John Maeda once noted that “Time may tick in seconds, but it is lived in years.” As we sit here hungry for the brief pause between years, the forces moving digital business have never seemed stronger.
I’ve written a post for ISITE Design’s Insight blog summing-up articles, books and business MOOC’s that I’ve found especially heading in to 2015. The ISITE post unpacks each a bit and explains why I thought you might want to start the year with them. But, to get to the list faster, here’s an outline of the resources with just a line about each.
Business strategy as art and craft
One of the frustrations of strategy is that people get wrapped around definitions and verbal fog. These three resources lay out the terrain of business strategy in practical terms and set the context which digital strategy can advance.
- The Big Lie of Strategic Planning – Roger Martin’s HBR article that lays out how strategy and planning differ.
- Business Strategy: Managing Uncertainty Opportunity & Enterprise. J.-C. Spender’s mix of storytelling and tools to equip business leaders to set more inventive strategy.
- The Strategists Tools Kit – Coursera MOOC – Darden Business School’s Michael Lenox has a free seven-week interactive program connecting in excess of 40,000 learners at once.
Putting a value on relationships
Finding how relationships build value for firms, and how firms can earn the best customers is really the key question in all of business – and specifically experience design.
- When Marketing is Strategy was the HBR article that Niraj Dawar of the Ivey Business School sets up the dichotomy for the core of his book, Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers.
- A number of my co-workers and I have enjoyed customer thinking by Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School and Co-director of its Customer Analytics Initiative. I recommend his book, Customer Centricity, and that you can get a free taste of his teaching at Wharton’s Marketing MOOC on Coursera.
Service design thinking
This greater focus on customers has driven a renewed focus on service design thinking in many of the companies we work with and admire.
- I’ve given Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind to a number of colleagues and clients this year. Its jet fuel for assembling ideas and finding solutions that diffuse trade-offs rather than splitting the difference.
- Build for Change: Revolutionizing Customer Engagement through Continuous Digital Innovation, by Boston’s Alan Trefler, the CEO and Founder and Chairman of Cambridge-based Pegasystems, shows what it takes to shift how a business thinks about its customers, teams, and technology to become more digitally adept.
Changing culture before anything else
Often the art of strategy isn’t really selecting direction, but smoothing the path and aligning commitment to actually make good changes happen.
- Harvard’s Robert Kegan is a psychologist I’ve long admired and his book on organizational change, Immunity to Change, takes on helping organizations making big shifts. This year he got about 80,000 students to take a twelve-week MOOC focused on using a modification of his approach to drive personal change. As you consider your resolutions for 2015, you might want to take this free course to make your most important changes stick.
- The Circle, is popping up on “best book” lists everywhere. You might enjoy a roll-up of The Circle’s themes by H. James Wilson, a senior researcher at Babson Executive Education near Boston.
Visions of tech-driven transformation
Digital strategy is typified by projecting a rate of change capable of disrupting business as usual. Hand-waving optimism or prescient vision? Take a look.
- The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in an Time of Brilliant Technologies puts forward the optimistic thesis that the global economy is on the cusp of dramatic growth which will leverage decades of work in artificial intelligence and the expansive scale of our digital world. Take a look at this TED Talk as a preview.
Making sense of China
Evan Osnos, a staff writer for the New Yorker who has chronicled real transformation on the ground in China for year, won the National Book Award. for Age of Ambition.
But thanks to the archives of the New Yorker, you can enjoy his writing and perhaps find a richer view of why China merits a place in your thinking about digital trends.
- Media star Yao Chen quotes Solzhenitsyn to followers by Twitter
- The riot inside of Apple’s manufacturer of iPhones
- John Stewart recognizing that a huge portion of his web visitors are Chinese
- Edward Snowden hailed as a hero in China,
- Eric Schmidt and a historian visit North Korea
Hopefully these guideposts will help you marshal culture, technology, design, and all the knowledge that is part of planning what’s next.
Happy 2015, and please share whatever resources you’re drawing on here.