"The digital revolution is changing how and where work happens. Employment is becoming more flexible and fluid, with digital technology enabling more people to work remotely and to collaborate in the cloud. This will impact city-centre offices, with landlords having to adjust to weaker demand and shorter leases. And as artificial intelligence bites – machines don’t care where they work – we’ll see the growth of cheaper regional back-offices, which is bad news for expensive cities."
Data Is The New Oil
As I watch the emerging news surrounding MoviePass and how they are (note - not have .... despite the changes to their app) tracking their customers, I keep hearing ‘Data Is The New Oil'. It is not a new phrase and in fact as far as I can tell was coined by Clive Humby back in 2006 ... but it struck me that if true (it isn’t and I really need to publish that post) then corporations obviously view people as vessels, silos, containers … whatever, but certainly not as people.
Apologies For Our Absence
... we have been doing a little housekeeping at 'Chez First' ... and now we are finished. You can expect a lot more interesting and relevant information coming through this channel. Thank you.
The Downside Of Social Media
Titans of Social Media explain why they might have made a mistake.
There has been a lot of recent commentary on social media addiction, but this video summary was interesting, concise and in 15 minutes says it all.
To me what is interesting is that they all say that they could see it coming ... and then did it anyway. What does that say about them. It certainly doesn’t say that they 'put people first'.
Innovation Silicon Valley Style
People First is delighted to share work that is relevant to our initiatives. Geoffrey Moore is an author, speaker and management strategy advisor. His work has influenced the careers of many of us at People First and we are excited he granted us permission to share this particular article.
There is a cottage industry in conducting executive tours of Silicon Valley, and now increasingly San Francisco SOMA, to expose teams from other parts of the planet to what is admittedly a uniquely successful culture of innovation and wealth creation. I’m all for it up to a point. Where I part company from the herd is with the notion that global corporations have a chance in hell of playing the same game. They don’t. Here’s why.
To quote a hopefully soon-to-be would-be candidate for president, Silicon Valley’s version of the innovation game is rigged! That is, it is specifically designed around a venture capital oriented ecosystem that is uniquely aligned to support investments in disruptive innovation. The limited partners who fund VCs want their money put into these high-risk, high-reward endeavours. The VCs that parcel out that money interview entrepreneurs to pick the best ideas, plans, and teams to prosecute a disruptive innovation. The ecosystem of service providers needed to support these fledgling enterprises is deeply experienced in navigating the economic gyrations brought on by the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. And when any individual joins one of these companies, he or she knows their sole mission in life is to bring the targeted disruptive innovation to scale as fast as possible, come hell or high water, Devil take the hindmost. Now, I ask you, where else in the world could you expect to find this kind of alignment?
Most companies in most economies in most places live by sustaining innovation, not disruption. Successful investments are typically medium-to-low risk with medium-to-high rewards. They do not involve going through a bet-the-company J-curve, that deep and harrowing financial trough from which only a fraction of traveler’s return. Financiers from traditional economies do not want the companies they invest in to take this route—they want steadier ROIs from more proven paths. The executive teams who run these companies developed their considerable expertise prosecuting opportunities of just this sort. The workforce’s who report in to them are not prepared to work crazy-long hours in pursuit of some visionary dream, nor do they want them to. They want them to show up, be present, do real work, and then go home and spend time with their families, loved ones, and significant others. That’s what economic stability is all about.
So, when a disruptive innovation does cross the chasm and breaches the defenses of one of their mainstream marketplaces, it should come to no one’s surprise that it is not being led by any currently successful established competitor. Frankly, such organizations all have better fish to fry. BUT, once a disruption has breached the mainstream market’s defenses and taken hold, then the game is dramatically changed. The old way is now under existential threat, the established ecosystem is no longer economically viable, and customers are looking to their traditional vendors to see if they can and will adopt the new playbook.
Now, the good news here is that customers do not like to switch vendors. This means, if you and your ecosystem of partners can stand down from your old positions of power and take up the new modus operandi, then your prospects of defending your turf are actually quite good. You don’t have to introduce a disruptive new business model of your own to do this, but you do have to catch up—and smartly too! This means you have to incorporate enough of the new technology to modernize your operating model, to blunt the appeal of the disruptor by stealing a bit of their thunder. That is, your goal is not to differentiate in order to win new customers—that’s the disruptor’s playbook. They want the customers you have. Your goal instead is to neutralize the opposition’s appeal in order to keep your existing customers loyal to you. Differentiation and neutralization call for two very different playbooks. Silicon Valley is the master of the first. You need the second.
