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Guest Bloggers

Guest Bloggers

David Grebow and Stephen Gill: When History Happens And No One Notices

On Jun 14, 2018 6:00:00 AM

/ David Grebow and Stephen Gill

Categories: business change, technological innovation

David Grebow and Stephen Gill: When History Happens And No One Notices 
From Guest Bloggers David Grebow and Stephen Gill:

“When we look back across five centuries, the implications of the Renaissance appear to be obvious. It seems astonishing that no one saw where it was leading, anticipating what lay around the next bend in the road and over the horizon. Even the wisest were at a hopeless disadvantage, for their only guide in sorting it all out the only guide anyone ever has was the past, and precedents are worse than useless when facing something entirely new.”

—William Manchester, A World Lit Only By Fire

Book by Steven Gill and David Grebow Minds at WorkIn the 1980’s, technology, automation, artificial intelligence and globalization combined for the first time to form a new powerful force. The impact of this force began the historic and too often unnoticed ­­ transition from a labor-intensive workforce that had existed for thousands of years to what is still a relatively new and emerging mind-intensive workforce. In our book, Minds at Work, we refer to this period as The Great Inflection Point when we moved from managing hands to managing minds.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the loss of the relatively unskilled jobs that populated most of the labor-intensive economy would impact more than 1.4 million workers by 2026. Yet, a World Economic Report analysis and report in response to these numbers pointed out that 96% of the 1.4 million jobs could be easily upskilled and transitioned into more challenging and skilled work once automation and AI replaced the repetitive, labor-intensive parts of their jobs. For example, assembly line workers could become construction laborers, electronic equipment assemblers could transition into electricians, and machine operators would learn to be machine mechanics.

Labor-intensive work that can be more cheaply and effectively done by automation and AI has aspects and elements to it that AI and automation cannot do. It means that parts of many jobs are, to use a new term, “robot-proof.” They are the parts of a job that requires you to use your mind life experiences, creativity, ability to continuously learn, and more  in the work you do. Harry Davis at the University of Chicago summed it up when he said, “We have to make it so that people don't leave too much of themselves in the trunk of their car.”

Some countries have paid more attention to this historic shift than others and are doing a better job training and educating their workforces for these upskilling transitions. In Singapore, they have started what is referred to as a “Lifelong Learning Initiative.” The focus is on training and education for skills that will be required in a world that is mind-intensive and not labor-intensive, the brainful work that will need to be done in the future. In Germany, there is the Educational Vocation Act that offers 500,000 Germans with up to three years of education in the classroom that is then coupled with a transition into the workplace as paid on-the-job apprenticeships. These countries have a growth mindset and know that people want to learn and prepare for the future.

Some countries, such as the United States, are still not seeing the implications of The Great Inflection Point and have no strategy for succeeding in this new mind-intensive world. A few companies are leading by example. AT&T realized (almost too late) that their new competitors include not only the new cellular phone companies Verizon and Sprint, but also the internet service providers Amazon, Netflix and Google. Randall Stephenson, AT&T's Chairman and Chief Executive, knew he had to reinvent the company to compete. So in 2014, he asked 280,000 employees worldwide to start a retraining program called Vision 2020. In his mind, it was an easy choice: Take classes and begin to upgrade your skills or limit your opportunities at AT&T to zero. The company knew that a large portion of the workforce needed to learn the new digital technology and quickly be able to work with AT&T’s cloud-based system, scheduled for implementation in 2020.

The World Economic Forum summed it up: "As the types of skills needed in the labor market change rapidly, individual workers will have to engage in lifelong learning if they are to achieve fulfilling and rewarding careers. For companies, reskilling and upskilling strategies will be critical if they are to find the talent they need and to contribute to socially responsible approaches to the future of work. For policymakers, reskilling and retraining the existing workforce are essential levers to fuel future economic growth, enhance societal resilience in the face of technological change and pave the way for future-ready education systems for the next generation of workers.”

History does not happen to someone else. It happens to all of us. The cost of not noticing when history happens is failing to react and falling behind other countries that have been paying attention.

David Grebow has been considered a visionary in the management and education fields for over 35 years. He has held senior management positions with leading technology and education companies, including IBM where he co-founded the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. David's blog, KnowledgeStar, is one of the most widely-read on learning and technology. 

Steve Gill 2015-979548-editedStephen J. Gill, co-author with David Grebow of "Minds at Work," is a co-founder of Learning To Be Great, an online resource for creating and sustaining a learning culture in organizations. He has designed and evaluated training and learning programs for office systems, manufacturing, utility, healthcare, education and philanthropic organizations, and has written over 50 articles.

SAMC Guest Bloggers  

We have a select number of guest bloggers whom we have invited to share their insights with our readers. They bring different perspectives on the challenges of change, innovation and opening new market space. Please enjoy their viewpoints and share them with others.

