Peter Diamandis and Steve Kottler's new book, The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives is at the same time awe inspiring, scary, and fascinating. This book will change the way you think about so many parts of your life and your business.
All the decisions we make about our business, and for that matter our lives, are based on how we envision the future. And, how it will affect the plans and strategies we currently have in place. That vision may have a far shorter shelf-life than you imagine. Over the next ten years, almost everything is going to change due to the convergence of dozens of fast-developing technologies. The new paradigm will change the way we do just about everything. Therefore, it may be time to at least begin to factor in some of those things that will change the way we and our customers live and do business. Here are a just a tiny fraction of takeaways from this incredible book about all of our futures.
- Remember the flying cars in the Jetsons? Well, there are currently about 12 such vehicles being test flown. Uber Elevate is working hard to bring aerial ridesharing to Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne by 2023. Uber is not in this by themselves, many of the big players in air travel are already working on flying cars including Boeing and Airbus. Uber believes its service will make owning a car pointless, leapfrogging over the move to eliminate gasoline and moving to electric cars. Even the autonomous car may become a moot point. If you are still shaking your head in disbelief, and coming up with dozens of reasons why it won't work, do some research. For instance UBER is already working with NASA and the FAA to work out air traffic control.
- High-speed trains are also being tested. Elon Musk's hyperloop uses magnetic levitation and predicts being able to propel passengers in pods along vacuum tubes at 760 mph. Again, this is not a far-fetched idea; there are ten similar projects underway around the world. The world just became a smaller place. Talking about Elon Musk; three years ago he said that his rockets would be able to fly people anywhere in the world in under an hour. He went on to say that the technology was close (just a few years away) but the safety aspect would be the factor that delays this becoming reality. How long before we can travel from Toronto to Melbourne before we finish the movie?
- Artificial intelligence (AI) will dramatically change how we shop. This is a long and complicated technology, but think about Alexa, or Siri making your purchases and booking your appointments. Even repeat ordering things you use on a regular basis without you even knowing. Coffee pods? Before you even realize you are down to your last 10, a package arrives on your doorstep. And this is just the simple stuff. Think of having a butler that knows your every desire and handles your every need. The end of shopping malls as we know them, may only be a decade away.
- Healthcare is going to be totally rebooted over the next ten years or so and will focus on prevention. We will be able to track our health from home, if fact it will be tracked automatically for us by deploying sensors in just about everything we use and by implanting them in our bodies. A version of Siri or Alexa will tell us we are ill before we even notice any symptoms. AI will also make discovering new drugs amazingly quicker and a lot less expensive.
- The last point, at least for this article, is that we are all going to live longer, much longer. Evolution embedded aging in us, science and technology will negate its effects. Dozens of debilitating and killer diseases (e.g. cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer's) are being targeted like never before because of a convergence of technologies. Scientists are already having success increasing the lifespan of certain creatures by manipulating their genes, some by the equivalent of several hundred years in human terms. Humans are next.
We've not touched on entertainment (think Star Trek's holodeck – it's here but needs refinement), education (one-on-one education using android teachers), the financial industry, government, real estate, food – there's so much that's changing beyond recognition.
This may all seem like science fiction, but everything mentioned is in the pipeline and the authors suggest that most of it is very likely to become reality within the next ten years. The big questions are, which of the new major technological breakthroughs will change your industry and the way you do business? Second, which of these transformations will offer opportunities for your business, customers, suppliers, competition and employees? Think of the last industrial revolution; who came out on top? It certainly wasn't the naysayers; the luddites who tried to stem the tide of progress. It was those who took advantage of the new technology, of the new world order. Having an idea of what the future will bring may be the most important thing you can do to ensure your long-term success.
Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler, The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives, Simon and Schuster, 2020.
Decision-making During a Pandemic
As we've said before in this newsletter, we are going through rapidly changing times and it's very likely that you will be faced with multiple challenges and numerous tough decisions over the coming months and maybe years. Decisions such as laying off staff, introducing new products, distribution challenges, increasing or decreasing production, where and how to market your company and what it sells, managing budgets and financing, the list goes on. Making decisions is tough, making tough decisions is even tougher.
As a small business owner, you could probably make all those decisions yourself, but is that wise? Many of the decisions you make at this time could potentially have a long-term effect on your business. This is not the time for knee-jerk reactions. The stress of taking all that decision-making on all by yourself will add to an already high-stress situation.
