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.
The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Sunday, June 22, 2003
The Tribal Territories Summary
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
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories Foresight Journals
Deep in the heart of the tribal territories, on the outskirts of Greendale at the Double Nickel Ranch, we recalled our most recent rendezvous -- an event harkening back to the Rocky Mountain Fur Trading spirit. Rendezvous based on a French word means "appointed place of meeting." Having gone our separate ways since the previous major gathering, we updated everyone on what the Corps of Re-Discovery learned and the status of The Field Guide.
Two generations – the “quarter” (twentysomethings) and the “double nickel” (boomers) swap yarns. For the “double-nickel” generation, it’s about re-discovering passions buried beneath layers of work and family responsibilities. For the “quarter” generation, it’s about “discovering their distinct talents, passions, and idiosyncrasies” – and enjoying the freedom of not knowing where life will take them for the time being. Both are in a life transition. The “quarter” generation experiences life in the prolonged school to work transition, while the “double nickel” generation comes to grip with their own mortality.
Just follow the trail of smoke and sparks shooting out and up from the campfires. Look up to the stars and your mind wanders to things like multiverses, the big bang, cosmology and astrophysics, string theory – lot’s of stuff the “double nickel-ers” found interesting coming out of the mouths of the “quarter” generation – having been forced to study some of those topics in college. But, ultimately you come to appreciate that you’re just a particle of sand on a beach in the great expanse of time on planet earth.
Most of “my execs” find themselves in midlife transition – but with a long severance package. They can take the time to find meaning in their lives, unlike other victims of downsizing, mergers and acquisitions or outsourcing. Life stories, the ones our members continue to share -- stories of transition and transformation – have always been with us – at least since the time we homo sapiens realized we all had lit fuses leading to the end of our lives.
We each only have one life to lead, and as you make one choice, you rule out another – you can’t have and do everything. It’s good to consider everyone else’s life story for commonalities and opportunities to explore something outside your own base of experience or limited point of view. We need more venues to explore these kinds of discussions, if for no other reason than to better anticipate paradigm shifts.
When we set out to follow our dreams but fall unprepared into the realm of original experience we’re in for an “adventure in the dark forest.” And, if you can’t live outside of that society – as artists, visionaries, leaders and heroes do – you’ll become neurotic. Because, the path of original experience hasn’t been interpreted for you. And, you’ve got to work it out all by yourself over and over again throughout your own life span.
We are not alone. Within the same timeframe at roughly the same age, we become -- and are influenced by -- our generation. History molds generations, as generations mold history. Today, as has been the case since the mid-15th century, our generational personalities -- Prophet (or Idealist), Nomad (or Reactive), Hero (or Civic) or Artist (or Adaptive) – will experience predictable Highs and Unravelings alternating between an Awakening and a Crisis.
Living through an unraveling and transitioning into a crisis period, we’ve got Boomers (prophets or idealists) in their late 40s and 50s, Gen Xers (nomads or reactives) in their mid- 20s to early 40s and Gen Y (hero or civic generation) in their teens and early 20s. Boomers exercise their power in institutions and in the mass market place today. On the plus side, they, like other prophet / idealist generations before them, appeal to principles, human sacrifice and in their last stage of life become praised for their words of wisdom.
Are today’s Boomers reincarnations of previous “boomers” like those in the Transcendental Generation born between 1792 – 1821 during the High, but who in midlife experienced the Civil War -- Benjamin Bonneville (1796 – 1878), Jedediah Smith (1798 – 1831), Jim Bridger (1804 - 1881), Kit Carson (1809 – 1868), John Fremont (1813 - 1890) and Ben Holladay (1819 - 1887)? Or do they more closely resemble members of the “boomeresque” Missionary Generation -- Butch Cassidy (1867 - 1909) and the Sundance Kid (1867 - 1909)?
What about today? To get a snapshot of all of us traveling through an unraveling into a crisis, we can start with current generation categories and break each down – using the Boomers as parents and extending to their parents and then the other way to their children and, in some case, grand children. Next, throw in a little census data, some marketing segmentation with psychographics and you’ll understand what Peter Drucker meant about the future when he said “Demographics is Determinism.”
Although you have your own life cycle and plans, the economy has its life cycle -- and it will affect your life in major ways. Breaking the future down into 5-year cycles is a much more manageable process for most clients, who don’t tend to look past tomorrow. Based upon scenario projections for the next five-year period between 2009 and 2014, make your money and run. That is, acquire wealth and protect it for at least a decade, while you take advantage of buying opportunities in a prolonged recession lasting for the last two of our 5-year time frames.
