Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.

How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought: Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth. Got Knowledge?

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The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Friday, May 02, 2003  

Athletes: Running Together Scenario

Chapter Two: The Ridge

By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs

Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories

"Management must be prepared to dismantle current structures before the revolutionary stage becomes too turbulent. Top managers, realizing that their own managerial styles are no longer appropriate, may even have to take themselves out of leadership positions. A good Phase 2 manager facing Phase 3 might be wise to find another Phase 2 organization that better fits his talents, either outside the company or with one of its newer subsidiaries."

Larry Greiner, "Evolution and revolution as organizations grow," HBR Classic Reprint.

Journal of 2020 Foresight: Let's recap. We just discussed the first of four work life talent scenarios: The Agent. You called them the paradoxy-morons

Trailblazer: They look at things through a different filter. What they notice is how limited the traditional way solves the really complex problems.

J2020F: So, they may be change agents in organizations or they may be living a more entrepreneurial lifestyle. I recall that they collaborate in non-organizational federations, networks, or strategic alliances. Some are inventors. Others are artists, writers, consultants, salespeople, and entrepreneurs.

TB: They all possess a strong faith that they have what it takes to bring something new into being. They're drawn to high risk.

J2020F: Then, they're capable of anticipating something new and act decisively to establish a new market, industry, technology, or a new scientific discipline, right?

TB: Yes. In fact they would be the ones driving or monitoring the updated twenty-three Lifework forces that served as the basis for the four "Do-What-You-Love-and-the-Money-Will-Follow" scenarios:

2 - The echo baby-boom generation is now moving into its household formation years, which will stimulate demand for apartments and rental property in the cities, and has already caused commercial property in these areas to appreciate. (Dent)

3 - The baby boomers are moving into their vacation-home-buying years, which, in combination with the first trend, will stimulate demand for property in attractive resort towns. (Dent

4 - Basic innovation in communication technologies is allowing more people to relocate their homes to small towns and exurbs, and telecommute to business. (Dent)

6 - The networked organization - companies that truly run from the customer back - will dominate. Savvy leaders will view every customer as a market and every employee as a business. (Dent)

7 - The Internet will reach 90% penetration of urban and suburban households by 2010. (Dent)

8 - By 2006 PCs will reach 70 to 90% of all households. (Dent)

9 - From 2008 to 2020 - 2030: the next Great Depression signaling the end to suburban and large-city real estate,
as well as commercial real estate outside of small towns. (Dent)

10 - By 2008 stocks will outperform bonds and real estate investments
in exurban, small-town, and resort-town properties should appreciate modestly. (Dent)

31 - Return to a classic investment portfolio allocated among large caps, small caps, real estate, international, and bonds beginning in 2020 or 2023. (Dent)

32 - From 2015 to 2023 look for long-term buying opportunities in exurban real estate, emerging countries
, and U.S. small cap stocks. (Dent)

33 - In 2009 or 2010 expect the first serious U.S. and global stock correction and shift bond portfolios into Japanese and some European stocks. (Dent)

36 - During this timeframe real estate and REIT funds look attractive (Dent)

37 - From 1998 to 2008: small and large growth stocks will do well. Also emerging countries in the international sector (Dent)

38 - The developed world is in the midst of a once-a-century paradigm shift: from the old industrial order to the globally interdependent, knowledge-based economy in ascendance (Howard)

59 - More mid-career professionals will opt for entrepreneurship from downsizing.(Cetron)

69 - The next depression from around 2010 to 2025.(Dent)

70 - Little or no inflation over the next decade, despite dramatic economic growth. (Dent)

81 - The boomers will spend2 decades in retirement.(Russell)

82 - Most baby boomers won't be able to save enough for a comfortable retirement (Russell)

85 - A new industry will be created to appeal to boomer need for experiences. (Russell)

88 - Boomers will work at 10 different jobs during their career. (Russell)

94 - The global economy will demand more independent specialists for hundreds of special tasks corporations will turn to highly-specialized consultants (Cetron)

95 - Professions and artisans will find the body of knowledge to be mastered to excel in a particular area will preclude excellence in all areas. (Cetron)

J2020F: So, if extreme Agents -- AGENT-Agents -- create a disruptive innovation what do extreme Athletes do?

TB: You may recall the two primary forces the HR learning expedition started with, in the middle of their implications wheel, for the Athlete (Fast pace, team identity) were:

They're capable of establishing a pace of change in the industry like Intel; and

They need to guard their organization's core competencies while quickly managing increasing degrees of complexity.

J2020F: What did they have in mind?

