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.
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 ChangeSchool.org
To be honest, I hate using the word digital. To me saying that a company is digital is about as useful as saying it runs on electricity. It’s what you do with digital technology to achieve your organization's goals that makes the difference. Digital should be part of the DNA of the organization and not a department, channel or role. Here are 5 simple tips will help drive success in your organization and make you a (digital) hero: 1. Identify and understand the problems This is so trivial but yet incredible important and frequently ignored. Companies, governments and other organizations try to solve problems without understanding them. The first step of solving any challenge, with our without technology, is to identify and understand the problem(s). I use plural because we often jump on the first problem when there are several. There's a myriad of great tools to identify problems including the 5 Whys, Customer Journey mapping, Customer Research, and more. 2. Be inspired and challenged by great people The honest truth is that most people are comfortable with what they have and know. The unknown and change is frightening. But to survive in the current competitive, fast-moving world we need to challenge ourselves to consider other points of view, think differently, and to change fundamentals. These are a few ways you can challenge yourself: • Follow people on Twitter and LinkedIn such as Tom Goodwin, Martin Lindstrom and Benedict Evans • Meet and hire partners that will challenge you (and don’t always agree) • Talk to the competition's customers (Tom Goodwin, 24 Jan 2018) 3. Always involve unbiased customers Another basic mistake too many organizations make is solving problems without involving the people that are intended to use it. For example launching a website without testing the concept, content and final design on the intended target audience or deploying an expense management tool without including employees in the evaluation and implementation process. Lack of time or cost are common excuses, but how much time and money do you lose when a website or software doesn’t achieve its goals? Always involve end users at every step of the way. Remember that colleagues or the boss are usually not representative of the end users. 4. Define clear success factors, measure and follow-up How do we know if we’ve achieved success if we didn’t define it in the first place? Many organizations have too generic or end-goal-centric metrics. The most common measures of success are revenue growth and cost savings. The challenge with these is that it’s usually not possible to measure success until e.g. 3-6 months after the project has been completed. A better alternative is to include success factors that can be measured throughout the project. For example user task completion rate, satisfaction and sticking to the MVP timeline. 5. Understand why Culture eats Strategy for breakfast Want to change the business or organization? Think that a new app, knowledge sharing system or HR website will achieve radical change? It won’t unless people want change. Ensure that every initiative to change has a plan to get buy-in from the organization including the grass roots. No. 3 above will help, but is not enough. Use these 5 tips in whatever you do and I can promise you a greater chance of success. Furthermore there’s a pretty good chance that the organization will consider YOU a digital hero. By Magnus Jern, DMI
First things first, this is not an attempt to excuse what Jamie did. Just an examination of some of the factors that might have been at play and what we can learn to stop ourselves from reacting badly to situations. I'm probably not the only one who was quite surprised to see Jamie Carragher in the media for the spitting incident which has at least temporarily stopped his career as a pundit. In his 508 Premier League games he was only sent off twice, a great record for a defender, and has never come across as someone who is prone to emotional outbursts. So what made him spit at the car containing a supporter from another team and what can we learn from it? Well it might surprise you to know, I don't have an inside line to Jamie so you'll have to make do with my assessment. How we react to incidents depends on many things but I just want to focus on three of them. Temperament Your temperament is your basic nature and it differs for all of us. Some people are unfailingly placid and never let anything get to them. Others are quick to anger or permanently grumpy. Temperament is semi-permanent although it can change with age. I'm currently going through the 'grumpy dad' phase although my children would probably tell you I've been that way permanently. If we're provoked, which is what appears to have happened in Jamie Carragher's situation, our temperament will be the baseline from which we react. Recognising that you have a temperament that makes you likely to react spontaneously can be the first step to adjusting your responses. It allows you to work on identifying the early signs of an emotional response and work out strategies to deal with it. I don't know what Jamie Carragher's temperament is like but his disciplinary record as a player and his public persona seems to suggest he wasn't prone to outbursts. Mood Moods are a form of emotional response but they last longer than 'pure' emotions and are less permanent than your temperament. They're less intense than emotions but more intense than our baseline temperament. Our mood can be affected by specific incidents which caused an emotional reaction but can also be affected by lack of sleep, nutrition and alcohol. So if you've had a number of emotional responses over the course of a few hours, they can alter your mood. Add in a lack of sleep and a disrupted diet and your mood can significantly worsen. Again I don't know how Jamie Carragher spent his day but as a pundit at a lunchtime fixture he probably had an early start, his mood will have worsened