Posts Tagged ‘Innovation’

The changing workplace

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Changing-WorkplacesmIn the next part of our series of posts looking at how the world is changing around us we look at how the work environment is changing around us. With the evolution of mobile technologies and the ever increasing bandwidth that is available to us (in terms of both location and capacity) we are afforded truly different options in how we work.

The Hybrid Organisation studies showed that on average we spend only 45% of our time at our desks – that’s an incredible statistic, not only does it provide a hint at areas that we may make some major savings, but it is also incredibly telling about the way in which we now carry out our professional lives.

We’re moving to a world where the term “work” no longer defines a location, but is centred purely in the activity itself.

Working in this way offers not just greater flexibility for us in how we blend our personal and professional lives, but also provides a great opportunity for us to spend more time outside with our customers, peers and even strangers – all of which combine to make us more successful and more innovative and better still, more effective both at home and in work. The days of the binary work life balance are gone, some people seems to think this means working 24/7 but to me it’s about empowering individuals to choose where and when they want to get things done – equipping your people to be productive wherever they chose (or have to be) is the first big step down the path of success.

In our Dutch office, we reduced office space by 30% effectively pushing our people out into the big wide world – the results – 50% increase in sales and a much happier workforce.

How dull would I be (or rather as my wife reminds me, how much more dull would I be) if all I did was spent my time within the Microsoft bubble? I’m a far richer, more innovative and productive individual if I get out a bit more and spend time with people like you and your teams – even with people who care less about technology, it’s all constructive input and food for thought that goes to make me far more useful and valuable to my employer.

But companies need to change in order to truly get the most from this opportunity, especially in a knowledge based economy, we need to move to a more outcomes based measurement, far too often, we measure people on process not on what they achieve – this alone forms one of the major barriers between those that will taste success and those that don’t.

Exploring Innovation

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Microsoft SurfaceWorking with Andrew Quinn (one of my Strategy Consulting colleagues) we presented at the Exploring Innovation event hosted by Unwired. This is an event that aims to expose various innovative technologies to organisations to help form some of their strategic thinking especially around the New World of Work.

We managed to secure and take one of the Microsoft Surface devices with us, which proved to be a real crowd puller, it’s just amazing what having one of these devices can do to people’s perceptions of what is possible.

The real magic isn’t in the device though, it’s that it’s significant enough of a change in how we view “computers” that it enables people to think really differently about how technology could be leveraged in the way we live, work and play.

This seems to be the real trick to successful envisioning in that you’ve got to find a way to break the thought patterns of those involved to open up to new potential – we aren’t always lucky enough to have a “big ass table” with us, but man, it sure opens doors (and minds) if you do…


6 Themes for IT’s Future

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Wow, time flies.  It’s been a busy and slightly ugly Summer, but enough of that, it’s finally time for us to bring you the presentation I made at this year’s Architect Insight Conference back in May of 2009.   A particularly important event for me as it marked the first public release of the 6 key themes we’ve been working on for the last 12 months or so.

This presentation walks you through the 6 key themes that are the foundation of all of the challenges (and opportunities) we face in helping move the value of technology in our society even further forward and why, in some cases, our initial perceptions of them are not always correct.

Sit back (remind yourself what Summers _used_ to be like) and enjoy…

You can download the webcast here (right click and “save as”) or click here to subscribe to the Envisioners podcasts on iTunes.

Workforce Evolution OR Workforce Revolution? | a Prologue

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Many people seem to think that technology is a means to innovation, when in actual fact its the people that drive change. Understanding people in the workforce is arguably the most important thing when planning for the future of a business, “Why?” you may ask – well, from now until 2018 and beyond the workforce will be enhanced with new skills and characteristics coming into the mix that have the potential of changing the way we will be working, possibly even as soon as five years time.

 Before we get to the above conclusion though, whats’ more important is to understand how we will be getting there. There is logic behind my madness!

Where we are today (UK)

So today we have four generations in the workforce, but for this post I will focus on the three prominent generations, Baby Boomers*, Generation X** and the Millennials***.


The Baby Boomers*, 14 million strong in the workforce and hugely important to industry – A generation born between the years of 1946-1964, began coming into the workforce several years after WW2 with an enthusiasm to change the world by coming up with new ideas, building new industries from the ground up.


Generation X**, 11 million in the current workforce, born between the years of 1964-1980 –  The generation that witnessed the inception of the personal computer, worked through the ‘’ boom and possibly dabbled in the rise of MTV and Punk music. Gen Xers are also presumed to be ‘Next in thrown’ to the boomers, but is this really true?


Millennials***, currently 8 million in the workforce, though having been born between the years of 1980-2000 meaning that there is a huge amount (9 million) still in education. The youngest era of this generation are in fact still at primary school. By 2020 it is possible that there could be 17 million Millennials in the workplace (A deeper look into the fundamentals and importance of this generation in relation to the evolution of the workforce will be explained in the next blog post).


These demographics matter, they’re not ‘shock’ facts or over glorified estimates, its a realistic possibility, our workforce is going to change, unless we can figure out a miracle cure for aging…


Baby Boomers are important, they carry mass amounts of invaluable knowledge, experience and seniority, the data and information that they hold is imperitive to the organisations that they are part of. Now is the time to start sharing with the generations that will be leading industry in the future, but how? Sharing information is simpler today than ever before, we can consume huge amounts of information from multiple repositories daily, now is the time to experiment with things such as social computing.


