How to infuse boards with entrepreneurial spirit

I was recently having tea and a ‘meeting of minds’ with a great friend on the subject of executive board management and entrepreneurial spirit, the question ‘whether the mindset of boards can infuse entrepreneurial thinking objectively? ’

We all know that entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset and then a behaviour. It is an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It is a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement. It is about seeing the big picture and thinking like an owner, It is being agile, never resting on your laurels, shaking off the cloak of complacency and seeking out new opportunities. It is about taking ownership and pride in your organisation.
Despite the best intentions, too much success may ultimately lead to failure as employees in well-established companies focus on maintaining the status quo and following procedures instead of looking for new opportunities. Executives ultimately get a wake-up call when a svelte competitor swoops in and seizes market share by capitalizing on an untapped opportunity.

Dr. Glen Taylor, director of MBA Programs for Global Innovation at CSU once said “When things are going well, it’s natural for companies to thrive on their own logic and nurture a culture that resists change, but if you don’t consider new ideas and opportunities, eventually you’ll hit a dead end.”

Wherever you look in business, there’s a new level of interest in entrepreneurship. As attention at corporations swings away from retrenchment and toward growth, more and more people are wondering why some companies and not just start-ups are able to stimulate creativity and initiative among their employees more effectively than others. Beyond helping to trigger the impulse, what do those organisations do to convert intriguing ideas into commercial ventures?

Most managers whose companies have found success in fostering entrepreneurial activity agree that no single practice enables them to identify and capture new opportunities. For example, many companies have found that pushing decision making down into the organisation is only part of what’s needed. Building a culture of entrepreneurship often requires pulling and nudging a variety of other levers as well.

Many large companies are seeking ways of reinventing or revitalising their entrepreneurial roots.

These companies often long for some of the spark, innovation, speed and risk taking that they once had, but which have slowly eroded under the weight of size, bureaucracy, complex processes and hierarchy. Corporate entrepreneurship encompasses a set of activities, attitudes, and actions that are believed to help large companies regain some of this lost magic. Although much has been written about corporate entrepreneurship over the last ten years, very little is understood regarding its implementation within large company settings. First, the concept is little understood beyond the halls of academia, and there are very few guidelines regarding successful implementation.

Amazon.com has forced Barnes and Noble to re-evaluate and change some key aspects of its business model. Homeruns.com has changed the way many people shop for groceries, and Autobytel has forced GM and others to put up their own websites in direct competition with their own dealers. What’s going on?

The little guys are taking advantage of the big guys, and the big guys have to fight back … fast. entrepreneurship is quickly becoming the weapon of choice for many of these large companies. It is an attempt to steal and inculcate some of the thunder from these little entrepreneurial start-ups.

Corporate entrepreneurship can be a powerful solution to large company staleness, lack of innovation, stagnated top-line growth, and the inertia that often overtakes the large, mature companies of the world. Corporate entrepreneurship can also be hugely positive, a novel approach to new business development that often sits uncomfortably, sometimes impossibly, next to the planning, structure and careful organization many large companies have often built so carefully over the years.

Big companies are turning towards corporate entrepreneurship because they are not getting the continual innovation, growth, and value creation that they once had. Unfortunately, many CEOs look around their own company, and see very few entrepreneurially-minded executives. Perhaps they never showed up to work because of their dislike of large company bureaucracy and politics. Or those who did show up were either pushed out or learned to stop pushing. We may all love entrepreneurs, but large companies have a way of eroding their entrepreneurial underpinnings. In large companies, most managers are rewarded for minimizing risk, following the rules, and performing their functional roles to the best of their abilities. They look forward to a predictable rewards and, in many instances, a fairly predictable bonus.

Most big company executives would be hard pressed to call themselves value creators. They are quota and budget watchers. They are planners and organisers and more rule adherents than rule breakers. Big companies have slavishly gone after waste and redundancy with, sometimes, spectacular success. But these machinations rarely create long-term sustainable value for the shareholders. It helps the bottom line, but not necessarily the top line.

So how then can a corporate leader try to re-establish this start-up kind of mentality in his or her large company where the organisation’s sheer size and bureaucracy have managed to kill this type of behavior?

1. Corporate venturing involves starting a business within a business, usually emanating from a core competency or process. A bank, for example, which has a core competency in transaction processing, turns this into a separate business and offers transaction processing to other companies who need mass processing of information. In some organizations, functions like product development are tasked with being the people responsible for new venture creation. Ventures usually involve the creation, nurturing, and development of a new business that comes from within the old business, but represents a significantly new product or market opportunity.

2. Intrapreneuring, first espoused by Pinchot (1985), is an attempt to take the mindset and behaviors that external entrepreneurs have, and inculcate these characteristics into their employees. Sometimes the company wants every employee to act like an entrepreneur, but a more typical approach involves the targeting of a subset of managers to act as corporate entrepreneurs. Companies usually want this cadre of corporate entrepreneurs to identify and develop spin-ups (innovations in current businesses that can lead to substantial growth opportunities) or to create an environment where more innovation and entrepreneurial behavior is evidenced.

3. Organisational Transformation is another variation or flavour of corporate entrepreneurship concept especially if the transformation results in the development of new business opportunities. This type of entrepreneurship only fits the original Schumpeterian definition if the transformation involves innovation, a new arrangement or combination of resources, and results in the creation of sustainable economic value. Clearly, some transformations meet these requirements, while others do not. Transforming an organization by de-layering, cost cutting, re-engineering, downsizing, and using the latest technology does not guarantee that the organization will recognize or capture new opportunities.

4. Industry Rule-Bending is another type of transformation but focuses on changing the rules of competitive engagement. Stopford and Baden-Fuller (1993) label this behaviour as ‘frame-breaking change’. Toyota, for example, changed the rules of the game in the automobile industry by producing low cost automobiles with exceptionally high quality. As a result, US and European auto manufacturers were forced by Toyota and other Japanese automakers to follow suit. Thus, Toyota not only transformed itself, but also helped to start a wholesale transformation of the industry.

Companies can take a number of different approaches to becoming more entrepreneurial. AVCO Financial Services, a large international finance company was a very organized, detailed organization controlled by many governmental requirements in the management of their business. These governmental requirements demanded great attention to detail, complex systems, and daily financial reporting mechanisms. Not the stuff of entrepreneurial, fast companies. Nonetheless, AVCO was quite entrepreneurial.
They did not try to change the whole culture, or create a mass of internal entrepreneurs, nor dabble too far into corporate venturing, but it was still entrepreneurial. AVCO has operations all over the world, but mainly in the Americas, Europe, and in Asia. Much of their innovation and branch operations experiments were done in Australia.

Their reasoning was quite sound. First, Australia was far enough away from corporate headquarters in Irvine, California that the experiments could be undetected for months. And even if sanctioned, the experiments were being done in that odd country down under that seemed so remote to many at headquarters that it didn’t make much of an image on the corporate radar screen.
If innovation is the ability to recognize opportunity, then the essence of being an entrepreneur is being able to mobilise talent and resources quickly to seize that opportunity and turn it into a business. Particularly for big companies, the challenge is to find ways to nourish the activities that give rise to innovation while at the same time cultivating the ability to move decisively once an opportunity presents itself.

Finally, despite all of the aforementioned, when corporate entrepreneuring works, it can work spectacularly. And, if the company is serious and supportive of internal entrepreneurs, corporate entrepreneurship can be a powerful tool for innovation, growth, and personal fulfilment if approached thoughtfully and with courage of conviction.

