If you are into nextsens­ing, you have to be into enter­tain­ing new think­ing. This means that you have to be open to chal­leng­ing ideas, con­cepts and pos­si­bil­i­ties — no mat­ter where they come from. Some days, I don’t spot any­thing that tick­les my next sense. Oth­er days, it seems that a water­fall of news reports force me to fer­ret out more infor­ma­tion and, then, to think how some­thing new might affect the state of tomorrow’s organ­i­sa­tion or mar­ket­place. Such as:

The news: Amazon.com no longer wor­ries about prof­its.
The source: Bloomberg Busi­ness­week (Brad Stone and Jim Aley)
The gist: Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos — com­ing off the company’s best hol­i­day sales sea­son (26.5 mil­lion prod­ucts sold; that’s 306 items per sec­ond) — says that “Per­cent­age mar­gins are not one of the things we are seek­ing to opti­mize.” So, in a world in which Wall Street ana­lysts seem to wor­ry only about prof­its, Ama­zon is more con­cerned about cash flow. In essence, Bezos says that he is hap­py (and, thus, share­hold­ers should be hap­py) as long as Ama­zon is sell­ing more and more and more stuff. The authors call this the “Bezos Doc­trine”.
My take: With Ama­zon rev­enues and stock price soar­ing, it’s hard to ignore the unique­ness of Bezos’s approach. Since so many com­pa­nies are try­ing to boost their prof­it mar­gins by cut­ting costs (and head­count), it does make you won­der if they should instead be mov­ing toward the Ama­zon way. The authors note that “Ama­zon scares every­one.” As long as fear doesn’t paral­yse your think­ing, it can be a great moti­va­tor. Amazon’s not going away. But what about your enter­prise?

The news: Har­vard iden­ti­fies four dis­rup­tive trends for 2013.
The source: HBR Blog Net­work (Scott Antho­ny)
The gist: After lay­ing out what the com­po­nents of a dis­rup­tive trend are, the author says that are four trends worth a close watch: (1) 3-D print­ing, (2) sen­sors con­nect­ing with con­trollers, with­out the over­sight of peo­ple — the “Inter­net of Things”, (3) the advent of new busi­ness mod­els in health care (such as mobile phone con­nec­tions to physi­cians), and (4) whole new ways to learn that could assault the need for bricks-and-mor­tar class­rooms (espe­cial­ly on the uni­ver­si­ty lev­el).
My take: Dis­rup­tive ambi­gu­i­ty is nev­er more pal­pa­ble than when major changes in the mar­ket­place con­front your own sense of what’s nor­mal. Each of these dis­rup­tive trends (and oth­ers the author men­tions) are an assault on the sta­tus quo of mil­lions of peo­ple, includ­ing quite pos­si­bly you. Yet, many will sit on their dis­com­fort until its impact is impos­si­ble to cir­cum­vent. That’s why lead­ers have to devel­op a fore­sense of what needs to be done. So, the test is sim­ple: does any­one in your firm have a strong grasp on where it needs to be just 12 months from today. No? Uh-oh.

Polaroid Classic

The news: Polaroid is not dead.
The source: Inc. (Issie Lapowsky)
The gist: Not sure if you can remem­ber Polaroid, but it was the cre­ator of the instant pic­ture that devel­oped, lit­er­al­ly, while you watched it. The company’s for­tunes sagged long ago when it could not nextsense its way into the 21st Cen­tu­ry. Yet, “ser­i­al entre­pre­neur War­ren Struhl” is breath­ing new life into the com­pa­ny. He “approached Polaroid with a new idea for a retail store where cus­tomers could turn pho­tos from their phone, Face­book, Insta­gram, and oth­er dig­i­tal plat­forms into hangable wall art. Foto­bar would be a stand­alone start-up, led by Struhl as CEO, but it would pay Polaroid to use the icon­ic name.” Polaroid agreed and issued a licens­ing deal. The first Polaroid Foto­bar is to open next month in Del­ray Beach, Flori­da.
My take: If you can’t employ nextsens­ing to dis­cern your own future, the next best thing is to be open to a life­line-idea from some­one out­side the com­pa­ny. Struhl could very well bring Polaroid back into some lev­el of rel­e­van­cy. The point is that Polaroid could just as well have tak­en a “not invent­ed here” and polite­ly shown Struhl the way back to the air­port. It didn’t. Polaroid kept an open mind. It con­vert­ed dis­rup­tive ambi­gu­i­ty into oppor­tu­ni­ty fore­sense, as Struhl’s ini­tia­tive (to my mind) is the only shot it has to re-estab­lish itself. Polaroid took the image of its cur­rent state and allowed itself to be open to a nev­er-thought-of-before future state. It’s a great exam­ple of being open to chal­leng­ing ideas, con­cepts and pos­si­bil­i­ties. Get the pic­ture?

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