As stated, there are 9 million Millennials that have still not entered the workplace, but its important that they do in order to fill the void that the Boomers will leave over the course of the next decade. Good education is a must in order to get the rest of this generation into the workforce and fullfill generational blend and insdustry sustainability. But its not all doom and gloom, this generation are going to bring in a whole host of new skills and character into the workplace, not to mention their lack of fear towards technology, but the fact that they couldn’t give a stuff about it. Millennials ‘pick up and play’, not just technology but processes, they can learn from multiple mediums at a worryingly fast pace.


So going back to my intro-conclusion, the next generation of workers will change our methods of work, possibly not as drastically as first perscieved, but in terms of such things as sharing, storing and consuming information. Lessons can be learnt, are you going to sit and wait for the changes to be more apparent or are you going to be prepared for the change to occur?

Institutional Innovation

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Insitutional Innovation

I’ve talked to you before about how innovation is the key to an organisation’s success and I meant it. Without innovation, we’re never going to be able to achieve the kind of gains (or savings) we are looking to make.To that extent, we’re witnessing another great industry transition as we move from the Knowledge Economy to the Innovation Economy. As people become increasingly aware of how crucial Innovation is, people are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how it is managed within their organisations.

Innovation has become the #1 goal of every major organisation, primarily due to the reason that we simply can’t continue as we have been if we are to make significant changes to our success for whatever reason.

As it turns out, actually having the idea is the easy bit, it’s being able to respond to it as an organisation that’s hard. As a result, organisations are increasingly reaching out for tools that help them manage the process of innovation.

To be truly successful, Innovation has to be something that is at the very essence of both the organisation and the individuals within – Microsoft is a great example of this. OK you can argue that releasing Office Suite after Office Suite isn’t exactly the pinnacle of Innovative success, but a lot of what Microsoft does is a direct result of true innovation much of which has been instigated by a single individual or small group of people and acted upon by the entire organisation.

Innovation has to be in your organisation’s DNA, it sounds a bit over the top, but it’s true. Rightly or wrongly, you have to believe you can all make a difference and feel empowered by your organisation to make a difference.

How does your organisation treat Innovation? Is it simply a suggestion box or is it more fundamental to the operation? The answer will tell you a lot about your organisation (and your prospects for the future…)

6 Themes for Comtemplation

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

The catalyst for the birth of “The Envisioners” was the emergence of 6 key themes that seem to be effecting everything we do with IT today (and why mostly, our understanding of these issues is not as it should be).  What better a way to start this blog than with an overview of these themes as they form the foundation of the work The Envisioners do, and will be core areas of focus as we continue along this journey of discovery, helping us all reach a better understanding of the true value of IT in a modern society.

We’ll be coming back to each of these in much greater detail over the coming weeks, but for now let’s get to meet them:

Cost Reduction
costreductionMore than just today’s bandwagon, the current state of the global economy offers a real force for change. It is absolutely vital we understand how to harness this to our advantage rather than treating it as a constraint to progress. Being respectful that the current economic crisis has a devastating effect on many people’s lives, we need to be bold enough to avoid the mistakes that “easy” answers for cost reduction will bring – we’ll be looking at examples that help to unpick how we can make the biggest difference without sacrificing our future.


Yesterday’s news? No, I thought not, but as with Cost Reduction, this is a considerable force for change that we need to understand properly before we can figure out the best way for us have the biggest impact. Please, this is _not_ a discussion about bottled water and virtualised data centres, this is about how we identify and embrace the systemic change that is required if we are to make a real difference in our own lifetimes.

Security & PrivacySecurity & Privacy
No broad discussion about technology would be complete without a conversation around security and privacy, this one however, is focused on how we need to understand more about the evolving boundaries of privacy and the changing way in which we need to think and apply security principles in all that we do. Like it or not, this is going to require some really difficult conversations about our definition of “risk”, but these are conversations we can no longer choose to ignore.

Like it or not, the world is changing around us. Technology is (or has) become a pervasive part of most peoples lives and is no longer the “special” thing it was when I was a lad. This is big, treat IT as something special and “complicated” and you will fail. Why? Because no-one really cares anymore – it just has to work and we as individuals just have to get on with making it work. Don’t believe me? Ask your kids.

As individuals, we are incredibly resilient, we cope with significant change every day and mostly without blinking. There’s something about the work environment that changes this and we need to understand why. Why is it that we resist change so much at work when at home we just suck it up and move on. Ultimately, the more agile we are (as individuals and organisations) the greater our chances of success.

Innovation ManagementInnovation
All of the other themes point towards the need and drivers for transformation in both our personal and professional lives and innovation is the only way we can make that transition happen. But most people will tell you that having the ideas is actually the easy thing, it’s doing something with them that’s the difficult bit. Above all things managing Innovation effectively is the most critical thing for your success in the future, we’ll be looking into how other organisations approach this problem and offering ideas (and asking for yours!) on how it can be done to best effect in any given situation.