As John C. Maxwell once said:

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”

“Striving for an Ultimate Goal” – my chapter in ‘Journeys to Success – Volume 9’ (June 2018) + PODCAST

In the best-selling “Journeys to Success” series, men and women share their personal stories of transforming life-shattering events into triumphant success. The stories inside this book contain powerful seeds for resilience, spiritual awakening and plain determination in the face of powerful events. ‘Volume 9’ (to be published in June, 2018) is a dedication to the late Tom Cunnigham, who recently passed away. (Volume 7, at Amazon)

If you love stories of overcoming life’s challenges, this book is for you!

The Journeys to Success series has become an international sensation, international author and businessman Geoff Hudson-Searle has contributed his chapter: ‘Striving for an Ultimate Goal’.

The series has sold over 100 million copies in various formats including ebooks, hardback, and paperback, apps and audiobooks.

Geoff talking about his chapter in ‘Journeys to Success – Volume 9’:

Resources: Freedom after the Sharks

PODCAST (opens in new tab)

Why Cyberbullying is destroying our children’s lives

I recently received an email from Jane H via the Freedom after the Sharks website after she had read one of my blogs that I wrote on 15th May 2015: “Is cyberbullying really necessary?”

Bullying has been around for decades, even centuries. In fact, the word “Bully” originated during the 1530s. On the contrary, cyberbullying has emerged thanks to the advent of technology. In the 1990s and 2000s, webpages, cellphones, and early social networking sites like MySpace introduced cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is any form of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones and tablets. Social networking sites, messaging apps, gaming sites and chat rooms such as Facebook, XBox Live, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and other chat rooms can be great fun and a positive experience. But what do you do when things go wrong?

As technology keeps evolving, cyberbullying progressively is getting worse. Different platforms and ways of degrading an individual got easier such as blogging and posting anonymously. Regrettably, this has caused some young people to deteriorate physically and emotionally or even take their own lives. All of these cyberbullying cases have prompted several groups to discuss and find an answer to this conundrum. Some of their solutions conflict with each other, but they are committed to stopping cyberbullying.

Nowadays, people associate social media with negativity, such as cyberbullying or cyberhacking. In actuality, only a small portion of youth is misusing it. Instead of using social media to hurt others, the majority are using it as a way to heal. For example, many teenagers go on YouTube to connect with their peers, find role models, and deal with their emotional and mental health.

The facts are, recently, there has been an increasing trend of “cyberbullying.” “Cyberbullying” entails the harassment of students using social media websites, text messages, emails, and other technology. “Cyberbullying” presents several new and troubling problems for state government, the school systems, parents, and the courts. Most importantly, “cyberbullying” can lead to dire consequences, such as grief-induced suicides. Sadly, this occurs frequently because “cyberbullying” is often aimed at emotionally fragile adolescents. Clearly, such tragic consequences should be prevented.

This video by Trisha Prabhu ‘Rethink before you type’ TEDxTeen conveys her emotions and passionate comments on the subject:

Bullying is a persistent problem for educators and policy leaders across education, particularly with the ubiquity and popularity of social media platforms. The problem has become so embedded in the culture that we now see the appearance of cyberbully laws in many countries against such terror.

Statistics show that Cyberbullying appears to be somewhat less frequent than face-to-face bullying, but the consequences may be even more severe, issues like trauma, depression, anxiety, academic problems and social problems can result from cyberbullying.

Schools have responded by amending anti-bullying codes to include cyberbullying in their social media policies, anyone who makes threats to a child on the internet could be committing a criminal offence. It’s against the law in the UK to use the phone system, which includes the internet, to cause alarm or distress. It could also be against the 1997 Harassment Act.

Many cyberbullies think that bullying others online is funny. Cyber bullies may not realise the consequences for themselves of cyberbullying. The things teens post online now may reflect badly on them later when they apply for college or a job. Cyber bullies can lose their cell phone or online accounts for cyber bullying. Also, cyber bullies and their parents may face legal charges for cyber bullying, and if the cyber bullying was sexual in nature or involved sexting, the results can include being registered as a sex offender.

Teens may think that if they use a fake name they won’t get caught, but there are many ways to track someone who is cyberbullying.
Despite the potential damage of cyber bullying, it is alarmingly common among adolescents and teens. According to Cyberbullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:

Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying.
• More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online;
• Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet;
• Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs.

Further alarming statistics show:
• Around half of teens have been the victims of cyberbullying;
• Only 1 in 10 teens tells a parent if they have been a cyberbully-victim;
• Fewer than 1 in 5 cyberbullying incidents are reported to law enforcement;
• 1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras;
• About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others;
• Girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be involved in cyberbullying.

The Cyberbullying Research Center also did a series of surveys that found these cyberbullying statistics:
• Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyberbullying;
• About half of young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly;
• Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumours are the most common type of cyberbullying;
• Girls are at least as likely as boys to be cyberbullies or their victims;
• Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyberbullies than girls;
• Cyberbullying affects all races;
• Cyberbullying victims are more likely to have low self-esteem and to consider suicide.

There are many types of different technical tools available in the market to support you and keep your children safe online. These vary from VPNs and antivirus software to internet filters and parental controls. Essentially, none of these are really enough to help keep your child safe.

The below link is a useful guide: ‘The Ultimate Parent Guide for Protecting Your Child on the Internet’

In summary, cyberbullying is a serious issue, and like any form of bullying it can have long-term effects on its victims.

As technology continues to become an increasingly large part of our daily lives, and the lives of our children, it is important to recognize the dangers of cyberbullying and to take definite steps to prevent it.

Parents, teachers, and children must work together to prevent cyberbullying and to make the internet a safer place for all. Children should be educated on what to do and who to go to in the event that they encounter a cyberbully.

And parents should encourage schools to update their technology policies to help prevent instances of online bullying. With parents, children, and educators working together we can decrease the instances of cyberbullying and create a safer and more rewarding online environment for all of our children.

As Ellen DeGeneres once said:

‘We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos and negativity and bullying in the world. And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy.’

Exactly what is the future in Technology?

Technology forecasting is a completely unpredictable endeavour. No one wants to be a false prophet with a prediction so immediate that it can be easily proven incorrect in short order, but long-term predictions can be even harder. And yet even though people know predictions can be a waste of time, they still want to know: What’s next? Wishy-washy tech timelines only makes prognostication more difficult, as entrepreneurs and researchers stumble around in the dense fog of developing prototypes, performing clinical trials, courting investors, and other time-consuming steps required for marketable innovation. It’s easy to hit a wall at any point in the process, causing delays or even the termination of a project.

In the year 1820, a person could expect to live less than 35 years, 94% of the global population lived in extreme poverty, and less that 20% of the population was literate. Today, human life expectancy is over 70 years, less that 10% of the global population lives in extreme poverty, and over 80% of people are literate. These improvements are due mainly to advances in technology, beginning in the industrial age and continuing today in the information age.

A very good friend of mine is a global technologist, I brought together in January a very collective group of distinguished individuals for a dinner, I named the dinner ‘the great minds dinner’ This was a great opportunity to stimulate the subject of what technology is working in the world, what is technology is emerging, what technology is not working in the world and more importantly what needs to change in order to accommodate all the prototypes of technology that appear to stay in the lab or on the shelf.

It is clear currently that thought leaders and so-called world futurists on the subject of technology can dish out some exciting and downright scary visions for the future of machines and science that either enhance or replace activities and products near and dear to us.

Being beamed from one location to another by teleportation was supposed to be right around the corner/in our lifetime/just decades away, but it hasn’t become possible yet. Inventions like the VCR that were once high tech — and now aren’t — proved challenging for some: The VCR became obsolete before many of us learned how to program one. And who knew that working with atoms and molecules would become the future of technology? The futurists, of course.

Forecasting the future of technology is for dreamers who hope to innovate better tools — and for the mainstream people who hope to benefit from the new and improved. Many inventions are born in the lab and never make it into the consumer market, while others evolve beyond the pace of putting good regulations on their use.

There are many exciting new technologies that will continue to transform the world and improve human welfare.