as the team he supports were beaten and he was then exposed to a prolonged situation that will have triggered the physical fight or flight response. We've probably all found ourselves in situations where a series of minor events, coupled with a lack of sleep has led to a less than optimal outcome. Emotion Emotional responses form in around 0.25 of a second and last for up to six seconds before they morph into feelings. Our emotions were designed to keep us alive and evolution hasn't really kept up with the changing world in which we live. Emotional responses can form independently of mood of temperament. If our body identifies something as a threat it might generate the emotion of anger or fear regardless of our mood or temperament. Emotions are linked with the release of chemicals into our bloodstream that change how we feel. Fear is associated with the stress hormone cortisol and also adrenaline while happiness is associated with chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin that make us feel good and 'together' with others. I suspect that Jamie had a number of emotional responses prior to spitting at the other car, each one releasing chemicals into his system until he lost control. Strategies While there might not be much we can do about our temperament, there are things that we can do to affect our mood and emotion. Smile The work of scientist Paul Ekman and others showed that certain muscle groups in the face are associated with certain emotions. If you can trigger those muscle groups you can change how you feel. I compete in ultramarathons and make a conscious effort to smile at people I see at checkpoints. When they smile back it reinforces the feeling and my body releases positive chemicals into my blood stream. At 75 miles into a race that can be a powerful thing. You may not be racing an ultramarathon or being confronted when you're driving your car but if you're in a bad mood and you're about to go into a situation where this will be counter-productive, then finding ways to smile can help. I find both this video and this video work for me. Emotions catch and finding ways to 'catch' more appropriate emotions can be effective. Be Curious About Your Emotions We all act based on our emotions but often aren't conscious about which emotions are at play. Being curious about how you are feeling and labelling your emotions can help you deal with the situation better. If Jamie had labelled how he was feeling when the other car pulled alongside him he'd have been more conscious about how that might play out. The more curious you are about your emotional responses the more aware you will be about what triggers certain emotions and how your body responds. That allows you to react more quickly. Ask Yourself Questions As you feel an emotion taking hold you can ask yourself how valid that emotion actually is. You can also ask yourself how other people might respond in that situation and what they might think about how you are beginning to react. Questioning forces the analytical part of your brain to become more active. This in itself can dampen the emotional response and help you regain control of the situation. We can never fully control our emotions but understanding our temperament and the mood that we are in can help us react better to our emotional responses. By Applied Influence Group
I love Google Translate. It was in August 2016, in Rio de Janiero, when our eyes first truly met. I picked up Google Translate on my iPhone at the 2016 Olympics, and it turned out to be a lifesaver. Alone in the city, it allowed me to get around the city without having to depend on anyone for help or wave my arms around helplessly. At Rio 2016, all the infrastructure and transport links were new, completed just days before the event. The venues were spread out, separated by vast distances in remote parts of the city. While the infrastructure in Rio was fantastic, the volunteers lacked the information beyond their immediate zones of operation. And the taxi drivers, a tourist’s fount of all knowledge worldwide, had very little spoken English. Google Translate solved all the communication barriers. Google Maps was a reliable guide to public transport links and travel schedules. When public transport links (with walking distance, travel times and changeovers) were inconvenient, low-cost Uber stepped in to make the journey simpler. But in December 2016, I was jilted in Tokyo. Although electronic language translators have abounded in Japan for a long time, tourists and locals were hardly using them in December 2016. You would normally only see them in more formal settings such as offices. Fast forward one year however, and everything has changed. It’s December 2017 in Nagasaki, Japan. On a holiday trip to the Shinkamigoto remote set of islands, 100km off Nagasaki, our taxi “concierge” host hands us a Huawei D-Tab tablet with a VoiceTra app to let us talk to our Japanese speaking driver for our sightseeing trip. By the end of the 3-hour tour, both the driver and I were using Google Translate text to speech natural language voice rendition on our phones. The Huawei D-Tab tablet was cast aside, no longer required. It was like swimming with the Babel-fish from the Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy (by Douglas Adams, as any 80s kids out there will surely remember). Later that evening at our Ryokan hotel, both the staff and I again resorted to our phones to negotiate our late checkout, use additional hotel facilities and book our return taxi. Although I speak a little (survival level) Japanese, I have been travelling to and in Japan every year since 2007, and it’s only in 2017 that I noticed the widespread use of these translation applications, even in the remotest parts of the country. Google Translate as “an innovation” has become mainstream. A project that started in 2001, in 2013 Google Translate served 200m people per day By 2016, it was serving 500m. What has their journey to tell us about how innovation and entrepreneurial ventures succeed in the near future economy? I am first going