Even today, communities can be closed to outsiders as we discovered. Some welcome us others turn us away depending upon what we seek in trade and what they have experienced before us. Especially, when speculators drive up real estate prices so high that Gen X and Gen Y members won’t be able to buy a home in the community in which they live. If we were to buy a second home in a resort community we’d be asking some important questions about fit. If we decide to live among them, will we enjoy our experience or will we live to regret it?
Thomas Friedman wrote about the transformations that flattened the world from 1989 to the present. On a level playing field, what used to guarantee a rising standard of living for the United States is no longer exclusively in its control. For boomer families who don’t understand the rules of the new game or fail to apply the fundamentals of the revolutionary wealth system, the current unraveling turning point will certainly play out as a personal crisis over the next three decades.
In Crisis you find both threats and opportunities! But the full impact of revolutionary change -- on individuals and on whole countries and continents -- has yet to be felt. The past half-century has merely been prologue. While the transformation of wealth triggered worldwide disruptions between the agrarian and industrial civilizations, the Tofflers are confident that the knowledge-economy will wrestle control from the industrial economy. The ensuing Crisis will be revolutionary for many. All of us -- individuals, companies, organizations and governments alike, will surf the biggest, wildest and fastest wave into the future that any generation has ever experienced.
Do we know which indicators signal it is time to change our plans? You need to track developments in eight sub-categories around the outer ring of “The Future by Life Design” map – many of which you’ll find listed on the left-hand column under the title, “How to stimulate your own powers of foresight.” Civilizations, societies and cultures provide the context – or the background – against which economic transactions and social relationships dynamically mix. If the dynamic background shifts significantly – say jobs are outsourced, or companies move out of a region, or after two or more decades of raising kids parents live in empty nests, then they will change priorities and will change purchasing habits.
Follow your dreams. While there are hundreds of trends to track, you don’t have to track all of them. You just need to account for those that might impact your plans and decisions and then monitor them know when to activate B, C or D contingency plans. You monitor the implications of both macro and micro trends – the easiest example is how an economic recession negatively impacts your employer’s business performance. And, because of advanced technologies, your job is eliminated and outsourced. Or -- due to the indirect connection to global warming, State Farm in Florida will be raising insurance rates 70% to 95%, depending upon type of housing unit. Insurers are increasing rates or pulling out of markets a 1000 miles away, because they have to “adjust to a new world in which the past behavior of hurricanes is no longer a reliable guide to the future.”
For a growing majority of Baby Boomers looking at the decades in front of them, wrestling with elder care issues today and empty-nests today or tomorrow, there’s a growing sense that now is the right time to figure out how we can do what we love, choose where we want to live, and leave a legacy by truly making a difference. High on our list are communities that offer abundant open space, a village-like atmosphere to maximize quality of life and pleasant human interaction, and shared recreational, educational and cultural facilities. While not everyone can afford the higher end prices we encountered, housing prices will not stay this way forever. After this boom ends, deflation is almost certain to ensue for at least a decade and possibly into the early 2020's. Harry Dent says owners who decide to sell their homes at their maximum value, sometime before late 2008, will be able to buy excellent property at a lower price and lower interest once the deflation era begins.
Over the next five years, we all have an opportunity to realize a significant portion of our dreams. What’s right for you? What do you want to do? Do you want to pursue a hobby or craft? What about a bed and breakfast business you'd like to start? Or do you have a passion for a charitable organization you'd like to support? How about travel to the four corners of the world or studying subjects you never took in college -- or both? Where have you always wanted to live? On an island? In the mountains? In a pied-à-terre downtown, near restaurants, museums and shops? The world is a place full of interesting options for those who plan to fully explore their potential. The adventure starts from within.
A generation is a generation is a generation -- unless, it is the Boomer Generation. Boomers all enter a crossroads in their lives from their own, unique life experience. Even though they may be at the same life stage, when it comes to the next chapter of their adventure they’ll seek a different set of options depending upon their current situations. While the answers are as unique as they are, everyone wants to future-proof what they love, strike it rich if they haven’t already and mine the Mother Lode for the next few decades.
Why settle for anything else? The “Passion and Place” scenarios boil down to doing what you love or hate in the same or different community. They seem simple on the surface, but can be gut wrenching below the surface -- if conditions change. Finding a new, or remaining in, the right quality-of-life community that fits your cherished lifestyle preferences and provides degrees of real estate appreciation for the risk you can afford is easier today. With the convergence of technology and migration patterns, now more than ever somebody with an expertise can work in a resort community, even if the local customer base is microscopic.
