Special Contributor to Silicon Hills News

Nancy Giordano and Jeff Sharpe

Area startups will be glad to know they already look like the future, according to a day-long seminar entitled “Designing the Future of Your Business” put on by Turnstone and Co-Space.
The seminar covered topics from social media to strategy to designing the space you work in to include cooperative-brainstorming areas, play areas and areas for quiet reflection—similar to the space Capital Factory recently unveiled.
Nancy Giordano, CEO of Brand Futurist and Play Big Inc., started the day with a rapid fire summary of trends, saying we’re currently in a kind of trough between the way work used to be done, and the way it will be done in the future which includes massive cooperation, involving everyone in the process whether that’s collaborating on a project or social media—the epitome of inclusivity.
Also touched on:

• Collaborative work stations are replacing work in offices or cubicles.
• Entrepreneurialism and intrapreneurialism–empowering employees at all levels to bring independent thought and perspective into the process–is growing.
• The millennials are introducing a culture of relevance, purpose, passion and positivity—a combining of philanthropy and capitalism with a focus on fostering possibility.
• The millennial perspective on collaboration is “Yes…and” as in “Yes, that’s a good idea and we could also do this” rather than “Yeah…but” which kills creativity.

The focus sounds positive: Inviting everyone to join the conversation, embracing the idea of failing faster and failing forward, opening organizations up to ideas from all stakeholders: employees at every level, customers and vendors. But that requires an ongoing conversation that puts new demands on businesses.
“I’ll stay up until midnight doing emails and I fricking get responses back!” Giordano said. “I have clients who email me back in the middle of the night. And that’s the U.S., not global clients.”
Research shows that the constant disruptions from this ongoing dialogue leaves workers with 12 percent of the day for thought, “even though knowledge workers paid to think for a living.” Use of antidepressants is up 400 percent—though she didn’t say from when. And sleep deprivation is a huge contributor to fatal disease.
Between the explosive growth of technology, new ways to communicate and collaborate and rapid pace of change, humans are struggling to keep up. “We’re in an area of exponential growth,” Giordano said. “As humans, we’re able to adjust to linear growth. We’re not at all prepared for exponential growth.”
Giordano said the business world is demanding more quality, innovation, transparency, personalization and speed, for less time, money, complexity and energy. “That puts anybody who is a provider in a quandary.” Some brands aren’t making it across. And Baby Boomers, entrenched in old ways of doing business, are considered the biggest obstacle to moving forward. They are reluctant to embrace collaborative work, social media and failing forward.
During one session, a participant asked how failing forward could be implemented in highly regulated arenas such as the medical field or in banking. In those situations, said Jeff Sharpe, Director and Designer at JS WorkShop, the focus of experimentation could be on areas such as customer experience.
During an afternoon session, Aaron Strout, Group Director of communications company WCG, Ray Wolf, CEO of PeopleBrite and Lekan Bashua, Manager of Turnstone, talked about issues from strategy to keeping up with social media and news, to the proliferation of tools for everything from collaboration and communication to scheduling. The bottom line seemed to be that everything must line up with business’s core objectives.
Strategy, Strout said, must be flexible and adaptable over time. It must rest on frameworks and processes rather than tools and technologies. It must be informed by key stakeholders, especially those with daily customer contact. He makes sure he’s staying on top of industry change by regularly shifting what he reads to ensure he’s not getting stuck in one perspective.
Wolf, who has had a vast and varied career and a number of tech startups, said he visualizes what he wants: In his case, a business where he can work from a beach and drink good wine. But it’s important to recognize that you don’t reach your goal in a bound but in strategic stages. If you have a new app, don’t aim to be Facebook, aim for a reasonable goal such as gaining 1,000 users.
Each participant had some way of evaluating tools. Bashua suggested using a “maven.” His is his wife. If he mentions a tool 10 times, she points it out to him and he knows it’s probably a good one that’s serving a purpose.
The last session of the day was Peter Kim, Chief Strategy Officer of the Dachis Group and author of Social Business by Design speaking on social media.
Kim listed several key elements to a strong social campaign including:

• Everyone can participate
• It’s responsive: He told the story of the You Tube video showing how Mentos candy can make a geyser in Diet Coke spawning zillions more videos of Mentos geysers. The Mentos company embraced the craze and Coke responded coldly. By the time Coke figured out the benefit of the attention, it was too late.
• There are three “buckets” of messages that work: Making people laugh, entertaining; making people famous; tugging at their heartstrings.

A mature social media campaign, he said, will be enterprise-wide; will be scalable and will be able to identify ROI from social business solutions.
Bashua of Turnstone gave one takeaway most participants will remember and which summarized the future of business: which translated to:
Social, local, mobile, big data, fat pipes (large communication network). The future of business in a nutshell.