Here is a very interesting infographic researched by the National Academy of Sciences from their Smart Things Living Report
(click to expand in new tab):

The world around us is changing. In labs and living rooms around the world, people are creating new technologies and finding new applications for existing and emerging technologies. The products and services available to everyone thus expand exponentially every year. In the next five years, then, you can expect massive growth in what we can do.

Beyond 2018: Dr Michio Kaku on the Future in the Next 5-10-20 Years.

Irrespective of all the possible forecasting in long range planning, I personally believe there are 3 imminent areas in particular will provide important developments in the next 5 years.

1. Augmented Reality Will Explode
Technology mavens have talked for years about virtual reality and the applications available. Augmented reality is related, but allows us to lay the virtual world over the real world. Games like Pokemon Go provide examples of how this works; you use technology to “see” virtual creatures and items in real spaces.

Beyond fun and games, this technology provides a wealth of planning potential. You can drive your car, and arrows will appear on your road, guiding you to the right path. You can create visual representations of organizing tasks, building endeavors, and almost anything else that you want to see before you start working. Manuals will virtually overlay real items to be joined together – everyone will actually be able to construct an Ikea bed. The technology is here; ways to use it are just beginning to emerge.

2. Mobile Apps Will Decline
At the same time, the ubiquitous world of mobile apps will begin to slip back. The ways in which we connect to the world often require us to work through a smartphone or tablet. The mobile app ties us to devices; you have no doubt seen rooms full of people who never make eye contact, only staring at small screens. The cost of developing sophisticated apps and the marketing efforts needed to place your App on the most expensive “real estate” in the world, does not always give a return on investment.

3. The Internet of Things Will Grow Exponentially
Availability and affordability of connected devices grow each year. We connect massive data networks to our homes, vehicles, and personal health monitors already. The ability to connect more devices, appliances, and objects to these networks means companies will know more about those they serve than ever before. Almost any device with electronic components can be configured for the IoT, and in the next five years, more will.

It should be abundantly clear now why analysis of the tech trends shaping the future might seem like science fiction. But researchers from UC-Berkeley to MIT are pulling the present sometimes step by step, sometimes by leaps and bounds into the future.

The next few decades will feel this disruption, often in startling ways. Indeed, while the technical hurdles to advancing these technologies are fascinating, we see people writing about that the ethical and social dimensions of the changes they bring are the most interesting and troubling.

You can clearly see how the allied sciences and complementary developments of these trends will reshape our world, our lives, and our work. Millions will find that the skills they bring to the table simply can’t compete with smart automation. Legions of
drivers, for instance, will soon find themselves unemployable.

And as AI continues to develop in tandem with robotics, the IoT, and big data, even the engineers and scientists who now design these systems will find themselves competing with their creations.

All of these developments I have touched on in this blog will require you to examine closely not only what is possible, but how privacy laws, intellectual property issues and the corporate ecosystems interact with those possibilities. Nevertheless, I am confident that within the lives of your grandchildren, now incurable illnesses will fall to bio, nano, and neurotech. And sure that ignorance will slowly become things children learn about rather than experience first-hand.

Finally, the technology I have discussed really are the shaping things to come, the technologies that will define life for decades.

Are you ready for the future? Ready to embrace the changes that are coming?

As Albert Einstein once said:

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

Guest blogger Karthik Reddy – Cybercrimes and How to Prevent Them

Some of you may recall I was a Global CMO for a large company that delivers end point protection across mult-platforms and devices, its a true statement that everyone has the right to be free of cybersecurity fears.

There’s no doubt that cybercrime and cybersecurity are hot topics. Indeed, according to Comparitech, global cybercrime damages predicted to cost $6 trillion annually by 2021, it’s important to be in-the-know about the potential threat cybercrime poses, the impact it is having, and what is being done about it.

One of the biggest problems in trying to understand what’s happening in the ever-changing world of cybersecurity is that there is just so much information out there. Not only are the nature of threats constantly evolving, but the responses to them differ across the globe.

Despite an overall decrease in fraud and computer misuse in 2017, the latest UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports show that incidents involving computer misuse and malware against business are way up.

There were 4.7 million incidents of fraud and computer misuse in the 12 months to September 2017, a 15% decrease from the previous year, according to the latest crime figures and this is just for England and Wales.

The latest figures suggest that while consumer-targeted attacks might be falling, as consumer-grade security improves, cyber criminals are now shifting their gaze to the potentially more profitable enterprise sector.

Andy Waterhouse, pre-sales director for Europe at RSA Security, said UK business is facing tougher conditions than ever as cyber attackers chase greater profits.

“In this post-WannaCry world, both consumers and organisations need to do more to assess their data, identify their most valuable assets, and protect these ‘crown jewels’ as best they can through a mix of multi-factor authentication, strong and unique passwords and a greater level of education on cyber skills,” he said.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing another Guest Blogger, Karthik Reddy, who is an accomplished Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the online media industry. Skilled in on-line content creation, WordPress, and editing. Strong media and communication professional with a Master In Business Administration focused in International Business from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University.

Karthik is going to talk to us about the cybercrime and what is needed to prevent them.

As a society, we cherish our right to privacy probably more than anything else. Sharing is great, and we all enjoy it, but there is always that other side, the untold story, the personal, the secret. Now, let’s extrapolate this to a societal level. How many information is out there, purposely being concealed for the sake of greater good, for the sake of our own safety? The number is probably unfathomable. Today, when everything is online, and our lives are intertwined with a world most of us know nothing about, privacy and safety become an issue of epic proportions.

That is why we need to talk about cybercrime and utilize the very best VPNs. However, instead of writing a tract of tedious length, here is an infographic that outlines the most important cybercrime facts all of us should be aware of in 2018.

The internet has opened many doors for us. It shows us a world of possibilities.

Whether it is for fun, business or education, we spend a lot of time online.

We pay our bills, transfer money, order products and post photos of our children.

Remote workers are getting paid online, and travelers buy tickets with just a click.

But the cyberspace holds a lot of secrets.

We may think we are always safe but just think about all of those times you’ve given your personal information on a social media platform or on a forum.

Search engines and social media systems are gathering your personal data in order to present you with the best possible results. They keep track of all your movements and check-ins, and suggest friends on Facebook based on mutual friends and interests.

(original image: cybercrime facts – click on image below to enlarge)

Click to enlarge

Cybercrimes are affecting us all, breaching into our professional and personal lives.

I’m not saying we should stop using the internet, but we should all be aware of the security issues, some of which can be prevented.

It’s an occurrence that mustn’t be ignored.

Using a VPN service can help with hacker attacks and provide you with more privacy. It helps securing data flowing between your PC, mobile phone, and tablet.

Most affected industries are business, healthcare, education, as well as governments and military organizations.

Lately, hackers and frauds have been targeting small businesses because big corporations are regularly working to improve their security. Spending on cyberprotection has risen to 2.5 billion in 2016.

The most common cybercrimes are phishing, spam, and ransomware.

80% of these criminal acts are committed by the tech-savvy young people.

Now, let’s examine some of the most harmful cybercrimes.

– Hacking is an act when someone enters your computer without your knowledge or consent. Hackers can post and act in your name, steal your bank details and infect your computer system with viruses.

– Phishing is a scam that uses people’s naivety to extract credit card passwords and bank statements. Fraudsters create fake websites and email you links full of malware.

– Ransomware is a malware attack that locks access to your files and demands a certain amount of money to give you the access key. The average ransom demand is up to $679. Most antivirus programs can’t even recognize ransomware malware. Your computer devices can get infected by clicking on fake websites, infected email attachments or malicious downloads.

– Botnets, networks of infected computers, send spams and overload websites. They are also used for information theft and pranks.

– Denial-of-service attacks stop computers from working properly. They overload the system causing it to slow down or crash.