Two of the four scenarios for Baby Boomers in their 50s, have location in common, but they differ on the dimension of doing what they love. Residents most likely to be doing what they love, and who plan to stay put for the foreseeable future can be found in the more affluent neighborhoods with the wealthiest families that still provide a high degree of quality of life – but, in some areas, the neighborhoods approach maturity and begin to decline.
There’s a dark side to “Staying Put” too long, especially, if your community matures and begins to decline. Or, your employer relocates to another town or city. If your region hasn’t diversified in the industries it supports, and if a sector like manufacturing finds it too difficult to compete and leaves for less expensive communities then your specialty may no longer be marketable in your hometown. Welcome to the Trapped and Permanently Temporary communities.
While the motivation may be similar to “Trapped and Permanently Temporary” – a layoff or some other event -- Baby Boomers in their 50s, or anyone else for that matter, leave the region for a less expensive and a more self-sufficient lifestyle. If you plan to move, expect a backlash or at least be aware of that outsiders-versus-community-insiders tension. Old timers quickly realize with property values approaching the stratosphere, their children who grew up in their communities will never be able to own a home, should they want to stay. They may take it out on you, so look before you leap.
Of the four futures, this story is similar to the “Staying Put” scenario because both allow Boomers to do what they love, but, it also shares the love of a new quality-of-life community with the Rustic Lone Eagles”. With the ability to operate anywhere there is a" wired" infrastructure, Boomers can move to smaller towns and rural regions, as part of the “penturbia migration.”
Examples abound across the western region of the United States for each of the four Baby Boomer futures: Staying Put, Doing What You Love neighborhoods like Del Mar or Coronado in California. Struggling Lone Eagle towns like Sedona or Bisbee in Arizona or Angel Fire and Taos in New Mexico. Trapped and Permanently Temporary parts of Reno, Nevada or Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Or, some of the better know ski resorts fitting the “Wired(less) and Doing What You Love,” like Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs in Colorado.
Each Baby Boomer future translates into four real estate sub-stories. If you’re looking for a vacation or second home in a resort community, you can compare tradeoffs. Depending upon your preferences and pocketbook, you many choose among neighborhoods in premier, maturing, suburban or exurban resorts.
With the right knowledge products producing multiple streams of residual income, Struggling Lone Eagles overcome their challenge of having to make it in local rural markets. As with the four wireless resort communities Boomers can live four varieties of vacation lifestyles in communities ranging from satellite city neighborhoods to remote off-the-grid rustic retreats.
Of the four major future-proofing Baby Boom scenarios, the “Trapped and Permanently Temporary” story lines take many by surprise. After all, they aren’t something you plan for in a typical 5-year financial or career plan. Unfortunately, these may be the future for too many of the generation’s older brothers and sisters who are forced into retirement too soon.
For years in this scenario Boomers living in these neighborhoods enjoyed the affluently elite American dream. It’s as if they’ve cornered a wealth-generating system. They find a safe haven for high margin income, pay for a high cost of living, accumulate peak real estate appreciation, and live in a secluded, secure and mature community. As communities and neighborhoods in them move slowly though their lifecycles, even the American Dream suburbs mature, become over developed or are over run with smog and congestion. What’s next when you’ve been used to living, loving, working and playing in communities that everyone else can only dream about?
What started out as just four qualitatively different stories about the future evolved into four sets of four community profiles – so, now we have 16 options for evaluating where you want to end up on the grid --between doing what you love or hate and remaining or moving -- is to look for the best fit. When you do, you can take advantage of real estate markets as they move through up, down and up cycles. Based on Dent’s predictions that Gen Y will drive rental markets and Boomers will drive vacation and retirement markets, even in a down turn, we evaluate six types of real estate opportunities like those -- when to buy, how long to hold, and when to sell.
You can target second home destinations and transplant your business. In the knowledge economy, the reverse is true. You don’t have to find your mother lode in a fixed location. It travels with you, first by establishing an alliance network, then traveling to multiple offices, and finally to a new base of operations in a premier resort or retirement community. The location of the mine – the source of your very own Comstock or Mother Lode, is found at the intersection of your passions and your dream location. Through the science of “Knowledge Banking,” you can locate your “Knowledge ATMs” anywhere you want.
For the first time in history, Boomers living wherever they dream can turn their passion and experiences into growing income streams. A knowledge company, a “KnowCo,” produces knowledge products – through the process of “Knowledge Mining and Refining of Knowledge Nuggets.” “Infopreneurials” living where they want can create an online business --“Knowledge Banking” accessed anywhere, anytime through “Knowledge ATMs” by consumers, prosumers and knowledge depositors. Once you create knowledge products from what you love to do and have experienced, the next set of stories helps you to focus on the right set clients, customers or employers who experience the problems you can solve.
