Dystopian Nightmare of Knowbots– Knowledge Robots: Changing Role of Knowledge Workers in a Knowledge Economy…

A decade ago, it was vampires. A few years ago, it was zombies. And now it’s all about– knowbots, knowledge robots, smart robots… and worries over the future of work… Why the concern; What is different this time around? According to Roy Bahat; the difference is that the jobs threatened are– yours, the elite knowledge worker– the highly educated, mobile professional who has reaped the gains of technology for the last five decades… For the first time, the chattering class might get out-chattered by– ‘knowbots’ (knowledge robots)… According to McKinsey Study; it’s estimated that knowledge work automation, tools and systems, could take over tasks that would be equal to the output  of 100 million to 140 million knowledge workers… This could have an economic impact  of between  $5.2 and $6.7 trillion by 2025…

The face of knowledge work is changing… knowledge  cognitive robotic technology, and AI is transforming the role of knowledge workers… According to Sue Troy; smart robotics will have a major impact on the knowledge labor market by shifting the knowledge worker framework from one of labor arbitrage, which reduces costs for relevant functions by anywhere from 15% to 30%, to one of labor automation, which reduces costs by 40% to 75%… According to Cliff Justice; smart robots will eventually create more career opportunities, but it’s also highly likely to be much disruption for many knowledge workers…

In the article Beyond Automation by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby write:  Knowledge work is loosely defined as work that is more mental than manual, involves consequential decision-making, and it has traditionally required a university education… Knowledge work accounts for a large proportion of the services industry jobs… and it’s the ‘high ground’ to which human have retreated as smart machines have taken over less cognitively challenging work… According to experts; knowledge workers must continually invest in learning… and ever-higher-levels of formal education to keep ahead of invading smart machines…

However many experts also overstate the extent of smart machine replacement of human knowledge workers and ignore the strong complementary nature of humans and machines working together to increase productivity… Knowledge workers will come to see smart machines as partners and collaborators in creative problem-solving… and this relationship between human workers and machine workers do have deep implications for how organizations are structured, managed.

In the article Smart Machines Redefine Knowledge Workers by Ivo Totev writes: More than three million workers will have a ‘robo-boss’ and nearly 50% of the fastest-growing companies will have more smart machines than workers by 2020, according to Gartner report. However, the manner in which smart machines impact knowledge worker productivity is another story… Trust is one of the big issues:  Yes, trusting a smart machine to deliver your Amazon order is one thing, but trusting autonomous vehicles is another, even though according to a study commissioned by Google found the company’s autonomous cars crashed 3.2 times per million miles, compared with 4.2 times for human drivers…

Hence, it’s realistic to assume that people are comfortable with smart machines where the outcomes are highly predictable and proven over time… In this sense newer smart cognitive technology takes on more of ‘augmentation’ role than ‘automation’. According to Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby; ‘automation’ starts with a baseline of what people do in a given task and subtracts from that… It deploys smart machines to chip away at the tasks that knowledge workers perform as soon as those tasks can be codified… In contrast, ‘augmentation’ means starting with what knowledge workers do, and figuring out how that work could be deepened rather than diminished by a greater use of smart machines…

In the article What Smart Robots Mean for Knowledge Workers by Zainab Zaki writes: We all know the smart robots are coming, cars drive themselves, floors clean themselves, food serves itself, clothes sew themselves… Smart robots have the potential to take over millions of tasks… but what about the traditional knowledge workers– the elite professionals who have university graduate degrees, experience, great skills– where do they fit, in the scheme of things:

Does that mean that– doctors, engineers, accountants… are in jeopardy of being replace by smart robots? According to Megan Beck; yes, knowledge workers will be disrupted, and all workers in the knowledge economy will have to retool themselves in order to compete with smart robots… But smart robot is still a robot, and it cannot connect, or interact, or empathize with humans like other humans… Hence, the new knowledge workers will require different skills to compete with knowbots…

In the article Get Ready for New Co-Worker, Smart Robot by Sharon Gaudin writes: Some experts predict that there is an invasion of smart robots, and it’s on the rise… According to one study; smart robots could take over 50% of tasks in both U.S. and UK work forces over the next two decades. That would mean the loss of roughly 80 million U.S. and 15 million UK knowledge workers… According to Tom Davenport; many knowledge workers’ tasks are vulnerable to be taken over by smart machines, e.g.; there are areas being targeted by IBM’s Watson and other cognitive technologies that involves– massive amount of data, highly complexity issues, and knowledge bases that can only be managed by smart machines…

