Agent-based Computational Economics – The start of rational forecasting for good

Emma Lovett
17 August 2017

Historically, economic forecast – on which most countries taxation, interest and spend policy is based – has used Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) models (1). In 2008, these models failed and a financial crisis of gargantuan proportions followed. The echoes of that crisis can be still heard in the economic, financial and political systems of the western world.

Human resourcefulness knows no bounds and shortly after, a number of academic institutions look for solutions to the forecasting problem. And they found a promising one. Not too dissimilar to weather forecasting – economics can also be forecast bottom up. In this approach, an economy (or a sector or a region) is modelled by modelling each one of the economic atoms (an “agent”) – be a family or a firm – and each one is giving a behaviour, which today can span from basic to quasi-AI, and thus provide with nuances not possible in DSGE models – such as adaptive, irrational or even criminal behaviour. Such agent models can then be run under a number of scenarios and give us valuable data on the future.

This is referred as Agent-based Computational Economics (ACE for short). And this is not a dream, some small scale exercises in the EU and USA have already been done (2). Technology is here that allows to simulate systems in the region of 500 to 1000 million families and firms – we just need to get going to code the behaviours of interest.

And while the benefits to mankind are vast – there are also practical upsides. Firms will then be able predict the impact of new marketing campaigns, product launches, new competitor entry, regulatory changes or new supply chains.

We live in a complex world – of the kind people could not have imagined 50 years ago, and which is getting more complex by the pass of each day. We cannot leave the future to random guessing, intellectually flawed arguments or politicians motivated by short term goals.

Juan E Amador
Global Head Financial Crime Risk Technology

(1) For an eloquent, detailed, introduction see: Andre Haldane, The Dapple World, 10 November 2016.
(2) A good summary of a EU-sponsored initiate can be found here:
Gencer, M; Ozel, B. Agent-Based Modelling of Economic Systems: The EURACE Project Experience; 2010.
And for the US here:
Atxwell, RL; 120 Million Agents Self-Organize into 6 Million Firms: A Model of the U.S. Private Sector; Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, 2016.


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Save Billions By Thinking Of Your Influence Strategy – By Applied Influence Group

Upon reading the news headlines this morning, I was astounded to see this story detailing that one tweet from Kylie Jenner, a reality TV star, had knocked $1.3bn off Snapchat's stock market value. It begs the questions why did this happen and what could Snapchat have done to avoid it? Snapchat have recently made a controversial update to their interface that has divided opinion amongst its users. We see this with operating systems all the time in the work place too; be it with Windows, IOS, Microsoft Office etc, integrating updates and ‘improvements’ to existing solutions that people understand, is never without issue. When these updates occur, you usually get three general groups of people: those that are for it, those that are set against it and the largest group; the uncommitted to what side of the fence they fall into. When introducing anything new in business, one of its measures of success may be determined on how many people adapt to it and so winning the support of the uncommitted is virtually essential for commercial companies like Snapchat. If we examine Cialdini’s weapons of influence Kylie Jenner has so much influence over vast swathes of their target audience because, amongst other things, she is liked and is seen as an authority by her followers. When people are unsure about what decision to make, they are much more susceptible to these weapons of influence and so when she wrote her tweet, she was able to turn public opinion against the update which subsequently resulted in the stock price plummeting. So what could have Snapchat done to have avoided this? Interestingly a little over ten minutes later Jenner countered her previous tweet by writing something positive about Snapchat, but the damage had already been done. It would not surprise me if someone from Snapchat’s PR department quickly got in contact with her and asked to help put a plaster on an extremely open and distressing wound. Firstly, mapping out who could have sway over the success of the update would have identified that Jenner, along with undoubtedly dozens more celebrity users, had an enormous level of impact to affect the attitudes of the uncommitted. This realisation informs your influence strategy and is one of the ways in which we help our clients when they are attempting to have an impact and affect change. If an influence strategy had been put in place to pre-frame Jenner, show her how the update is of benefit to her and got her on board as an advocate, then rather than Snapchat losing £1bn in value, they could have gone somewhere down the line to win the support of the oh so important uncommitted. The next time your business is about to roll out something new, either internally or externally, just take time to consider who are likely to be the uncommitted and who has the influence over them. It might not only make the transition of change a success, but also save you billions as well.

12 March 2018

Helping Hand

The end of the tax year presents a final chance to make use of tax allowances and exemptions that can give children a big step up the financial ladder. “Saving is a very fine thing. Especially when your parents have done it for you.” As the intergenerational wealth divide widens, Winston Churchill’s often-quoted words now resonate increasingly with grandparents and other family members as well. We all want the best for the children in our lives. We don’t know what their future will hold, but want to make sure they have every opportunity to do well and be happy, whatever they eventually decide to do. Of course, money isn’t everything, but starting to save early on their behalf might make the difference between whether or not they can afford to do what they would like when the time comes. The pleasure to be had from being able to see younger generations benefit from lifetime gifts also needs to be measured against the very real need to help them deal with today’s financial challenges. The figures are all too depressingly familiar to younger generations. Research by The Sutton Trust revealed that English university students will graduate with an average debt of £44,000; by far the highest level in the English-speaking world and more than double the average debt levels at universities in the United States.¹ First-time buyers now need to put down an average £33,000 deposit to get onto the property ladder. Unsurprisingly, that means the typical first-time buyer is now aged 32.² It means that what was once a ‘nice to do’ savings idea is increasingly becoming a necessity. But putting away funds for the benefit of children or grandchildren can also play an important role in helping families come together to bridge the intergenerational divide. In doing so, they can reduce the burden of Inheritance Tax (IHT) to ensure more wealth remains in the hands of the family and not the taxman. Perhaps the most important opportunity to combine lifetime estate planning with saving for children is the annual gifting exemption. You can make gifts worth up to £3,000 in each tax year, and carry forward last year’s, if you haven’t used it already. That means a couple could potentially remove £12,000 from their joint estate immediately, as long as they use both years’ allowances by 5 April. You can pass on larger amounts of money free of IHT, so long as you live for seven years after making the gift. It’s also worth considering the ‘normal expenditure out of income’ rule. This allows you to make regular gifts out of income which are exempt from IHT as long as they don’t affect your standard of living. Long-term plans A tax-efficient Junior ISA is justifiably the first option for most savers to consider. A maximum of £4,128 can be invested for each child in a Junior ISA in this tax year, rising to £4,260 from 6 April. Savers can typically invest a lump sum or make regular contributions, providing the flexibility to fit in with gifting plans. Launched in November 2011, the scheme was initially slow to catch on, although 794,000 accounts were subscribed to in the last tax year. A total of over £3.3 billion is now held in Junior ISAs – a testament to the scheme’s growing popularity.³ And yet many of those generously making Junior ISA contributions risk failing to make the most of the opportunity. Nearly 60% of Junior ISA funds are deposited in low-paying savings accounts. “Junior ISAs are designed to be long-term savings vehicles, and those who save for their offspring or grandchildren at the earliest opportunity have got 18 years for the money to grow before the funds are transferred into a standard ISA,” says Phil Woodcock, Head of Investment Communications at St. James’s Place. “For those who choose to invest in a Stocks & Shares Junior ISA, that should be plenty of time to ride out market fluctuations and benefit from the compounding effect of tax-efficient income and growth.” It might be considered a disadvantage that a child can access Junior ISA funds when they reach the age of 18, as there is a possibility that shorter-term financial priorities take precedence. At the other end of the age scale, it’s worth remembering that anyone can contribute to a pension plan for a child; but of course, that means the funds will generally be unavailable until the beneficiary is aged 55. That said, this could also be an advantage because it enforces a long-term view of saving. A net annual contribution of £2,880 would attract tax relief of £720, making a total investment of £3,600. As the end of the tax year approaches, there is limited time left to explore and make use of the allowances and exemptions available to help shape the future of the children in your life. ¹ The Sutton Trust, Degrees of debt, April 2016 ² Halifax First-Time Buyer Review, July 2017 ³ HMRC, Individual Savings Account (ISA) Statistics, September 2017 Brought to you by Lynn Anderson Ltd, Founder Member and Principal Partner Practice of St. James's Place Wealth Management The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested. The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are generally dependent on individual circumstances.