The 19 trends identified by the human resource executives that addressed how future organizations would deal with talent sorted into a four- box matrix. Each box told a qualitatively different story about threats and opportunities confronting both executives and the talent they lead and develop.
Agents, Athletes, Associates and Academics straddle the four corner positions in the matrix defined by the intersection of speed and mastery with independence and affiliation. They manage the progression between the introduction of a disruptive innovation and what an organization must do to sustain that innovation over time. First-time learning carried forward produces emerging knowledge. What stands the test of time becomes embedded, core proprietary knowledge required to grow and mature.
Agents who are drawn to the challenge of ushering in a disruptively new innovation find funding or employment in locations near higher quality of life communities and premier destination resorts. We call them the “Breakpoint Inventors.” They typically seek out venture-backed funding. They develop and champion radically new science, innovation, technologies or business models. Other Agents may be “Commercial Innovators” who fill their agent niche at the next stage, closer to the “Athlete” border. They incubate commercial applications by specializing in licensing intellectual property, organizing joint research and development projects or developing their capacity for rapid prototyping. “R&D Laboratories” specialize in product leadership while “Thought Leaders” lean to the more academic pursuits that a think-tank offers.
Many Trapped and Permanently Temporaries long for face-to-face project-based work as a way of affiliating with other people on a more regular basis and as a way to demonstrate their value in a new organization. They miss the teamwork. They seek out ”Athletic” organizations with “Resilient Project Teams,” “Core Business Groups,” “Operationally Excellents,” or “Marketing Athletes” to counterbalance the isolation and extreme independence they are forced to endure now that they are on their own – no matter if they are “Interim Middle Managers”, “Cutters”, “Urban Trapped” or just now “Starting Over.”
Associate organizations require four kinds of talented people – “Loyal Survivalists,” “Agile Tiger Teams,” Internal Change Agents” and “Analytical Specialists” -- who thrive in high affiliation and slower paced cultures. They manage people, technologies, processes, and organizational structures to sustain the innovation they’ve already mastered.
Academics come in four flavors -- talent brands of experts who love their profession and their local location who find occupational homes in university research centers, professional practices, academic institutions and in standards-setting associations. Their identity is tied to their profession. Academics by the very nature of their work make the best candidates for developing a Mobile KnowCo that allows them to live and work anywhere in the world. But, many stay in one place – in or around university towns or urban and suburban centers where they find clients for their services.
You’ll want to find the best fit. Especially if you're experiencing mid-life issues and have begun by choice or chance to activate your five-year plan -- and you realize that you need to work for an employer, or go into business for yourself and you must deliver a product, service, or experience to a more sophisticated customer or client. You’ll want to choose which of the four types of organizations with 16 mix-and-match combinations will be growing over the next five years -- based upon the analysis of current trends and future forces shaping the human capital landscape – that will bring out the best imaginable in you for making a difference.
As any organization grows through a bell-shaped curve -- from start-up, to growth, to maturity and to re-invention or decline – two “tribes” usually manage the political agenda to the exclusion of others. They are the talent clusters whose members represent the 20% who produce 80% of the results. But, the mix of the two tribes changes at each growth transition. In any growth period there is a certain amount of resistance to new ways from the status-quo advocates.
The talent model reveals several ways that Baby Boomer leaders, job-seekers, entrepreneurs or consultants can first diagnose issues that hinder growth and then provide solutions that stimulate success at each organizational lifespan. The path of least resistance for changing talent cultures is from disruptive innovation to emerging knowledge (from the Agent to the Athlete) quadrant; from emerging knowledge to sustained innovation (Athlete to Associate); from sustained innovation to embodied knowledge (Associate to Academic) and finally from embodied knowledge to disruptive innovation (Associate and back to Agent).
If you consider the lifespan of an organization that has any sort of history – say over two generations or 40 years -- you can see which tribes come in and out of favor. You’ll witness it as it evolves and leaps forward in predictable stages from infancy start-up through growth to maturity and decline and from simple to complex over time. The start-up stage sets up the first crisis – The Leadership Crisis. You won’t survive if you don’t change the talent balance. The second, the Autonomy Crisis signals when the organization must shift talent combinations again or it won’t survive the turning point from hyper growth to stable growth. It must negotiate the final two crises, the Control Crisis which resolves the Autonomy Crisis, but eventually triggers the near death Red Tape Crisis that precedes Decline.
