SWITCH festival shows the power and potential of cross-industry collaboration

I first met Mark Zawacki when I did the opening keynote at the ANZA Technology Conference in Silicon Valley in 2004, and Mark was also a speaker at the event. Mark has since founded the highly-regarded corporate accelerator 650Labs, which helps leading global corporates to drive innovation.

More recently I have met Catherine Stace, CEO of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, who has brought inspiring and truly disruptive approaches to medical research philanthropy, by focusing on making research far more collaborative and effective rather than simply funding antiquated research models.

It is no surprise that collaboration between Mark and Catherine has created something exceptional: SWITCH Festival, to be held in Sydney 27-29 August.
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Launch of Creating the Future of PR – shaping an exceptional future for the industry

Advanced Human Technologies Group has just launched Creating the Future of PR, a publication that looks at how the Public Relations industry can create an exceptional future for itself and its clients in a fast-changing world.
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In my article Join Us in Creating the Future of PR I frame the context for the launch of the publication:

The fundamental capabilities of PR professionals are more relevant than ever in our intensely networked world. Arguably, PR should be at the center of the marketing universe, since it is better able than any other discipline to deal with a world driven by relationships, fueled by connectivity, social, mobile, and power shifting to the individual.

The big question is: will the PR industry seize the immense opportunity before it?

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Harnessing the power of innovation: networks are at the heart

Every organization understands they need to innovate, not just in bringing new offerings to market, but in continually becoming a new and better organization.

Networks are always at the heart of innovation. The new comes from combining the old in original ways.

Chemist Kary Mullis aptly described how he arrived at his innovations that won him the Nobel Prize in 1993:

“I put together elements that were already there, but that’s what inventors always do. You can’t make up new elements, usually. The new element, if any, it was the combination, the way they were used.”

Whether it is bringing together existing ideas to create new ideas, or connecting people in ways that generate new insights, organizations must design how they work to facilitate value-generating connections.
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Understanding organizational change: Exceptional visualizations of evolving org charts

Org charts have long been used to show people the formal reporting lines in organizations, usually as a hierarchy with different levels.

However organizations are regularly re-organized, requiring a new org chart to be created. In fact, organizations are completely dynamic, changing in ways small and large every single day.

A fantastic video (below) depicts the continuous and frequently dramatic changes in the org chart of Autodesk over a 4 year period, in what the creators describe as an OrgOrgChart (Organic Organizational Chart). It’s well worth watching.


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Applying platform strategy to Facebook Instant Articles

Probably the most reported aspect of my opening keynote at INMA World Congress in New York last week on Creating the Future of News was my response to an audience question about how publishers should think about Facebook’s new offer to publishers to host their articles for mobile viewing.

An article in Sydney Morning Herald today titled Beware Facebook creep, publishers warned opened by describing the new Facebook Instant Articles and went on to quote me:
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Can Facebook-informed algorithms know you better than your mother?

This morning I was interviewed on the national breakfast program Sunrise about whether algorithms can assess our personality better than those who are closest to us.

Click on the image below to view the segment.

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The segment described some just-released research titled Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which says:

This study compares the accuracy of personality judgment—a ubiquitous and important social-cognitive activity—between computer models and humans. Using several criteria, we show that computers’ judgments of people’s personalities based on their digital footprints are more accurate and valid than judgments made by their close others or acquaintances (friends, family, spouse, colleagues, etc.). Our findings highlight that people’s personalities can be predicted automatically and without involving human social-cognitive skills.

The personality-assessment algorithm was solely based on Facebook likes made by participants, with results compared to the assessments of people who know them well. As little as 150 likes was sufficient to provide a more accurate personality assessment than a family member such as a parent, while 300 likes enabled a better assessment than a spouse.

What was perhaps more interesting was the claim that “computer personality judgments have higher external validity when predicting life outcomes such as substance use, political attitudes, and physical health; for some outcomes, they even outperform the self-rated personality scores.”

The potential implications are profound. Article co-author Wu Youyou said “In this context, the human-computer interactions depicted in science fiction films such as ‘Her’ seem to be within our reach.”

Being able to interact with people in a way tailored to their personalities and designed to generate particular responses is certainly a fair way beyond being able to assess personalities accurately, but we are rapidly heading in that direction.

These findings are unlikely to give pause to people sharing their lives – and personalities – on social media, but we absolutely need to be aware quite how deep the insights about ourselves we are sharing in our everyday online behaviors.

The massive opportunity of open innovation for mid-tier firms

I recently gave the keynote at an American Express function for CFOs of mid-tier firms. I wrote before about the event in a post on the central role of CFOs in innovation and future-proofing in mid-tier firms.

The video below nicely summarizes highlights from the event, including some excerpts from my speech from 1:38.

One of the issues I discussed was the potential of open innovation.
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Why it matters that networks in organizations and social systems are shifting to power-law distributions

I recently gave a keynote address on Science and Leadership for the Future to a small group of major media and corporate clients of New Scientist magazine.

Given the context, I was able to delve a little deeper into the issues than I would for most audiences.

The video of my presentation was sliced into a number of brief segments. Below is the video of the section of my presentation on Networks.


Here is a summary of the points made in the video:
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Concept video: The Future of Work

A while ago at Future Exploration Network we created the Future of Work Framework to provide a high-level overview of how the world of work is shifting.

Over the past year I have used the framework extensively as a starting point for executive briefings and strategy workshops on the strategic implications of the rapidly changing world of work.

However the static visual can be hard to interpret on its own, so we have now created a short video that delves into and narrates the framework.


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Agencies must adapt to a marketing world based on open systems

John Winsor, CEO of crowdsourcing-based advertising agency Victors & Spoils and Chief Innovation Officer at global marketing conglomerate Havas, has long been an innovator and provocateur in agency world.

He gave the keynote at the Future of Crowdsourcing Summit I ran in San Francisco and Sydney in 2010, and his agency was featured as a case study of crowd business models in my book Getting Results From Crowds.

John has just published an excellent article on HBR Blogs titled The Future of Marketing, as Seen at Cannes Lions.
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