On The Brink podcast with David and Stephen

Take a listen to our On The Brink podcast with David and Stephen about the changes taking place all around us in the way people work. Today's "knowledge worker" in a typical corporation is very different from the line worker in a plant, yet so many of our businesses have paid little attention to this significant shift in the labor force and what their response to it should be. Pretty important stuff. Don't miss this!

Resources:

From Observation to Innovation,

AndiSimon_headshot.png

Andi Simon, Ph.D.
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants
Info@simonassociates.net
@simonandi

Don't miss a single episode of our On The Brink podcast! 
Subscribe now

 Subscribe to "On The Brink" Podcast

Buy On the Brink by Andi Simon

Read More → Back to Top

Bob Roitblat: 9 Ways Traditional Market Research Fails Innovation And What To Do About It

On May 15, 2018 7:00:00 AM

/ Bob Roitblat

Categories: Business Anthropology, Corporate Anthropology, finding new customers, innovation

Bob Roitblat: 9 Ways Traditional Market Research Fails Innovation And What To Do About It 
From Guest Blogger Bob Roitblat:

"We should discard the old, unquestioned assumption that demographics is always the best way to segment markets."  —Daniel Yankelovich, New Criteria for Market Segmentation, Harvard Business Review, March-April 1964, page 89.

Bob Roitblat-1Traditional market research techniques focus on data, metrics, purchase intent and attribute preferences—i.e., on logical analysis. These provide only a fraction of the available knowledge and insight necessary for effective innovation for several reasons: 

1. Data mining is only effective at uncovering insights into your current customers’ current buying habits. It tells you nothing about people who never were customers or who eventually might be.

2. What customers say in surveys and focus groups often contradicts what they actually think and feel, and how they will ultimately act.

3. Asking customers what they need from your products and services tends to elicit predictable yet inadequate answers such as "less expensive," "easier to use," or "more features."

4. Surveys and focus groups tend to uncover explicit needs and not implicit or latent needs. These needs are most important to driving innovation.

5. Customers are often unable to fully articulate their own needs, at least not in much useful detail.

6. Focus groups produce opinions, but not how to derive meaning from them.

7. People don’t always know why they do certain things, so interviewing them doesn’t reveal their thought process.

8. Consumers often adapt their behavior to compensate for product inadequacies, or cobble together solutions for which no good alternatives exist. Since few people realize they are compensating, they are unable to explain what is missing or what might be improved.

9. Human behavior is influenced by many factors, most of which aren't conscious or rational, and, therefore, can’t be quantified. 

As UCLA professor Theodore Porter wrote in the preface to his 1995 book, Trust in Numbers (Princeton University Press), “quantification is a technology of distance.” 

Rather than being distant from customers and prospects, for successful innovation, we need to be closer to them. 

Empathy is more important than numbers when it comes to delivering successful innovation. 

Empathy, defined as “identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives,” is the language of proximity. Empathy is what gets us closer to customers and helps us uncover their important yet unarticulated needs.

Empathy enables us to get close enough to individual customers or very specific market sub-segments to understand them in the context of the emotional world in which they live. It allows us to inhabit the customers’ minds and hearts in order to thoroughly understand their attitudes and aspirations, what works well for them, what doesn’t work so well, and where their pain and frustrations are within the context of their particular situation.

A deep understanding of customers and their needs, worries and motivations also enables us to find common, often unspoken, drivers of behavior shared by otherwise diverse, traditionally identified market segments.

Innovation starts with empathy for the people we want our ideas to matter to.

Empathy starts with observation; observing the customer up close and over time to uncover their unvoiced, often unrecognized needs.

What customers and prospects do speaks volumes compared to what they say or even hint at. Watch the gyrations your customers go through in real settings when trying to achieve their objectives: what are they frustrated with? What are they wasting time on? What are they struggling to obtain, understand or perform? What do they find easy and delightful?

The empathy gained through observation uncovers the greatest opportunities for innovation.

SAMC Guest Bloggers  

We have a select number of guest bloggers whom we have invited to share their insights with our readers. They bring different perspectives on the challenges of change, innovation and opening new market space. Please enjoy their viewpoints and share them with others.

On The Brink podcast with Bob 

Take a listen to my On The Brink podcast with Bob in which he shares with us how to develop a goal-focused mentality and the competitive skills we need to become great leaders whom people admire and follow. Using his experience as the CEO of Mainsail Consulting Group, combined with years as a competitive sailor, Bob powerfully draws parallels between building and leading a winning yacht racing team and building and leading a winning business. Listen, learn and share!

Resources:

From Observation to Innovation,

AndiSimon_headshot.png

Andi Simon, Ph.D.
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants
Info@simonassociates.net
@simonandi

Don't miss a single episode of our On The Brink podcast! 
Subscribe now

 Subscribe to "On The Brink" Podcast

Buy On the Brink by Andi Simon

Read More → Back to Top

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