The start-up buzz building stage, populated by the two types of agents – Breakpoint Inventors and Commercial Innovators -- is the realm of pure science, buggy technology and prototypes. They’re the ones who thrive on technology-driven speed and independence. Their market niche emerges too slowly for them. In the early stage it is built up around one or more visionaries who see the potential for the new technology and fund the first proofs-of-concept. They evangelize to their trusted circle of friends and opinion makers and entice them to view what they’ve discovered.
Early application breakthroughs delivered by the joint collaboration between the two start-up Agent talent tribes -- “Breakpoint Inventors” and “Commercial Innovators” -- generate the dramatic competitive advantage that visionaries seek. Mass-market conservatives only buy into a new technology after the pragmatists, who in turn only buy new technology when it can give them significant breakthroughs in workflows, have vetted it. Not every start-up makes it to the next stage. The start-up bonks. It can’t get out of the “garage”; it hits the closed garage door. Even those that manage to find their market and hit their cash flow milestones can still bonk when the fiercely independent “chief” fails to relinquish control and sets up the “Leadership Crisis.”
One of the dirty little secrets is that once the enterprise becomes an enterprise – the Agent founder with the vision and unlimited faith needs to step aside. After “swimming upstream” all that time against the naysayers – receiving 99 “no’s” for every 1 “yes” – the founder frequently needs to get out of the way for the enterprise to bridge the chasm from the start-up to emerging growth stage. Just the right blend of the two talent “tribes” -- Athletes and Agents --has to be optimized if the enterprise is to successfully meet the challenges of survival, stabilization and rapid growth.
Marketing structure, repeatable processes and robust high volume ramp-ups dominate the rapid growth stage. A new set of tribal talent combinations capable of learning from their mistakes and improving their go-to-market processes grabs the baton from the Agents for the next leg of the race. Emerging knowledge that Athletes learn by developing "the formula" reduces the amount of the random experimenting required in each real world learning cycle.
Athletic organizations in early to growth stages can’t afford to staff up with more bodies. They recruit experts to eliminate the extra financial burden of benefits, but Athletes guard their organization’s core competencies while quickly managing increasing degrees of complexity. “Core Business Function” Athletes develop the tools and manage the process of multiple new product introductions. They have to optimize the availability of internal and external team members – rolling people in and off of projects -- as the critical path for each product dictates.
Loose organic states evolve into tighter functional organizations. Functional structures evolve into looser divisional structures. Divisions tighten into matrix organizations that loosen into network organizations. The bridge to sustained growth takes the organization to a stage that top managers find extremely difficult. To succeed they have to switch from directing to delegating and waiting. It’s only natural that those Athletic tribal team members who ushered in the tightening functional structures, as the solution to organic chaos, would resist this “bridge.”
A loyal, affiliated talent culture is needed for an organizational brand to mature and survive. Through their behaviors Associates maintain that reputation. They develop a trust mark that keeps bringing long-term customers back again and again. “Agile Tiger Teams”, “Loyal Survivalists” and” Analytical Specialists” gain in political stature. The optimal mix favors a growing Associate and Athlete talent blend, while the Agent tribal members feel devalued by the shift in emphasis.
The resulting divisional structure eventually outlasts its usefulness when it triggers the “Control Crisis” that Academics help bridge by tightening and centralizing operations in a complicated matrix structure featuring data-driven methods and systems. As more functional departments proliferate the Agents disappear, not fitting into cultures built to reward affiliation and mastery. And, the days of the maverick, do-what-ever-it-takes team loyalty -- highly rewarded for fire-fighting heroics become numbered. At this stage of development most of the focus by the organization is on inside operations and not enough on customers – their care and feeding. It’s as if the customers – frequently in large numbers – are taken for granted. And that sets up yet another opportunity to bonk.
The prescription for decline, usually purchased during advanced stages of the “Mature Matrix” disease, is to bring in a new management discipline and the talent that can re-capture breakthrough product innovations while outsourcing non-core competencies. If the organization continues to extend what they’ve always done, they fall victim to what Joel Barker calls paradigm blindness. An over-extended strength becomes a fatal flaw. The organization can’t see what is necessary to pull out of its decline. And the longer it takes for leaders of the organization to recognize that they are on the path to disaster, the more disruptive the solution becomes.
Mature organizations have vested interests in the way things were. While not overtly describing themselves as status quo advocates, many long-time Associates and Academics resist disruptive changes required to “jump paths” out of a declining trajectory. It’s a classic pattern. What brought you to the dance, practiced too much precludes you from learning the new steps that the audience now craves. To break out of Red Tape Crisis requires the acquisition of or the return of new dance partners -- the last two “red” Agent innovator tribes -- “Thought Leaders” and the Product Leader “R&D Laboratories” who produce new niche breakthrough products. They’re the masters of collaboration tools and they participate in all sorts of discovery and innovation through their worldwide web-like networks.
