Karen Dillon will help you figure out your job. Not your profession – the “job” that your customers are trying to accomplish. “Jobs To Be Done” theory, as described in “Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice” (HarperCollins, October 2016), co-authored by Clay Christensen and Dillon, explains this kind of job: it’s the progress your customer wants to achieve when they’re struggling. It can be small, like bottled iced coffee as a more convenient way to perk up in the morning, or huge, like the almost universal switch from film to digital photography.
At Stern Strategy Group®, we work with the foremost thinkers and doers who are helping companies, institutions and individuals understand the issues and capitalize on the opportunities created by change. It’s a mission we share with our clients, and it’s why we created Minds Worth Meeting (MWM). In a world absent of good conversation, our new podcast connects you to our roster of experts and thought leaders – forces and champions of change across a wide range of industries, disciplines and topics.
Even as the “gig economy” encompasses 94% of new jobs in the U.S., tax policy has lagged behind the reality of a full third of American workers. Sara Horowitz, a social entrepreneur and expert on the freelance economy, penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that lays out the issues with freelance work in a system built around an industrial-era labor force.
Disruptive change is accelerating, enabled by the frantic pace of technological advancement. Mark W. Johnson, authority on innovation and co-founder of Innosight, has identified the businesses at greatest risk: “The companies most vulnerable to disruption today are those at the top of their game. In mature industries, incumbent leaders are extremely vulnerable to competitors offering greater simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability.” He projects that over the next decade half the S&P 500 index will have turned over, thanks to disruptive innovation.
Conventional wisdom casts online learning as a disruptive force that will revolutionize higher education by lowering costs and expanding access. But a recent survey has found that costs for online learning are no less than, and in some cases more than, costs for traditional instruction. How could this so-called disruptive force have resulted in only an expansion of the status quo?
The mobile economy, projected to reach $1 trillion in the U.S. by 2020, is being almost ignored by retailers and advertisers are only directing about 12% of ad revenues to mobile devices. Also sorely neglected is the the vast stream of data created by every tap on every phone. Companies don’t know how to reach people on their mobile devices, and they don’t know what they would say if they could. Fortunately, Anindya Ghose, the foremost expert on mobile economics, has designed the tools that can help your company thrive as business-to-consumer interactions increasingly shift to mobile platforms.
As instruction methods are constantly updated, it’s difficult to be sure that the proper techniques are being applied. Heather Staker, K-12 education expert, best-selling author and founder of Ready to Blend, has successfully removed the doubt that accompanies changing teaching methods. How? By pinpointing students’ jobs to be done.
Apple is fighting a long, grinding campaign. Their goal is the adoption of Apple Pay, their mobile payment system, and the battleground is the billions of financial transactions that happen every day. Horace Dediu, leading mobile industry analyst, writes, “There are no decisive battles won or lost, only the relentless pressure to make progress against a reluctance to change.” In other words, the true enemy isn’t the competition in the mobile payment system space – it’s the nonconsumption of customers who are already comfortable with cash and card swipes. And Dediu thinks that Apple is winning.
In 2017, a plethora of changes are approaching the world of education: a new American presidential administration is bringing new policies to K-12 schools, universities are reconsidering graduates’ need for a four-year degree, and modern technology is increasingly altering the times and places of instruction delivery.
In 2016, the number of global refugees and displaced people hit an all-time high. European countries are struggling to absorb people displaced by conflicts across Africa and the Middle East as record numbers of people flee violence in Central America. The international systems in place for helping and coping with refugees are almost uniformly broken. They handicap both host countries and the displaced, leading to negative outcomes for all. But Alexander Betts, who heads Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre, has real solutions for host countries. His new book, “Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System,” presents the key factor: work.
Amy Webb, futurist and bestselling author, is concerned. The recent comments by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about the effect of artificial intelligence and automation on the job market (“…not even on my radar screen… 50-100 more years.”) indicate to her that the administration is not up to speed on the latest developments in the field. In response, Webb looks at the state of artificial intelligence and its potential to replace human jobs in a Los Angeles Times op-ed.
Startups live and die by their culture. And not by the ping-pong tables or the all-night coding sessions, but by the cultural infrastructure put into place by the management. According to a new Harvard Business Review article, 70% of startups see their employee morale dive in year three or four, and the size of this decline is directly associated with the company’s level of growth.
Credit card fraud cost the U.S. retail industry $32 billion in 2014. One of the easiest ways for a scam artist to gain access to credit card information is a “skimmer,” a small device illegally installed on an ATM. Now several banks are going for a technical fix: cardless ATMs. Anindya Ghose, the foremost authority on mobile economics and author of the groundbreaking “Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy” (MIT Press, April 2017), details the ways these new mobile-phone-based systems will make retail banking more secure.
Taddy Hall and Karen Dillon, partners of Jobs Theory creator Clay Christensen, team up to walk through a compelling real-world application of Jobs Theory in this video. After introducing the theory, Hall applies it to a case study of International Delight’s recently introduced iced coffee line. Hall looks at the jobs performed by iced coffee in general, i.e. why consumers “hire” it every day, and then walks through the innovation process that created an entirely new product category in grocery store refrigerators.
Fifty years ago, Moshe Safdie was a recent architecture graduate, intent on realizing the ideas explored in his thesis project at McGill University: a three-dimensional model for urban housing. Sandy VanGinkel, one of his professors, recruited him to help design the master plan for the World Exposition in Montreal. Safdie agreed to join the effort, with the caveat that he could continue his exploration into housing as a potential entry for the Canadian pavilion.