27 February 2018

Mobile World Congress 2018 Predictions

The biggest mobile show on earth, Mobile World Congress, is about to take place in the Mobile World Capital of Barcelona for the 13th year in a row. At this year’s event, the prominent theme is “creating a better future with mobile technology,” with mobile communication now reaching nearly 5 billion people or 2/3 of the world’s population. MWC18 IN A NUTSHELL Today, mobile technology is truly having a renowned impact by improving health services in remote areas, tracking diseases, empowering urban farmers, monitoring elections, lowering the threshold for free education, giving everyone access to banking services, connecting families across the globe and so much more. One big challenge nonetheless, is that the “the real world” is years behind the promises and deliberations presented at large conferences. While technology companies and industry experts discuss how voice control and personal assistants are taking over the home, most people still struggle to make them do anything more than set an alarm or tell them the weather. LGs opening presentation at CES on the LG CLOi smart home assistant serves as a reminder to the industry. The industry has a habit of creating unrealistic expectations, but when push comes to shove, ends up under delivering. This recent video of what HAL 9000 would be like if it was powered by Alexa is funny, but also serves as a great representation into what people are experiencing on a daily basis. The same holds true for Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, the smart home and Autonomous Vehicles. One notable exception is Apple. While a few years behind on delivering “new stuff,” they bring to the table products that work. In the past year, Apple has launched their Face ID and Artificial Intelligence technologies. Their desire to deliver on their promises could possibly be the reason that they’ve postponed the delivery of their Apple HomePod. This leads us to an important lesson to everyone exhibiting at Mobile World Congress 18: show off the latest concepts, but be honest about the readiness of the technology. WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE AT MWC18 At Mobile World Congress 18 you will be hearing about Personal Assistants, Artificial Intelligence, 5G, Blockchain, more Augmented and Virtual Reality, Smart Home’s and the increase in devices connected to the internet. Take for example emerging technologies like the Sophia robot, the stepping stone to robots that actually think. In 2017 and again at CES 2018, Sophia the Citizen Robot stole the show, dominating the AI assistant conversation and reporting. We can except MWC18 to be no different. Often the less exciting, real heroes of the show are forgotten or over shadowed by mega trends. Take mobile apps for instance. By listening to industry experts, you would have thought we reached peak app status several years ago. On the contrary, last year alone, revenues from Apple’s App Store grew 30% while app usage continues to increase at a similar rate. In reality, most enterprises are only now finally starting to catch up to “mobilizing the enterprise” with the launch of mobile apps. So maybe the big trends at MWC18 are in the non-trends? Making our devices and data more secure with Intel’s security flaw a big topic Digital transformation of the mobile Industry which is far overdue Making 4G faster and more reliable Mobile payments leading the way in China Tools to develop better apps for employees and consumers Making Telemedicine available to Healthcare Mobile technology that reduces energy usage, waste and CO2 emissions Using mobile technology to build smarter factories, better transportation, safer cars and a better world This leads us back to the prominent theme for this year… Enter MWC18 with this in mind, “creating a better future with mobile technology.” Make this your mantra for the conference. I’m sure this way you’ll get a lot more value out of the conference, rather than just checking out all the latest gadgets. By Magnus Jern, Chief Innovation Officer, DMI  

13 February 2018

Human-Centric Mobile Trends 2018

Tired of buzzwords, glitchy new handsets, smartwatches, talks about how AI will replace employees, virtual reality shopping replacing physical stores, and other technology trends that hardly impact you in the short term? Then this is the trend report for you. We believe that the winners of the Mobile Age are the executives, organisations and companies that put the human first. After all, we are humans whether we work, drive a car, spend time with our family at home, or if our job tasks are being augmented by machines. This report will make you think how these trends may impact your organisation and personal life in 2018. Down the report here: 2018 Mobile Trends by DMI

24 January 2018

Quit Your Job the Right Way

31st January is the day workers are most likely to hand in their notice. If you are one of these people looking to move on then it’s important to hand in your notice the right way. We Brits generally don’t enjoy confrontation or awkwardness, so for most people, giving notice is not usually an enjoyable experience. But there is a right – and a wrong – way to do it, from both a legal standpoint and from a common courtesy perspective. Here are a few steps you can take to hand your notice in the right way so as you remain respectful to your current employer whilst retaining control: 1. Request a one-to-one meeting with your manager so as you have the privacy to discuss matters. This allows your manager control over how and when they announce your resignation to the rest of the team. A Friday afternoon works well as it gives your boss the weekend to absorb the news. 2. Put it in writing, clearly stating your resignation date and leaving date. If you wish to shorten or lengthen your notice it is advisable to include this in the letter and bring it up in your discussion. Remember you can use any accrued holiday to shorten your notice. 3. If there is a counter-offer, while flattering, be clear about the reasons you are leaving, remain firm and stick to your guns. 4. Be prepared for questions about your new role and company and only offer what information you feel comfortable in giving. 5. Leave on good terms, it will be observed and noted. Leave in as professional a manner as possible, you never know when your paths may cross again.

17 January 2018

Perceptions of Change: How Much Intellectual Humility Have You Got?