– Online identity theft is an impersonation of other people with the purpose of using their finances. These tricksters can take up loans in your name and use your medical benefits.

– Cyberstalking is a relatively new form of cybercrime which involves pursuing someone online. The stalker verbally assaults the victim via email, social media networks, and websites. Children and women are the most common victims of cyberstalking. Paedophiles and other predators keep track of the victims and abuse them mentally.

In order to protect yourself or your ebusiness from becoming a cyberattack victim, follow at least some of these tips.

Most significant perhaps, is to be careful with your email address and usernames. Use a gender-neutral nickname for your online accounts and don’t give your email address to unknown and shady websites or individuals.

It is of the utmost importance not to give your personal data such as address, phone number, social security number and bank details to any online entities.

Never use the same email address for business and personal purposes.

If you have multiple social media accounts and emails, and chances are you do, use different passwords for each one. The passwords should be strong, long and contain letters and numbers.

Make sure to update them regularly.

Also, your personal information on social media should be locked down.

Phishing emails are the most popular way of cybercrimes since they start innocently enough.

Every month there are more than 8,000 reports of phishing scams.

Don’t trust business offers and deals from strange people and websites.

Even clicking on links and opening attachments in these shady emails can be disastrous to your cybersecurity.

Use anti-malware software and a firewall on your computer.

Another good idea is to use a VPN to hide your IP and location. Surf anonymously, and prevent unwanted monitoring.

Last but not the least, educate your children to use the internet safely and responsibly. Make sure they don’t talk to strangers, post photos and give personal information. Let them know to talk to you if they encounter any suspicious offers, cyberbullying or harassment.

Even celebrities aren’t spared from cyberattacks. Emma Watson, Jessica Alba, and Tiger Woods are some of the celebrities whose online accounts have been hacked.

LinkedIn, Yahoo and Target were also cyberattack victims.

Cybercrimes are likely to increase in the following years due to the lack of laws and regulations in some countries. Cybersecurity specialists will continue to fight frauds, but these criminals are protected by being invisible.

If you have any questions for Karthik, please email him on: karthik@bestwebmstertools.com

Why H2H and a sense of purpose is still what real people (not machines) focus upon!

By now you’ve probably heard a lot about wearables, living services, the Internet of Things, and smart materials. As designers working in these realms, we’ve begun to think about even weirder and wilder things, envisioning a future where evolved technology is embedded inside our digestive tracts, sense organs, blood vessels, and even our cells.

Let’s talk about a scourge of modern times. There is so much stuff to watch, read, listen to, buy, eat or learn about. The world is available at our fingertips at any moment. It feels glorious but also horribly, paralyzingly overwhelming.

Should I wade into Spotify’s sea of every song ever recorded or give up and listen to my downloaded copy of Beyonce’s “Crazy for Love” for the 47,000th time? Psychologist Barry Schwartz called this the “Paradox of choice” in his 2004 book of the same name. Like many ideas that come out of TED Talks, it is too simplistic to say more choices are counterproductive, but I think we’ve all experienced the feeling.

Naturally, technology companies have some ideas about how to help people discover things and select among the flood of options — and make money in the process. And even they are recognising the limits of technology in helping people stay informed and entertained.

To see the future, first we must understand the past. Humans have been interfacing with machines for thousands of years. We seem to be intrinsically built to desire this communion with the made world. This blending of the mechanical and biological has often been described as a “natural” evolutionary process by such great thinkers as Marshall McLuhan in the ’50s and more recently Kevin Kelly in his seminal book What Technology Wants. So by looking at the long timeline of computer design we can see waves of change and future ripples.

The effects of technological change on the global economic structure are creating immense transformations in the way companies and nations organise production, trade goods, invest capital, and develop new products and processes. Sophisticated information technologies permit instantaneous communication among the far-flung operations of global enterprises. New materials are revolutionising sectors as diverse as construction and communications. Advanced manufacturing technologies have altered long-standing patterns of productivity and employment. Improved air and sea transportation has greatly accelerated the worldwide flow of people and goods.

All this has both created and mandated greater interdependence among firms and nations. The rapid rate of innovation and the dynamics of technology flows mean that comparative advantage is short-lived. To maximise returns, arrangements such as transnational mergers and shared production agreements are sought to bring together partners with complementary interests and strengths. This permits both developed and developing countries to harness technology more efficiently, with the expectation of creating higher standards of living for all involved.

Rapid technological innovation and the proliferation of transnational organisations are driving the formation of a global economy that sometimes conflicts with nationalistic concerns about maintaining comparative advantage and competitiveness. It is indeed a time of transition for firms and governments alike.

In the markets of the United Kingdom and the United States, we are constantly seeing ‘flexibility’ and ‘change’ to our economies; this evidence is continuing with the ‘Gig Economy,’ the millennials and a new operating business economy. There are huge advantages to inflexibility and predictability, as continental Europeans appreciate. The evidence shows that continuous re-optimisation is not always the best route to building solid, sustainable foundations for business and relationships.

People also want to be trusted and respected themselves. This requires that they have some responsibility and autonomy. Most of us like to feel we are working well or helping others, because we could not expect to be respected otherwise. That is a key element in the motivation to work, the satisfaction of the professional norm. Yet in recent years employers have used more and more financial incentives to motivate people: Performance-related pay has been creeping in everywhere, including the public service.

With all of these considerations, are mainstream economists right or wrong in how they approach our social and economic problems? Partly right, partly wrong. Here is the good part: Each individual knows more about himself or herself than anyone else does. So, there are huge gains all round if we can freely exchange

goods and services with each other, including our labour. This is especially so where markets are large and well-informed and no one affects anyone else except through the process of voluntary exchange. Indeed, economists have correctly shown that if these conditions exist and contracts can be enforced and people can start sharing within a ‘shared economy,’ the outcome will be fully ‘efficient.’ In other words, everyone will be happy as is possible without someone else being less happy. This important claim helps to explain the extraordinary success of post-war capitalism in producing material advance.

Yet, why did this advance not guarantee a rise in personal happiness? The reason is that many of the most important things that touch us do not reach us through voluntary exchange. Nor have our tastes, expectations and norms remained unchanged, and these too affect our happiness.

Values in people can also change. In the last 50 years we have become increasingly independent and individualistic. We are ever more influenced by the Internet and versions of the ‘survival of the fittest;’ Charles Darwin said, ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’ Describing ‘the invisible hand,’ Adam Smith said: ‘The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation.

The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquillity of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice.’

My final thought in the matter is that the answer to technological overload is not less technology but more humanity.

Digital transformation, solving problems with technology, exponential growth through technology, the integration of humans/machines, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things etc. Like it or not, there is no way out, technology has taken over already: I lived without a Smartphone for a few weeks to find out that you soon get excluded from communities, groups, discussions and business.

The problem is not development of new technology, this is nothing new for humanity. The problem is the speed and the major impact it creates for us. It is paradoxical, but humans have the capacity to create innovation and technology with which, at the same time, they have problems keeping up with, technically, emotionally and as a society. We are used to slow, incremental change. Only few people can keep up with the speed and nature of change, most of us get anxious and try to row backwards.

The most important things for our survival are not digital: air, water, food, clothes, emotions, the warmth of a human body next to us. Spending time with people living in a strong connection with and in and from nature was eye opening: we do not live in and with the nature, we are a part of nature, fully integrated with it.

We should ask: “If technology was supposed to make our lives easier and better, why is everybody so exhausted?”. “How can we stay present and awake in a world of distraction and consumption?”

My belief is that a society cannot flourish without some sense of shared purpose. The current pursuit of self-realisation will not work. If your sole duty is to achieve the best for yourself, life becomes just too stressful and too isolated and lonely, and you will be set up to fail. Instead, you need to feel you exist for something larger, and that very thought takes off some of the pressure.