It may be a good idea to bring together a group of trusted confidantes to discuss the situation, review the circumstances, and provide different perspectives. If you have partners, employees, managers, in your company then you have a ready-made decision-making group. If not, then you might need to create one from friends, family, acquaintances, perhaps even ask your bank manager, lawyer or accountant to help you.
The difficulty, of course, is that the very thing that makes it a good idea to involve others, brings with it challenges. Get too many people in a room and they will bring with them biases, prejudices, vested interests, and competing opinions. Making sound decisions, means making sound decisions around decision-making. Clear?
No? Well here a few simple tips to help you get started.
- Don't go crazy and create a big group. Large numbers tend to break up into factions and can suffer from information overload. A small group of no more than five people allows for discussion, differing views, less bias, and will be more likely to come up with wise, creative, innovative and collective solutions.
- Consider what type of decision you need to make before you decide on the make-up of the group. For instance, if you need to make a decision on something technical, legal, or to do with rules and regulations, it's a good idea to populate your group with like-minded people who are knowledgeable about the issue at hand. Expertise is what you need more than opinion or creative ideas. On the other hand, if the decision you need to make involves something where there are multiple possible ways forward, then pull together a group of people with different opinions, skills, expertise, biases, outlooks—you get the idea.
- Include a challenger in the group. Someone you privately ask to question everything, to play devil's advocate. His or her role is to metaphorically throw spanners in the works, their favourite word being, "But …" This will keep everyone on their toes and avoid herd mentality, where everyone agrees with people they like or who perhaps have authority over them. Or, avoid a situation where people are tired and just want to go home so agree with everything.
- Another challenge with a group is that some people are easily swayed by stronger personalities. Is it a genuine consensus or did some people change their mind because another member of the group sold them on the idea? One way to avoid this, or at least know it is happening, is to gather opinions (privately and individually) on what you need to decide on prior to the meeting. That way, you will know where everyone stood prior to the get-together. You could even share all these initial opinions with the group at some point during the session—with the names redacted of course— as a way to stimulate a wider range of opinions, especially from any of the shyer participants.
In times of stress, it's important to make the right decisions because it's very easy to make the wrong ones while under extreme stress. When did getting a second, or third opinion every hurt? You don't need to accept the group's decision but at the very least it will give a new perspective or two, to help finalize those important decisions.
Coach's Corner - Asking the Right Questions
Good leaders need to engage with their staff, and discover what is truly happening on the frontline. When in meetings, or one-on-one sessions with staff or colleagues, we are seeking information. We are trying to get a picture of how things are going, what people are thinking, or where we are headed. Asking questions can either create engagement and help us get the answers we are looking for, or they can shut down discussion and leave us confused as to what is required.
What kind of questions do you use to elicit good solid information in order to make good decisions? Remember, open-ended questions are best if you want to elicit thoughtful responses. Close-ended questions on the other hand, elicit yes or no responses which are not particularly helpful unless followed by an open ended question for elaboration.
Here are a number of scenarios where you may need to consider what questions to ask. Accompanying each scenario there are a few example questions or ideas to spark a meaningful conversation. Being curious opens up productive discussions and the sharing of thoughts and ideas.
When you are looking for someone's reaction to information.
- What came to mind when you first heard that idea?
- How do you feel about that?
- What did you learn from this information?
When you want them to elaborate.
- I am curious as to how you came to that conclusion?
- What steps did you take to arrive at this point?
When you want people to think outside the box.
- What are we missing here?
- What other things could we be looking at?
- If money wasn't a consideration, what would you like to see happen?
When you want to understand why something happened.
- What was important to you about doing it this way?
- Next time, what would you do differently? (Avoid using "Why?" questions as they tend to put people on the defensive.)
When you want someone to implement and follow-through.
- What is the most important thing for you to successfully complete this project?
- What's your first step?
- What are you willing to do and by when?
- What resources will you need?
When someone is naysaying or resistant to your ideas.
- What are your main concerns about this?
- What would make this more appealing to you?
- What barriers do you foresee?
- What do you find uncomfortable about this idea?
Whenever we are meeting it is important to determine what we want to accomplish in the meeting or session, and have an idea of some of the questions we may want to ask.
Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching
Beaver River Community Futures Development Corporation
PO Box 2678, 106 1st Street East, Meadow Lake, SK, S9X1Z6
Phone: 306-236-4422 | Fax: 306-236-5818