By Applied Influence Group Prior to Barack Obama’s decision in April 2016 to authorise the mobilisation of ground troops in Iraq and Syria, he had called the US’ intervention in the region ‘a dumb war’, he had opposed previous troop surges during the Bush administration, promised to withdraw all troops by 2008 which was then extended to 2010... and then 2011, and finally in 2014 categorically declared that the US would not have boots on the ground in the region. Critics of Obama labelled him a hypocrite, accused him of going back on his word and perceived him as an unreliable President for his change in policy. Regardless of subject and context, the opposition to people making considered decisions and changing positions has always puzzled me. Reading Paul Ratner’s article finally gave me a label to describe and commend Obama’s decision switch; intellectual humility. In leadership I feel that this quality is essential, not only for the person making the decision to have, but for those that the change in decision effects to understand. Far too often in my military career did I see a plan being stuck to, regardless of feedback and results, simply because the leader had committed themselves to a certain course of action. The result of this dogmatic approach led to the ultimate failure of an objective which could have been salvageable if the leader had the intellectual humility to reassess and change their mind. Likewise, when I have had leaders change their mind mid-process, I’ve seen peers and subordinates complain and moan that ‘the boss doesn’t know what they’re doing’ despite the end result turning out positive because of the change in plan mid-way through. Ratner quotes Mark Leary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, who draws a parallel to the business world in stating that it is important for business leaders and managers to have a broadness of perspective and take as many other perspectives into account as possible. As time trickles on, situations change and perspectives shift and therefore it is understandable for initial plans to alter. However, I would argue that the danger of this is when the plans change on a whim, without consultation and effective understanding of the reasons why, to those it effects particularly if they have low intellectual humility. Intellectual humility is important on both sides of an interaction when it comes to successful influence, particularly in change management. If this mutual awareness is present, then the perception of the change and those responsible for it, will be a lot more favourable.

16 January 2018

New HQ for The JM Group & Longbridge

The JM Group (IT Recruitment) and sister company Longbridge Recruitment last week announced the opening of their new 5,500 square feet office in the City of London. The new space includes five meeting rooms named after parent company Staffing 360 Solutions’ other global offices, a chill-out area with pool table, eye-catching wall murals, plus bright and spacious desk space with room for further expansion. The JM Group, founded in 1981 and acquired by Staffing 360 Solutions in 2015, has been growing at a rapid rate. With current staff of 25 employees, The JM Group is looking to increase these numbers by 40% over the next two years. Finance and Operations Director Adam Drew, said “The last 12 months have been fantastic for us as a business and everything is pointing to continued growth over the next year. “With this in mind, we decided to invest in larger offices, giving us more room for expansion and an even better working environment for our employees. “Looking forward, we are now in a position to see further growth as we invest in people and services in 2018 and beyond. “The additional capacity and fresh, fun feel that the new office provides will undoubtedly assist in executing our growth strategy.” With 35 years’ experience in IT and Business Change recruitment across the globe, The JM Group is committed to recruiting and developing high calibre professionals to some of the leading organisations across financial services, major corporates and consultancies. If you’re considering a career in recruitment and want to hear more about life at The JM Group or Longbridge, please contact our talent team on For further information, please visit or contact 0207 251 7300. You can also find The JM Group on LinkedIn

08 January 2018

The Multi Horizon Innovation Discipline

Future proofing your organisation When people think of innovation, they tend to think of a new product, like the iPhone, or the driverless car. Think a little harder, and a company might think of making a process more efficient, like Toyota did with car making, or changing a business model, like Uber. Some of these are incremental, and some are a breakthrough. To future-proof their organisations; firms need a balanced portfolio of innovation activities. Why? If you are only looking at incremental, step by step innovations and short-term results, you can miss the big opportunities of a market breakthrough or a radical innovation that your competitors might make. You are also a target for scores of well-funded start-ups like Airbnb, Uber and Netflix. Incremental steps are no defence against disruption. If you are only looking at long-term, lab-based innovations you are probably trying to predict the future. You are making big bets on technologies and changes in what people might want that may never happen. You can end up missing revenue you could make in current operations, by not responding to immediate customer needs. You could end up losing money in the core of your business by neglecting it. In this short piece, we look at how companies can look at a spectrum of innovations across 1 to 5-year time horizon and recognise that each initiative requires a different discipline to innovate, incentivise and progress through to commercialisation. We also look at the role that the leadership has to play in supporting all of them simultaneously. Up to 1 year – Incremental innovation Incremental innovation is where firms improve their products and processes step by step. They are innovations that bring better products and services, possibly quicker to their customers, protecting their core offering. There is a distinct set of strategies a firm can deploy. Edge strategies that look at the firm’s customers journeys to find greater wallet share. Digital strategies that map customers’’ engagement journey with the firm to transform the customer experience. That way they gain loyalty and advocacy that drives both new customer revenue and greater lifetime value from existing customers. Lean strategies focused on process innovation that takes the waste out of the production and fulfilment process, bring more reliable services quicker to the customer base, again improving customer satisfaction and retention. In incremental innovation, the role of leadership is to encourage the grassroots within their frontline teams, those that interact with customers on a daily basis. It means redefining their day jobs, training them to be spotters of operational innovation opportunities, and creating the time and space for these employees to test them. Once a distinct value is created for the customer, the firms can decide how to monetise it. There is a range of pricing strategies that look at additional revenue and margin generation. Pricing strategies and monetization of innovation are both an art and a science. 1-3 year horizon – Building on adjacencies Of course, a firm can grow simply by launching existing products into new geographies. Here, however, we are going to look at growth strategies based on innovation. When firms are innovating over 1-3 years, they tend to be launching new products and services, clearly differentiated from the competition, that reach newer market segments and customers that are presently not well served. These innovations may be technological advancements. Blue ocean strategies increase the market pie by bringing in new customers that value different attributes and are willing to pay for them. One example is the Galaxy Note – a phone with a pen. Firms can also bundle and unbundle products, like a phone with a contract. Often more powerful is business model innovation, where new revenue streams could from different monetisation strategies. Think to move from ownership of an asset to consumption models (don’t sell a coffee machine, charge for number of cups consumed), or moving from a one-off sale to subscription models (Adobe changed its licensing model to subscription a few years ago bringing it more predictable annuities) The role of leadership here is to create new business teams with dedicated resources to build these product innovations and allow them to build, test, launch and operate with managed autonomy. The leadership team needs to train these (cross-functional) teams in leading-edge design thinking and frugal innovation techniques to take a fresh consumer-oriented perspective on innovation and break the mindset of pure incremental innovation. 3-5 year horizon – Future proofing the organisation This isn’t about predicting the future. It is about creating it. Whatever you start building, you will end up creating something else. It is an iterative process of experimentation, learning from the market, and going again. Right now, for example, Facebook is running a small-scale experiment with Facebook TV called Watch. To make this happen, leaders need to develop and promote a mindset that if we don’t cannibalise our business someone else will! How? For example, by selecting innovation champions and creating teams around them. Then deploy scenario planning activities to track multiple futures and build a strategy around lean experimentation, pushing a number of initiatives through a funnel. They will need to challenge the firm’s status quo and current revenue streams, and educate finance teams that techniques like cash flows and NPV analysis won’t work in this case. Instead, an ethos of patience, all the way to shareholders, is important to allow innovations of this nature the time to grow and create profit. Nespresso is a huge revenue stream to Nestle today, but it took 20 years to build and was almost killed off several times One way is to create a positive crisis to drive action for the future, even if the threat is not that obvious today. Leaders need to build an ambidextrous organisation and create the discipline of managing the portfolio of initiatives, actively managing the paradoxes and tensions that come with both protecting the core and challenging it at the same time. Going for moon shots, tracking them and narrowing down to a handful of future-focused initiatives, building the mindset and organisation of skills for reinvention – it all lies at the core. It’s not easy, and that’s the reason a number large well-established firms failed (remember Kodak?). A number of others have reinvented themselves completely, like IBM. Bottom line Through a number of reference studies carried out across a large number of firms (ref), it is not geography, IP, patents, national culture or R&D spend that drives the firm’s ability to innovate. The largest contributor by far is the firm’s culture, which has distinct attitudes of being future focused, a willingness to cannibalise their existing revenue streams and revised tolerance for risk and managing ambiguity. The leaders of these firms also create the disciplined environment that allows the many in the firm to innovate successfully. Organisational: Evaluate how you can innovate today. Innovation is not limited to R&D, its product, process, business model, strategic and management innovation. Make a start today. By Viren Lall, Managing Director at