We desperately need a concept of a common purpose, a common vision and a sense of working together to achieve the one overall goal. Human happiness comes from the outside and from within. The two are not in contradiction. The secret is compassion towards oneself and others, and the principle of the greatest happiness is essentially the expression that can all share connections. Perhaps these are the cornerstones of our future culture.

I believe now is the moment to define our terms. Technology is fast, and fast is getting faster, fast is busy, controlling, aggressive, hurried, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, active, quantity-over-quality. Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality-over-quantity. It is about making real and meaningful connections – with people not machines, culture, work, food, everything.

A great quote by Gwyneth Paltrow, she once said:

‘My life is good because I am not passive about it. I invest in what is real. Like real people, to do real things, for the real me.’

Do we have international differences in corporate governance and conduct?

There has been much discussion of late on the values of corporate governance in companies and more importantly the international differences in governance and agenda. As we both advise on company boards, I decided to speak to my business partner in the US, Mark Herbert, and create some joint thoughts on the matter.

Some of the questions we discussed:
“How do you know a board is effective?”
“Do you balance trust with challenging discourse?”
“Is the CEO engaged enough with the board?”
“How can the board challenge management with critical questions without engagement and collaboration?”
“Do you engage in a continuous improvement process?”

As you can imagine, our discussions were quite heated on leadership and at times in the lack of engaged leadership in business today.
The first matter we considered was: “Is there such a thing as a typical board of directors, since size and composition will vary according to a company’s needs?”

Board size can range from five to eighteen board members, though the average board size across Europe stands at about nine members. Regardless of board size, there are certain practices that should be followed to achieve optimal results. Overall, it is important to establish the desired board profile for your company by identifying the types of directors needed in relation to your business goals and ambition.

The composition of boards continues to be a focus for investors, and companies are responding by paying increased attention both to who sits on their boards and to enhancing their disclosure and engagement with investors. The data reported in the 2016 Spencer Stuart Board Index on S&P 500 boards highlights emerging practices, compiled from proxy disclosure and a related survey. Overall, the trends have stayed steady from last year but represent a meaningful departure from 10 years ago.

Directors sit on an average of 2.1 boards. 74% of boards have an over-boarding policy to limit the total number of boards on which directors may serve; 76% set it at three or four boards. Only 43% of CEOs serve on one or more outside boards, the same as last year, but more than a 10% decrease from 10 years ago.

Many companies regularly review the list of skills that are desirable on the board and match them with board members’ profiles. Directors’ “softer” skills and personalities should not be forgotten as they are instrumental in establishing appropriate board dynamics. When deciding on the composition of your board of directors, you should keep in mind the balance between the number of executive directors (board members who are part of the company’s executive team) and nonexecutive directors (board members who are not part of the company’s executive team). You may also want to consider having independent non-executive directors on the board.

On average, 49 percent of board seats in Europe are held by independent, non-executive directors. Such directors can bring real value to your company by providing new business opportunities and more independent, objective advice. They also can provide constructive criticism, to an extent which is unlikely to come from within the company. When thinking about your board’s profile, you should keep in mind the practicalities related to the size of the board. In other words, consider that the effectiveness of the discussion is impaired when there are too many people around the table. Larger boards of directors are not always the best source of constructive challenge or fresh ideas.

Generally common convention suggests that a board size of between seven to 10 directors is optimal for most companies. Equally important is the issue of gender balance. This issue has received a lot of attention recently, since women tend to be under-represented on boards. In Europe, in particular, this issue is pertinent, since only about 12 percent of boards have a female board member.

While public attention mostly focuses on governance for larger and listed companies, many business leaders of smaller companies understand that the fundamental principles of corporate governance such as transparency, responsibility, accountability and fairness are beneficial to all companies, regardless of listing status or size.

Corporate governance is crucial for increasing an SME’s ability to attract funding from both direct investment and credit institutions. Good governance is particularly important to shareholders of unlisted SMEs. In most cases, these shareholders are less protected by regulators, have limited ability to sell their shares, and are dependent on controlling shareholders. Accordingly, the higher risk implicit in owning a stake in an unlisted company increases the demand for a good governance framework.

Positive corporate governance changes have the impact of improving access to investment, allowing the company’s to access facilities of equity and debt. There has also been the additional impact of helping the company position itself for an eventual exit, trade sale or IPO, as the changes help send a signal to the market about the company’s emphasis on good governance.

Corporate management is the general process of making decisions within a company. Corporate governance is the set of rules and practices that ensure that a corporation is serving all of its stakeholders. According to the Center for International Private Enterprise, “Successful development efforts demand a holistic approach, in which various programs and strategies are recognized for their important contributions to progress and prosperity. In this regard, linkages between corporate governance and development are crucial… Yet, corporate governance and development are strongly related. Just as good corporate governance contributes to the sustainable development prospects of countries, increased economic sustainability of nations and institutional reforms that come with it provide the necessary basis for improved governance in the public and private sector.

Alternatively, corporate governance failures can undermine development efforts by misallocating much needed capital and resources and developmental fall backs can reinforce weak governance in the private sector and undermine job and wealth creation.” Globalization of finance and trade has supported the widespread adherence to common underlying corporate governance principles. They are not always country-specific and have been applied in various and diverse emerging markets, adjusted for local regulations and business traditions.

Building a strong board of directors never seems to get easier. High-profile board failures, the boom in activist investing, and the disruptive forces of technology are only a few of the reasons effective board governance is becoming more important.

Start with oversight, a role of the board that, most directors would agree, is no longer its sole function. Directors are now required to engage more deeply on strategy, digital, M&A, risk, talent, IT, and even marketing. Factor in complexities relating to board composition, culture, and time spent not to mention social, ethical, and environmental responsibilities and the degree of difficulty is set to continue to rise.

Mark and I stipulated a few points to help CEO’s and board chairs, as well as executives and directors, build stronger boards, this guide synthesizes multiple areas to make quick sense of complex issues in corporate governance, while focusing on the areas that are essential for building a better board and ultimately a better company.

Corporate Management Development
Corporate management has changed over time as managers have acquired better tools for understanding the problems they face. Most corporate managers are able to quantify many of the issues they consider, in order to make the correct decision. Managers factor in costs, benefits and the uncertainty of projects they are considering.
A good corporate manager is someone who can perform sustainable functions within the company they work for, while either maximizing revenue or minimising cost, depending on the department. Since the principles of corporate management are so broad, there are often specific disciplines for different parts of a company. The way a sales team is managed differs from the way the accounting department is managed.

History of Corporate Governance
Corporate governance is a newer subject of study. In the past, many companies were run solely for the benefit of their managers or founders. A company might have outside shareholders, business partners and thousands of employees, but under older ideas of corporate governance, the company would pursue only the goals of their managers. Managers might choose to provide poor benefits for employees, knowing that these employees couldn’t find better opportunities. Managers might also pay themselves excessive salaries without paying attention to community standards with respect to such practices.

Rise of Corporate Governance
In recent years, many companies have become more conscious of the need for good corporate governance. As regulations have tightened, it has become more difficult for companies to exploit workers or harm the environment. In addition, changes in financial markets have made it harder for companies to harm their shareholders. A mismanaged company becomes vulnerable to being purchased by another firm, so managers tend to treat their shareholders better. An increased focus on sustainability as a business practice, not just an ethical position, has also affected corporate governance.

Measuring Corporate Management Success
Corporate management’s success can generally be measured in terms of numbers. If the department in question is meant to create a profit (for example, if the entity being measured is a retail store or a factory), a quantity like profit margin or return on investment can demonstrate that it is achieving its goals. For departments that don’t have such responsibility (like a shipping department, or an accounting group), many managers measure their results in terms of cost. If a department can accomplish the same functions and spend less money, then by this measure, it’s a success.