TB: The HR expedition visualized a relay race. On it each team member may be a record holder, but it takes all of them passing the baton flawlessly among themselves to achieve world-class status.

J2020F: The bonding, or affiliation, then is to the team. It's up to the team to figure out the fastest way to take a new idea and introduce it into the marketplace. These are the so-called 20% who accomplish 80% of the results.

TB: You see them not only in the professional team sports world, but you see them in the high tech industry. Their emerging knowledge develops organically from the rapid learning cycles they've experience -- as they quickly grow by standardizing and optimizing what agents invent.

J2020F: So they intimately understand new disruptive innovations and take them to market to leapfrog established industry leaders or to establish new markets?

TB: They learn rapidly by doing. They figure out what has to happen to boost performance with fewer and fewer trials and errors.

J2020F: Is it true in this second phase of organizational growth, you need fewer creative people disrupting and more team players improving robust processes?

TB: Yes. Usually one or two talent clusters dominate a culture at any given state of organizational growth. Agents invent for themselves. They are their own customers. They usually aspire to becoming the product leader in the marketplace. And, they favor organic, ad hoc, creative and collaborative environments.

J2020F: But?

TB: But, if left unchecked their invention trajectory turns into escapism, according to Danny Miller. A loose organization must turn into a more efficient organization in order to survive and stabilize.

J2020F: Athletes, then figure out the formula for taking a prototype and turning it into a product on a repeatable basis.

TB: When successful, a niche market at 10% penetration, can rapidly grow to 25% and 50% in about the same time as Agents took their world beater idea at .1% to 1% to 9%.

J2020F: So together Agents and Athletes compliment each other bridging the challenges of survival, stabilization and rapid growth.

TB: That's right. They combine product leadership and operational excellence value propositions.

J2020F: By that you mean, what?

TB: Organizations differentiate themselves from their competitors by delivering specific propositions to customers. A product leader value proposition promises to deliver the Best Product -- that continually redefines the state-of-the-art.

J2020F: Extreme Agents promise breakthrough innovations capable of resetting the competition back to zero in a market, then?

TB: That's right. Their customers expect new products that push performance barriers. They build their product leadership position by offering the best product, period. And, they build the capacity to innovate year-after-year, product cycle after product cycle.

J2020F: And an operational excellence value proposition?

TB: The classic offer is the Best Total Cost. It might not be the least expensive, but it provides customers with a reliable product at competitive prices. And customers count on minimal discomfort, difficulty, or inconvenience. They value no frills marketing, a low price and hassle-free service.

J2020F: Qualities that extreme Agents would like to delegate to others.

TB: We?ll spend more time on these distinctions a little later on.

J2020F: But the point is the emerging knowledge that Athletes learn by developing "the formula" reduces the amount of the random experimenting required in each cycle.

TB: Athletes help tighten up operations by setting up functional operations. They extend, improve, and modify the central formula. At the same time they rapidly discard what doesn't fit.

J2020F: So they bring some order out of chaos necessary to handle higher growth demands?

TB: Yes. By standardizing procedures, policies, product lines and methods of production and distribution, Athletes position an organization to efficiently grow larger in its second phase.

J2020F: So in a phrase, then, Athletes select and recruit new talent based on team fit, a process focus, and an opportunistic attitude?

TB: Sure. Their dominant aspiration is the financial payoff traditionally associated with establishing a big company, but without all the unnecessary bureauracracy. They do so by harnessing and leveraging their new found momentum from the emerging knowledge their repeatable processes yield.

J2020F: You also pointed out that Athletes need to guard their organization's core competencies while quickly managing increasing degrees of complexity. Can you say a little more?

TB: Well, Athletic organizations in early to growth stages can't afford to staff up with more bodies. They have to manage their financial costs. So that means they need to become excellent project and product managers. They contract with experts on a 1099 basis to eliminate the extra financial burden of benefits.

J2020F: But, doesn't that put them in a bind? What happens if key contractors take permanent work elsewhere or become too busy on some one else's project?

TB: Exactly. You've described their dilemma. Project managers have to reveal just enough proprietary secrets for a contractor to perform their function quickly and efficiently, but not too much -- otherwise their newly learned secrets walk out the door.

J2020F: And, if the market demand explodes won't Athletes want to hire and keep key performers in the fold? Finding key people in new industries doesn't happen overnight, right?

TB: That's why in the classic growth pattern of organizations, the next talent cluster Associates become critical.

Got Knowledge?
Copyright ©2002 - 2006 Aarnaes Howard Associates. All rights reserved worldwide.

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