According to Abhijit Bhaduri; cognitive technologies is reshaping, redefining the role of knowledge work, and the roles of knowledge workers. Hence, knowledge workers’ skill-set must also changes. According to Peter Drucker; every few hundred years throughout Western history, a transformation occurs in the nature of work… In a matter of decades a new world exists. And people born into that world cannot imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born…

The age of knowbots is such a period of transformation… it’s a new world that is dominated by ‘shift to a knowledge society’… it’s an age where people generate value with their minds more than with their muscle, and knowbots are becoming an important player in this new world… Increasing knowledge work productivity is the most important management issue in the 21st century– and that means organizations must determine, arbitrate, manage the task sharing between cognitive knowledge robots and human knowledge workers…

Think Metaphorically– Outside the Box, Inside the Box, Beyond the Box: Creativity is a Different Way of Thinking…

‘Think outside the box’ is an overused cliché… Nevertheless, it does capture the idea that creativity means trying and exploring different ideas… It’s heard again and again, an executive admonishing a team to ‘think outside of the box’… Of course, the intention is to inspire and to ‘think creatively’, but the problem is that it’s an uninspiring, uncreative, unencouraging way to say it… In fact, it can be darn right unproductive…

According to Tom Stevens; cliché is antithesis of creativity, and ‘out of the box’ is as cliché as it comes. Everyone knows what it means, but it’s hardly a trigger for ideas that are– different, creative, breakthrough… The human brain does respond to metaphors but in very subtle and profound ways, e.g.; if a ‘box’ is a metaphor for your experience then ‘out-of-the-box‘ suggests that you trying to discover something new and totally outside of that experience… The trouble is that thinking about things outside of your experience is almost impossible… Asking someone to ‘think outside the box’ is like asking someone to list unforeseeable events…

In the article To Think Outside The Box, Go Outside The Box by Dileep Rao writesMetaphors can help make sense of the unfamiliar by comparing them to something understandable. By looking at the familiar with new eyes, you might realize that you are blind to the obvious, or you forgot an essential element, or you discovered something entirely different… Hence metaphor can change your viewpoint by forcing you to multiplicity, i.e.; looking at things from many points of view– by re-framing situations, metaphors help creative thinking… 

One of the  most common metaphor or cliché in business is to ‘think outside the box’ (OTB)… And even though many business cultures encourage employees to ‘think’ OTB… but they really do not ‘go’ OTB… For many organization, the reluctance or inability, to shake core business habits by going OTB, i.e.; from established behaviors to a more riskier ones– can be dangerous, especially when revolutionary trends can seriously disrupt the organization. Hence in order to ‘think’ outside the box, it helps to ‘be’ outside the box… Here are a few reasons:

  • No constraints: When you are on the outside you are not limited or influenced by established behaviors… hence your thinking can seek different ways to get things done…
  • Blank-slate thinking: When you are on the outside you have a blank-slate– relatively little extra baggage that can seriously influence your thinking… hence you can create new or different rules based on the reality of situation…
  • Revolutionary trending: When you are on the outside you can adopt new revolutionary advances to gain a competitive edge rather than seeking small, evolutionary changes… Small change is like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic…
  • Bottom-up analyzing: When you are on the outside you can work for the bottom-up to determine how to make customers happier without the constraints of existing practices…

In the article Think Outside the Box and Creativity by Douglas Eby  writes: What if you could boost creativity by taking metaphors literally, such as; ‘thinking outside the box’, or ‘on the one hand, then on the other hand’? Here is where Angela Leung and her colleagues created experiments with people acting out the metaphors, literally: In one experiment, each participant was seated either, inside or outside of a five-by-five-foot cardboard box. The two environments were set-up to be the same in every way, and people didn’t feel claustrophobic in the box. Participants were told that it was a study on different work environments… Each person was given a widely used test for creativity; the finding showed that those who were ‘outside the box’ tested better, than those who were ‘inside the box’...

In another experiment, participants were asked to join two halves of a coaster that had been cut (before the test)– this representation was to demonstrate; putting ‘two + two’ together. People who acted out the metaphor displayed more convergent thinking– a component of creativity that requires putting together various scenarios, then settling on one that works… Another experiments found that walking around ‘randomly’ generated more original ideas than walking in a ‘preset-line’. And still another test found that there is truth in ‘on the one hand, then on the other hand’…

All this suggests that there is some validation to metaphors that are used when talk about creativity… According to Angela Leung; having a leisurely walk outdoors or freely pacing around helps clear the mindset– it’s getting-up and walking away from your cubicle (the box) that can also create space for creative thinking…

