[Thoughts] Everything you know is wrong… and it’s exciting

I have discussed in the two previous posts how a belief can determine a reality (“I don’t believe in digital”) and how our beliefs are fundamentally flawed and dangerous anyway (Quantum physics, The Matrix and the corporate world).

There is maybe an opportunity to escape this determinism, as history seems to repeat itself, and the disruptors become the disrupted (eg. Kodak, Motorola, Nokia…).
And the only way is to acknowledge that everything we know is wrong: no industry, category, company or product is safe.

Disruptive change is accelerating, driven by the rapid emergence of new technologies, the blurring of lines between industries, and competition from both traditional and nontraditional players.

As a result, corporate lifespans are shrinking. On average, a company drops out of the S&P 500 list and is replaced once every few weeks. If current trends hold, about 75% of companies on today’s list will fade away or get acquired by 2030.
(Innosight, The strategy confidence Gap, 2015)

U2 – ZooTV Tour

…And that it’s OK. It’s super-exciting. Now we can question everything, even the unquestionable as Einstein did when he questioned the definition of Time or the nature of Gravity.


As our biases are cognitive and behavioural, the solution to overcome them lays there too.

In The Innovator’s DNA, authors Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen build on what we know about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can develop the skills necessary to move progressively from idea to impact.  By identifying behaviours of the world’s best innovators—from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group—the authors outline specific skills.

They outline that all innovative disruptors have in common: specific cognitive and behavioural skills, institutionalised processes to support a large number of people in the organisation using these skills, and a culture/philosophy to sustain the process.

When you question your beliefs (what I think I know and what I know I don’t know) you’ll have to face your blind spot  (what you don’t know you don’t know).
Innovators cognitive and behavioural skills, people and processes allow them to look into the blind spot by asking questions :Why? How? If?

Why by Carl Richards. Source NY Times For more of his drawings see link in source

“There’s nothing more dangerous that the right answers to the wrong questions”
(Peter Drucker,1994)

  • Questioning: posing queries that challenge common wisdom,

How do you ask yourself questions about things you’re unaware of, and incompetent at?
By starting with a clean slate, leaving all of your assumptions away.
Asking yourself how many things you are wrong about.
Simple questions – just a few words. The process is called Catalytic Questioning, as asking questions changes your perspective on the problem.
This step is hard, as it requires being comfortable with being uncomfortable (see an example with Pixar BrainTrust).
The Heath Brothers provide fabulous examples in their book “Decisive” about the importance of the devil’s advocate role.

  • Observing: scrutinising the behaviour of customers, suppliers, and competitors to identify new and different ways of seeing/doing things

… Look for what is surprising and unexpected.

  • Networking: meeting people with different ideas and perspectives.

In order to get valuable insights you need to go to different people – different industry, category, gender/age group…
This is a little bit like in Chip & Dan Heath’s Book “Switch”: did someone else answered that question successfully?

  • Experimenting: constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge

Make it small, fast and cheap. Experimenting should be accessible and facilitated to all in the organisation.

  • finally Associating: drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields, the combinatory play: selecting and probing the answers helps new ideas emerge from connecting the un-connected.

Innovation, Strategy, Change even are often mistaken for an Event, when they are a process. It’s everybody’s job, and anchoring it in our behaviour requires routine: we are what we repeatedly do. We are wired to solve problems (see David Kwong’s TED Talk).

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

As a 4 y.o. I was always asking Why? and If? I never stopped since.
When did you?



Innosight – The strategy confidence gap

HBR – Catalytic Questioning

New York Times – Carl Richards Personal Finance on a napkin

Credit Suisse / Forbes – The most innovative companies methodology

FastCompany – Inside Pixar BrainTrust

David Kwong – Two nerdy obsessions meet — and it’s magic

[Thoughts] Quantum physics, The Matrix and the corporate world

The problem with beliefs (see my previous post “I don’t believe in Digital”) is that beliefs determine your reality.

I am surprised that as individuals and as a human society, we have not learnt of the implication of Quantum Physics and it’s multiple repercussions in all fields of human activities ( but that’s another topic and if you’re interested you’ll find wealth of material on the Internet and a documentary in the footnotes).

Quantum physics has left scientists all over the world baffled, especially with the discovery that our physical material reality, isn’t really physical at all.
So belief in a material world we can grasp through our sense and common sense is flawed. Deeply flawed.

Interestingly enough, it’s the discovery of quantum physics that has led to invention of computer (1939), transistor (1947), WWW (1990), laser (1960) and can therefore be considered as the impulse of the digital disruption currently at work.

“Welcome to the desert of the Real” (Morpheus)
Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.

We like to think we are rational, but that’s just because we are not aware, and have not been made aware of our cognitive and heuristic biases.
To make sense of the world around us, we tend to simplify, use shortcuts to manage the complexity of our environment. Most of the times it’s a good thing and allows us to function (ie. we don’t need to think to breathe to breathe). But for more sophisticated cognitive processes – ie. making decisions it can be a problem.
If you’re not familiar with the the concept, there a neat list here.
And you can find examples in corporate life in this article from CFO/Mc Kinsey

My biggest concern – as a professional – is how badly the corporate world is equipped to face this reality, recognize the risk and minimize its devastating consequences on business strategy and execution.

