Tag Archives: 2012

How to actually make use of 2012 predictions in business

More emails = more predictions.

Thanks to Fast Company for summarising a huge number; 68 in fact of them. As it shows …well, I stick by my previous post; most are useless.

Still, researchers, analysts and bloggers now have a meta list from which to pick what to copy.

IT Pro favourite analysts Gartner also release a huge volume of reports. Outdoing Fast Company by providing 2012 predictions that span 73 market, topic and industry areas, with more than 300 predictions in total.

There is no excuse for any IT budget requires in 2012 not to include a reference to a Gartner Predicts report highlighting the need for this in 2012.

Of course, knowing with some certainty what is likely to happen is completely useless unless you commit to actually doing something about it. And here, we see no surprises in that most companies will adopt the same approach as the perpetual obese dieter and talk about them, commit to changing … then promptly forget about this, and do nothing. They will then wonder at the end of the year, why users still despise them, business groups want to circumvent them and competitors are leaping ahead of them.

So why, despite this information, some of which will be no doubt useful, most companies will not use this for anything of practical value?

One reason is because they lack any mechanism with which to make use of this information. How many companies test ideas, product plans, roadmaps and strategies against trends and emerging ideas? Or are you simply repeating what you did last year?

A second reason, lots of people read them, but no one does anything other than send a few around to show that they are ‘watching the market’ [typically around review time].

And so nothing much changes.

So for all those evangelists, critics, heretics and passionate supporters of change … NOW IS YOUR CHANCE.

A three step action plan:

  1. Find the evidence. Go forth, find the predictions that support what you have been saying for the past god knows how long, and show that you are not alone in believing them. It won’t guarantee anyone listens and may show that two idiots can share an idea, but you have no excuse. Top tip – look for numbers, look for evidence of the change.
  2. Link the prediction to impact for YOUR company. If there is no impact, no one cares. So what is the impact, good and bad. Can the company make more money? How much more? Are new competitors going to overtake the business, win customers from you? What is the risk of not changing?
  3. Write the happy ending. Show what needs to happen, when, by whom and what it costs? If you don’t know guess. Add some weasily words if you must to caveat these numbers, but GIVE NUMBERS. Is this thousands or millions of dollars/pounds or a few Euros? Tip, if less than a few million, go back to sorting post and changing the drinking fountain. Only big numbers and big impact matters.  And the most important part of any presentation that is essentially an ‘ask’ – TASK SOMEONE with making a decision. Whether yes or no, push to find an owner who can decide on whether to proceed. As far as possible try to avoid having a decision become a passive decision, that is ‘no decision’ is made. An example of this is wanting more information. It is a cop-out. Push for a more formal approval to investigate, and make sure you ask for some resources, however minor to gain some commitment.
So, perhaps I need to refine my original statement …
Most predictions are useless … unless you actually do something with them. On their own they are useless.
Your choice, but whatever you do, don’t come whining next January saying “I told you so”.
You only get to say this if you …
TOLD, SHOWED, PROVIDED EVIDENCE, DEFINED A PLAN and FORMALLY ASKED.

 

Advertisements

The new word you need to know for 2012 will be, “pivot”

In the best tradition of New Year predictions, top 10 lists and things that you need to know/do/see in 2012 I’m following this trend and starting with a list of one word.

pivot

A pivot is pretty simple. Here is my definition, “a significant change in what you do, how you do it, or how you make money from it“.

I first came across this in mid-2011 when reading blog posts about startups. As far as I can tell, the word has been mostly popularised by Eric Ries, the author of the Lean Startup book. Since then, I have seen use of the word grow to become term for a strategic or fundamental shift in what you do, how you do it, or how you make money from it. So there you are: what: how: money

So why will this matter in 2012?

Because pivot is just a cool way (at least today) of saying, “we need to change, because plan A is not working“.

If you are at a work meeting reviewing something that is clearly not working, you could say, “this is not working, we need to change it” and face the ire of your colleagues, or you could say. “I think we need to ‘pivot“. Knowing the love of new terminology in business, there is no contest. Pivot will win every time. It is also less judgemental and more positive as doesn’t focus just on what isn’t working, but highlights the need to at least think about new solutions and fixed.

There you do, the same people who bored you about tipping points, going from good to great, and finding cheese now have another asset in their arsenal.

And here is a contentious point … I think this is a good idea. I really hope that pivot does become a widely used word, not just in business, but in our wider language as well. This is because it gives us a way to challenge, to raise questions and to introduce new ideas. It also allows us to recognise that we don’t always get things right first time, and need to evolve our plans, whether as a business or on an individual basis. What a pivot does is give us an option of trying something else rather than quitting.

As I look over the list of failed businesses from 2011, and recently announced lists of major companies that are at risk of failure, I cannot help thinking that if someone had stood up and said, “I really think we need to pivot” – and challenged some ideas and concepts that are clearly not working, then we could have at least had a chance of saving these companies. What we are seeing again and again is companies caught in the headlights of (changing) competition and paralysed to the point of ineffectiveness. They know their business is failing, but appear completely unable to make any significant change to save their company for the long term.  Anything that helps change this, let alone a word, has to be worth a try.