John Hagel

Narratives to Drive Exponential Learning

John Hagel

In our Big Shift world, the imperative of scalable learning is becoming increasingly urgent. If we’re smart about it, we have the potential to unleash the potential of exponential learning.

The Paradox of Connection

John Hagel

We are becoming more connected with each other and less connected with each other at the same time. The Big Shift that we're experiencing on a global scale is full of paradox – this is just one of many, but a particularly important paradox to acknowledge and address.

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Business Models and Trust

John Hagel

Three years ago I sketched out three dimensions of business model evolution in response to the mounting performance pressure of the Big Shift. In this blog post, I want to highlight the role of this business model evolution in restoring trust in our corporations.

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Institutional Innovation - I Have a Dream

John Hagel

Everyone talks about transformation these days, but the term is used so loosely that it’s begun to lose all meaning. I recently wrote a blog post suggesting that the ultimate test of transformation is whether the caterpillar became a butterfly – is it so different that it’s unrecognizable? That’s a useful metaphor, but many have asked me to make it more tangible in the world of institutions. OK, you asked for it, so watch out!

The Threat and Opportunity of Lifelong Learning

John Hagel

Our conversations and media are increasingly consumed by the topic of the “future of work.” And, within this topic, one of the buzzwords that has emerged and acquired increasing prominence is “lifelong learning.” The message is that, in a more rapidly changing world, we’re all going to have to abandon the traditional notion of going to school to learn and then going into a career to apply the learning we’ve received.

Expanding Our Horizons - Efficiently

John Hagel

In our Big Shift world, we confront the imperative of institutional innovation – shifting from institutional models built on scalable efficiency to institutional models built on scalable learning. I’ve written and spoken about this a lot over the years and one of the most common pushbacks I get is – “so, are you against efficiency?” This post seeks to answer that question. Let me lead with the answer – no, I’m not against efficiency. I’m instead suggesting two things.

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Mindset and Heartset

John Hagel

Is mindset all there is? I recently attended a gathering of senior executives seeking to drive change in their organizations and was struck by how much mindset dominated the conversation. It was all about the assumptions and beliefs of the people in their organizations. They wanted to know what kind of evidence and reasoning would help to change these assumptions and beliefs. The key assumption in the room was that it was all about the mind.

Questions for the New Year

John Hagel

As we enter the New Year, it’s an opportunity to step back and reflect in an increasingly hectic world. In an earlier post , I suggested we need to find time to reflect in a world increasingly dominated by flows – it’s a healthy form of friction that can actually enhance our ability to generate more insight from flows. Embrace the New Year as an invitation to reflect. One area for reflection is what we are doing to accelerate our learning.

Navigating From the Industrial Age to the Contextual Age

John Hagel

In the Industrial Age, scalable efficiency drove value creation. The bargain of the Industrial Age was that, if consumers wanted affordable products and services, we would have to settle for standardized products and services – one size fits all. You can have any color as long as it’s black. It’s a bargain that drove the growth of mass consumer societies in developed and developing economies.

The Push and Pull of Paradox

John Hagel

Paradox is everywhere We just have to see it But first we must look And want to see But we don’t. We crave understanding And simplicity. Paradox makes us uncomfortable. We want order And harmony. And paradox challenges that. We push paradox Out of sight. But if we’re driven to learn, Paradox has powerful pull. Paradox can propel us To new levels. It invites us to explore And challenges our beliefs. How can two opposites be true? But we must be willing To evolve.

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Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read in 2018

John Hagel

This 2018, take some time out to refresh and recharge. For me, that often means stealing a few quiet moments with my book, hiding out…er…I mean, hanging out on my couch, or comfortably wedged into a window seat listening to an audiobook on a long flight.

Small moves, smartly made

John Hagel

Small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion – that’s the sub-title of my last book, The Power of Pull. It’s been a key theme of my work for decades, but it’s coming back to bite me. I find that a lot of people have grabbed on to this message to justify incremental actions with limited funding, while holding out the expectation that they will potentially lead to big results.

Infomediaries - A Significant Untapped Opportunity

John Hagel

In a book I wrote 20 years ago, I identified an opportunity that has yet to be addressed, but is becoming more and more attractive. Sometimes when you’re on the edge, it takes a little more time than you thought for opportunities to emerge in practice. The book is Net Worth: Shaping Markets When Customers Make the Rules and I wrote it with my friend and collaborator, Marc Singer.