to describe what these journeys now look like, and then get into what to look for as an investor, entrepreneur, in company innovator, corporate finance officer, or just interested in how the next big thing develops. The Odds Some innovations get adopted and make the mainstream. But even for successfully commercialised products i.e. the ones that we are likely to see in the market, the failure rate can be as high as 90% . And sometimes success can take decades… Acceleration. You may be familiar with the ‘S curve’ that follows the diffusion of innovation. This isn’t the right model for this type of new technology though. Adoption doesn’t slow down after a while, it accelerates, and looks more like this. Salim Ismail in the introduction chapter of his book Exponential Organisations, writes “we are experiencing a new breed of organisation that is scaling and generating value at a pace never before seen in business". The chart below shows the accelerating metabolism of the economy. The time taken to reach a billion-dollar valuation has decreased EIGHTFOLD in the last 20 years. The graph below completes the picture. This level of accelerating growth is only possible if the products and services these companies launch are adopted at an accelerating rate. A corollary to the rate of adoption is the reduction of price, (discussed later) and sure enough costs of some of these technologies have plummeted at an accelerating rate. For example • 3D Printer costs from $ 40,000 (2007) to $ 100 (2014) Scale: 400x in 7 years; • Industrial robots cost: $ 500,000 (2008) to $ 22,000 (2013) Scale: 23x in 5 years • Drones cost: $ 100,000 (2007) to $ 700 (2013) Scale: 142x in 6 years • Solar cost: $ 30 per kWh (1984) to $ 0.16 per kWh (2014) Scale: 200x in 20 years. “The diffusion and adoption rates for new technologies have risen over the years. The graph shows the number of years it took technologies such as electricity, television, and the Internet to be adopted by at least 25 percent of the U.S. population.” As shown in the graph below from the US census, wall street journal, reproduced by Marketrealist and the Startup Way by Eric Reis. Faster and ever faster For innovations that do become mainstream, the time for this adoption has been dropping, because companies can scale much faster than ever they could. as the scaling capacity of companies is no longer constrained by having to create and own the means of production. Entire value chains can be rented on demand. Global communications, 3D printing, elastic value chains, scalable cloud technologies and AI driven insights make all of this possible. The term used to describe the complexity of our environments, which impacts our ability to predict the future reliably (or at a minimum our success in it) is VUCA. VUCA stands for volatility uncertainty complexity and ambiguity and is used widely in strategy to set the context for scenario planning. Because we can’t predict the future and are less and less able to day by day as the world becomes more complex, business strategists work on many possible future scenarios as once as a set of experiments. Making one big bet on one possible future just means you are guaranteed to be wrong. This new technology ecosystem in this complex environment creates opportunities for well-funded start-ups and incumbent firms to innovate and create new services. In the beginning, a large number of firms (with their propositions) enter the market, and in this primordial soup, Darwinian evolution takes over. Only a few survive to create a dominant design. This phenomenon is not new; it happened in the 1900s in the automobile industry where at the peak in 1910, 275 automakers were producing and competing . Over the next 20 years there was a massive exit by failed firms and the big three emerged, getting up to 88% market share by the 70's. What is new however is the speed of this selection survival cycle. It is like an Elon Musk rocket. Product, pricing and product ecosystems Google Translate is free. As a tourist, with the use of offline dictionaries, one does not need roaming data or Wi-Fi to be able to use the service. It doesn't cost to download, it doesn't cost to update, and it doesn't force any other additional or hidden costs on you. Google translate as a product may not make money, its company Google (or parent Alphabet) makes truckloads, which brings us to our next point on ecosystems. An innovation is an invention (or doing something different), creating value (leading to adoption and scale) and a means of commercialising the success. Companies don’t survive by single products and services alone; they thrive on product and service ecosystems, where some free products are necessary to create the hook for paid services. The Google AdWords business would not have been the success it is today if Google search was a paid-for service. That is why Google search, with all its power of bringing the world’s information to your fingertips, is free to use. We see this practice in other industries. In education, business schools provide free online content. In consulting, the good companies publish reports for free, some better ones even share their “IP” . So, what of the other businesses that won’t survive the next few years? Obsolescence. Cigar butt businesses A Cigar butt business was a term coined by Warren Buffet as he describes businesses that have just one puff left. This is probably why his investments go to companies that he believes will exist for another 100 years. It is also why some of my close friends will lose large sums of money they have invested in AI-driven eLearning systems, where the number of survivors that eventually become dominant from the present primordial soup of intense competition will be a single digit fraction. Part 2: So what can we learn from this? How can we evaluate a new opportunity or an existing business idea? How are early stage investors guided? Innovation reinvented and adoption: We need to get beyond the mind-set that R&D or invention = innovation. Innovation is doing things differently that creates value, it’s