In the article Thinking Outside the Box by Joycelyn Campbell writes: If you are stymied by the prospect of ‘thinking outside the box’, you may be relieved to find out that you cannot actually do it… The box is the mental model through which you view and interpret the world. You are always ‘inside the box’, in one compartment or another… The ‘box’ is a symbol of constraint– what you see, what you think, how you feel, what you do… The ‘box’ has implication of rigidity, squareness, and symbolizes constrained, unimaginative thinking… In contrast to the open and unrestricted ‘out of the box‘… Thinking  creatively is being  unimpeded by orthodox and conventional constraints…

The metaphor– ‘thinking outside the box’ has become so hackneyed as to be rather meaningless. The ‘box’ has come to represent all things that limit thinking, so ‘thinking outside the box’ means being able to transcend those limitations… Out-of-the-box thinking doesn’t require people to rewire their brains or take courses in creativity… To think outside the box requires only to ask: Is there a different way to think about an issue or thing?

It’s a myth: researchers have found that the conceptual link between ‘thinking outside the box’ and ‘creativity’ fails to produce the desired creativity… And far from being hindrance– past experience, training can be a key to creative thinking… According to Frans Johansson;  instead of trying to think outside the box, people are better served by deliberately– stretching, expanding, learning, exposing… oneself to new situations, different viewpointsNew and different ideas are not spun from thin air, creativity involves; synthesizing, remixing, reenvisioning what’s already inside the box. Hence creativity is all about; building a better box, a different box…

Connecting the Physical Worlds– Smart Sensors Technology: Ubiquitous — Transforming Industries, Organizations…

The Internet connects people in a global-wide web of information– zillions of bits that are stored in computer memories, hard drives… But there is an emerging revolution occurring using highly miniaturized, wireless, networked ‘smart sensors’… these devises are connecting and transforming our ability to understand and manage the physical world around usAccording to several research reports: The global smart sensors market is anticipated to reach $60 billion by 2022, and growing at a CAGR of 19.2% from 2016 to 2022…

The market size and growth potential of smart sensors covers multi-industries and across many segments, e.g.; security, surveillance, energy-efficiency, consumer electronics, automotive, healthcare, automation, robotics, manufacturing… These smart devices are the connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT)… According to Gartner; the number of sensors needed to create the Internet of Things (IoT) is mind-boggling; some 26 billion smart sensors will be installed by 2020 in everything from– cars to conveyor belts, buildings to bridges, road signs to refrigerators, test beds to toasters, smart grids, smart cities, smart environments… The use of smart sensors is truly ubiquitous…

In the article Smart Sensors by 30mhz writes: It’s a new era where objects are embedded with sensors with ability to acquire, measure, and communicate information that can improve processes, reduce costs, minimize risk. Smart sensors (often wireless) offer organizations the opportunity to capture data from– anywhere, anytime, under all environmental conditions. Wireless sensors can be placed anywhere, even in the most difficult to reach places or extreme environments… They can track where assets are, monitor their condition and save time by predicting upkeep needs… They can capture just about any metric, including; vibration, heat, moisture, image, sound… and submit data for processing via the cloud or local processor…

It’s a new era with focus on sensor driven computing as a key area of innovation and growth from street signals, to manufacturing plants, to construction cranes, to jet engines… the massive amounts data that can be collected is both overwhelming and exciting… However, it’s crucial that organizations have complete solution that not only capture sensory data but refine it into actionable insights… Sensory data augments human capability for better decision-making, and that enables organizations to be more competitive, efficient, productive.

In the article Smart Sensors and Internet of Things by Jim O’Donnell writes: Internet of Things (IoT) cannot exist without smart sensors, and growing use of smart technology is already transforming how many organizations implement the IoT… Smart sensors bring more connectivity and analytics to the value chain, e.g.: Here are some things to consider:

  • Smart sensors are the indispensable enablers of the IoT… Smart sensors, including radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, serve three broad purposes; 1. identification, 2. location, 3. condition… All have major implications for a value chain and manufacturing… They are useful in plants or warehouses because they keep track of critical indicators, such as; temperature, humidity, data logs for quality control, triggers for alarms, and process management…
  • Smart sensors are embedded in products, which help improve the manufacturing process or the products themselves. Sensors are integrated within products to create ‘smart products’ and they provide many enhanced valued added features… They can also permeate the manufacturing process to– monitor, control, and improve operations… and added to logistics to streamline how products are delivered…

