charisma and people willing to fight for them. Perhaps even more importantly, the top, top guys all have a messianic pursuit of a single corporate value – the force. Every action is set and measured against the instinct and the strength which comes from this single unifying spirit.

‎Allow Darth and the bosses to lead the way but where you need to put the money is in the culture is in the ideas people? The person with the crazy idea for the Death Star would have had some challenging early steering group meetings in the concept phase. How much steel? How much power? How many special explosive crystal things? How long? There needed to be the culture in place to allow for such an idea to be brought up in the first place and then to get the support behind the project…… There is also the remarkable autonomy given to the lead engineers so that such a creation could be made even when it has a major design flaw (single shot to the exhaust vent blows it up – even though it’s probably not https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agcRwGDKulw), and goes into Beta testing when it’s not finished (Return of the Jedi – geeky reference this one).

‎So, perhaps it’s time to accept that a balanced utopia in the your corporate culture is not what you need in the first instance. You need to create a 2 speed culture which allows one group to focus on what they are good at and another group to be the (Death) Star team. In time perhaps you can move everyone, but success brings it’s own challenges. Don’t believe me – look at how Google has split their business into the money making bit and the ideas bit and their corporate motto was just one word away from the Empire’s – Do(n’t) be evil!


The Million Dollar Nurse and the battle of EQ vs IQ


Imagine if you will, the starting salary for a nurse at $1,000,000. Thousands of applications for a small number of available spots at University and then fierce competition for years. Some go into private nursing at huge premiums and all the golf clubs are filled with nurse helmed self-driving Mercedes.

It’s the thing to talk about at the moment that AI and robotics stands ready to make 50% of people redundant (https://www.businessinsider.com.au/robots-will-steal-your-job-citi-ai-increase-unemployment-inequality-2016-2?r=UK&IR=T) and make the rich richer and poor poorer. It’s common knowledge that the so-called lower skilled and repetitive jobs are at risk but maybe it’s the basic dynamic of value in work which has most to fear.

The rewards in society are designed to reflect IQ. You win the Dux medal at school for having the best grades, you get into University and then into graduate jobs based on your scores and then your salary and progression commonly follows a path where the smartest do the best. Your EQ is not present in your scores at a math quiz and though you might be voted ‘most friendly’ you don’t typically put this on a college application. In short, there are a lot of Nobel prizes for the smart people and not many for the nice people (Peace? Anyone).

However, has anyone felt their own intellect increasingly irrelevant. I used to know the 20 ,14 digit numbers of my friends off by heart. I used to be able to know which player scored for Hamilton Academicals in the 1987 famous win at Ibrox (Adrian Sprott). Now, I just need access to my phone. Today, all static information is easy to get to and almost pointless to learn.

Let’s look at Surgeons then. Very well educated (thankfully), experienced to know what to do when the worst happens, if x happens to y then do z. They have to learn huge amounts of information, have incredible precision and then often specialise deeply. They are rare and therefore valuable, they are highly skilled and highly paid. They are also famous for having no bedside manner and acting as if robots with their work (because they function better like that.).

Surely we should be replacing a robot with real robot then? The description above describes perfectly what you expect from a robot. There is already progress in robotic surgery (albeit with the doctor steering) but there is further progress in diagnosis and decision making. http://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/track-for-2019-launch-titan-medical-installs-its-first-surgical-robot-florida, https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600868/the-artificially-intelligent-doctor-will-hear-you-now/ What we are less likely to replace is the emotional and human requirement. You already see your nurse much more than your doctor, she/he is there to support, reassure and understand, to talk to family and deal with questions day to day. The value put on this is currently inexcusably low because it’s hard to explain qualitative levels in empathy and the learning process need not be as long or specialised or arduous as the surgeon.

Skip forward then 30 years where we’ve squeezed AI into every possible IQ task, who will be left as the leaders in society? Tell your kids to get into Nursing.


Image – http://www.smithsonianmag.com