Integrating Corporate Management and Governance
In recent years, many management thinkers have tried to synthesize corporate management and corporate governance into a single discipline. Since corporate governance is meant to equitably distribute the results of good corporate management, they fit together naturally: the best situation for a company to be in is for it to have good governance and good management. Combining these can take a variety of forms, from giving workers representation in company management to pursuing more efficient manufacturing processes in order to cut costs and help the environment. The most effective companies combine these practices in a mutually reinforcing way.

Finally, we discussed one more topic that is very typical that is trust – trust is generally lacking when board members begin to develop back channels to line managers within the company. This can occur because the CEO hasn’t provided sufficient, timely information, but it can also happen because board members are excessively political and are pursuing agendas they don’t necessarily want the CEO to know about. If a board is healthy, the CEO provides sufficient information on time and trusts the board not to meddle in day-to-day operations. He or she also gives board members free access to people who can answer their questions, obviating the need for back channels.

Another common point of breakdown occurs when political factions develop on the board. Sometimes this happens because the CEO sees the board as an obstacle to be managed and encourages factions to develop, then plays them against one another. We used the example of Pan Am founder Juan Trippe who was famous for doing this. As early as 1939, the board forced him out of the CEO role, but he found ways to sufficiently terrorize the senior managers at the company and one group of board members that he was returned to office. When he was fired again following huge cost overruns on the Boeing 747 the company underwrote, he coerced the directors into naming a successor who was terminally ill.

Most CEOs aren’t as manipulative as Trippe, and in fact, they’re often frustrated by divisive, seemingly intractable cliques that develop on boards. Failing to neutralize such factions can be fatal. Several members of Jim Robinson’s American Express board were willing to provide the advice, support, and linkage he needed — but the board was also riddled with complex political agendas. Eventually the visionary CEO was pushed out during a business downturn by a former chairman who wanted to reclaim the throne and a former top executive of another company who many felt simply missed the limelight.

The CEO, the chairman, and other board members can take steps to create a climate of respect, trust, and candor. First and most important, CEOs can build trust by distributing reports on time and sharing difficult information openly. In addition, they can break down factions by splitting up political allies when assigning members to activities such as site visits, external meetings, and research projects. It’s also useful to poll individual board members occasionally: an anonymous survey can uncover whether factions are forming or if members are uncomfortable with an autocratic CEO or chairman. Other revelations may include board members’ distrust of outside auditors, internal company reports, or management’s competence. These polls can be administered by outside consultants, the lead director, or professional staff from the company.

The Rt Hon David Blunkett, Home Secretary, London made a great statement once, when he said;

“Business continuity and planning is just as important for small companies as it is for large corporations. Plans need to be simple but effective, comprehensive but tailored to the needs of the organisation. Employers have a responsibility to their staff for their safety and security, and we all share the desire to ensure that any disaster or incident – whether natural or otherwise – has a minimal effect on the economic well-being of the country.”

The Values of Human 2 Human Spirit and Tea!

Recently I wrote a blog called “Let’s have some tea and continue to talk about happy things!” this blog stimulated much discussion with my business partner, Mark Herbert, in the US and then I informed Mark I had purchased a Chinese tea set to practice the tea ritual.

Mark’s view on tea was fascinating, he said ‘many friends, including the present company, know a lot about western afternoon tea etiquette, yet, few of them are acquainted with China and Eastern culture.

As is well-known, China is a country with a time-honored civilization and a land of ceremony and decorum. In China, tea is always served when guests come to visit. As an important medium of etiquette, tea plays a significant role in Chinese interpersonal relationships. Knowing the tea etiquette, being polite and showing respect when drinking tea in Chinese tea house can not only reflect your good self-cultivation, but also bring you the pleasantness and peacefulness from tea.

Nowadays, few people know the seating etiquette in traditional Chinese teahouse. Conventionally, the host’s left hand side should be the first guest of honour, the importance of the seats are in descending order from the host’s left hand to the right. It is the iron law to follow regardless of the table shapes. Besides, the old and teachers are most revered to take the first ranked seat, among them ladies have the priority when age differences are small. In addition, it would be inappropriate to sit opposite to the host. If it is inevitable, children should be allowed to take this seat.

It is the first time that the guests express appreciation to the host when they’re invited to taste the first steep, it is one of the most important etiquette in traditional tea ceremony. The formal and standard gesture is to stand up, men hold fists(left over right), women put palms together, make a bow, sit down, and take over the tea cups, smell the tea’s aroma first, then take a sip and savor the tea.

Finger Kowtow, otherwise known as finger tapping, is a ritual performed as a silent gratitude to the person serving the tea. According to legend, Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty used to travel incognito to the south and once he went into a teahouse with his companions. The tea house owner used a long pot and poured the water three ups and downs with rhythm to make a cup of tea without even spilling a drop. Emperor Qianlong was impressed yet didn’t understand, “What was that movement?”, he asked. The owner smiled and said: “ This is the tradition of our tea house called ‘ Three Nods of the Phoenix’”. Heard that, Emperor Qianlong took over the long pot and tried to do the same, but that cup was his servant’s, normally the servant would get down on knees and kowtow to the emperor for this great honor.
However, to do so would reveal the identity of the emperor, so the quick-thinking servant bent his two fingers and tapped on the table as if he was kneeing and kowtowing to the emperor. From then on, finger kowtow has been the practice. Nowadays, instead of the implication of kowtow, people just tap their two fingers on the table to pay silent thanks to the tea server.

The tea ceremony may seem complicated after seeing that so many tools are required and sometimes some optional ones are also used. The traditional tea ceremony isn’t at all complicated and the steps to complete it are actually logical and simple. A nicely organized tea ceremony has a duration of 20 to 25 minutes. The traditional Chinese tea ceremony features the following steps.

1. The first stage of the ceremony is completed after warming the teapot and heating the cups. To easily achieve this, the performer of the ceremony needs to heat the water in a kettle and then place the teapot in the hot water together with the cups. After a few minutes the tea pot and the cups must be removed from the warm water.

2. The second stage of the tea ceremony includes appreciating the tea. During this step, the tea is passed around for participants to examine and admire its appearance, aroma and quality.

3. The third stage of the tea ceremony includes the actual preparing of the tea. The amount of tea and water will vary depending on the type of tea, its quality, and the size of the teapot but generally one teaspoon of tea leaves for every three quarters of a cup of water will suffice.

4. The next step includes placing the teapot into the bowl, raising the kettle at shoulder height and pouring the water into the teapot until it overflows. After pouring the water,the performer scoops away bubbles and tea leaves and put the lid on the teapot.

5. What the performer does next is to pour all the tea into the tea pitcher and fill the tea snifters. Then, he or she begins placing the tea cups upside down on top of the snifter cups, a ritual act said to bring prosperity and happiness. After which the performer grabs the cups and flips them so the snifter is inverted into the tea cup while removing the snifter to release the tea into the tea cups. The tea isn’t drank, but poured into the bowl.

6. The following step is the actual steeping of the tea which can vary depending on the tea leaves, their quality and the size of the tea leaves. Usually for the oolong tea which in general is used for this kind of ceremony the steeping time starts from 30 seconds up to maximum of 10 minutes. After the tea steeps, the host pours the beverage from the teapot into the tea pitcher. Using the tea pitcher, the tea is poured into snifters and then transferred to the tea cups.

7. The final step is the actual tea drinking. Good etiquette dictates that tea drinkers cradle the cup with both hands and enjoy the tea’s aroma before taking a sip. The cup should be drunk in three sips. The first sip needs to be a small sip, the second sip is the largest, main sip, and the third sip is meant to enjoy the aftertaste and empty the cup. After everyone has finished the first round of tea, an unlimited number of subsequent rounds of tea can be made. The best part is that oolong tea leaves can be reused up to five times in a row.