In the article Healthcare With Smart, Wireless, Wearable Sensors by MDO writes: There are strong indications in the marketplace that a digital healthcare revolution is coming (often referred to as wireless, digital, or mobile health). The basic idea is to wirelessly connect the patient with care providers to monitor their health and intervene as needed– ideally preventatively– as the patient goes about normal life. The enabling technology is a miniature, smart sensors incorporated around– deployable, wearable, implantable– the patient. Wearable are attractive, because they require no medical procedure and travel with the patient…

Miniature, smart sensors are based on micro- and nano-fabrication technology, often simply referred to as MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) and NEMS (nano-electro-mechanical systems). These devices augment the computational ability of microelectronics with perception (i.e., sensing) and control (i.e., actuation) capabilities…

MEMS sensors and actuators have over 40 years of commercial history behind it, and MEMS sensor design and manufacturing advances have enabled consumer electronics volume, pricing, and performance. The MEMS industry is bullish on the prospects for wide range of smart sensors, and there is gathering momentum to develop a trillion-sensors road map…

In the article Smart Mini-Sensors, Next Big Thing by Dror Sharon writes: The proliferation of smartphones, wearable, Internet of things… have heralded the age of affordable smart sensors… For example; imaging capabilities within smartphones has evolved rapidly since introduction of smart sensor technology, including;  new lens packs, new CMOS sensors and extensive image sensor processors in order to improve the capability and/or quality of images, photos, videos… Some smartphones and wearable even have a pulse-oxymeter for monitoring health… Smart sensors with embedded microprocessors and wireless communication links are changing the way systems are– monitored, controlled, maintained…

The changing nature of technology is disrupting value chains, forcing companies to rethink and retool nearly everything they do… In the past decade the Internet’s impact accelerated with the proliferation of; always-on, cloud-connected, and multi-sensory devices, such as; smartphones, wearable devices… It’s a digital shift being instigated by the forces of– cloud, mobile, sensors, social. The Internet of things  (IoT) drives massive numbers of smart sensor connectivity, and society  is putting unprecedented pressure to balance resource constraints and environmental sustainability concerns…

Hence to name just a few examples: consider the rapid emergence of ‘smart cities’, which are full of IoT devices, including; smart electric meters, smart street lights, smart sensors to monitor traffic flow… Also consider; ‘smart buildings’, which are full of IoT devices running; smart elevators, lighting, security, HVAC systems… Also ‘smart cars’, they too are full of IoT devices that manage just about all major functions in the automobile… Smart sensors are ubiquitous– more organizations, government, companies… are exploring how they can take advantage of the combination of– smart sensors, cloud, artificial intelligence… to improve customer value, competitiveness, better decisions, improve the workplace experience…

Dreaded Strategic Drift– Road to Doom: Leaders Oblivious to Shifts in Competitiveness, Lost Touch with Reality…

Strategic drift is the often traveled ‘road to doom’– it’s a gradual decay of a firms competitiveness that ultimately results in failure… The term is also used to describe a ‘sense of cognitive sloth’ in the ability of management to meet the objectives of the organization. Common symptoms, include; group-think mind-set, status quo mentality, lack of focus, resistance to change, unable to acknowledge that current strategy is not working… According to Charles Handy; strategic drift is a gradual change that occurs so subtly that it’s not even noticed until it’s too late…

When strategic drift goes unnoticed, ignored it’s devastating for an organization, and the crazy thing is they don’t even realize that it’s happening… All that it takes is– a little compromise here, a little bad decision there… before they know it, an organization is in a situation that it never thought possible– it’s on its way to doom. According to C. S. Lewis; road-to-doom is a gradual one; gentle slope, soft underfoot, no sudden turns, no milestones, no signposts. However, organizations can avoid the dreaded strategic drift– with a little due diligence, i.e.; early warning, agility, resilience, flexibility…

In the article Strategic Drift by Tom Tierney and Jay W. Lorsch write: Strategic drift happens when the strategy of a business is no longer relevant to the external environment facing it… It usually arises from combination of factors, including; business failing to adapt to changing external environment (e.g.; social, technological change…); or, discovery that the competitiveness that worked before doesn’t work anymore; or, complacency, which is often built on previous success that management assume would continue, even when faced with evidence that there are real issues… Consideration for dealing with strategic drift:

  • Incremental Change: Series of small, incremental changes to strategy enable the business to remain in touch with the external environment…
  • Rate of change: External environment is accelerating and small, incremental changes in strategy are not enough to remain in touch. The business is losing its competitive advantage…
  • Management indecision: Significant ‘gap’ emerges between what a market expects and what the organization is actually delivering. Management must recognize when a gap exists, but most often management is unable to agree on the proper strategy forward…
  • Transformation Change or Death: Moment of truth, few options remain– management must then recognize that a simple fix won’t work and a more radical transformation change in needed to save the organization. But for some organizations realization comes too late…

