donderdag 21 maart 2013

Building success in the future of work: T-shaped, Pi-shaped, and Comb-shaped skills

This morning we completed the five-city Tomorrow-Ready CIO event series, run by CIO magazine and sponsored by IBM.

My keynote across the five locations was on the Future of the CIO, using a Future of the CIO framework I recently created. I hope to write a number of posts in the next little while on some of the more important ideas covered in my framework and keynote.

There were a number of excellent other speakers at the events, including Tennis Australia CIO Samir Mahir, Australian Government CTO John Sheridan, Forrester VP John Brand, IDC NZ country head Ullrich Loeffler, and head of Deakin University’s School of Information Systems Dineli Mather.

In her presentation Prof Mather discussed the skills required for data analytics, in the context of a new Master of Business Analytics program the University is launching this year.

As we chatted before the event this morning we started talking about “T-shaped” skills. I think I first came across the T-shape concept – combining breadth and depth – in the well-known 2001 Harvard Business Review article Introducing T-Shaped Managers: Knowledge Management’s Next Generation. Since then I and others have often used the “T-shaped” concept to describe the skills we all require in the future: deep, world-class expertise, combined with breadth to span disciplines and understand the context for that expertise.

Dineli then mentioned the idea of “Pi-shaped” skills – a term I hadn’t come across before – in which breadth is combined with not one but two separate domains of deep expertise, creating a shape similar to the symbol for Pi. In business analytics the two domains are technology and data analysis. Now I find that others including marketers and IT architects are talking about the need for Pi-shaped skills.

This tallies with my own thoughts – and certainly personal experience – over the years. We absolutely need world-class expertise today, otherwise we will be a commodity.

There is then a balance to strike. It can be dangerous to have just one area of deep expertise, as the value of any single domain of expertise can erode rapidly with new developments. Complementary sets of deep expertise can make people extraordinary valuable, if combined with a breadth of perspective.

However if you try to be expert across too many domains, you cannot maintain your depth of expertise as much as someone who focuses in one domain. That is usually balanced by the value of having complementary domains of expertise.

My experience is of building expertise and then adding multiple new domains over time. For example, I spent many years working in financial and capital markets. Today I can hardly say I have world-class expertise in the field, however the depth of knowledge I had in the past means I still understand the fundamentals of the space, and is highly complementary to the new skills I have acquired more recently.

So there is the potential for us to develop what we might call “Comb-shaped” skills, in which we have many specific domains of expertise as well as breadth. In this case we can certainly never match the knowledge of a deep specialist in any one area.
However in an increasingly complex, interconnected and interdependent world, if we have sufficient depth in several – or even many – domains, we can often be more valuable than a specialist.

What do you think? Do you think developing “Comb-shaped” skills is a viable strategy for many people, or should most focused on “T-shaped” or “Pi-shaped” skills?

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from Trends in the Living Networks

woensdag 20 maart 2013

TED: Hyeonseo Lee: My escape from North Korea - Hyeonseo Lee (2013)

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was “the best on the planet.” It wasn't until the famine of the 90s that she began to wonder. She escaped the country at 14, to begin a life in hiding, as a refugee in China. Hers is a harrowing, personal tale of survival and hope -- and a powerful reminder of those who face constant danger, even when the border is far behind.

from TEDTalks (video)

dinsdag 19 maart 2013

TED: Elon Musk: The mind behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity ... - Elon Musk (2013)

Entrepreneur Elon Musk is a man with many plans. The founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX sits down with TED curator Chris Anderson to share details about his visionary projects, which include a mass-marketed electric car, a solar energy leasing company and a fully reusable rocket.

from TEDTalks (video)

maandag 18 maart 2013

TED: Danny Hillis: The Internet could crash. We need a Plan B - Danny Hillis (2013)

In the 1970s and 1980s, a generous spirit suffused the internet, whose users were few and far between. But today, the net is ubiquitous, connecting billions of people, machines and essential pieces of infrastructure -- leaving us vulnerable to cyber-attack or meltdown. Internet pioneer Danny Hillis argues that the Internet wasn't designed for this kind of scale, and sounds a clarion call for us to develop a Plan B: a parallel system to fall back on should -- or when -- the Internet crashes.

from TEDTalks (video)

vrijdag 15 maart 2013

TED: Catarina Mota: Play with smart materials - Catarina Mota (2012)

Ink that conducts electricity; a window that turns from clear to opaque at the flip of a switch; a jelly that makes music. All this stuff exists, and Catarina Mota says: It's time to play with it. Mota leads us on a tour of surprising and cool new materials, and suggests that the way we'll figure out what they're good for is to experiment, tinker and have fun.

from TEDTalks (video)

donderdag 14 maart 2013

TED: Bono: The good news on poverty (Yes, there's good news) - Bono (2013)

Human beings have been campaigning against inequality and poverty for 3,000 years. But this journey is accelerating. Bono "embraces his inner nerd" and shares inspiring data that shows the end of poverty is in sight … if we can harness the momentum.

from TEDTalks (video)

Professional services will be at the heart of our economic future

Last night was the announcement of the winners of the annual BRW Client Choice Awards.

