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
Wednesday, August 30, 2006  

Customize Before You’re Commoditized: Premium, Differentiated and Relevant

Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories

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

"'While we sympathize with any grieving family, Yahoo! accounts and any contents therein are nontransferable' even after death, Karen Mahon, a Yahoo! spokeswoman told the AP. As we get rid of more and more paper and communicate through more and more digitized formats, you better sort out before you die, and include in your will, to whom, if anyone, you want to leave your bits. This is very real. I stored many chapters of this book in my AOL account, feeling it would be safest in cyberspace. If something had happened to me during my writing, my family and publisher would have had to sue AOL to try to get this text. Somebody, please, sort all this out."

Thomas Friedman, “The World is Flat”

DOUBLE NICKEL RANCH. 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.

Journal of 2020 Foresight: 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?

Explorer: Agents worldwide, now – not just in the U.S. – keep on introducing disruptive technologies that when combined with lower overhead operations suck the margins out of what used to be very profitable businesses.

J2020F: So what can reinvention teams do who witness their bread and butter products becoming a commodity?

Explorer: What we’re really saying is you have to keep one eye on what is relevant to the needs of your customers or your organization's customers and another on the differentiation of your competitive position from everyone else in your industry – or else.

J2020F: Or else you are road kill?

Explorer: Yup. Here's a clue that has to do with broad trends in the marketplace to help reinvention teams determine a new direction – or for a way for you in your career to regain your marketability if you’re looking for a job.

J2020F: Bring it on.

Explorer: Obviously the best competitive position is to be highly differentiated and highly relevant to your best customers' needs so you can charge premium prices.

J2020F: You’ve got my attention because, if the marketplace forces me to keep cutting costs and prices, how can I stay in business? Go on.

Explorer: While the whole secret to success in each stage of an organization's growth is the interplay between divergent loosening and convergent tightening, so too do we see an interplay.

J2020F: And it is?

Explorer: This time it is between the commoditization of your offering while you customize your next – 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.

J2020F: And that is the story we encountered throughout our journey West embodied in the Hudson’s Bay Company history over hundreds of years.

Explorer: That’s right. They “stepped up” to the next higher margin offering by customizing or personalizing what they had been selling successfully as one era ended and the next emerged.

J2020F: As did some of the fur trappers and Mark Twain?

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

6:22 AM

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