In the article Strategic Drift and Business by Mandy Brooks writes: We live in a business age where change is undeniably a matter of course… It’s all too tempting to do things as they have always been done, but if you simply follow the same rituals out of habit, there is a danger of the dreaded– strategic drift… Some changes in the market place are gradual and aren’t immediately obvious, while others are clear blatant warnings that internal strategy needs to be refocused to accommodate them…

Organizations must face-up to change– an imperative to the future of the organization. Management must recognize a need to constantly re-evaluate strategy, in order to respond to turbulent, unstable market cycles… Management must also ask the difficult questions, e.g.: Is the  current– ‘business as usual rituals’ still relevant, appropriate for today’s changing business environment ? Or, is the organization in danger of slowly but surely on the road to doom?

In the article Strategic Drift Is It Always Bad? by mj writes: Strategic drifts is a result of– weak planning, poor goal setting, ineffective performance… It’s a general mis-fit between an organization’s vision and the strategy that is used to support it… The term strategy drift was first defined by Charles Handy in 1989, and he defined it as a gradual change in strategy, i.e.; a drift that is often very subtly and not noticeable until it’s too late…  Strategic drift is when something in the organization must change, either; vision, or strategy, or both. According to Vincent van Gogh; do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model…

In the article How to Avoid Strategic Drift by Mike Conforme writes: The essence of the strategic planning process can be distilled into three common elements: (1) A thorough understanding of the current position– Where are we now? (2) A clear vision of the desired future– Where do we need to go? (3) A structured plan to get from (1) to (2)– How do we get there? The result of this process is the definition and selection of a perceived relevant and creative strategic plan, which takes the organization in the desired direction while achieving the most appropriate balance of risk and reward…

However despite all the planning, the chosen strategy may not always be the most prudent course of action… Of course, executing the agreed-on strategic plan is very importance, but management must also be cognizant of the constantly shifting environment in which they operate… and to ignore changes, runs risk of serious consequences…

It’s interesting to note that many management thinkers have proposed theories about this strategic change phenomena, e.g.: According to Peter Drucker; existing strategic models are ineffective as change barrels down on organizations making all models redundant within no time… According to Alvin Toffler; changes are akin to the future arriving even before one can prepare for it… According to Gary Hamel; the concept of ‘strategic decay’ explains how the value of each strategy decays over time irrespective of how brilliant the strategy was in the first place…

The key aspect about strategic change is that it’s difficult to predict and control. Hence, the optimal way to deal with it is to expect the unexpected and be ready for anything… Hence, unless organizations embrace change, they are likely to be fossilized… and unless they are prepared to deal with– sudden, unpredictable, discontinuous, radical change, they are likely to go the way of the dinosaurs… The concept of the strategic drift occurs without notice and by the time it’s noticed, it’s too late…

The impact of this all-too-common phenomenon is catastrophic, and it’s important to understand it… An unidentified and/or uncorrected strategic drift is result of being out-of-touch with reality. It’s a strategic gap; and if not corrected it’s a road-to-doom… So the existing strategy for– Where do we need to go? must change… but many a naive leader continues to persists with it– oblivious to shifts in competitiveness…

Mastering Negotiation is Critical in This Turbulent Business Climate: Most Managers Simply Don’t Know How to Negotiate…

Mastering the art (or some say science) of negotiation is absolutely critical in daily business activities… yet many leaders and managers lack this crucial skill… According to Mary Ellen Tribby; studies show that business people (and others) who do not know how to negotiate are 60% less successful than those who do. A recent survey suggests that most business people (in fact, most people in general) don’t particularly– understand, or value, or exercise good negotiation skills…

According  to Abby Hardoon; there is a negotiation skills gap, in fact, most people simply don’t know how to negotiate… Of course, there is no magic formula for the best way to negotiate and no shortage of expert opinions– as a quick scan of bookstore’s shelves will reveal– some of which is valuable but much is simply not practical... But, a consensus seems to suggest that the most critical steps in negotiations are; actively listen, build sense of trust, be negotiation ready, and all other steps follow… 

In the article Enhancing Negotiator Power by Dr. Robin L. Pinkley writes: A key determinant of all negotiations is negotiator power. Power is defined as– value that each party brings to the table over the value of each party’s alternative’ to the deal (often called BATNA or Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement). Given the profound impact that power has on every negotiation, you would be wise to proactively enhance your power ‘before’ you negotiate, e.g.:

  • Increase– other party’s perception of ‘your value(research what they care about and how they can get it from you)…
  • Decrease– other party’s perception of ‘their value’ (communicate what they’ve overvalued or don’t have that you need and why what you’re justified in asking for it)…
  • Increase– other party’s perception of ‘your BATNA’ (prepare viable alternatives and share them strategically)…
  • Decrease– other party’s perception of ‘their BATNA’ (bring value that others don’t have and differentiate yourself)…

In the article Effective Negotiation by Bisk writes: Negotiation is a process (not an event)– it’s give-and-take’ between parties (each with its aim, need, viewpoint…) seeking to discover common ground and reach an agreement to settle a matter of mutual concern or resolve a conflict… Negotiating is a skill that few people can afford to forego– it’s critical in all phases of business and human interaction… According to Carolyn Williams; a few tips to improve proficiency:

  • Learn to Flinch: The flinch is one of the oldest negotiation tactics but one of the least used… A flinch is a visible reaction to an offer or price during face-to-face negotiations. The objective of this tactic is to make the other person(s) feel uncomfortable about the offer they presented… Most often the other person will respond in one of two ways; a) they become very uncomfortable and begin to try to rationalize their price… b) they will offer an immediate concession…
  • Have Confidence: Regardless of how badly you may need a certain outcome from the negotiations, never let the other party think that you are desperate; doing so puts you in a weaker position and gives them greater leverage over the situation…
  • Come Prepared: Before you go into any negotiation, make sure you have considered all variables which might arise… Should unexpected issues come up, end the negotiations and educate yourself on the new matter before rejoining the process…
  • Build Buffer: Never begin with final offer. Give yourself sufficient ‘cushion’ between what you are asking for and what you actually want. This will enable you to make compromises without giving up anything important… also demonstrates to the other party that you are flexible…
  • Know Limits: Decide beforehand what your absolute minimum outcome is, and do not be afraid to leave the negotiations if you cannot get it…
  • Stay Cool: If negotiations become argumentative, walk away and ‘take-five’ to reassess your situation. If the other party is not willing to come to an acceptable compromise, consider whether it’s more beneficial to continue, or simply end the negotiations…

In the article Great Negotiators Think With Heads, Not Hearts by Victoria Pynchon writes: Negotiation need ‘hard heads’, rather than ‘soft hearts’… Zero-sum or win-lose negotiating is all about getting your ‘fair share’ of a fixed pie… Ideally negotiations are a mutual benefit/interest-based process that require the parties to: (1) learn about and attempt to satisfy each negotiating partners’ needs and desires… (2) collaborate in an effort to find ways to satisfy each others  needs and desires in novel and creative ways… But that’s simply not how the whole competition negotiating paradigm operates…

We live on razor’s edge between sympathy and fairness– between adversarial-ism and collaboration, between head and heart… As a conflict resolution guru said; effective negotiators need cynical minds and hopeful hearts… Only when you are able to achieve the balance between ‘head’ and ‘heart’ are you able to serve yourself and the larger common good at the same time…

Negotiation often requires creativity to ask the right clarifying questions and figure out what is truly of value to other parties… It may not be what you think until you ask… According to Chris Voss: the idea is to really listen to what the other-side is saying and feed it back to them… It’s kind of a discovery process for both-sides– you are trying to discover what’s important to them, and how that compares to the things that are important to you…

However, negotiation  has a certain gamification associated with the process, e.g.;  while you are making your argument the other-side is not listening to you, but thinking about their own argument– they’ve got a voice in their head that’s talking to them… And while the other-side is making their argument you are thinking about your argument– it’s the voice in your head that’s talking to you… So it’s very much like dealing with each others schizophrenia… In reality, most negotiating is dysfunctional; where each-side is talking ‘pass’ each-other rather than listening and talking ‘to’ each-other…

Social Capital– Power of Virtual Social Currency for an Expanding Social Economy: Key Driver for Sustained Growth…

Social capital is an asset, its currency and it refers to relationships that people or organizations have with each other. Social capital is leveraged in many different ways in the business world– from getting a job by knowing someone, to making business deals, to establishing trusted alliances, to developing merger and acquisition scenarios… These and many other relationships have common goals in mind.  According to Konstanze Alex Brown; social capital is critical for fueling business relationships for sharing, innovating… and the bigger the network of real and relevant social engagement the more access to social capital…

The concept of social capital is not new, but its application have been relatively limited due to less-than-evident connection to measurable economic value (think ROI). But things are changing; social return-on-investment (SROI) is becoming a hot buzz word and organizations are finally figuring out how to apply social analytics and derive actionable insight from social networks that can lead to increased social capital…  Critics argue that social capital is nothing new– that it’s the latest buzz word meaning all things to all people– but it lacks empirical specificity…