Each year Beaton Consulting compiles the opinions of large professional service clients – this year 40,000 of them – who collectively select the best professional service firms in Australia. The results are announced at a gala dinner and published in BRW magazine.

The full list of winners is here. The magazine’s lead article on the awards Client choice awards: Savvy, digital, global: the face of the new professional, provides interesting insights into the state of the professions in Australia.

I gave the guest keynote at the event, with the intent of providing inspirational yet light-hearted perspectives on the awards.

My theme was “Creating Australia’s Future”, about how professional services firms are at the heart of Australia’s (and all developed countries’) future.

The core of the message I covered was that:

* Our economic history is largely about the shift from the tangible to the intangible. Despite the mining boom the sector accounts for just 8% of the Australian economy, and the weightless economy accounts for 76% – and growing – of value-add. The figures for some other developed countries are even higher.

* We are shifting to an age of excellence, in which ever-increasing expectations are driving service levels to exceptional levels. Those who do not respond to this will not survive.

* In a connected world, if you do not have world-class expertise, you are a commodity. However if you do have world-class expertise, there are unparalleled opportunities opening up to you.

* Australia is enormously well positioned to benefit from the rise of Asia, as we are gradually becoming a true Asian nation, and have exceptionally relevant expertise to share to aid the development of the region.

* As we ourselves were inspired to a path of excellence early in our careers, we must provide an example that will inspire others to their own path of excellence.

It was a fantastic night celebrating professional excellence, well supporting the optimism for the future of professional services that was at the heart of my keynote.

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from Trends in the Living Networks

woensdag 13 maart 2013

TED: Stewart Brand: The dawn of de-extinction. Are you ready? - Stewart Brand (2013)

Throughout humankind's history, we've driven species after species extinct: the passenger pigeon, the Eastern cougar the dodo .... But now, says Stewart Brand, we have the technology (and the biology) to bring back species that humanity wiped out. So -- should we? Which ones? He asks a big question whose answer is closer than you may think.

from TEDTalks (video)

dinsdag 12 maart 2013

The 7 characteristics of powerful visions for effective leadership

‘Visionary leadership’ is one of the phrases most bandied about these days, yet it is almost always an aspiration rather than a description.

A vision of what is possible is a prerequisite to visionary leadership. That vision can come from an individual, but more often it is the product of many people.

The vision that underpins visionary leadership is definitely not the ‘Vision’ that is encapsulated in a neat phrase and sits alongside the ‘Mission Statement’ and its ilk.

A vision needs to be something that people can ‘see’ in a way that makes them want to move towards it. There are seven primary characteristics to powerful visions that I identify:

- Compelling. Powerful visions must draw people, attract them, make them want to take action and overcome obstacles to achieve it. It must feel worth achieving, worth putting real effort into getting there.

- Achievable. A vision will only inspire action if people feel it is realistic and can be achieved, rather than simply a nice but impossible dream.

- Challenging. There must be a balance between having visions that are seen to be achievable, and that also challenge and stretch people. Too far either way and they lose power. However the right balance can inspire people beyond what they think of as their limits.

- Aligned. The vision must fit with the organization and its people, culture, and history. This requires an insider’s understanding of what will makes sense and work within the context, while possible stretching a little beyond.

- Inclusive. Too many visions focus on the interests of a limited group, such as one department or a single organization. Visions need to include the interests of the broadest possible community, well beyond the organization, in a way that everyone can see their value and can support them.

- Distinctive. Every organization is unique, and it is almost impossible to take another’s vision and expect it to be powerful. There is great power in a vision that is clearly distinctively relevant to the organization and people involved.

- Clear. A vision must be readily communicated and understood by a broad range of people. This doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be simple, but the essence must be able to be captured and conveyed to achieve a common understanding.

Of course a powerful vision alone is not enough.

Leaders need to have the capabilities to co-create compelling, relevant visions with their teams and organizations.

