Future of Business: Is Your Team in the Cloud?


Most department stores use a matrix of good, better, and best for merchandising. For example in dinnerware they will have a low, middle, and high price point in several styles to choose from. In the 80's specialty stores came along like the Gap, Staples, etc. trying to dominate in one category.

The core of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie stores is the idea of cutting across demographics. To do that successfully, they create an environment based on how their customers want to live. This is from a post I wrote 4 years ago about how Anthropologie thrives with no advertising.

One of the ingredients in their recipe for success is: Hiring the right people.

An internal focus group conducted by Anthropologie revealed that diversity and passion are the two most important employee attributes towards their success. The company employs many women in senior leadership roles including people from all over the world.

Everyone must make a difference

Much of the future of business depends on the future of work. Smart organizations are taking advantage of technologies and tools to integrate distributed teams. Because it is easier to hire the best fit when you don't have to try to move someone from another city or part of the world.

You find those people through connections in your trusted network using the "if this person rocks it, she might know others who also do" rule. In fact, it's quite strange to me how many headhunters *still* don't do that.

Why is this so important to build the right team?

It's not to go in the same direction you're used to thinking about — complexity.

It is precisely the reason why business has gotten so complex, that everyone must make a difference.

What's needed for the future of business

A recent report on the Future of Work by the Institute of the Future outlines the six drivers of change. From the report:

  1. extreme longevity: Increasing global lifespans change the nature of careers and learning
  2. rise of smart machines and systems: Workplace automation nudges human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks
  3. computational world: Massive increases in sensors and processing power make the world a programmable system
  4. new media ecology: New communication tools require new media literacies beyond text
  5. superstructed organizations: Social technologies drive new forms of production and value creation
  6. globally connected world: Increased global intercon- nectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations

That have an effect on the types of skills businesses and teams should be looking to seek out. You will probably not find these surprising, as we're living that reality now:

  • sense-making or critical thinking – that is the ability to deconstruct complex information and determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  • social intelligence -the ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  • novel and adaptive thinking – proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • cross-cultural competency – the ability to operate in different cultural settings
  • computational thinking – ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • new media literacy – ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • transdisciplinarity – literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  • design mindset – ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  • cognitive load management – ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  • virtual collaboration – ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team

Before you go ahead and start developing matrices and psych quizzes to onboard people with these skills sets, you need another data point: What's needed for the future of business. What the business itself needs.

And that is to shed the complexity that has held trade hostage and prevented organizations and brands from keeping their promises.

Business model rules

In a mature market, we need to get back to basics and rediscover the value of promises. For trade to succeed, businesses will require discipline, structure, and drill. So they can see once again (or for the first time) what they have, what they need to start doing more of, and what they need to stop doing.

What you need to make this happen is people who understand the effect of flows (for example: Context, conversation, knowledge) on assets (the value exchanged).

This is not about where people sit, or what tools they should use. It's a conversation about relationships that lead to connections.


More on connections in my series of posts about how to make it personal.

Coming along with a different idea is one of the execution mandates of marketing. In the August issue of Conversation Agent Premium Newsletter, I will:

  • lay out more in depth how to keep the promise focused to build stronger businesses
  • explain why the next CEOs need to understand marketing
  • paint the strategy canvas around matching the content to the situation

Subscribe now.


If you enjoyed this post from Conversation Agent, subscribe, share and like it. Sign up for my Premium Newsletter.