In the article Social Capital by Ivan Misner writes: Social capital is built by design, not chance… it’s very similar to a monetary account for it, too, is accumulated by an individual or organization for production of wealth… Put more simply, it’s an accumulation of resources developed through social networks… According to Wayne Baker; success is social and all things that are customarily thought of as contributing to success are, in fact, intertwined with social networks… 

Social capital is about the value of social networks– the bonding and bridging of people, organizations, business… with norms of reciprocity. it’s goodwill and its value lies in the structure and content of the social relationships. According to Cindy Blackstock, Marilyn Weiss; social capital extends beyond the traditional ideas of networking, to something deeper and more meaningful– it’s the building of genuine, long-lasting relationships… Fostering strong social capital is simply imperative for an organization’s long-term success...

 In the article Social Capital Matters In Business by Vanessa DiMauro writes: Social capital is ability to retain customers, and attract and keep staff, and growth… The central premise is that social networks have value, and the collective value of all these networks (who people know) and the inclinations that arise from the networks to do things for each other (norms of reciprocity)…  

According to Yoon J. Lee; social capital is form of economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central and transactions are marked by– reciprocity, trust, cooperation… It’s currency and valued like a bank account– when capital is withdrawn the account balance is reduced–and unless it’s replenished with deposits, eventually the account can be overdrawn… 

In the article Valuing Social Capital by PwC writes: Companies are increasingly seeing the value of social impact valuation, and are adopting approaches, such as; social return-on-investment (SROI). Companies that employ social impact measurement are able to know and understand which decisions lead to useful social impact and which don’t… Hence, they are better able to manage and value the impact of social programs. Social impact valuation allows social costs and benefits to be properly identified and accounted for– meaning that long-term benefits or costs can be measured and managed like any other asset or liability…

It’s about leveraging network links between people/organizations… According to Jay Palter; building social capital is akin to investing for long-term accumulation, rather than for short-term profits… It requires investment of time and resources without expectation of any immediate measurable return… Hence, think social capital in term of engaging deep relationships, developing thought leadership, and networks of resources. 

In the article Invest in Social Capital by Laurence Prusak, Don Cohen write: Strong relationships are the fuel of great organizations. They run much better when people know and trust one another– deals move faster and more smoothly, teams are more productive, people learn more quickly and perform more creativity… Social capital is a term that nicely captures the notion that investments of social currency in relationships will return real gains that show-up on the bottom line…

Yes, it all sounds pretty simple and straightforward; organizations need only get their people connected with one another and wait for the payback: Easy, right? Well ‘no’; wrong for two reasons: First, social capital is under assault in many organizations because of– rising volatility and over reliance on virtuality… More simply, it’s under assault because building relationships in turbulent times is tough, and tougher still with many employees working off-site, or on their own…

Second, social capital is under assault because few organizations know how to invest in it. Knowing that good relationships help organizations thrive is one thing; making relationships happen is quite another.  These are virtual times… Most people used to work at the office, but now aided by technology, work happens in all imaginable configuration   of time and space, e.g.;  telecommuters, virtual team members, and laptop– toting road warriors abound…

Virtuality is an asset for many organizations– chances are you are one yourself or have a slew of them working for you… According g to Laurence Prusak and Don Cohen; there are advantages to volatility and virtuality, e.g.; volatility gives opportunity– for every organization crushed by new technology, a new one is born… virtuality is flexibility– organizations gain great mobility– being anywhere, at anytime with instant access to huge amounts of information…

But volatility and virtuality also erode relationships, which is why– organizations must learn to invest in social networks… According to Eva Cox; social capital is the fabric or glue that connects people and organizations… it’s the preeminent, most valued form of any capital– providing currency to build truly successful organization. Without a hefty social capital bank account, an organization cannot be sustained or fully developed…

Shaping An Organization– Lasting, Enduring Leader in World of Constant Change: It’s Surviving, Thriving with Sharks…

Contrary to today’s widely-held belief that companies must be prepared to fundamentally rethink strategies in response to a world of constant change… many organizations  prosper by doing the opposite; they focus on a simple core strategy and learn to adapt their early success over and over again… According to Chris Zook, James Allen; research suggests that– simplicity, focus, continuous adaptation almost always triumphs over radical change and reinvention…. An organization’s enduring, lasting success comes not necessarily from choice of market or industry, but from the essential design of the organization…