For that, you should look outside the Valley to a company like Microsoft, one that has spent the entire arc of its history protecting the extraordinary customer base it was gifted by the near-universal adoption of the IBM PC. Without exception its most successful products were born out of neutralization, not differentiation. That is, Windows neutralized the Macintosh OS, Windows NT neutralized Novell, Office neutralized WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Persuasion, Outlook neutralized cc:Mail, SQL Server neutralized IBM DB2 and Oracle, and Internet Explorer neutralized Netscape Navigator. In every case, Microsoft was quick to clone just to get something vaguely competitive into the market asap, and then worked relentlessly first to bring its product up to speed and eventually to surpass the original disruptor. And all along the way, it leveraged its existing market position to bundle early offerings in for free, monetizing them downstream either on their own or by virtue of them sustaining the price premium of the suites they had been incorporated into.
By contrast, Silicon Valley companies that have found themselves under a comparable attack have often tried a different tack. They have sought to out-innovate the innovator, to leapfrog the freakin’ toad that just leapfrogged them! Yahoo wanted to out-innovate Google with social search. Sun and HP wanted to out-innovate Intel with Spark and PA-RISC. eBay wanted to out-innovate Amazon by buying Skype. But when the barbarians are at the gates, there is no time to invent a new weapon or experiment with an unproven one—you have to co-opt the one they are using against you.
So, yes, please do come to Silicon Valley and take away whatever lessons you can incorporate successfully into your current enterprise. Everyone needs to differentiate eventually. But you might extend your trip up to Redmond to learn a trick or two from the folks up there as well.
That’s what I think. What do you think?
Happy New Year
Best wishes to each and everyone of you. We hope you make 2018 what you want it to be.
Our apologies for the apparent silence over the past three months. To the casual observer, this might seem like a quiet place but it belies the frantic activity running under the surface. We plan to make out work public in the next few months, so watch this space.
Until then, take the sentiments of Cyril to heart.
If you don't know who you are, there is little you can do to improve the lives of others. You have to make your own way and help yourself before you can help others, as we seek to help others at People First.
Don’t forget that you can follow us on Twitter to keep up with the latest activities.
As technological innovation continues to disrupt industry after industry in waves of what Joseph Schumpeter taught us to call “creative destruction,” executive decision-making is being driven down in the organizational hierarchy, closer to the customer, nearer to the action. This in turn is putting pressure on the HR function to deliver programs to develop executive talent faster and better than ever before. They are going to need help.
All development programs are intended to change state, so as good program designers, it behooves us to answer two questions at the outset:
- What is the current state a candidate needs to have achieved to qualify for entrance into the program?
- What is the future state a candidate needs to achieve in order to graduate?
Here is a template for getting started:
In the Age of the Product, customer service ensured that the product lived up to its specifications. Everything after that was the customer’s responsibility, not the vendor’s. In the Age of the Customer, the bar has been raised. Now it is the outcome that must live up to the customer’s expectations, else it is the vendor who is left holding the bag. That requires a whole new function, what the SaaS sector has taught us to call customer success. Let’s take a closer look at what has to change.
First of all, we still need customer service. Products still break, implementations still go awry, and parts still wear out, and they all need to be attended to. The traditional CRM customer service model is admirably suited to the task. It is organized around a trouble ticket generating a case which is managed through to a resolution with the data captured in a knowledge base to better inform the next case. This is by design a product-centric model, putting a premium on accuracy of information and reduction of errors, with productivity being measured first and foremost by the number of cases closed and the time taken to close each one.
What this system does not measure well is the customer side of the equation.
Hurricane Harvey dropped 52 inches of rain and 27 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana. And a new kind of “All-hands-on-deck” response emerged.
Glenn Reynolds, author of An Army of Davids, writes: “But the real difference isn’t citizens getting involved, it’s the willingness of responsible officials to see that involvement as a plus rather than a potential problem … the excellent record of civilian volunteer responders in the post-9/11 record is behind that willingness.”
The Cajun Navy flotilla of private boat owners demonstrated the value of government, the private sector and regular people working together. The value of such cooperation in earlier disasters like Katrina and Sandy increased the ability to coordinate when Harvey struck.
Traditional global governance is failing. Yet the need for effective collaboration, delivering good performance in the face of new challenges has never been greater.
And Neither Are People
Do you remember The Prisoner?
If you are old enough and you were living in the UK in the 60s, I am sure the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"
I am well aware the TV series was also shown in Canada and the US, but I think it's one of those peculiarly English productions that didn't translate too well. For those of you not old enough (most of you I am guessing), this is a key line from the show that always struck me: "I am not a number—I am a free man!"
Prescient, when you realize, to quote Wikipedia that ...
a major theme of the series is individualism, as represented by Number Six, versus collectivism, as represented by Number Two.... McGoohan [the co-creator of the show], stated that the series aimed to demonstrate a balance between the two points.
Now if that is not a "discussion for our times," I'm not sure what is! And as you can see, this debate has been occupying me for some time. Then, along comes Gaping Void to point out something similar.