Friday, April 2, 2010

5 Big Themes for the next 5 years

5 Big Themes for the next 5 years

A few weeks ago the Australian Financial Review’s Boss Magazine  (10 March 2010, page 22) ran an article on the fads and trends for the last ten years and the expected themes for the next ten years.
1.     The internet
2.     Employee self sufficiency
3.     Spinning off centralised functions
4.     Networking
5.     Globalisation
6.     Customisation  (the whole CRM thing)
7.     Collaboration across sectors
8.     Sustainability
9.     CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
10. Work /life integration (balance implies separateness).

Fads that had “waxed and waned”:
1.     Paperless, open plan offices
2.     PowerPoint
3.     Free Agents and telecommuting
4.     Hot Desking
5.     24/7 casual dressing
6.     Total Quality Management
7.     Six Sigma (for everything)
8.     Bringing the whole person to work
9.     Knowledge management
10. Positive psychology

And Boss Magazine’s suggested “Buzz Themes” for the next ten years:
1.     Working smarter, not harder – focus on outputs not inputs; put people first
2.     Social capital, connections, within and beyond the organisation
3.     The integrated scorecard
4.     Communityship; collaboration leadership
5.     Diversity (age, gender, ethnicity, skills).
6.     Long life learning
7.     True sustainability – monitoring and measuring the right things.
8.     Team leadership – let everyone get ahead.
9.     Zero Waste.
10. The ambidextrous organisation – simultaneously exploring new frontiers and exploiting short-term shifts and opportunities.

This has been percolating in my mind as I go about my daily business.  I am challenged by the Buzz Themes and I grimace at some of the fads that have waxed and waned.  I remember being part of a committee that commissioned a CRM system – we spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars – and looking back – I’m not sure we really built any more sustainable customer relationships than we had before.  Maybe we did – the company is still a dominant player – but I remember the zeal of the consultants with whom we spent all this money – I wonder if they also grimace! 

I also fight the immediate temptation to switch off now when someone fires up a PowerPoint presentation and reads out their slides.

My 5 big themes for the next five years (ten years is far too distant):

1.     The value of relationships and the relearning of the importance of spending time face to face with people – the promise of the WEB2 and social networking has sold lots of iPhones and created lots of Face book pages – but hasn’t built enduring interpersonal relationship value.  Technology will however drive the re-distribution of power (see 5 below).

2.     The desperate “smarts” vacuum we see in corporate organisations which – after endless restructures - have no skilled middle management left to mentor and guide younger staff – who in the mature economies of the world  (statistically) are most probably without a stable mother or father influence in their home lives.

3.     The relentless focus on cost will accelerate as the Indians, Latin Americans, Chinese, Africans and Central Asians continue to try to drive up their people’s standards of living and undercut existing value chains in everything. 

4.     Food, water and energy will become the critical success factors to sustainable society – control of these three – in the context of climate change – will determine the future global power structures.

5.     Power is distributed:  Twitter users demonstrated this in the recent Iranian elections – elected and tyrannical governments alike will not longer control agendas like they did.  We have too many informed and connected people using information technology to be swayed by the spin doctors.  Are big advertising agencies and the traditional media in big trouble? 

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