07 December 2017

Recruitment & Religion – A Match Made In Heaven!

If I told you a recruitment consultant entered into a year-long programme to lead a monastic-life, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, you would be forgiven for thinking it was penance for the much-documented sins of recruiters. It is, in fact, the story of Rebecca Green, one of the JM Group’s very own consultants. Rebecca was invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury, principle leader of the Church of England, along with other Christians from around the world, to spend a year living in a monastic-inspired community. Rebecca is one of the non-residential members who commit to the same practices as residential members while continuing in their everyday work. As part of the programme, the Archbishop, Justin Welby, came to visit Rebecca in her place of work. He was keen to find out about Rebecca’s role as a JM Group Recruitment Consultant and how she manages her full-time work commitments together with her duties as a monk, which include working with vulnerable people alongside local charities in London. Before working for the Church, The Archbishop was a treasurer in the oil industry and takes a particular interest in business ethics. He has spoken publicly about enabling the leaders of tomorrow; people such as Rebecca. Far from being a recruitment drive from the Church to get young people into religion, the aim of the transformative year is to enable Rebecca and her fellow monks to shape the rest of their personal and professional lives, equipping them to live with integrity in every sector of society. Rebecca, 25, says “Being a full-time recruiter and part-time monk definitely is a unique experience and one that even bemuses me at times. It is a privilege to spend a year alongside others of my generation, with a passion for faith and desire to give their best and succeed in the workplace. It has also made me realise that Religion and work don’t have to be separate entities but can successfully go hand in hand for the betterment of all. It is also an honour to have the Archbishop of Canterbury championing this. I’m confident what I learn and experience this year will help my professional as well as personal development for a long time to come.”

27 November 2017

Give Me A Status Check – By Applied Influence Group

  We all hold a certain status and often we'll hold different levels of status in different circumstances. The CEO of a large corporation may hold high status at work but could hold low status within the local church or ParkRun community. In virtually every group we exist within, there will be a hierarchy of status and some of us will be more motivated to rise within that status hierarchy than others. At times the status hierarchy can be obvious and clearly visible. Titles, office locations and perks such as company cars can be clearly visible symbols of status. Within the workplace there can be other, less visible, status symbols. Being included on a certain emailing list or invited to a meeting can confer a level of status that may not be as clear. Get this wrong and it's easy to damage a relationship. Even organisations that are renowned for having a flat hierarchy will evolve their own, often complex ways of establishing an unofficial hierarchy. At Google, employees are "Nooglers" until they've been there long enough to be "Grayglers". Some people who have a strong desire for status may not meet it through their work but satisfy the desire in a social setting outside of work. In this case, trying to frame a position at work around satisfying their desire for status won't work. Status and power are often conflated and while some will have strong desire preferences for both, others are most concerned with satisfying one or the other. Some people are happy to sit in the background and exert power with limited recognition of their status. For other people the recognition of status is everything and power is a byproduct of this. Think of the person who is desperate for promotion but then does nothing with the increased power when they achieve it. In some circumstances the disparity between status and power can lead to those in high power, low status jobs causing workplace conflict. When we are trying to influence, particularly internally, understanding the status desire of the other person can be critical. Get it wrong and you may unwittingly offend the other person. Recognise and fully understand how status affects the situation you are trying to influence, and it can change how you frame your argument.

13 November 2017

How good are you at asking questions? By Applied Influence Group

A key component in becoming an elite influencer is developing your ability to listen, and crucially, listen well. Listening is an essential skill, but to be able to listen you must have first encouraged the other person in your interaction to talk. The most common way to initiate a level of dialogue is to ask some form of question. I often hear people talking about the requirement to be a good listener but I never really hear people critique how good they are at asking questions. So, how good are you at asking questions? This may be more of an issue for the Brits among us as we have a tendency to be ….. flowery or opaque with our language, but regardless of your nationality I often see a tendency for those of us asking the difficult, awkward, usually essential questions, to add quantifying statements afterwards in some form of attempt to soften the perceived blow the question may have inflicted upon its recipient. I’m not sure why some of us default to this, what is the issue with just leaving the question out there to be answered. Maybe it’s a way of taking the edge off what may appear on the surface a socially uncomfortable situation, or maybe we feel a degree of vulnerability when we know that directness is required. However, the impact of doing this is significant, especially if we need / require information from the person we are communicating with. In providing the additional context or, even more damaging, providing a couple of answers to your question for the recipient to choose from you close off communication channels. On the occasions where gathering the additional detail is essential you need to just trust the question in its raw state and trust that it will get answered. I can think of several occasions where I have been involved in conversations whereby its very clear the conversation leader is uncomfortable with the questions they have to ask and have defaulted to the format above. Although the questions posed were open in nature and would have allowed me to articulate my point of view, the additional information or answers provided to me in the delivery of the question didn’t lessen the impact of the question or make the environment more palatable, instead they gave me an easy way out of the conversation, and an easy way to get away from that interaction without really providing any degree of information. Planning the delivery of your questions in an interaction effectively, and crucially trusting the validity of those questions, will give you the confidence to trust them when you come to delivering them. From an influence perspective, the delivery of effective questions will provide you with the time in an interaction to really listen and evaluate what is being said to you. This time will also lead to an enhanced level of understanding of the individual involved in the interaction. Planning to use questions that encourage the recipient to talk will ultimately allow you to elicit far greater levels of information. By Applied Influence Group

