The future is here. Companies are printing 3D houses. Robots flip burgers. People pay for goods and services in cryptocurrencies. Cars drive themselves. Employees in Sweden use chips installed in their hands to replace the need to carry keys, credit cards, and train tickets.
If you were born in the last 25 years, you only know a world of the Internet. People 12 and under have never known a world without smartphones, apps, and touchscreens. Children born now are growing up talking to digital voice assistants. Technology has changed everything from how we interact to how we work, find love, and do business.
In a world that is constantly being disrupted, how can your company be ready? Nancy Giordano, a futurist and top 30 speaker, has three suggestions from her talk on future trends on how you can stay on top.
Contribute vs. extract
The old model of business was to extract value. Companies would get resources, dominate the market, and expect people to buy their products. Extracting was all about consistency, control, autonomy, and authority. This thinking inhibits innovation as the focus is protecting ROI and mitigating risk.
The big shift is to a new model of Contribution. The new model considers all stakeholders and uses every business interaction to create (vs extract) value. It is rooted in a deeper sense of mission and purpose which makes delivery of that paramount, and new ideas welcome.
In the past, a winery might buy land, harvest, manufacture, and produce expecting people to buy. They might pay to advertise in a local magazine. Now wineries contribute by offering free tastings, publishing recipes dealing with wine, and giving advice on wine selection. They also consider the stewardship of the land, the care of all those involved in the process of growing and bottling, the impact of their packaging, the health of their offering, etc. They have a story to tell and are eager to find new outlets and partnerships through which to tell it.
Connect vs. being alone
This shift to a broader, more inclusive focus is also impacting us personally. First, as technology is changing, culture is shifting and information is growing exponentially, it’s increasingly impossible to succeed alone. There is too much disruption and too much data. One person cannot know everything.
The key to success is forming networks and creating relationships. This has given birth to WeWork and WeLive, which are creating communities where people can work, learn and live together. Or people can go online and find any person to answer any question they have on bulletin boards. Dirk Ahlborn and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies are using connection to help find answers to hyperloop travel. Importantly, these innovations are also helping to combat the growing social epidemic of loneliness, both in our personal lives (especially among Millennials) and within our work environments.
Leadership vs. Leadering
Old businesses followed the hierarchical model of leadership. Decision making and ideas came from the top down. Everyone had a rank and place. Leaders were the seasoned experts, tasked with creating greater efficiencies and consistency so that models could quickly scale.
Things today are much more dynamic and circumstances/needs/opportunities change quickly. Leaders with big titles are seeing their expertise become obsolete. For companies to succeed, employees who often see and sense the changes first need to be empowered with immediate decision making.
Team members at Jet Blue and Zappos, for example, are expected to take care of customer needs without consulting a manager first. At Gore, famous for making Gore-Tex, famously doesn’t use titles for its employees and has its people develop their own projects. Leadering acknowledges this critical shift away from static, efficiency-focused processes to real-time learning, doing and creating.
The future is exciting but it demands both new skills and a shift in mindset to adapt. To succeed and stay on top you’ll need to contribute, connect, and leader yourself and others in new ways.
Kyle Crocco is the Content Marketing Coordinator at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, and the lead singer of Duh Professors. He regularly publishes business book reviews and thought articles on Medium, Business 2 Community, and Born 2 Invest.