What will happen over the next twenty years...


I have never been much of a futurist — I am more one to muddle through the muck of the moment and work through whatever comes my way. Recently though I've been thinking I should take a different tact because we're in the throws of dramatic change and with that, amazing opportunity. Maybe it's time for me to take pause and think about what the future may hold (and like a good surfer, look for a fine wave to catch). If you have ever attempted to surf you know the best wave is found in the green water — it's where you can catch the wave early, ride it longer, and have more fun.

This is something I am actively exploring and will be quick to ask about.

So I ask you, "What do you think will happen over the next twenty years?"

As I start to explore the green water of the future, here are some of the considerations that have resonated with me so far... be it as opportunities to explore, problems to anticipate, or simply considerations to prepare for (aka adapt to).

  • Our natural environment will continue to change, and all that stuff we make will continue to spill over into it. 
  • Our symbiosis with technology will continue to a point of physical change and it will blur the lines regarding what it is to be a human being.
  • Artificial Intelligence will impact the definition of work and what people do.
  • The established structures of trust, power, and government will be challenged by technology and by the evolving definition of work and how people find fulfilment.
  • National identity will be displaced by city and corporate states.
  • The "networks of connection" will challenge the ability of people to connect, relate, and trust at a personal level.
  •  We will live longer, but probably not healthier.

As I say I am no futurist so this is a conversation I am eager to have with anyone who has some thoughts. Please let me know what you think (or know) — it's greatly appreciated.

At this point, all I know is we are on the cusp of substantial change, I want to be part of it, and a person can do amazing things in twenty years.


Ownership, responsibility, culpability... and progress.

I once knew a leader who was enthusiastic about ensuring every goal (objective or project) had an owner and his thinking was simple — if there was no owner how could you expect anything to get done, and in the same vein, there could only be one. For him, if you had more than one owner, there was no true accountability (which in his mind was more or less like not having an owner at all). 


It didn't take me long to jump on his ownership bandwagon because it's really the only way to get anything done.

And now for the rub that comes with this progressive thinking — since most things don't happen without a team of people, how do you reconcile this with the need for one owner?

You definitely need to ensure you have the right people on the team, a solid time and event schedule, the needed resources, sacrosanct operating mechanisms to ensure action is moving forward, and a solid "multi-coloured" dashboard to ensure everyone knows what's happening — all of this is solid, quantifiable, and necessary, but the reconciliation with "one and the many" comes with the words "responsibility" and "culpability", and even more subtly, the words "you" and "we"

re·spon·si·bil·i·ty [rəˌspänsəˈbilədē] NOUN — the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone

cul·pa·bil·i·ty [ˌkəlpəˈbilədē] NOUN — responsibility for a fault or wrong; blame

you [yo͞o, yə] PRONOUN — used to refer to the person or people that the speaker is addressing

we [wē] PRONOUN — used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people considered together:

Anything you are involved with inherently needs responsibility and culpability, and if it's just you it's easy because you own all of it — and if there is more that just you then these words need to be injected into the group. Ownership is about "you" accepting responsibility and culpability for the goal (objective or project), and if there is a team behind you then that involves expanding the definition of responsibility and culpability to include everyone involved (something imperative for success) — the "you" becomes "we".

If you ever hear yourself trying to avoid "responsibility" or "culpability" then you are falling short as the owner — and if you ever hear anyone on the team trying to avoid "responsibility" or "culpability" you are also falling short, because remember, you own that too. 

Ownership and Leadership... semantics if you ask me, because its true when they say, "True leadership has no title".


Lag and lead indicators...


This is the time of the year that whenever I bump into any of my "sales friends" I can't help but ask how they did last year — I specifically ask if they hit plan. The answer always falls into two categories; either an "enthusiastic yes" or a "sheepish no"... sometimes there is colour commentary and sometimes not, but ultimately the answer is simply yes or no (or in emotional terms, "happy or sad").

If you have ever been in a commercial function (particularly sales) the objective is simple — you are given a sales plan (or quota) for the year with an expectation that by the end of the year you will have achieved that plan (and many times there's an expectation to overachieve). If your plan is $1 M and your final sales are $1.1 M, then you are 110% of plan and a goddess; whereas if the year ends up at $.95 M, you are 95% of plan and there is no such divinity. This of course answers of the question "How did you do?" but it is an after the fact question (a lag indicator if you will), and not particularly helpful if you are in the middle of working to achieve your annual plan.

What you need is something to answer the question "How am I doing?" And this brings us to "Lead Indicators". Lead indicators ensure that when your lag indicator presents itself your status as superstar will be secure.

As the name suggests, a lead indicator is a measure that speaks to how you are tracking to achieve your goal, or in the case of the the sales example above, your sales plan. Lead indicators are those activities that if achieved are a good "indication" that you will be successful.  They can also help identify issues early so you have time to put new activities in place to help achieve your goal. 

When you think of lead indicators you are in effect asking yourself, "What needs to be done to achieve my plan (or goal)". By identify them in a measurable way you increase your probability of success — referring back to the sales example, some lead indicators to achieving plan could be:

  • Connect with 20 current customers per week
  • Identify and connect with 5 new customers per week
  • Attend 1 trade show per month
  • Find 3 new opportunities for your opportunity funnel per week
  • Connect with 10 customers on Linked In per week
  • Achieve your monthly plans

The key is to achieve the lead indicator targets; by achieving these measures there is a greater probability you will achieve your plan by the end of the year. And if you are falling short of your lead indicator targets? It's probably time to seriously look at how you are doing what you are doing.

Depending on the complexity of your goal (or business) the number of lead indicators can become large and hard to manage so it is important to identify what the key measures are to quickly determine how you are doing with respect to achieving your goal — these are affectionately called Key Performance Indicators. (KPIs). Many times you will find colourful "dashboards" that make it easy to see how you are doing at a glance.

I suspect most of my "sales friends" know this because it's part of the job, but it's important to realize that lead indicators apply to almost everything you want to accomplish —

Wanna be a famous actor? What are the lead indicators that you will?

Wanna be a success artist? What are the lead indicators that you will?

Wanna be a CFO in a Fortune 500 company? What are the lead indicators that you will?

Wanna be happy? What are the lead indicators that you will?

Hopefully you get where I'm going with this...