the commercialisation, scale and adoption. Without adoption, it is a failed innovation, and there is a palette of innovation opportunity beyond product innovation (or it's narrower definition of disruptive innovation). The type of "innovation" a firm can deploy should vary based on whether it’s an incumbent or an entrant and whether the market is developing or mature. Work by Costas Markides and Geoffrey Moore in Inside the Tornado expands the palette of these innovation options. Each has a significant impact on adoption. Acceleration: The markets are driving the Darwinian process of tinkering, selection, adoption and survival of the fitter few. A large number of new firms enter these new market opportunities (AI-driven recruitment and candidate selection is a current example of the number of companies with offerings), and only a few remain as a dominant design, technology or player emerges. Firms wired for exponential growth are structurally different. They leverage the power of the crowd, algorithms, platforms, automation and AI at unprecedented levels. The strategic assets that companies have used in the past to protect their competitive advantage are the very assets that are becoming liabilities. New competition is increasingly asset light and uses collaboration and external ecosystems to compete. Salim Ismail and his team conducted a post facto analysis of the structural characteristics of firms who grow at 10x the industry average and developed a series of questions. An adapted version of a firm’s future potential for exponential growth is available here. Product advocacy and virality is a significant driver. I see it happening with Zoom, a web conferencing alternative to WebEx that is taking the world by storm and we have used it successfully with our clients and partners in Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, and Oman (where most Voice over IP technologies are banned). We are big fans and have introduced it a dozen organisations including the World Bank. Being saved from Obsolescence: A good model is a seven-domain framework developed by John Mullins, in his book The New Business Road Test. We have used this model widely in our international faculty development programmes when partnering with LBS and NUS faculty. The model not only looks at the opportunity with its current potential but also asks vital questions about the business's sustainable advantage from IP, the creation of strategic assets, on-going innovation activities and process. It's a pre-emptive look at the future competition you can't spot today. Perhaps the most critical aspect is the evaluation of underlying economic models that will give the business the oxygen to reinvent itself over years to come. A healthier business has a higher chance to reinvest in innovation, experiment and create new markets. The latter is covered in Getting to Plan B by John Mullins. You can find links to resources including downloadable book chapters at the end of this piece. It is no wonder, why even ten years ago the overarching question on the future sustainability of the venture seven domain framework was “Why won't Google eat you?”. It was valid the and still valid today. That’s where the title of this blog came from. Freakonomics: Our prediction for the future. Most experts are wrong at predicting the future . McKinsey had famously estimated that market for mobile phones for AT&T was only going to be 900,000 units (AT&T subsequently lost out on a billion-dollar opportunity by not entering the mobile telecommunications space). And on the other hand, even a stopped clock is correct twice a day. Here is a small risk I will take in making this prediction. It is based on the work of Steven Levitt , an American economist known for his work in the field of crime, in particular on the link between legalised abortion and crime rates. His hypothesis (Donohue-Levitt hypothesis) is a hypothesised reduction in crime as a result of the legalisation of abortion (that happened a few decades previously) and not as a result of government intervention on managing crime in the present day. Even an economist of Steven's stature (voted in the top 4 living economists under the age of 60) has had his work come under criticism that his study was flawed . Here is my prediction. Japan will see a massive surge of tourism travel in the next 3-4 years. The administration will point to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and associated promotional activity. I predict the not only a surge in tourism but also an entirely different enabling factor. The ubiquitous, free usage of Google Translate. Perhaps the only way to test that out is to observable adoption and use over the next five years. By Viren Lall, Managing Director, ChangeSchool
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. www.appliedinfluencegroup.com
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information, please visit www.thejmgroup.com or contact 0207 251 7300. You can also find The JM Group on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-jm-group/
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 ChangeSchool.org
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.”
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. www.appliedinfluencegroup.com
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 www.appliedinfluencegroup.com
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, www.dminc.com
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 www.lynnanderson.co.uk email@example.com 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.
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.
"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
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. http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/speeches/2016/speech937.pdf (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. http://www.ecomod.net/sites/default/files/document-conference/ecomod2010/1316.pdf 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. http://www.ifaamas.org/Proceedings/aamas2016/pdfs/p806.pdf