Ode to Trees

John Hagel

I stand in awe of trees. They bend with the wind But they stand their ground. They stand tall Yet constantly reach for the sky Branching in so many directions, Searching for the sun and stars While firmly rooted in one place. They can stand alone, But they seek out each other And live longer together. They appear silent But they actively communicate Not only with each other But with many other living things In the ground. Their energy Comes from connection.

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Mastering the Learning Pyramid

John Hagel

Our media and conversations are consumed by concerns over the spread of AI and what it will mean for jobs.

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The Hidden Dimension of the Learning Pyramid

John Hagel

My learning pyramid has been challenged! My recent post on the learning pyramid received some great coverage, but a number of you reached out to challenge me: is it really a pyramid or just a triangle?

Gratitude for Spiritset

John Hagel

In my last blog post , I explored the need to expand beyond our current focus on mindset and to appreciate the role that heartset plays in shaping our beliefs, choices and actions. In reflecting on this framing, I’ve come to realize I left out a third element that provides a foundation and context for both mindset and heartset – it’s our spiritset. What’s that? Well, it’s a made-up word, but I’m looking for symmetry with the word that dominates most of our discussions today – mindset.

Expanding Our Horizons

John Hagel

I’ve written about the paradox of the Big Shift – the forces reshaping our global economy are simultaneously creating exponentially expanding opportunity and mounting performance pressure. Here’s the challenge.

Zoom In Filters for High Impact

John Hagel

Small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion. That’s a key to succeeding in a world of mounting performance pressure. In a previous post , I briefly alluded to the need to “zoom out” to smartly make small moves. In today’s post, I want to focus in more detail on the need to zoom in.

Flows, Fragility and Friction

John Hagel

I’ve long been a fan of flows but, in the spirit of paradox, I’ve also been a fan of friction. But, wait a minute, friction slows down flows – how could I possibly favor both flows and friction? Until recently, I hadn’t even been really aware of the paradox in my perspective, much less thought systematically about ways to resolve the paradox.

The Journey Begins

John Hagel

As we return from our summer holidays, this may be a good time to reflect on the journeys that we are on. A key part of my journey has been writing, but all my writing has been non-fiction (at least as far as I know). Recently, I’ve felt a pull into poetry, something I had never considered. I made a first tentative stab with a short poem that I posted on social media on July 5 and I got such an encouraging response that it motivated me to take the next step. What journey are you on?

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The Pull of Books

John Hagel

The spine beckons Teasing us with so little, But pulling us To pull it off the shelf And explore what’s inside. We’re drawn page by page, Exploring new terrain, Seeking insight and inspiration, Drawn by the promise of something Much bigger than the pages in our hand.

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True Transformation: From the Caterpillar to the Butterfly

John Hagel

What is transformation? Transformation has become one of the most over-used and loosely used words in the business world globally. Everyone’s talking about it and everyone’s claiming to be doing it. Virtually every large company that I know has a “digital transformation” program. They’re all totally committed to “transformation.”. But, when I look under the covers, what do I find?

Images Matter - Shaping Our Current Social and Political Discourse

John Hagel

I recently wrote about the growing fear produced by the mounting performance pressure of the Big Shift. As fear grows we have a natural human reaction to hold onto what we have. While very understandable, that reaction can also be very dangerous and lead us to miss the expanding opportunities created by the Big Shift. The two most prominent images – walls and safety nets - dominating much of our conversation these days are manifestations of our fear and desire to hold onto what we have.

Shaping Serendipity through Narrative

John Hagel

We all want to be lucky, but we generally feel there's little we can do about it. I’ve long challenged the conventional view that luck is just something that happens to us and that there’s little we can do other than be prepared for it when it happens. I believe that we can significantly alter the probabilities of luck through choices we make on a daily basis – something that I’ve called “shaping serendipity.”

Never Under-Estimate the Immune System

John Hagel

Every large and successful institution has an immune system – a collection of individuals who are prepared to mobilize at the slightest sign of any “outside” ideas or people in order to ensure that these foreign bodies are neutralized and that the existing institution survives intact and can continue on course.

