Thriving in turbulent (Digital) times

These are a few of the slogans flowing around Digital and Business Transformation and my reply in brackets. Digital is eating the world (Yes) The World is being disrupted (So what?) The future is too hard to predict (Not really) The overspill of digital technology is impacting every business. Scare stories abound and they don’t offer much of a solution. The reality is the internet has changed how you do your job. And it is going to continue to change how you do your job. If you don’t change someone who will change will put you out of business, or make your organisation seem too inefficient by comparison. Copying the work of the kid at the next desk doesn’t work. Learning together, open conversation and preparing and adapting to change does work. It is not the strongest businesses, nor the smartest, nor the one with the most money (though that helps) that succeeds. It is the ones that adapt to change fast enough. We’re running a workshop on this topic in a few weeks. If you’re interested in this you can find out more...

Digital Age Orientation Day

If you have two and a half minutes take a look at the video below on Bronze Age Orientation day. It’s short, it’s funny and it’s true. It underlines that the concept of change is not unique to the our digital age. No Company ever likes to transform itself (if the caterpillar had a choice, would it become a butterfly?) but in most cases they have learned to accept the fact that they have to. Companies have been dealing with mergers, acquisitions, buyouts, restructuring, de-localisations, re-localisations for a long time. If you’ve been through it you’ll know this sort of radical transformation is slow and painful: the all-or-nothing approach forcefully pushed by many consultants is not popular and also falls flat a lot of the time. The Digital Age is here. It’s been coming for twenty years and to succeed in this environment every business needs to be a Digital Business. We’ll be running a daylong course at the end of the month on Digital Change and how to manage it in your organisation. Our approach is gradual, offers numerous intermediate steps, defines clear deliverables and measurements and ties companies to their specific context. It’s Digital Transformation tempered by Change Management methods and experience You can find out...

Candid: Mary Carty From Curiosity to Creativity

This was the fourth in our series of #Candid talks with the wonderful Mary Carty on the 22nd of October. Rowan Manahan who was in the audience kindly did this guest post for us. The Craft of Creation – Mary Carty A #Candid talk on by the ever-candid, crafty and bogglingly creative Mary Carty quickly evolved into a high-energy dialogue about curiosity. Mary pivoted the talk early onto that subject and immediately challenged the room to think about genuine curiosity and to ask ourselves why aren’t certain questions being asked in our world. She shared with us the question that she and Anne-Marie Imafidon asked themselves last year – “Why are there so few women in tech?” More importantly, they asked themselves, “What are we going to do about it?” And thus Outbox Incubator was born. That story of 115 young double-X chromosome geniuses coming through one big house in London is familiar enough to those who followed the rise of the Outbox Executives last summer. Mary took us behind the scenes into the world of “Fun. Free. Food” – which were the pillars on which Outbox was built. Suffice to say to ensure the smooth running of any future enterprise involving young women from the ages of 11 to 22, always ensure that there is a quiet, get-away-from-it-all staircase and a bounteous stash of hot chocolate and Mars Bars. Some of Mary’s other notable questions: “Have you ever seen a panel of VCs all smiling, all at once, all day?” “Why don’t we push against or find answers to the known unknowns?” “Why don’t you give yourself permission to be curious, really curious?” Take it from a woman who has...
Yes to equality.

Yes to equality.

On Friday the Near Future principals Keith and Dermot will be voting yes to equality and we’re encouraging everyone do do the same. We believe this is a matter of human rights, and that it should be the case that”“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” It is a simple as that. The Irish Times summed it up well when saying We devalue many lives by confining them to second class status. We tell children of “irregular unions” they are worth less, and young people struggling with sexual identity that some choices are less valid, trapping many in secret, painful worlds of denial. We tell couples their commitment to each other can never be as deep or valid as the relationships their brothers, sisters, or parents have been committed to. And that the State will not offer them the same protection, the same honour. That is not who we are as a people. We are generous and open, inclusive and non-judgmental. And we are committed to strengthening the institution of marriage. That is why we will vote Yes....
Dubunking some of our notions about support for Science

Dubunking some of our notions about support for Science

We held our first #debunk in the Project Art Centre on the 9th of April.  It’s the first in a series of free morning Near Future events in Dublin where we explore #debunking some of the truism’s that misguide us all in our thinking and decision making. After great coffee and pastries our first speaker Barre Fitzpatrick (pictured above) spoke eloquently on the nature and role of funding for basic Science research in Ireland.  This is a topic of critical importance to Ireland as a society and its place in the world. Barre pointed out that before 1999 we lacked a serious policy and investment in Science. This despite significant achievement in Science over many years. The changed with the foundation of Science Foundation Ireland in 2000 and in some respects the period from 2000-2009 can be seen as a brief golden age for Science in Ireland.  An all too brief period it seems. Despite a decade of work the foundations that were being build are starting to crumble. A letter signed by over 900 Irish Scientists appearing just before our talk served to underline this problem. A key point that Barre made, and is raised by the letter is that By their very nature, such discoveries are not predictable and cannot be prescribed by what the Government calls “oriented basic research”. Equally unpredictable are the areas in which important discoveries will be made. Basic research should be funded on the criterion of excellence alone to ensure a credible and sustainable scientific infrastructure. The Innovation Union Scorecard shows that Ireland According to the Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014, Ireland ranks ninth on the performance of research and innovation systems in the...
The Emperor’s New Facts

The Emperor’s New Facts

“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble, it’s the things we do know that just ain’t so.”  Artemus Ward We’re focussed on helping people improve their businesses in Near Future.  And we think a lot about how we might do that. A part of that involves improved thinking, and asking awkward questions.  I’ve found over time that most ideas are logically constructed and the best way to challenge ideas are to challenge the assumptions, the basis on which they’re built.  If the assumptions are wrong everything else falls apart. Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert L Sutton wrote a wonderful book on evidence based management a few years ago called “Hard Fact, Dangerous Half Truths & Total Nonsense” which poked holes in many of the modern Shibboleths of management. One of the myths that Sutton and Pfeffer explored in their books was on the nature of Financial Incentives. The evidence shows that incentives sometimes demotivate, sometimes motivate the wrong behaviour and often attract the wrong sort of talent. Even in the best of circumstance are damn hard to get right. Even a company as clever as Microsoft has managed to design disastrous incentive systems that it has now abandoned. We are planning a breakfast event in a few weeks in. It will be on the theme of what we know that isn’t true.  It is designed to break open a few management myths, the Emperors New Facts. The event will be invite only and we have a few open slots, email dermot  @nearfuture.io if you’d like to be included in this or future events that we might...