It’s one thing to force the “jump to a winning reinvention path” through a major restructuring of people, processes, technologies and organization rearrangement. It’s quite another to develop the competency in-house to do it over and over again as needed. It requires the right mix of internal change agents and knowledge managers to reinvent the enterprise and breathe new life into old procedures and processes relevant as the newer proprietary best practices.
This is all about finding the best fit for you in the same or different geographical location. You can target one of four types of organizations. Or one or two phases in an organization’s growth that fit you best in a way that increases your career equity and marketability. If you’re a new executive in your first one hundred days, you’ll want to match your leadership style to the needs of the organization. You have four options depending upon if you conclude you have the time to revitalize or renew or need to take more direct action to restructure or realign. For larger organizations you’ll want to develop a reinvention capacity before you need it so you can cause your major competitor to react to you rather than the other way around.
Armed with the knowledge that whatever has worked in the previous phase of an organization’s growth is exactly 180 degrees opposite of what is required for success in the next phase, you can sell your value proposition confidently. Using the bell-shaped curve again for a moment there is a shorthand way of sizing up the needs of a potential employer, client or customer from a distance. You can take an educated guess by evaluating whether the organization is about to enter a cyclical expansion or contraction period. You’ll then be able to determine how well they are meeting the challenge of moving back and forth between loosening and tightening of controls and between divergent and convergent management practices.
The rules of the game have dramatically changed. Finding your sweet spot -- the best fit for you based upon the divergent or convergent requirements for a particular phase of organizational growth, the economic or business cycle it operates in and your talents and abilities -- is one thing. A whole other trend towards relentless commoditization now practiced globally is quite another. The significant challenge facing the unique blend of talent tribes tasked with reinventing their corporation is – reinventing it as what? Where can they find a new niche capable of generating the kinds of margins and growth opportunities required to sustain and grow the mature business? The answer lies in the interplay between the commoditization and customization – as has been happening since prosuming hunters and gatherers traded for what they needed and then cultivated crops and mined metals out of the round earth.
Buffalo Bill Cody sensed his life straddled a “customized – commoditized” economic era. His Wild West show toured for three decades throughout the United States and Europe once he realized how to stage tall tales and the mythology of the western experience. One of the ironies was his troupe of entertainers relied on the railroads and other turn of the century industrial inventions to travel efficiently from one venue to the next. The industrial revolution put the West out of business. And, yet he sensed that his audiences hungered for the experience that could be no more.
Just like physical commodities and manufactured goods, skills and work experiences become obsolete and commoditized too – especially for the “Urban Trapped,” “The Cutters,” those “Starting Over,” and “Interim Middle Managers.” Pine and Gilmore’s model explains the cause for the “Trapped and Permanently Temporary” scenario. In severe cases entire communities, just like the 550 mining ghost towns in the Sierras find themselves unable to compete on the world stage. They’re trapped in a negative economic spiral that feeds upon itself -- the interplay of undifferentiated, market determined and irrelevant skills in the region’s workforce. In metropolitan areas you find the “Urban Trapped” living in the undesirable and rundown neighborhoods. Their rural counterparts, “Rustic Eagles,” live off the grid on country back roads.
In the future even experiences will become a commodity when customized uniquely to the customer who will pay a premium to the most differentiated competitor who can transform -- provide the highest form of relevance -- that customer through a metamorphosis. It may be from one life stage to another. It may be event-triggered or an adult development maturation process. A coach or mentor assists the person who changes or matures, like taking an amateur tennis player to the next level -- on the professional tour. The “customers” develop into a more fully functioning and lasting version of themselves.
The ability to charge premium prices and thus enjoy higher profits is a result of providing a product or service that is highly differentiated and is the most relevant to the needs of their customer. But, you have to begin with where you are in the customization – commoditization food chain. The product reinvention process begins with a product that is developed, linked, modularized and finally renewed. It passes through mass production, continuous improvement and into mass customization to give customers the perception that it has been personalized for them.
If you don’t want your business to become commoditized by your competitor, you must close the customer satisfaction gaps with the most relevant offerings as perceived by your best customers. Mass-customization closes the customer satisfaction gap. Customer satisfaction becomes the industry standard. If you don’t provide it, you don’t make it as a viable enterprise. But meeting that standard only allows you to charge what the market will bear – a commodity price. Highly personalized offerings move the customer from sacrifice, to surprise to suspense – and with each move you can charge more.
