We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
Good day, Dr. Denison.
I hope this finds you well.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reading the Global Outlook for Q2 2009 and was left very satisfied by the level of Geographic analysis put forth by the team. I must say, there is not much with which to disagree. The forecast was constructed very well.
However, I do have questions/comments, however about the Topics section.
1. How does the team factor technological unemployment into the equation/question of demographic threats?
It would seem that the increasing rapid deployment of automated supply chains, IT infrastructure, and security would help tame the beast of demographic threats, at least from the perspective of talent/shrinking workforce. Partnering with increasing returns from the “digital infrastructure”, we are beginning to see the start of knowledge and decision automation which by all accounts should steepen the curve of technological unemployment and allow for productivity gains to become coupled to scalable IT instead of measures like birthrate, population, and education. Granted, these former measures will still be very important when analyzing demographic threats, but the introduction of these new measures should not be ignored.
2. How will new economical computations play a role in this analysis?
In the very near term, I feel that new models of prediction may lean more towards evolutionary computation to supplement reductionist risk and projection methods. They are currently being proven to handle complexity much better. If we can harness short-term complex prediction and use the results as the basis for long-term economic projection, would our results be different? I think yes and I think they may show us something much more accurate and precise! It is not a mystery that we have more computing power now that we could ever need. Our problem is not of scarcity to run these new models, but of embracing a new and innovative tool for our arsenal of prediction. Using these techniques, we may be able to guide economical emergence.
3. Talent Flash Mobs – Allowing for team self-assembly across the human network enabled by Social Technology?
There is a new concept of the “Flash Mob” or “Tribes”. They are usually used for pranks, but I am of the mind that they could be harnessed for the workplace. New tools like Google Wave can enable Workplace Flash Mobs, changing productivity metrics at their core.
Once again, thank you for a great Outlook document. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the above.
Michael P. Gusek
Uncertainty…If one thing is for certain, it is that we are in a time of great uncertainty.
To comfort us in this period, many institutions are taking a stab at what we should do to live in uncertain times. For example, this morning we were somewhat blessed with the wisdom of the long-held masters of consulting innovation, The McKinsey Quarterly. Their attempt at an action plan for coping with our crazy times was put forth in their article, “How managers should approach a fragile economy”. Of course, this article immediately caught my attention.
While I was somewhat satisfied with their assessment of the situation (3/4 of the article), I was majorly disappointed by their solutions (1/4 of the article). Generally, I would assume that an article titled “How to…” would give a substantive action plan instead of purporting executive solutions. Hmmm…I guess it is ironic that McKinsey did not include market and media misdirection as part of their analysis. *sigh* So much for a well-informed citizenry.
So, what exactly chapped my cabbage about McKinsey’s “solutions”? Let’s take a look at some of the direct quotations:
“Thoughtful economic modeling can start to capture all this complexity.”
McKinsey is going to explain it to us by modeling the complexity of the market. Well, it is becoming clearer and clearer to many on the edge of research that “all this complexity” cannot be modeled using traditional methods. I’m not going to go into this in depth due to the esoteric nature of the subject. It requires letting go of some pretty deeply held assumptions about how the world really works. If you’re interested in digging deeply into this subject, I invite you to contact me via email. For this article, I’ll just say that you’d expect we learned something from the way we were modeling risk in the market and to what ends it led.
“…they must drop the pretense that they can predict the future.”
Ummm…What are the models you use in the above supposed to do? Physician, heal thyself! Models are meant to create a tool which allows for predictable outcomes. In a sense, McKinsey is saying: “Hey, stop relying on your projections because they are useless due to the assumptions inherent in the data, but we don’t have to because we smaarrrt. You duuuumb. Buy our product!” Here’s the bottom line folks: McKinsey knows about as much as you do about what is happening.
“…they must continue adapting their management processes and capabilities with an eye to making better decisions under uncertainty.”
We did this back in the 80’s and 90’s…It was called BPR. By adding the words uncertainty to the end, are we going to magically enlighten ourselves? Institutional innovation goes much deeper than this shallow interpretation of the matter. When I talk about real solutions in later posts, I’ll talk about some of the mind power behind the shifting that is occurring.
“…building greater flexibility into strategic activity by putting a greater focus on acquiring options, contingency planning, and the use of stage-gating techniques for committing resources.”
How do you plan for contingencies without predicting the future? Stage-gating is an old school control-oriented mentality. Not allowing innovation to happen at the lowest levels of the organization can handcuff organizations to their old business models. Rigidity of old needs to give way to real flexibility. What is real flexibility? Stay tuned.
So, I hate to say it, but McKinsey offers no answers here. They are just as uncertain as the rest of us. It is quite apparent in the confusion underlying this article. They in effect telling executives to do a headstand instead of a handstand. That will get us through this.
Nope. Time to walk on our own two feet.