Organizational change is not optional to keep pace in world of constant change… All organizations, at one time or another, make substantive modifications to some aspect of their business… According to bomi; aside from major reinvention there are many small measures that an organization can take to adapt to change, e.g.;  # embrace technology— learn to use it to improve the organization… # increase speed and agility— opportunities come to organizations that respond quickly… # learn to live with ambiguity and uncertainty— these are the realities in a world of constant change… # adding value— value is life blood of profitability… # know your niche-– understand changing customers’ needs… # be a fixer— organizations that solve problems (fixers) are those that excel in a world of constant change…

In the article Thriving Amid World of Constant Change by Chris Zook, James Allen write:  Some companies succeed because they have ‘repeatable models’… Companies with repeatable models are built on a set of core strategic and organizational principles that have a stabilizing effect… The world is complex and it changes quickly… In such an environment, keeping the business simple and repeatable is a tremendously powerful and sustainable advantage… Repeatable models pose an interesting paradox. On face of it, their advantages ought not to be durable. Their differentiation is stark, their values and organizational structures are usually well publicized. So how can they enjoy a sustainable competitive advantage if everyone knows their secrets? For three principles:

  • Principle 1: Strong, Well-Differentiated Core: Focus on clear, repeatable differentiation… Differentiation is essence of strategy and root source of competitive advantage. Successful companies define differentiation not as an artificial construct dreamed-up in the boardroom but as a set of daily activities… These shape how everyone in an organization behaves. These core activities foster learning, constant change, improvement, erect barriers against imitation…
  • Principle 2: Clear Non-Negotiables:  Embedded core values are used to turn strategy into consistent decisions and actions– the non-negotiables… These are  few hard-wired, simple values and prescriptions that are the foundation/culture of the organization. This have the effect of reducing the distance from management to employees and customers… Belief in organization’s values and strategy improves employee loyalty and commitment…
  • Principle 3: Closed-Loop Learning: Transparency and learning drives the organization’s ability to adapt to a world of constant change… Key to adaptability is knowledge, and great ‘repeatable models’ have well-developed systems for learning… They stay close with customers and employees… They learn and develop early warning tools that allow them to anticipate fundamental change in the marketplace… These companies understand that inability to adapt or to respond urgently to a potentially mortal threat can derail an otherwise successful organization…

In the article Thrive in a Dynamic World Environment by Marie Wiere  writes; It’s argued that organizations are built to be– predictable, consistent, stable… Processes are designed to ensure– consistent performance, control workplace behavior, produce good outcomes… Some would argue that in recent years the great recession, technology change, other factors transformed traditional business, into a more dynamic environment characterized by a world of constant change… Constant and fast change is the new normal…. While change can be daunting, executives need to embrace change and accept that the future is harder to predict than ever before…

Constant focus on innovation is fundamental for the success of an organization, and leaders must recognize that innovations can come from anywhere and in many forms within the organization… Hence, everyone need to be empowered to innovate and share knowledge… Organizations need to be more inclusive and agile and to adjust, in real-time, as change occurs… Organizations must be paranoid in the search for different ways in which they can better meet customers’ needs…

In the article Building Organizations to Last by Jim Collins writes: There are two types of leaders; ‘time-tellers’ and ‘clock-makers’. Having a great idea or being charismatic, visionary leader is ‘time-teller’… Building a great organization that can prosper far beyond the tenure of any single leader and through multiple business-life-cycles is a ‘clock-builder’… The shift from ‘time-teller’ (great product visionary) to ‘clock-builder’ (create great organization) is perhaps the single most important step in transforming a hot-growth organization into a visionary company that is built to last…

Visionary organization embrace both ends of continuum, including; continuity and change, conservatism and progressive, stability and revolution, predictability and chaos, heritage and renewal, basics and craziness... According to Bob Galvin; organizational change is essential but when taken alone it’s limited, and doing  things different is change when it calls for renewal, replace, redo… But organization also should cherish its proven basics core values and guiding purpose… According to Bain & Co; many highly successful organization have demonstrated that simplicity, focus and continuous adaptation almost always triumphs over strategies of radical change or reinvention…

Enduring success comes not from choice of market or industry, but from the essential design of the organization… According to Josh Bersin; high performing organizations fall into two categories: those that endure and prosper over long periods of time (decades), and those that rapidly rise to prominence than falter due to faulty organizational design, and often are acquired (or disappear). According to Raphael Bemporad; many organizations are challenged to think more creatively, purposefully, holistically (not necessarily more radically) to thrive… In this age of uncertainty and a world of constant change, organizations must have relevance and resilience to endure for generations…