23 October 2017

The Car is the Future of Loyalty

The car has the potential to become the ultimate loyalty card. The car is essentially an extension of our everyday lives. Most people use their car every day, spending a considerable amount of time listening to music on the radio or making important phone calls on the go. As a result, drivers spend large amounts of money using their car, i.e. gasoline, car washes, vehicle maintenance, accessories, shopping trips or traveling to entertainment venues. What if car brands could support or even influence the purchasing decisions drivers make? Until recently, engaging with anything other than the car controls, stereo and navigation system was difficult and quite frankly dangerous. This has since changed due to improved voice controls, better touch screens, ultra-fast connectivity and Artificial Intelligence. Now cars have the possibility to do more than just take its driver and passengers from point A to point B. Technology has created a huge opportunity for the car eco-system and brands moving forward. Imagine if the car helped its owner automatically keep track of gas station loyalty programs and accumulated points, restaurants in the area with great lunch menus, or deciding whether or not it’s worth a detour from the weekly grocery trip to go pick up your favourite bottle of wine, seasonal vegetables or fresh seafood. Forget about Alexa, teach the car what you want and it will become indispensable to you. Improving brand loyalty for the car brand is sufficient enough for car manufacturers to justify venturing into loyalty, but the business case is much greater. With changes in car ownership among millennials, autonomous cars and rapid development in NLP and AI, now is the time to act. Will the automotive industry wait for Amazon or Google to take over the car? Or will they take control over their own destiny? Magnus Jern, Chief Innovation Officer, DMI,

11 October 2017

Entrepreneur To Angel

You’ve built and sold a successful business – what’s next? Many entrepreneurs turn to angel investing to help other businesses grow. Angel investing is fast becoming the go-to source of funding for start-up owners looking to take their businesses to the next level. In 2015, a record £1.8bn was invested in 3,265 ventures through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). Unlike venture capitalists, angel investors generally take a longer-term approach, providing “patient capital” and investing on the basis that they may not see a return for up to a decade, or indeed any return. Furthermore, they bring the benefit of their experience to the businesses in which they invest. “One of the most important things about angel investing is it’s not just about the money you’re bringing to the business,” says Jenny Tooth, CEO of the UK Business Angels Association. “It’s a very personal thing, identifying the businesses you want to invest in and knowing that you’ll be able to help them post-investment, bringing advice, support, contacts and customers – all the things that will really make a difference.” From the point of view of the entrepreneur, this is all good news. But what’s in it for the angels themselves? For many, a wish to help and support others while keeping their hands in, so to speak, underlies the decision to provide funding. But there can be sound financial benefits, too. Although angel investing is regarded as high-risk, with some 58% of deals not returning the original investment, many businesses supported by angels do go on to enjoy significant success. And valuable tax breaks are available for investors under the EIS and SEIS. Spreading your wings So how do you go about becoming an angel investor? It’s not as simple as just finding a promising business and getting out your chequebook: regulations are in place to protect both investors and business owners. First, you will need to self-certify as a high net worth or sophisticated investor, which entitles you to receive business plans and make investments through your own decision. Typically, angel investors will provide between £5,000 and £150,000 in funding to single ventures, in return for a shareholding of no more than 25%, in order to ensure that business owners can hand over additional stakes in future rounds of fundraising. In order to mitigate risk, you will need to diversify your portfolio and invest in multiple start-ups. To make this possible, as well as sharing risk and reducing the burden of due diligence, many investors join together in syndicates, either formally or on an ad-hoc basis. “I think it’s very important to invest alongside others, especially in the early stages of becoming an investor,” says Tooth. “To work with and learn from people who have already been through the due diligence process will help you with your own decision-making. You might also have the skills and experience to become a lead angel – someone who has more involvement in the company and really brings hands-on help on behalf of your fellow angels. “The beauty of the syndicate model is you’re spreading the time you spend. You’re sharing risk, sharing decision-making. Companies will also need further rounds of finance, and as a syndicate you’re more likely to be able to pull that together and have the firepower to follow those deals through. You’ve also got more muscle in terms of negotiations when you’re investing alongside others such as VCs.” Where to invest With a host of promising start-ups out there competing for funding, from property developers to app developers, pharmaceutical companies to caviar farms, there is no shortage of investment opportunities. Most would-be angels invest in an industry in which they have experience, so they can bring expertise as well as cash to the table. Look for a management team that has the right blend of skills, experience and attitude to build not only the business but a long-term working relationship with you, the investor. Beyond that, investors should ask themselves whether the business has the potential to address a real gap in the market, to be disruptive, and to change their industry or society more widely. Assess the market in which the business operates: what competition is out there, does the entrepreneur hold a defensible position in the market, and how scaleable is their business model? Finally, look at the nuts and bolts of the deal: the valuation of the business, the proposed shareholding, the potential for growth and exit, and the extent of your role within the business. By working alongside other investors, you can greatly enhance the benefit you bring not only to the business you’re supporting, but to yourself as an angel, says Tooth. “The best investing happens when investors know each other and each other’s skills and can build trust and a relationship through the due diligence process and post-investment, drawing on one another’s skills and knowledge.”   Please note that this is unlikely to be a suitable investment option for many investors. It will only be suitable for sophisticated investors willing to take a high risk with their capital as there is a risk an investor may lose some or all of their capital if the company invested in fails. Also, due to the nature of the shares they are fairly illiquid and as such investors must be aware they may have difficulty, or be unable to realise their shares at levels close to that which reflect the value of the underlying assets. All EISs and SEISs must invest in unquoted UK smaller companies and such companies, by their nature, involve a higher degree of risk than investment in larger companies. As such there is a risk that any of the investments may not perform as hoped and in some circumstances may fail completely. Therefore this type of investment should not be considered unless you are willing to accept a higher level of risk. The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are dependent on individual circumstances. Brought to you by Lynn Anderson Ltd, Founder Member & Principal Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management  An investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the funds you select and the value can therefore go down and well as up.  You may get back less than you invested.  An investment in a Stocks & Shares ISA will not provide the same security of capital associated with a Cash ISA.  The favourable tax treatment of ISAs may be subject to changes in legislation in the future.  The level and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are dependant on individual circumstances.

