2010 Predictions

Last week, I wrote down some of my thoughts for 2009. There have been both lows and highs, but mostly highs. 2009 was a good year. I’m expecting that there’ll be some pretty big highs in 2010 as well. As is everyone’s want to do at this time, I thought I’d make some guesses what the year holds ahead.

No doubt, we’ll all look back at this next year and laugh. That’s the fun of it of course.

Anyway, onto my top predictions for the coming year.

1. Banks, governments and everyone will get really, really, serious about innovation

The last couple of years have seen a lot of talking about innovation, but not really all that much doing it. There are enough high profile innovation successes starting to emerge though (even though they may have happened by accident) that people can now begin to see the power of this stuff when applied properly.

I think this is going to result in a number of very big programmes starting this year. It will all be copycat, of course (“What? They’ve spent that on innovation? We have to double that…!”), and I’d expect a few very high profile programme cancellations in the next 18 months. But overall, the momentum is going to be huge in 2010.

And that is going to lead to some game changing plays from organisations we’d always thought were anything but innovative. I would not be surprised to see a bank doing something so unusual that people’s mouths drop. Like, for example, someone running a similar model to Caja Navarra’s here in the UK.

Or a government department reaching out to citizens and bringing them right inside service delivery.

Or a major corporate releasing a hit product that’s been 100% designed by customers, and which climbs the adoption curve so quickly that their large competitors go out of business.

All that will drive us to an “Innovation Frenzy” by the end of 2010, and if you are a corporate innovator, you can expect 2010 to be a very big year.

2. Citizens will start to deploy tools that do the things that big companies and governments used to do.

Governments and corporates are beginning to make their data available online so that citizens can do what they want with it. But I predict that if government doesn’t make its data available quickly enough, citizens will find ways to get it anyway. Screen scraping works, you know. Then they’ll build what they want, and waiting for government to provide stuff… well why?

3. Crowd-think emerges

This is the year someone senior in a large corporation is going to discover that if you put 10 Gen-Yers in a room and give them a project, the outcome is likely to better than if you put a single, experienced person with 10 years on it. The next generation of workers is quite different to what we’ve been used to, and their hyper-connection means their work operates in a parallel, and highly synergistic fashion.

Then I’d say we’ll begin to see strategic decisions being made by committees of these people. They’ll be small at first but the power of these groups of generation – Y thinkers will get more obvious. Success will breed more success.

It will be 2010 when the signs this is happening really become obvious.

In the next decade, by the way, these are the same people who will be in real management positions in their own right, and crowd-think will happen no matter what the current managers think, whether they like it or not.

And what will happen to the experienced people of today? They’ll still have a role of course, but they’ll be advisors to the decision makers rather than decision makers themselves.

Don’t believe me?

Check out your graduate programme, if you have one, and watch how those people are interacting now. Watch them work together on a project, and don’t fail to notice that no single leader emerges in overall control. Leadership moves around dynamically based on skills and competence.

Then project that forward a few years when we  starting giving them management jobs of real importance.

4. Those who don’t get “social” will never get a decent performance review again.

I’ve written about the difference between those who are connected (online) and those who aren’t, and suggested that there’s a visible performance gap between the two groups.

Well, I’m of the view that this is the year that the difference is going to make itself felt at performance review time. Oh, not everyone will likely recognise the fact that they’re being marked down because they aren’t connected enough, but it will begin to happen anyway.

Here’s why.

Those with the right connections have much superior, and much much more timely data at their fingertips. They consequently make robust decisions fast, and their pace of output goes up. Their work is not only produced more quickly, its quality rises.

One person in my team, for example, can turn around a report in a day or two, whereas everyone else quotes weeks – even a month sometimes – to do the same thing.

Now, when you’re the manager in that position, who do you give the top marks to?

This will all be bad news, of course to those who “don’t have time to read blogs”, or whatever social media tool is currently in fashion. It will also be bad news to those who think that you get to turn off the moment you leave the office.

Those days are gone.  There is a new level of performance emerging, and the bar is getting raised in 2010. People are going to have step up this year, or expect there will be personal consequences.

And not, as I said earlier, because anyone will do anything deliberate, like impose a performance improvement plan or something. It will be because all the top marks will go to those who are connected from now on.

Experience is important, but performance is the new yardstick in 2010

Welcome to 2010, everyone, and I hope you have a fantastic year.