Gongfu Cha (tea skills). The proper way to serve tea, demonstrated with oolong tea.

Apart from practicing this fascinating ritual at home, the whole process triggered and stimulated many subjects around why we do not spend more time with loved ones, family and friends in gratitude. I am not suggesting that we all purchase a Chinese tea set, but it certainly embraces; honour, respect, laughter, gratitude and love for time well spent in the right company.

People of all ages are trying to learn and understand the etiquette of social media, as a fast growing platform in our society there is no one there to tell everyone the right way to behave. New things go viral every day, and the trending lists on the various social media platforms perpetuate them. Some of these things are promoting positive change, while others are attacking people or companies around the world. The big question is how is our ability to empathize is effected by social media. While I believe that social media can do amazing things in fighting a common cause or connecting us with people around the world, I believe that it can also cause a lapse in empathy.

Individual values reflect how you show up in your life and your specific needs-the principles you live by and what you consider important for your self-interest. Individual values include: enthusiasm, creativity, humility and personal fulfilment.

Our values are important because they help us to grow and develop. They help us to create the future we want and to experience true life.

Every individual and every organisation is involved in making hundreds of decisions every day. The decisions we make are a reflection of our values and beliefs, and they are always directed towards a specific purpose. That purpose is the satisfaction of our individual or collective (organisational) needs.

Relationship values:
reflect how you relate to other people in your life, be they friends, family or colleagues in your organisation. Relationship values include: openness, trust, generosity and caring.

Organisational values:
reflect how your organisation shows up and operates in the world. Organisational values include: financial growth, teamwork, productivity and strategic alliances.

Societal values:
reflect how you or your organisation relates to society. Societal values include: future generations, environmental awareness, ecology and sustainability.

Like organisations and the innovations they produce, the workforce has undergone significant change over the last 15 years. It shows every sign of continuing to evolve at this accelerated pace. Emerging developments are shifting stakeholder expectations, leaving industry leaders struggling to steer their organizations. Power is shifting from traditional executive positions to the workforce and customers with a proliferation of new ways to gather and disseminate information and collaborate on strategic tasks. As that shift happens, the gap between operations, workforce desires, customer expectations, and governing policies is widening.

Translating what makes environments like WeWork or relationships like Veterati so innovative in the prosumer-based model are they provide opportunities for organic and cross-functional work to occur. As we look at organizations of the future and how each member of this ecosystem will function together, leaders need to first understand the demands and then figure out how to meet their workforce where they are. That might mean rethinking how to use existing tools and channels to harness the full capacity of their resources. Humans are the most fundamental of those resources. As opportunities for daily H2H engagement decrease, the value of these interactions goes up.

Consider new mentorship models that can be harnessed for broader scale application and are not dependent on physical presence. Think outside of the traditional profile of a member of the workforce. AI and other machine-learning capabilities show promise for helping to equip managers with new mechanisms for efficiencies and more time to engage their workforce when the opportunity arises.

The capacity for success in a massively shifting work environment may be as simple as making sure that your human workforce feels personally connected to the group. Even as you pull down the walls around your operations, spend the time to listen and communicate shared purpose.

Bernard Beckett once said:

“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition.”

The challenges of leadership and digital disruption

The pace of digital disruption has left 50 per cent of businesses and public sector organisations fearful or worried that their organisations will not be able to keep up with what is still to come over the next five years.

As technology continues to transform business models, a new breed of corporate leader is emerging who is digitally-savvy and assiduously curious. Rather than fearing change and obsessively trying to retain control, the most accomplished CEOs accept that for an organisation to compete globally and attract and retain the best talent, they must be highly collaborative, operationally focused and ruthlessly strategic.

It is not enough for businesses to simply be aware of digital advance they must interpret what these could mean for them and how they might benefit. Senior executives of large incumbent organisations have many legitimate concerns and questions about the opportunity that digital presents.

Whether due to unclear monetisation models, baffling market valuations, inflexible IT systems or never-ending jargon and predictions, digital can certainly seem disruptive, and not always in a positive sense.

Despite a sea of uncertainty, it is becoming evident that organisations that successfully leverage digital technologies for new growth operate with a different set of rules and capabilities, and see a greater return also.

Below is a list of seven critical management concerns:

1. Sense and interpret disruption
Merely sensing change is not enough. The trick is to interpret what these changes mean to the business and, more importantly, when they will have an impact.
If business leaders are unable to interpret these change signals, they are no better placed than those who did not see change coming. Research shows that half of business leaders expect competitors to change at least some part of their business model.
The key question is: What will these new business models be, and when will they become relevant?

2. Experiment to develop and launch new ideas more quickly
Ask most entrepreneurs about how they innovate and they may look nonplussed. Most digital disrupters do not see themselves as “innovating”, per se.
In their minds, they are solving specific customer problems the best way they know how. As such, innovation is a consequence, not a goal.
Solving customer problems requires two actions: experimenting more and learning to self-disrupt. Digital technologies enable a new way of experimenting at almost an unlimited scale.

3. Fully understand and leverage data
Businesses hold almost unimaginable amounts of data, and are grappling with how to use it to develop new products and services that bring new value to their customers.
Mastering the art of exploiting data, not only by turning it into useful information, but also by finding new ways to monetise it, will be fundamental to how businesses run in the future.

4. Build and maintain a high digital quotient team
While IQ and EQ measure intellectual and emotional intelligence respectively, the time is ripe for “DQ” ‒ a measure of the digital quotient (or digital savviness) of organisations. As companies evolve their digital capabilities, they need to measure and rapidly build their teams’ DQ ‒ not least among their senior members.
Some organisations are pursuing a strategy of “acqu-hiring” ‒ buying the right skills through acquisitions of technology start-ups, or by establishing formal relationships with the start-up community.

5. Partner and invest for all non-core activities
One of the characteristics of effective digital leaders is their intuitive understanding that the journey is not one to be undertaken alone. A recent report that I read indicated that companies will be increasing their partnerships and alliances as they attempt to boost digital growth in the next three years.
Whether looking for new application programming interfaces (APIs), corporate development or business development partners, aligning with an ecosystem of partners is critical to digital progress.
The more they invest in others, the more organisations extend the team that is as vested in their success as they are.

6. Organise for speed
Two elements are essential for businesses to be organised for speed: according to “digital leader” aspirants, the first is CEO-level support and the presence of a dedicated central team to drive new digital growth.
The second is a team of “fixers” ‒ those at the centre of operations who are independent, respected and can draw on the right skills at the right time.
Many organisations are establishing the role of chief digital officer (CDO) ‒ a sound choice when that person also has the power to drive change and has responsibilities that are distinct from the chief information officer (CIO), chief risk officer (CRO) and chief marketing officer (CMO).
New structures are emerging to help organisations respond more quickly to digital change. Banks have partnered with accelerators that help bring new ideas, while many retailers have set up venture funds to access disrupters.
Other companies have acquired digital teams to enhance their internal capabilities, often funding entrepreneurs who know little about their industry to create a start-up that could seriously hurt their respective businesses.
This counterintuitive process can reveal some implicit industry assumptions that are holding back the business.

7. Design a delightful customer experience
Customers’ primary motivation for repeat business is the quality of their experience. Digital technologies have reset expectations here.
Today, a banking customer using a mobile banking app does not compare it with apps from other banks, but against their best mobile user experiences for usability or functionality, whatever the industry.
It’s important that organisations put the customer at the heart of their business and stand in their shoes when designing beautiful customer experiences.

Digital technology has already broken down the old, familiar business models but the effect it will have on the future of organisations’ operations as it evolves remains significant and unknown. So, CEO’s and business leaders are rightly concerned about keeping up with speed and objectives.