Leaders absolutely also need to have a far broader set of capabilities to get groups to work hard to achieve those visions. There are always many challenges and difficulties on the path to any worthwhile vision. Effective leaders may use a well-articulated vision as a central theme to draw people forward, but they also need to keep teams aligned through the everyday realities and travails that underlie real achievement.

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from Trends in the Living Networks

TED: David Anderson: Your brain is more than a bag of chemicals - David Anderson (2013)

Modern psychiatric drugs treat the chemistry of the whole brain, but neurobiologist David Anderson believes in a more nuanced view of how the brain functions. He illuminates new research that could lead to targeted psychiatric medications -- that work better and avoid side effects. How's he doing it? For a start, by making a bunch of fruit flies angry. (Filmed at TEDxCalTech.)

from TEDTalks (video)

New Prezi: The 45 elements of the Future of the CIO framework

One of the ways in which I use the frameworks I create is as a foundation for my keynote speeches. Since in many cases the frameworks are designed to distil the key ideas in a domain into a single graphic, they can provide a valuable lattice and flow for the ideas in a presentation.

Visual presentation tool Prezi can be a great way to do this, in showing the logic and structure of the framework through the presentation, while allowing me to zoom in through the presentation to illustrate the specific detailed concepts.

I have used Prezi in this way for keynotes on The Transformation of Business and The Transformation of Government.

For the current Tomorrow-Ready CIO series of events run by CIO Magazine and IBM I am using Prezi to run through my recently created Future of the CIO framework. The Prezi is below.

As for all of my visual presentations, note that it is designed to go with my keynote speech, and is NOT intended to be useful for people who have not attended the presentation. However even so, some may find it of interest or value.

I will provide explanations on this blog of some of the points in the framework and Prezi over coming weeks and months.

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maandag 11 maart 2013

TED: Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong - Dan Pallotta (2013)

Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend -- not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world.

from TEDTalks (video)

vrijdag 8 maart 2013

TED: Shane Koyczan: "To This Day" ... for the bullied and beautiful - Shane Koyczan (2013)

By turn hilarious and haunting, poet Shane Koyczan puts his finger on the pulse of what it's like to be young and … different. "To This Day," his spoken-word poem about bullying, captivated millions as a viral video (created, crowd-source style, by 80 animators). Here, he gives a glorious, live reprise with backstory and violin accompaniment by Hannah Epperson.

from TEDTalks (video)

donderdag 7 maart 2013

TED: Kakenya Ntaiya: A girl who demanded school - Kakenya Ntaiya (2012)

Kakenya Ntaiya made a deal with her father: She would undergo the traditional Maasai rite of passage of female circumcision if he would let her go to high school. Ntaiya tells the fearless story of continuing on to college, and of working with her village elders to build a school for girls in her community. It’s the educational journey of one that altered the destiny of 125 young women. (Filmed at TEDxMidAtlantic.)

from TEDTalks (video)

woensdag 6 maart 2013

TED: Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA - Ron Finley (2013)

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA -- in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."

from TEDTalks (video)

dinsdag 5 maart 2013

TED: Edith Widder: How we found the giant squid - Edith Widder (2013)

Humankind has been looking for the giant squid (Architeuthis) since we first started taking pictures underwater. But the elusive deep-sea predator could never be caught on film. Oceanographer and inventor Edith Widder shares the key insight -- and the teamwork -- that helped to capture the squid on film for the first time.

from TEDTalks (video)

Launch of Future of the CIO framework

Over the next few weeks I will be giving the keynote at the Tomorrow-Ready CIO Series organized by CIO magazine and sponsored by IBM. The events will be held over breakfast in Canberra, Perth, Sydney, Auckland and Melbourne, with an audience of CIOs and other senior IT executives. Full details on the events here.

My keynote will be on the Future of the CIO. I have recently pulled together my thinking on the topic, drawing in particular on a series of CIO workshops I ran across Europe last year.

Below is the Future of the CIO Framework that I will be sharing at the events. It is now up on my complete list of visual frameworks on

Click on the image for the full-size pdf

As I did for many of my keynotes based on my Transformation of Business framework, I will use Prezi to run through the framework and offer insights into each of the elements of the landscape. I will shortly share the Prezi on my blog.

The launch of this framework is the kickoff point for what will be considerably more content from us on the future of the CIO and IT function. Stand by for more detailed explanations of some of the facets of the landscape, as well as different perspectives on the topic.

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maandag 4 maart 2013

TED: Allan Savory: How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change - Allan Savory (2013)

“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

from TEDTalks (video)

vrijdag 1 maart 2013

TED: Amanda Palmer: The art of asking - Amanda Palmer (2013)

Don't make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan.

from TEDTalks (video)