(Photo credit: Timothy Hursley)
As a leader, how insulated are you? CEOs and other leaders can easily slip inside a bubble created by their own power and prestige. Outside this bubble are critical ideas and information, including small bellwether changes that signal big market shifts. Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center, has a solution; in his words, “Innovative executives deliberately put themselves into situations where they may be unexpectedly wrong, unusually uncomfortable, and uncharacteristically quiet.”
The mobile economy is projected to hit $1 trillion dollars by the year 2020. But while we spend 25 percent of our time using mobile devices, advertisers commit only 12 percent of ad dollars to them. While mobile drives only 2 to 3 percent of direct conversions, it is a factor in 40 percent of final sales. Why such slow adoption by brands? Anindya Ghose, NYU Professor and leading thinker on the mobile economy, describes “context” and “balance” as the possible keys.
With the Republicans in control of the presidency, Congress, and, soon the Supreme Court, the passage of their policy agenda might seem to be a foregone conclusion. Is there any way for the Democrats to resist, or even turn the tables on the newly dominant GOP? Gautam Mukunda thinks so.
Leaders are expected to have all the right answers. But getting those answers means asking the right questions. And the higher one climbs, the harder it becomes to ask these questions. How can you overcome this dilemma? Start early – establish bubble-bursting habits now to help surface the information you need tomorrow. Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center, has recently shared tools in the Harvard Business Review that you can use today.
Are you preparing today for tomorrow’s global trends? In other words, are you thinking like a futurist? Amy Webb’s “The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe is Tomorrow’s Mainstream” (PublicAffairs, 2016) has revealed her methodology for answering vitally important questions about the future, and earned the 2017 Axiom Business Book Gold Award in the Business Technology category.
Around the world, trust in our institutions is collapsing. More than a trend, this is a profound shift changing politics, business and social norms. Trust once reserved for respected institutions and brands, we now bestow on complete strangers through digital platforms such as Airbnb and Uber. The shift isn’t just about the failure of institutions; technology is rewriting the rules of trust.
More than one million refugees arrived in Europe last year. Alexander Betts, an Oxford University professor and foremost expert on immigration and refugees, thinks that the West has some room for improvement in its reception, and perception, of those million people.
The transportation industry is changing. Vehicles are getting smarter and smaller, environments are being designed on a more human scale, and companies are rushing to innovate in the face of these changes. Or as Jeffrey Schnapp, of Harvard’s “idea foundry” metaLAB, describes it: “a sense that the world of mobility is undergoing a significant transformation.”
The Chinese smartphone market has produced companies, leaders, and, of course, phones. But its most significant output is perhaps more unique: a user-centric innovation by Xiaomi that treats hardware as an afterthought rather than the main driver of sales. Clay Shirky, an NYU professor living in China for this academic year (he returns to teaching at New York University later this year), has been studying the $20 billion start-up and its techniques – the centerpiece of his new book, “Little Rice” (Columbia Global Reports).
Why does your product or service matter to your customer? What aspects of it are the most (and least) important? What exactly is the value that you provide? Alex Osterwalder can help you figure it out.
We are living in a “moment of crisis for global capitalism,” Fortune Magazine Editor Alan Murray recently told an audience filled with some of the most powerful business leaders in the world. Held at the Vatican, the 2016 Fortune-Time Global Forum was inspired largely by Pope Francis calling on the “noble vocation” of business to help create a more inclusive and humane economy.
Dov Seidman, LRN CEO and author of “HOW,” joined Murray and Virgin CEO Richard Branson to open the day, describing the conditions of our reshaped world and the implications and imperatives for global leadership. While the conference itself offered ideas on everything from job creation and fair wages to education and health care, Seidman was asked to frame the conference and its objectives to how the private sector can be a driving force in creating a more sustainable world for all.
Africa’s economic slowdown, triggered by a plunge in commodity prices, has raised lingering questions about the continent’s future: Is Africa’s population boom more of a curse than a blessing? Can its economies generate the jobs necessary to employ a workforce projected to reach 830 million people by 2050? Will its leaders deliver the education and infrastructure required to unleash the productivity of its people?
The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation hopes to answer these questions and more through the work of its new research division focused on global prosperity. Led by researcher Efosa Ojomo, a champion of creating economic prosperity through disruptive innovation, his team will examine how emerging markets in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, and Asia can create prosperity by focusing on innovations that build new markets and spur long-term economic growth and employment.
Negotiation is an essential part of everyday life; in business, it’s critical to success. Michael Wheeler just launched a new online negotiation certificate program at Harvard Business School.
The holiday rush is no reason to stop innovating. Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell have designed a five-step program to help you make the most of your seasonal employees, allowing them to contribute to improvements that will help your business all year round. Temporary employees present an opportunity for you to try new reporting structures, practices, and processes.
Abuse on social media is terrible for victims and can even hurt your business. We need “rules of the road” for social media just like we need them for highways.
Julia Freeland Fisher, education expert and director of education research at the Clayton Christensen Institute, believes the current direction of education reform rhetoric is misplaced.
Listen to Larry Brilliant talk about how the quality of compassion can motivate us to build a better world, cure disease, eradicate poverty, and – when we all pull together – help the arc of history “bend toward justice.”
Like it or not, at some point in your life, you will live with a robot, says Guy Hoffman. And that’s why the renowned robotics expert is on a mission to make robots more fluent, more engaging, more graceful, and well – more likeable.