18 September 2017

Preparing for a CEO Shakeup – By Applied Influence Group

For anyone who's part of a senior leadership team, a change in CEO can be as exciting as it is scary. But ‘preparing the ground' for this transition can make a huge difference to your own relationships inside and outside the business, and more importantly, give the new leader the best chance of success. In the military, it would be unusual for a Commanding Officer (read, CEO) to be in post for longer than 2.5 years. So, there was plenty of opportunity to practice! Interestingly, for those in the Specialist Intelligence world, we used the same influence processes and tools to ‘Prepare the ground’ as best we could for a new CO, as we did to understand complex networks of insurgents to effect large scale, strategic influence in the battlespace. The steps described below are one slice of this influence strategy tool kit, borne out of operational military experience. SET SOME GOALS So what do we mean by 'preparing the ground'? Quite simply, it is influencing stakeholders for the purpose of capitalising on the change when it happens for mutually beneficial gain. At the Applied Influence Group, we consider the business outcomes of influence in 3 ways (client related, internal to the organisation, and external to the organisation) and this context is no different. Therefore, examples of business outcomes you might seek are: Any client concerns regarding a potential change to agenda or direction are understood and removed The expectations of strategic suppliers are understood and managed Employees’ fears surrounding the repercussions that might directly affect them are dealt with to avoid affecting individual or group performance   The first rule of influence is always to understand, so once you’ve identified the business outcome you want to affect, you can map the landscape in order to influence it. INFLUENCE MAPPING Let’s take the first example: understanding and removing any client concerns regarding the change of CEO. How might you map the relevant stakeholders to know who you need to influence and how? Step one. Consider which stakeholders have the most impact over this issue (i.e. concerns regarding the change). This isn’t just about those that hold the greatest authority or decision-making power, but identifying key stakeholders that could influence decision makers, even those that sit outside the client organisation. We often find that PAs and junior stakeholders sit on here. Map the stakeholders on a diagram that looks much like an archery target with 3 circles; those that have the most impact over the issue in the middle, and the lesser the impact the further out you go. To represent each stakeholder, you can draw a small circle with the person’s initials in the middle, or have a look-up table if it gets too crowded. Step two. Understand the relationships between stakeholders. You might develop your own system for representing the relationships, but at the very least denote a strong relationship with a double/thick line, a known relationship with a single line and an assessed relationship (you don’t know for sure) with a dotted line between two stakeholders. Step three. Consider your existing influence over these stakeholders. Add in the ‘you’ factor. The criteria used for this is up to you, but be consistent. Identify those that your organisation/team have strong, average, weak or no influence over. Step four. What can you see that you couldn’t before? Is there a stakeholder with high impact on the issue (a decision maker for instance), that you know to have existing concerns about the change, but with whom you have limited influence? Can you identify another stakeholder that has a strong relationship with this decision maker, with whom you have strong influence over that can become a bridge to reach them? Or, can you identify that you have no bridge to this decision maker at all and therefore need to increase your own influence over other stakeholders around them. Can you identify a stakeholder that you have strong influence over and has high impact on the issue and strong relationships with detractors, that can become an influence agent on your behalf? WHAT'S CHANGED? Once the new CEO is in, you might want to re-map the same issue to see what's changed. How has your organisation's influence over the same stakeholders changed in that time? Has there been a shift in relationships or new 'nodes' of influence been created? Has there been an increase in the number of influential stakeholders that still hold concerns? Monitoring a particular issue (like client concerns) using this mapping tool can highlight potential problems for your CEO before they occur. Looking at these maps and asking ‘what can you see?’ will start to reveal your path to successful influence and set your new CEO up for success. To find out more about the Applied Influence Group, please visit their website.

12 September 2017

Team Cohesion and Group Performance – From Applied Influence Group

"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself" - Henry Ford We certainly agree with Henry Ford's view that moving forward together is a key element of business success.  In context however, Ford's meaning was that everyone in his business was to follow his lead exclusively; which is something we agree with less.  For Applied Influence Group the key influence skills for team performance and group cohesion are understanding and communication.  Understanding different perspectives, desires and fears; and communication to create a shared vision of the way forward in line with the required business outcomes. This article look at different perspectives and skills that help with this. Preparing for a CEO Shakeup For anyone who's part of a senior leadership team, a change in CEO can be as exciting as it is scary. But ‘preparing the ground' for this transition can make a huge difference to your own relationships inside and outside the business, and more... Read more Trust and Preparation; Key to Team Cohesion and Success The Summer success of the Lionesses has done wonders to increase interest in Women's football and if it hasn't done now, Thursday's Semi Final clash with the Netherlands is sure to pique even the most cynical of fan's interest. Win lose or draw... Read more Top Level Miscommunication The Harvard Business Review report below highlights some of the issues that commony exist between CEOs and their CMOs and suggests some solutions. At it's simplest level the issue seems to be poor communication and this problem isn't solely the... Read more Hi We're Generation Z - Who Are You? Although I'm slightly uncomfortable with lumping people in buckets such as Generation Z it is indisputable that those entering the workforce from now on will have grown up with technology in a way that generations before didn't. In many ways this... Read more Group Emotional Intelligence Emotional Intelligence often focusses on individual skills and attribute. The benefits for groups and teams of having individuals with high levels of Emotional Intelligence is understood but there is often a lower focus on how the skills can be... Read more Invisible Diversity Groupthink is a problem that affects many organisations. Not only do certain ideas take hold and become accepted as 'truth' but certain ways of thinking about things can also become entrenched. The article below discusses the benefits of... Read more Applied Influence Group

21 August 2017

Agent-based Computational Economics – The start of rational forecasting for good

Historically, economic forecast – on which most countries taxation, interest and spend policy is based - has used Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) models (1). In 2008, these models failed and a financial crisis of gargantuan proportions followed. The echoes of that crisis can be still heard in the economic, financial and political systems of the western world. Human resourcefulness knows no bounds and shortly after, a number of academic institutions look for solutions to the forecasting problem. And they found a promising one. Not too dissimilar to weather forecasting – economics can also be forecast bottom up. In this approach, an economy (or a sector or a region) is modelled by modelling each one of the economic atoms (an “agent”) - be a family or a firm - and each one is giving a behaviour, which today can span from basic to quasi-AI, and thus provide with nuances not possible in DSGE models – such as adaptive, irrational or even criminal behaviour. Such agent models can then be run under a number of scenarios and give us valuable data on the future. This is referred as Agent-based Computational Economics (ACE for short). And this is not a dream, some small scale exercises in the EU and USA have already been done (2). Technology is here that allows to simulate systems in the region of 500 to 1000 million families and firms – we just need to get going to code the behaviours of interest. And while the benefits to mankind are vast – there are also practical upsides. Firms will then be able predict the impact of new marketing campaigns, product launches, new competitor entry, regulatory changes or new supply chains. We live in a complex world – of the kind people could not have imagined 50 years ago, and which is getting more complex by the pass of each day. We cannot leave the future to random guessing, intellectually flawed arguments or politicians motivated by short term goals. Juan E Amador Global Head Financial Crime Risk Technology HSBC Bank PLC Notes: (1) For an eloquent, detailed, introduction see: Andre Haldane, The Dapple World, 10 November 2016. (2) A good summary of a EU-sponsored initiate can be found here: Gencer, M; Ozel, B. Agent-Based Modelling of Economic Systems: The EURACE Project Experience; 2010. And for the US here: Atxwell, RL; 120 Million Agents Self-Organize into 6 Million Firms: A Model of the U.S. Private Sector; Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, 2016.