Embrace the change, or get left behind
While executives do not necessarily need to be literate in coding, it is imperative that they understand the role that digital technology plays in a modern organisation, especially if they are to realise the benefits of optimised productivity, efficiency and responsiveness to customers. In fact, nine out of 10 senior decision makers say digital technology is essential to a business’s future success.

Meeting customer expectations before someone else does
Delivering good customer service has become more challenging due to an overwhelming consensus that digital, and a hyper-connected society, has changed customers’ expectations. Business must adapt the way they do things to keep up.

Business to business organisations that may not have originally seen these consumer-focused demands as relevant to them are also feeling the pull, increasingly citing digital media as being very important from the perspective of recruiting talent, engaging colleagues and disseminating and sharing information across teams. As a modern day leader it’s critical to understand not only what technology exists, but how to utilise it to satisfy consumers’ and employees’ ever increasing expectations to drive a competitive advantage.

A modern workforce is a collaborative workforce
With the increase in the use of digital tools for working, boundaries are blurring and businesses are becoming more agile. To enable collaborative working, CEOs are turning to their CIOs, CROs and CDOs to make use of technology to achieve this.

By taking a more collaborative approach with all leaders in the business, digital can be used to transform business processes. By reaching out to the wider team, the CEO can unearth processes and areas of the business that could become more efficient and effective through digital technology, such as customer service and workflow management.

Digital is an enabler, not a disrupter
Having acknowledged that digital technology will play a central role in future success, business leaders cannot afford to show fear of, or reluctance to implement it. Instead they must lead by example, embracing technology with a clear view of the potential advantages to be unlocked.

Using technology to meet the rising expectations from the consumer is a must in today’s marketplace. Business leaders need to first understand what customers expect and then make best use of the available technology to meet their customers’ needs.

By embracing technology and using it in an innovative way, business leaders will be better positioned to maintain a competitive advantage by driving innovation, productivity and efficiency throughout the business.

Finally, when leaders move toward improving their observable behaviors, they have the extraordinary ability to positively influence employees to willingly become engaged. That’s a powerful investment that pays dividends not only in developing good people, but by directly affecting the organisation’s bottom line.

My conclusion is that leadership in today’s world is a balanced mix of universal characteristics and digital leadership traits which has the potential to guide us through years of transformation with optimism and idealism. Technology continues to prove that it can be used for the benefit of mankind, but only if we set sail on the right course and with smart individuals that make our journey, progress, and performance so much worthwhile.

As Robin S. Sharma once said:

By seizing the opportunities that disruption presents and leveraging hard times into greater success through outworking/outinnovating/outthinking and outworking everyone around you, this just might be the richest time of your life so far.

Challenges in best practices and governance within education

I had a very interesting and heated debate recently with a friend discussing education, edu-tech, best practices, governance, and the student/teacher relationship in education.

My good friend stated that “Best practices” is the worst practice. The idea that we should examine successful organisations and then imitate what they do if we also want to be successful is something that first took hold in the business world, but has now unfortunately spread to the field of education. If imitation were the path to excellence, art museums would be filled with paint-by-number works.

The fundamental flaw of a “best practices”-approach, as any student in a half-decent research-design course would know, is that it suffers from what is called “selection on the dependent variable.” If you only look at successful organisations, then you have no variation in the dependent variable: they all have good outcomes. When you look at the things that successful organizations are doing, you have no idea whether each one of those things caused the good outcomes, had no effect on success, or was actually an impediment that held organisations back from being even more successful. An appropriate research design would have variation in the dependent variable; some have good outcomes and some have bad ones. To identify factors that contribute to good outcomes, you would, at a minimum, want to see those factors more likely to be present where there was success and less so where there was not.

We discussed the subject for hours – with the thoughts in mind, I thought I would provide my observations from education in the UK to the problems and then to globalisation and best practices.

Students up and down the country are anxiously discovering their education results. For the majority, their future depends on the grades they achieve – their place at university, or possibly their first full-time job.

The fact is, every student needs a teacher or coach, every person in life needs a mentor:

Until recently, many teachers only got one word of feedback a year: “satisfactory.” And with no feedback, no coaching, there’s just no way to improve. Bill Gates suggests that even great teachers can get better with smart feedback – and lays out a program from his foundation to bring it to every classroom.
Some would have you believe students’ success depends solely on their individual grit, determination, and raw talent. Of course, these are important, but they don’t make up the whole picture. A student’s success also depends on things completely outside of their control: whether they have had to work to support their studies, whether they have had a quiet space to study alone, or how well-funded their college was.

Successive governments have neglected and underfunded these young people, and many of those receiving their results have witnessed this neglect first-hand. A friend of mine, at college in Hillsborough in Sheffield, was only taught for the first half of each lesson. For the second half, a teaching assistant would supervise silent study.

Education is a seamless web. Difficulties caused by a poor start in life cannot always be fully compensated for later on, and every stage of a person’s education will affect the next. Our education system today is more rigid than it used to be. It fails countless people for whom a good college course or university degree is just not possible in their late teens. The students who must care for relatives, or who must work to support their hard-up family while their friends and peers study hard, lose out severely under the current system. Funding for adult skills has been cut by 35 per cent over the past seven years, and the number of mature and part-time students has plummeted dramatically over the past ten.

Before students even receive their results, in fact, before they even start school, some already know they’re at a disadvantage. New research shows there is a widening gap between elite state schools in the south-east and schools in the rest of the country, while figures also show the gap between state and private schools sending students to university has widened since tuition fees were tripled.

Then consider those students who, after receiving their results, will be heading off to university. With the Government’s recent removal of maintenance grants, and their plan to raise fees above £9,000, student debt is soaring: those starting in September will graduate with around £50,000 of debt, maybe more.

Sky-high tuition fees and the rising cost of living have been blamed for “overwhelming” stress levels felt by the majority of students, with one in seven admitting they have been chased by debt collectors as a result of missing rent payments.

A survey commissioned by financial technology company Intelligent Environments found three-quarters of students who receive maintenance loans feel stressed about the amount of debt they accumulate while studying, with over a third (39 per cent) saying they cannot afford their weekly food shop.

Disadvantaged teenagers four times less likely to apply for university

Over a quarter of students admitted to missing rent payments, with three in five polled (58 per cent) running out of money completely before their next payment is due.

Students who experience financial difficulties and worry about debt have a higher chance of suffering from depression and alcohol dependency, new research has found.

Conducted by the University of Southampton and Solent NHS Trust, the study showed symptoms of anxiety and alcoholism worsened over time for those who struggled to pay the bills, while those who were more stressed about graduate debt had higher levels of stress and depression.

Mass demonstration against Tory cuts to education was confirmed in London

The study asked more than 400 undergraduate freshers from across the UK to assess a range of financial factors, including family affluence, recent financial difficulties, and attitudes towards their finances at four time points across their first year, allowing researchers to examine which came first: financial difficulties or poor mental health.

The study also found students who had considered not going to university or had considered abandoning their studies for financial reasons had a greater deterioration in mental health over time.

As a result of globalisation, many people are becoming interested in ranking systems which show how their own countries compare with others on a variety of measures. The World Economic Forum publishes an annual ranking of countries on economic competitiveness; the United Nations a ranking on human development; the OECD publishes comparisons on the quality of healthcare systems. Even a ranking for happiness can be found.

My belief is that change is needed to develop education and to introduce better understanding to practices:

A truly international approach to ranking countries on education should take cultural differences into account before benchmarking and characteristics of good school systems and good teachers.

We can and should learn from each other. But we should also understand that to make a Best practice, work requires translation to a different culture / value system.

The same applies to the discussion on the autonomy of schools. In high power distance countries (by far the majority of countries in the world) Autonomy will only be possible in a
clearly defined and limited mandate that is given by the central power holders. It shold be defined top down.

As Nelson Mandela once said:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”