If you don’t have a framework to re-assess and test the rules of the environment you’re operating, how can you decently expect to decide, adapt, grow and survive.
A company that is not able to envision, express and vocalize what the digital disruption means – for its business, market, product, techniques and processes, employees, stakeholders… – is a company that is doomed to die from irrelevance.
And if this vision starts and stops with digital advertising alone and just cool shiny objects it is already dead.

“Most organizations still rely on a way of working designed for the industrial age. Their operating models have barely changed since they were invented over 100 years ago” (Undercurrent)

Therefore the first step towards evolution and change is to test the belief system of your company, department, team… even yours.
And there are 6 leads of opinion or belief change – that I’ve discovered this week in an EdX course on Heuristics and Biases by the University of Queensland, Australia

  1. what do you believe anyway?
  2. how well based is the opinion that you already hold?
  3. how good is the evidence? Is it based on experiments? Is it based on that personal experience? How good are the data?
  4. does the evidence really contradict what you already believe? Is there a way of reframing the issue, of stating the evidence in a way that allows you to use this new information, this new evidence, rather than just rejecting it outright?
  5. given the evidence presented, if that’s not enough for you to change your mind, change your opinion, then what would be enough?
  6. is it worth finding out about, or is just a case of why not? Why don’t I just continue to believe this stuff? What’s the cost? Can I just persist in this belief?

And good opportunity to test your belief system – applied to marketing  would be Dr. Byron Sharp‘s book “How brands grow”.
It is a myth-busting book, in the tradition of classic scientific discoveries. Unlike most business books it’s based on extensive data, on real world buying, and is based on decades of research that has progressively uncovered scientific laws about buying and brand performance.

Equation-for-ChangeThat’s all folks.
I hope to develop further in the next posts re: cognitive bias and the equation for Change


[Thoughts] I don’t believe in digital

Sun orbiting around flat Earth

I have caught this statement in a social media newsfeed. A connection of mine commenting on a dinner with two major french companies somewhere in New York.
I must admit I have been thinking about it since then, and I’m still trying to figure out how someone can decently say that – unless they have been living in a cave or have a clamshell phone.

The problem with this statement is that it is equivalent, in my opinion to stating you don’t believe in electricity, combustion or computing.
Unless – and I assume this is the case – you are talking about digital advertising (this topic deserves a proper post if you allow me).

The problem with “digital” is the same as the one of contemporary art. It forces you to define the limit of “digital” as contemporary art forced to redefine the limit of Art.
If everything is Art – beyond wooden frames, museum halls and accepted academism – … then nothing is Art.
If everything is “digital” then nothing is digital… and you have once again failed to name it and define it. Back to square one.
And digital advertising is not “Digital”.

In order to understand what Digital is, you need to understand the impact the 1st and 2nd industrial revolutions had on agriculture, biotechnology, communication, hardware, engineering, medicine, transport… name it.

Then I would invite you to study again how the transition to this new technologies, methods and processes tremendously impacted human standards of living (food and nutrition, housing, consumer goods…), population increase, labour conditions and organisation, urbanisation, mass production…
There are great article on wikipedia… but if you don’t believe in digital, you’ll hardly know about wikipedia.

Now step back, and think again. You get it?

Digital is the evolution from analog, mechanical and electronic technologies and processes to a new form of technologies and processes enabled by the binary system – zero and ones, and computed by machines.
Using binary computation system, any kind of information can be copied, edited, moved without any loss of quality.

This coupled with the proliferation and inter-connection of devices ( see Wikipedia for Moore’s Law and Internet or the history of inventions derived from Quantum Physics theory such as computer, transistor and WWW) allows for an exponential number of possible interactions (ie. exchange of content, communications, and commercial transactions) between human and machines (ie. human to human, human to machine, machine to machine).

So when you say: I don’t believe in digital… you basically say you don’t believe in the existence of computer, email, game consoles, ATMs, mobile phones, the Internet, the pictures your friends sent through the other day, the hotel you booked for your vacation, the groceries your got delivered this evening.

This is what keeps me awake at night (among many other things some may say…). When you claim you don’t believe in digital, you basically demonstrate that you ignore the disruption that is taking place and it’s magnitude.

There’s sufficient literature to be found in libraries and even on a place called Internet regarding how postal services, retail, travel, music and news video industry have been disrupted.
If you are reading the news, you might get a sense of things happening in transport, financial services, automotive, health…
Please note I’m talking about the business here… not advertising.

So you might not believe in digital, just like some people didn’t believe the Earth was orbiting around the Sun, and that it was NOT flat. I just think that if you’re a senior executive in a company you deserve to be fired as you’re a danger to the business you’re in.

Right, I said it… feel better now.

[LOL] Hi, All: The Absurdity of Companywide Emails, Visualized

The Reply All button has long been derided in companies as a harbinger of spam. Nobody likes being included in a chain that keeps going and going but doesn’t directly affect him or her. But then there are those emails that should never have been sent.

All Staff. All Day. Is a tumblr that celebrates the vague menace of the companywide email. It’s basically Shit My Company Says, but backed by visualizations that amplify each message’s context.

via Co.Create: Creativity \ Culture \ Commerce.