Removing customer sacrifice opens the door to customization and higher margins in much the same way that mass customization is achieved through the interplay between dynamic and stable product and process states. If you become the Reinvention Chef – or Chief -- challenged with mobilizing a reinvention team in a service organization facing a major decline -- how do you reinvent service into experience? You develop, link, modularize and then renew as you did with mass-customization, but this time customers enjoy and pay more for exploring, experimenting, gratifying and discovering experiences.
How does the reinvention model apply to the customization of services into staged experiences? Through the interplay of dynamic or stable performances and scripts, it closely resembles the way a company can mass customize a product, but in this model performance replaces product and scripts replace process change. Customers – audiences – are treated to “four kinds of staged experiences”-- Winging It, Canned Scripts, Situational Variations and Practiced Bits.
Every economic era has four things in common: A point of origination or creating value from something new; an execution component or generating value by getting something done; an improvement process or increasing value by correcting something; and application or producing value from how something is used. The more entrenched or widespread the former economic era is or became, the more difficult it is for the old dogs to learn new tricks. Each new wave ushers in a whole new paradigm – or changed background on a grand scale.
Today the third progression of economic value – as an era – is in full swing. Unlike during the agrarian and the product economies, in the service economy intangible services are customized and delivered. One of the biggest differences with the service economy is that there are no products to be inventoried. Instead, the method of supply for service providers is to deliver on demand to clients who crave benefits instead of just features. Services are intangibles. The offering is no longer a material or a product. The experience economy, to which we are transitioning, is all about staging memorable personal experiences revealed to customers over the duration of an event.
In the transformation economy more effective individuals are guided through transformations. While personal experiences are revealed over the time of an event, the “elicitor of transformations” guides the aspirant through the transformation sustained over time. Event-driven experiences last momentarily, but a transformation is the real deal. A relapse in a transformational relationship triggers stronger resolve and the application of persevering connects deeper with each individual.
Unless you earn your living as a coach, the promise of the transformation economy still lies over the horizon for you. It’s far better to focus your reinvention efforts on commoditizing your competition’s services. How? You can use one or more of the four categories of themes -- entertainment, education, escapism or esthetic realms to develop an engaging, memorable experience.
When we delve deeper into the experience economy we find that by appealing to our senses, goods become props. How do reinvention teams collaborate to engineer engaging experiences? The goal is to stage wholly new experiences to commoditize the competition. So you need to brainstorm and one way to get you out of the box is to consider all the different ways you could charge admission. What could you do differently? Can you eradicate a practice you already have -- giving things away for free as an incentive to sell more products and services – as Netscape did in its infancy to commoditize Microsoft’s operating system? Think through how new experience elements can be added to your product or service to increase demand. Or which goods or services will command higher prices?
Businesses will succeed, prosper and ride the last great economic boom by targeting wealthy Baby Boomers and by offering greater customization. The best way to build a high margin and profitable business is to reduce customer sacrifice by personalizing your offerings to wealthy customers. The numbers of peak earning boomers who occupy leadership positions in corporations are collectively at a time in their career when they invest in timeshares, vacation and second homes.
Has the mass migration of empty nesters begun? What’s in store for the Boomer extended family in this post 9/11 World? If you are shopping around for the ideal resort location where you can invest, change careers, retire, start or continue a new business, now is time for you to research the economy of your chosen geographical area, placing top priority of your time and effort on your first choice.
You might want to take advantage of the rising demand for rental property in urban and suburban areas after late 2008 and for retirement home purchases following the migration pattern towards exurbs and small towns, many of which will continue to hold most of their value through the decade-long downturn. In preparation for your next chapter, is it time to cash out or hold on, move and rent out your paid-off home? With so many things to consider, how do you go about making the right decisions that you won’t regret? Start with broad regions – tropical, in the Western or Southern U.S. – then, mark out your prime geographical target area and zoom in on detailed maps of various sections within it.
During the research process expect to experience the extremes – from knowing very little about the three regions at the top of your list to becoming swamped with too much information. It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees Identify factors about a place to live that are important to you. List and discuss with your mate, family and friends the things you liked or disliked about the various places you have thus far lived. Visit the Sperling Best Places Website and consider the Ten Best Places lists. They’ll help you as you make two lists: one of your likes and the other of the dislikes.
The next step is to consider the factors that are the most important to you, and then decide for each factor what kind of information do you need to collect at a distance and later in person. By gathering in order of priority, you can make a quality decision even if you run out of time. Practice the 80/20 Rule. Focus first on the 20% that you rate the highest. Then, before you visit on a vacation, for instance, dissect the community. Your goal is to know all there is to know about the top three regions and communities of people and organizations found within them.
