January’s Essential Reads

10 months ago  •  By  •  0 Comments

True transformation requires a ground-up re-think of a challenge or opportunity.

A New Year affords a new beginning. Often, said beginnings are most effective when approached in light of marginal gains…small iterative changes designed to achieve a bigger re-think. Indeed, while change should be incremental, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the ideas that drive change can be radical.

With this in mind, the recommended reads this month are in the spirit of transformation and change — personal, technological and societal.

Any change in one’s life is often confusing and open-ended, and is best confronted when accompanied by a framework for reflection and planning. To that effect, I very much enjoyed this checklist for the yearly plan.

And with the New Year come lots of big acquisitions and mergers. A long-standing client of ours, Belmond, was bought by LVMH. The move is great testament to our long-standing belief in helping brands move from product to experience. This Forbes’ article covers the purchase by LVMH. As the Evening Standard duly noted, “they paid a hefty price (a 40% premium), but super-luxury travel is growing faster than frocks and watches”.

Separately, we’ve been busy putting together our report on the future of living and working.

Themes have included the importance of belonging. People live in digital communities, but what are urban planners doing to encourage interaction in physical spaces? This piece by Fast Car sits among many opinion pieces on city design but offers the simplest and most digestible articulation of how city design can help combat loneliness.

As well as looking to the design of residential and office spaces to account for a new type of traveller, inhabitant and worker, we’ve also been looking at transport and how this affects where and how people commute. The future of autonomous vehicles is fascinating. With faster transport systems like the Hyperloop (have a read of Intelligent Transport’s appraisal of its impact) we’ll be able to get in and out of cities significantly faster than before.

Alongside changes in how we live and work, our relationship with our personal vehicles is set to change. Volvo’s new campaign slogan, ‘Don’t Own This Car’, is a position met with mixed reviews at the recent LA Motorshow. With a focus on car subscriptions services, their stand contained no cars, in place a sign reading ‘this is not a car’.

As well as a rethink of how we live and travel, we’re on the cusp of a major rethink in how we design our lives. Both professionally and personally.

The pace of life is quickening.

We work harder, travel faster, have to sift through more information than before, and are set to live longer. A child born today has more than a 50% chance of living past 100, yet our ‘three stage life — learn, work, retire’ has changed very little.

The future of learning – vocational training, career pivots, career tenure and retirement age – will all undergo a seismic shift. Lyda Gratton, author of the ‘100-Year Life’, summarises her view on the topic in Wired.

Our skills training business, Experience Haus, is exploring this very theme. Our next conference in London on March 9th will be focussed on the Future of Learning – how to learn better and build the types of analytical muscle that we need to thrive in an age where information is available at a fingertip or voice command.

We couldn’t be more excited to delve into the concept of ‘learning’ as a central tenet of our society and listen to a series of exceptional speakers covering the topic from many enthralling angles.

Lastly, we’ve spent time reflecting on what it really means to listen. Our team have been engaging in ‘Active Listening’ training, to better understand how to ‘hear what isn’t being said’. A lot of the work we do in brand and innovation strategy involves playing the role of a therapist. We listen to people who say they want change, but don’t want the rug pulled out from under their feet.

Those who hold budgets are senior, generally more set in their ways, and naturally more resilient to dramatic shifts in thinking. In addition, though digital transformation involves stakeholders from many departments, the loudest voice often wins. An assertive but empathetic approach is essential.

In extension of this thinking, I found this article in the Medium publication reForm (no connection) provides a great view on how to pay attention, and pick up on some of the nuance that may not be immediately obvious.

A bit of a departure from the more lighthearted, trends focused roundup that I usually write…

But it is January after all.