17 August 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Job in Your 20s

You have your entire career ahead of you. Exciting stuff! There’s a chance that by the end of your 20s you’ll be settled on a career path that will dictate your income and development until your retirement. Scary stuff! Now is the time to find out what you really want to do and set your mind to achieving it so as you can be satisfied with the career path you have chosen. Here’s how: 1. Define your goals Setting goals on what you want to achieve allows you to stay focused on career success. To do this, write specific actions for what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. By writing down your goals you are able to examine them more objectively. Include a list of companies you want to work for and a second list of companies that you can work for based on your skills. Do your research, then contact the hiring manager at each company asking if they have any openings, highlighting your relevant experience and skills. 2. Ensure your CV is first class The job market today is highly competitive and your CV needs to stand out and present you in the best light to firmly grab attention. Make sure you tailor your CV to each company and job for which you are applying.  It takes time but it will be worth it. Read our CV Doctor article for more in-depth help on your CV. 3. Improve your LinkedIn profile Your LinkedIn profile is your online CV and can potentially open the door to major career opportunities. 9 out of 10 recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn, so do not miss out! If you want to improve your LinkedIn profile, take a look at this blog. 4. Network Just sending out your CV is not enough, you need to put a face to your name. Whenever possible try to personally meet people.  Go to recruitment agencies and meet your recruiter. Make personal contact with the companies you have identified as possible employers.  Networking online is also important – join in LinkedIn and Twitter conversations (using the hashtag) and start engaging. 5. Learn a new skill Never be afraid to ask your employer if they can offer you additional training to broaden your skill set, they may even offer to pay for it. It shows you are eager to grow. Additional learning not only looks great on your CV, it’s vital in today’s competitive market. 6. Take up a new project or hobby Working on an outside project often demonstrates your abilities away from work and may open up the door for new opportunities or promotion. Are you a budding writer? Start a blog. Do you enjoy playing sport? Consider becoming a coach. You never know where it will lead. Also consider becoming a volunteer, it can serve as an amazing networking opportunity and looks great on your CV. 7. Don’t be afraid to take risks If you want to get ahead you have to be prepared to make a change. It’s easy to get into a routine of a mediocre job and feeling comfortable within that job. Now is the time to take risks. If you have an idea for a new business or have an urge to move abroad to explore career opportunities, do it now, as the chance may not come up again. Push yourself and you will achieve your goals.  

17 July 2017

How to be smart with security

What are your most important assets? Your people, staff, employees, or that awful term, human resources. What is the biggest threat to your organisation? The same. The Danger Within People are important because they are intuitive, innovative, creative, responsive, curious, and at times, unpredictable. It's that mix of abilities and attributes that creates the magic you depend on to provide the value your customers pay you for. It's also that mix of abilities and attributes that leads to the biggest single risk to our businesses. It's our curiosity that leads us to click on the link in an email that downloads a cryptolocker virus, which then locks us out of our data and demands a bitcoin ransom. It's our desire to be responsive that makes us insert the nearest USB memory stick to hand in our laptop that contains monitoring or destructive malware. And it's our focussed creativity that makes us leave that laptop in a bar, that just happens to contain a client database packed with the names, addresses and credit card details of their customers. And that's assuming any data lost or damage caused is entirely accidental. If one of your employees has a grudge or financial incentive, suddenly the problem multiplies. Our most important assets are also our biggest threats. You can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em! Malware as a Service (MaaS) According to the 2016 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) the two fastest growing threat types are 'Person' (primarily phishing attacks, aimed at duping people to click on email links or open rogue attachments), and 'User' (devices, such as smart phones and tablets). That puts our people front and centre of the 'attack vector' of choice for the bad guys. And the mechanics behind these attacks are industrial in scale. To the extent that new cloud-based industries are developing, called MaaS (Malware as a Service) and EaaS (Exploits as a Service). They even have helplines and money-back guarantees! So it is really a case not 'if' we are going be hit by a cyber or data-loss incident, but 'when'. Another scary statistic is that 75% of all malware is custom written and not re-cycled. That means people are targeting our businesses directly using these cloud-based services. So What's a Company to Do? There are various strategies IT can put in place. Network monitoring systems, minimum access privileges, role separation, anti-virus applications, data loss prevention systems, 'explosion sandboxes', AI-designed enterprise immune systems or behavioural analytics, that use machine learning to detect 'good' and 'bad' behaviour. Many and varied. These are all worthy of your consideration and add to the layered defensive strategy you should be implementing. However, the single most effective way to reduce your risk is to sharpen-up your staff. Teach them what is good and not so good, what is likely to lead to a problem and what isn't. And as important, what our clients expect us to do with their (and therefore your) precious assets. In the knowledge economy, data in all its forms is the second most precious thing we have. Yet we tend to assign it only third rate protection. You wouldn't let me loose on a particularly complicated piece of the large hadron collider without some significant education. So why do we let untrained people loose on our clients, or your own data? There are many ways to do this, which I'm not going to go into here, other than to say that it should be slightly more imaginative than a poster saying, "Be careful with that spreadsheet!" A separate post, perhaps. The Opportunity The trick we are really missing here, though, is the opportunity this presents to actually impress our clients even more that we currently do. Assuming I'm not the only one noticing the increase in cyber threats and data loss, data theft and the sudden increase in use of bitcoins, our clients should be increasingly concerned with how their data is being handled. Talk Talk, the Panama Papers, WADA, DNC, the number of major incidents of systems being hacked, and often by the simplest means, is growing. If I was a client handing my data to a supplier I would want to feel assured that it will be safe in their hands. We of course provide all the written and contractual assurances, but I'm sure Mossack Fonseca in Panama gave these to their customers. As a client, what would be much more convincing is if the people who were working directly on my business could talk intelligently to me about information security, how my data is managed, protected, processed, and how those with access to it are trained to maintain that confidentiality, integrity and availability. And even better, to be able to demonstrate that too. When I put my car in for a service, if I see the mechanic putting oil in the washer bottle I'm going to be a little concerned. If he or she says they've replaced the diesel filter when it's an electric car, I'm going to start asking questions. This doesn't mean we have to start educating our Account Directors about encryption types, nor our Marketing Directors about each of the 114 controls in the ISO27001 information security standard. What we should do be doing, though, is integrating subject-level, common sense, non-technical help about information security to all of our staff. Dancing with Clients But especially to those client facing folk, so they can talk intelligently about data residency, retention policies, access restrictions, backup & restore requirements, and yes, at a high level, use of encryption (then hand over to those that know most about that stuff); in other words, what 'good' looks like, what 'bad' looks like, why it's important, and what the consequences of going off-piste looks like to not only the client, but also your business. (Of course you have to be doing all this stuff, as well as talking about it.) If you can do this, not only will you be much better at looking after what's most important by addressing the single biggest threat to your vital company assets, but you should also have a much more confident client. And that can only be a good thing. By Gavin Whatrup