7 Responses to“2010 Predictions”

  1. January 5, 2010 at 3:52 am #

    While I agree that we're seeing a shift in the way we work, driven by Gen Y's emergence into the workforce, I'm not so sure that it will replace all that came before it. It's more likely to become yet another tool in the management kit bag, a new rung on the ladder as we climb to the next level of performance, much like the personality and conflict techniques we all had to live through in the 90s.
    One problem with the wisdom of the crowds is that crowds are not always (if ever) wise. The crowd will offer up the solution that the crowd is happy with, but it might not be the solution that you should pursue. Or, put another way, it's not enough to be good, you need to be original.
    I'm reminded of the Pixar vs. Studio Ghibli. Pixar uses a consensus based approach to film making, where a large team works together to craft the best film they can make together. Studio Ghibli unashamedly invests in the vision of a single director (Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata), with the team focused on making the director's vision a reality.
    Pixar makes good films; Up even made me cry when I saw it the first time. However, Pixar rarely make great films; original films that will stand the test of time, like Studio Ghibli. Films like Totoro or Kiki's Delivery Service (which makes me cry every time I watch it).
    The collaborative, consensus driven approach to work Gen Y is bring to the workforce will form the basis of work going forward. I helps us all be good. But it can't replace the originality, or the drive, that individuals like Steve Jobs can bring to an organisation.
    Oh–and I'm wondering if innovation has slide over the top of the peak of inflated expectations and is coasting down into the trough of disillusionment 🙂

  2. January 5, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    I think I'm not suggesting that crowds are wise… maybe the crowd term clouded what I meant. Gen-Y, as a group, works differently. They don't have the sum of knowledge an experienced worker has, but they *do* work syngegistically, and in parallel, on problems.
    That means their ability to process data is much greater. Ergo, better result.
    I don't deny the value of powerful, great leadership for one second. Though I doubt the reality is that Steve Jobs is personally responsible for many of the great things that Apple does. Surely even he recognises the team effort.
    Innovation: you may be right on that. Or perhaps we're coming out of the trough of disillusionment now and going up again?

  3. January 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Hiya James,
    Yep. The challenge used to be in finding information, leaving us to analyse what we could find and then synthesis a solution from this. Now that we have a wealth of information at our fingertips (remember when doing anything with the government was a black art?) the challenge is how to we outsource analysis and information gathering to our network to provide scale, and enable us to focus on synthesis. For big problems we also need to spread synthesis around the team (shifting leadership, as you point out). These are the work practices Gen Y bring, and we should all adopt them.
    Steve Jobs is an interesting role model. While he does not generate the ideas, he does understand how to build a team and place a bet. We have a tendency to undervalue anything but the current trendy skill or method. The reality is that we need a rich tool box to draw from, and we need people who can provide focus.
    I like Bruce Lee's approach to method (http://bit.ly/59Zdok), "absorbing what is useful" (http://bit.ly/7JgdNR) which ties in well with what I like from obliquity.

  4. Courtney
    January 12, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    I agree with you James that Gen-Y thinks differently. Being one of them I see ways that I work with people from other generations and how I can 'optimize' their performance. I try to help them as I would want to be helped. I don't do it to get something from them I do it to share information and know that through me sharing information I will also be given information in return. I hope that makes sense.
    I also agree that being social will be a necessity this year rather than a plus. This isn't just for people but for businesses as well. Customers will expect a company to be online, even the small ones to at least be on Twitter (like many American food carts). Those that are too afraid to use social media will be passed by.
    To avoid this for businesses I recommend attending the White Horse webinar called "Top 10 for 2010 Digital Marketing for Financial Services." It shows Financial Services specifically how to create brand loyalist through social media and how this medium can increase your ROI.
    To register click here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/343197896
    If you have any questions, or need clarification on what I have written please feel free to email me.

  5. January 15, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    Hi James,
    I really do like the insight here, very relevant and current. I don't see being social as different from the traditional support network of well connected individuals, just done on a scale and speed that simply wasn’t possible before.
    I can see where this is evolving and am curious on your views around how do those in leadership positions scale out the goodness of being "social" to help their organisations perform like stars.
    For a change I don’t see this as a technology or access/inclusion issue, but how do you encourage or mentor good capable people, those of a conservative small (c) disposition that going social is good for them and their careers? Sometimes just seeing the world is changing isn’t enough; you need to show some people the path

  6. Stephen
    January 16, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    You raise an interesting question about leadership.
    Salesmanship is very common but true leadership is very rare.
    I remember back in the 90’s two guys who I worked with directly, dying in their 30’s long forgotten (at DWP) – really dedicated guy’s who worked 24 hours a day to get the current systems in – Pete Basford and Keith Edwards.
    I decided to leave, and I was contacted a week later for a new contract, to replace someone who had just had a suspected heart attack – needless to say the answer was no.
    Yet, those systems at the time could not compete with a pocket calculator – a great technical architecture though, perhaps the J2EE of its day.
    Many hundreds made it to the funeral; I have never forgotten it or them, these were very dedicated people.
    Was it a failure of leadership? – too much pressure, poor management or something else, not sure, I was too young to appreciate it at the time being the then generation-Y.
    We do need more leadership though on large-scale projects and a new kind that takes into consideration the business, technology and the people challenges of delivering on expectations.
    We need a new culture – based on communication, collaboration and openness.

  7. Courtney
    January 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    The Financial Webinar I posted earlier is now available for download if you missed the date.
    Download here if you are still interested: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/343197896

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