You’ve completed a listing of all your likes and dislikes to identify trade-offs for finding your potential ideal locations. You’ve gathered intelligence about those potentials and narrowed your list of considerations. You will investigate your top three geographical areas to aid in your decision-making by conducting a field survey. Eventually you will approach the decision-maker -- potential employer, customer, client or non-profit NGO -- with a proposal based upon what you discovered.
Breaking into new communities is a process similar to infiltrating tribal clans. Outsiders will be kept at a distance until someone decides to sponsor them and to initiate a chain of introductions. And, usually those introductions follow a path of common interests. What we’re really talking about is an invisible web of people in a tightly knit community. At some point, if you build your network seeking referrals and introductions from one person to the next, you’ll find enough key connections. You'll find that over time some of the initial people you meet may not provide you with what you think you are looking for, but as you progress they may prove to be invaluable later on.
It is time to develop your approach once you've discovered which interests you have in common with each of your individual targets, and what problems each one faces that your skills, talents and experience can help solve. In short, you’re zeroing in on an opportunity that represents the best fit for you. We’re at the point in this whole process of finding gainful employment or at least one or more income streams where you find yourself face-to-face with the one problem that remain: how do you get in to see each target.
You've uncovered something you can do for the target, a problem you can help solve, some need the target knows about and doesn't consider a problem yet -- which you nevertheless can meet. It might be: cost reduction, sales increase, growth, new applications of their services or products, bringing in an entirely new approach, increased prestige, efficiency, etc. or some opportunity you can create that your target has never thought of. Of course that something starts with your strongest and most enjoyable skills.
As you present your proposal in the UnInterview you won’t know everything, because you are on the outside looking in. You will encounter new information about the situation and challenges that you hadn’t anticipated. But all is not lost. Probe. Ask intelligent questions. Uncover what they’ve already tried, but discarded as unworkable solutions. Your target decision-maker at this stage will want to see your mind in operation.
While not common, the following may occur on the spot so be prepared. Your target will want you even more and will be thinking in terms of the top salary he can afford. But, the top might not be adequate for you so your target might start informal negotiations to lower your expectations. What should you do?
The most enjoyable job for you is one you create in the quality-of-life community you’ve chosen and now call home. You must do all the heavy lifting required to translate your passions and most enjoyable skills into a compelling ideal description, to identify emerging trends, needs and economic opportunities, and then to craft a proposal. What if there isn’t any job available in the resort community you’ve targeted – or for that matter in the second or third region you’re interested in? You may have to create it. How do you do that? The entire process can be summed up with the answers to six simple questions.
Whether you want or need to create a position or just want to gain the upper hand on your competition, pay attention to the career needs of the people in your survey. Find ways to circle back with progress reports and information – and better yet – inside business intelligence they might find valuable.
In the UnInterview, you have to translate your skills and accomplishments into their dissatisfactions, their priorities, their values, and their jargon as their implicit needs surface within their concerns or problems. You can figure out what their challenges may be ahead of time by following six rules of thumb. One of the easiest ways of learning the jargon is to complete a survey of knowledge-gathering interviews, because the last rule of thumb is all about translation – especially if you are changing careers or industry niches.
Your survey should yield the types of challenges you most enjoy and you’d love to sink your teeth into in the resort location of your dreams. Convincing your target decision-maker that you’re the one to deliver the results may require a little SPIN. By shifting the conversation away from the costs and your fees or the salary you command, you are better able to negotiate a better deal as a function of the value you bring.
We’ve covered a lot of territory since we started this journey -- and this journal recording it -- barely seven months after our whole world was turned upside down on September 11, 2001. It’s only fitting that we end it with more direct links to context, concepts, resources, tips and tools to help you find the right combination as you take your life out for an authentic SPIN.
Find new life strategies for a flattening world you won’t find anywhere else – answers to the kinds of questions likely to wake you up at night. How do you: Become a master of your own fate? Locate your possibilities for growth and change? Discover what is missing and forge new directions for an engaging new life? Find new passion and purpose? Convert a job change or downsizing into previously unheard of opportunities? Redirect your life to leave the kind of inspiring legacy you want? Reinvent your life and renew your relationships with those most important to you?
Since beginning-less time people traveled to the ends of the earth seeking the foresight to know where life will take them. Today with time running out, 78 million Baby Boomers ask themselves in the wee hours of the night: Who have I become? What will my life add up to? Do I want to be remembered as the person I have been up to now? Is it too late to put more meaning in my life? Where will I be and what will I be doing in the next five years? Will economic cycles support or defeat my plans? Will I be forced to live a lifestyle I didn’t choose or work in a job I hate? Will my energy, vitality and health slowly drain away? What about you? As you map out the rest of your journey, which direction will your life take? What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
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