10 July 2017

Art of the Deal in Brexit Britain

“No deal is better than a bad deal” “Not in a mood to compromise” “No deal IS a bad deal” Soft, Hard or Squidgy Brexit? (Stop Googling - I made the last one up). No matter where you stand, the whole process has become something of a spectator sport. At times an unedifying one, with people taking up hard and immovable positions or 'red lines' one minute, and abandoning them the next. The whole thing seems somewhat chaotic. So what is going on? Is the British political class as second rate as some would have us believe? At first glance, it might seem so. Or are they playing to the rules of the game that, just like cricket, can be somewhat opaque to the uninitiated? Rule 1 – Winners lose Bold statements threatening dire consequences seem to go against the first rule of negotiation - make the deal Win/Win, or the deal won't last. Not only that, but at least from the UK side some of the utterances have been frankly nonsensical - "Brexit means Brexit" was an interesting start. The latest is "No deal is better than a bad deal". No deal in fact is a deal. One that puts the UK on the world default trade rules set down by the WTO, and they are very bad indeed compared to where we are now. On the EU side, we have Michel Barnier saying he is 'not in a mood to compromise'. Intransigence abounds, and we seem to be heading for lose/lose, not win/win. What we are seeing is the hard reality of complex negotiations. There is a table in the centre. On one side is the UK Conservative party. On the other, the EU negotiation team. But behind each is a mess of interests, personalities and positions that have somehow to be reconciled and managed. Rule 2 – Principles not positions For the EU side, there are 27 sovereign governments, ranging from the hard right in Poland to the pro-European in Germany and France and leftist Greece. At one level, these negotiations are about the UK exit, but on a far more important level for Europe, how these negotiations are undertaken and the result that emerges could strengthen the EU or tear it apart completely. Up against the principle of European solidarity and peace, the UK might be at the table, but they are a small sideshow to the main event. For the UK side it is just as complex. In the Conservative party itself there are Remain, Soft Brexit and Hard Brexit factions. Then we have the reluctant Brexiteers of the Labour party, and the Remainers of the LibDems and the SNP. The Conservatives are a minority government, being kept in power by a small, very socially conservative Northern Irish party (another negotiation). There are cross party alliances being formed in the Commons. It is all about as orderly as a box of frogs. Different positions abound, from Jacob Rees Mogg's “if it’s good enough in India we’ll accept it here” on emission standards to the SNPs threat of another independence vote if they don't like the result (although the latest election result appears to have weakened their hand just as it has the Hard Brexiteers). It just shows what Brexit has become in the UK - a subject of internal party wrangling. Victory looks like a win in the next general election. The Europeans are (at least for the Right) the whipping boys to be blamed and demonised for all the ills of the world, in their quest for dominance of the UK. A bad process, a bad deal, and the ability to blame the Europeans for it might just be the outcome they are looking for... All of which is about the second rule of negotiation. Understand the principles behind the stated positions. Only if you get what your side and the other side really care about will you understand what to give and how to get a good result. Looking at the principles playing out on each side at the moment, I'm nervous. Rule 3 – Know the game you are playing But I do have hope. The last UK election gave a great example of what happens when you lose track of your most important stakeholder, and misunderstand the game you are playing. In 'Game Theory', there are finite and infinite games. In a finite game, there is a winner. In negotiation, this is win/lose. In an infinite game, the game never stops, so there is no winner, only staying in the game. In negotiation, this is win/win. Think of a football match. 2 sides, 90 minutes, the only purpose is to win. By fair means or foul. It is a finite game that has an end. So, if one player finds a way to cheat, maybe a dive in the penalty box or a sly tug of the shirt, there are no negative consequences as long as the ref doesn't see. This game is Win/Lose. Now change the game. Still football. But widen the view. The footballers are playing for their contracts. They are wondering about their next move, or getting into their national team. Before and after the game it is all hugs and handshakes. Score a goal, and the scorer runs to the fans, kissing the club badge on their shirt. In the end that is where the money comes from, and their relationship with their fellow professionals and the fans will in the long term greatly determine their career. The aggregate of those fan relationships and how well the players play determines how many people watch, and therefore what their wages are. This is the game footballers and clubs really play, and it never ends. This is the position the negotiators find themselves in. If they try to 'win' the Brexit negotiation, they will both lose. Just over a month ago the Conservative right tried to 'win' by calling a snap election on their version of Brexit, and talked openly of crushing the Labour Party and finishing it as a power in British politics. They tried to 'win' British politics. Two months ago, I was thinking that History would judge them harshly. It turns out I was wrong. History may well do, but the electorate got there first. From a very low start, Labour came within a whisker of the Tory popular vote, and added together left leaning parties received more votes than right leaning ones (if less seats). The Tories forgot who they were supposed to be fighting for. It is about the electorate. A party that forgets that and focuses on the opposition instead will find itself in trouble as the Conservatives just have. In this negotiation, both the EU and the UK must remember who their real stakeholders are.  If the deal they strike does not work for their electorates, the people will judge them harshly way before history gets a chance to. That is my beacon of hope. Negotiation is everywhere The couple of principles of negotiations mentioned here were cemented a long time ago (early ‘80s) by Fischer & Ury. Negotiation skills and practice has come a long way since. Max Bazerman’s Negotiating rationally (1991) looked at how cognitive and motivational biases make for bad negotiations and bad decisions. The US airlines industry as a collective lost $3 billion in the ‘90s in giving away free seats due a competitive escalation of commitment in their frequent flyer programmes. And these companies were run by smart managers. Harvard Business School’s Deepak Malhotra has written (and tweeted) a lot about explosive negotiations and conflict escalation in his latest book “Negotiating the impossible”. His HBR piece on “When winning is everything” is a masterpiece on escalation of commitment. Good negotiation skills stand alongside selling and influencing as key life skills whether you are an employee, an entrepreneur, a manager or a government leader. If you want to find out more about how a negotiation works, try out TechUK’s one day course on Negotiating Fundamentals. TechUK is a membership organisation of 900 companies collectively employing more than 700,000, about half of all tech sector jobs in the UK. The last one of the year runs on the 14th of July: Neil Marshall is Development Director of ChangeSchool. ChangeSchool believe elite business education should be for everyone, not just the few. Reach him at or +44 7967 092015

04 July 2017

The Cyber-Value Connection

Cyber risk has risen to the top of the corporate agenda but few company leaders are aware of the full extent of damage caused by a cyber breach — or the full costs. CGI has worked with Oxford Economics to create a rigorous model that captures the damage done by cyber breach to a company’s share price. The Cyber-Value Connection reveals that share prices fall by an average of 1.8 per cent on a permanent basis following a severe breach. To put that in context, investors in a typical FTSE 100 firm would be worse off by an average of £120 million. However, in some extreme cases, breaches have wiped as much as 15 per cent off affected companies’ valuations, substantially more than this sum. The damage to shareholder value is significant today — but The Cyber-Value Connection analysis suggests severe cyber breach will become even more costly in the future as industry analysts include cyber as a factor affecting valuation and new regulation demands that companies disclose incidents. Clearly, the CEO has responsibility for increasing company value. With the link between cyber breach and company value established in this report, it is clear the CEO’s responsibility must also include direction and governance of cyber security. The Cyber-Value Connection concludes with advice on how they can challenge their organisation and put in place effective governance. Key findings of the 2016 Cyber in the Boardroom: UK plc at risk paper included: • Over a third of C-suite executives believe a cyber security breach will affect their organisation in the next 12 months • The average annual cost of a breach is estimated at £1.2m, although damage to a brand's reputation is of most concern • 81% of boardrooms say they've increased scrutiny of their cyber defences since 2015 The full Cyber Value Connection report is available here, or Cyber Security in the Boardroom: UK plc at risk can be viewed here. By Andrew Rogoyski, Vice President, Cyber Security, CGI UK

26 June 2017