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.
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?