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Scaling Learning in an Exponential World

John Hagel

What does scalable learning really mean? I’ve been writing and talking about this for a while now including here , making the case that this will be a key driver of institutional success in the years ahead. In the course of conversations, I’ve discovered a lot of misunderstandings regarding what I really mean by scalable learning, so let me take this opportunity to clarify my perspective. Why is scalable learning so important?

Re-Building Trust in Our Institutions

John Hagel

I wrote about the trust paradox about 8 years ago. The paradox is that we all say that trust is increasingly important, yet trust is rapidly eroding in all institutions worldwide. How could that be? If trust is so important, why are we not building institutions and adopting practices that can amplify trust, rather than erode it? In my previous blog post , I tried to explain why we’ve been unable to resolve this paradox.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

John Hagel

I love paradox and today we’re living through one of the biggest paradoxes of all: at a time when we seem more divided than ever, we’re actually more united than ever. What do I mean by that? All you have to do is take a cursory look through our media or our conversations when we come together as groups to see that we’re deeply polarized. We not only disagree with the views of the other side, but dismiss the people articulating those views as evil, sick or ignorant beyond belief.

The Real Value of Labor

John Hagel

It’s Labor Day in the US, so what better day to reflect on how misunderstood workers are? Truth be told, workers are often viewed as a cost by many institutions. In fact, that’s where they appear on financial statements – they’re a major expense item on the income statement. That view of workers naturally sets up an “us vs. them” and “win/lose” mindset. The institution wins when it can eliminate workers, make them work longer hours for the same pay or pay them less, but the workers lose.

Measuring Your Real Net Worth

John Hagel

Net worth is an important topic, but not in the way it’s usually discussed. We all know about net worth – it’s about assets and liabilities, and hopefully the assets are bigger than the liabilities. But here’s the problem. Looking at net worth in financial terms focuses us on a lagging indicator. It tells us how we’ve done in the past, but it offers only limited insight into how we will do in the future. Is there a different way of thinking about net worth?

The Future of the Gig Economy

John Hagel

The “gig economy” has become an ever-expanding meme, clocking over 500,000 citations on Google. It’s also become an interesting barometer of sentiment. Some people, especially techies, love the concept and can’t wait until the gig economy frees everyone from working as employees for large, bureaucratic organizations. Others, especially “progressives,” worry that this is the latest form of labor exploitation that will surely consume all of us, driving us into the pits of poverty.

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What's the Future of Jobs?

John Hagel

What better time to reflect on the future of work and jobs than Labor Day? I’ve written about this extensively with my latest foray on a recent blog post. Is STEM our future? Today, I want to be a contrarian. The conventional wisdom is that the best way to prepare students for the future of work is through a STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math), although a few might recommend STEAM (adding art as a token concession to the quantitative basket).

Resolve To Do Your New Year's Resolutions Differently

John Hagel

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Be careful. For many, these resolutions are at risk of becoming a sorry joke. The cynics say that these are useless exercises that make us feel good for a few months, but that no one really has the intention or fortitude to follow them beyond that. We've all heard the statistics about how gym memberships spike early in the New Year but that the crowds quickly thin out and the gym is empty again by the end of February. Does it have to be this way?

The Unmet Need for Trusted Talent Advisors

John Hagel

In a world that’s changing ever more rapidly, we all need trusted advisors. It’s a significant unmet need that creates a very attractive business opportunity. This has been a central part of my research and writing for almost 20 years since I published a book on the topic, Net Worth. Most recently, I returned to this subject in a blog post. Today I want to make an important distinction between two major trusted advisor opportunities.

The Big Shift From Engagement to Passion

John Hagel

For decades now, companies have been relentlessly tracking levels of employee engagement. Every large company I know has an employee engagement survey it regularly administers. Is it possible that they’re tracking the wrong thing? I’ve come to believe that engagement is a distraction from the real issue – the lack of worker passion. Let me explain. Employee engagement. Employee engagement is a concept that is used widely and somewhat loosely.

The Paradoxical Power of Narrative

John Hagel

I love paradox. Paradox is fertile ground for generating new insight and progress. As we think about what we as human beings want in our brief journey through this world, there's a core paradox that can be a challenge for all of us. The paradox. We all want to belong. None of us want to feel excluded, none of us want to feel like we’re “outsiders.” That need to belong is ever expanding.

The Real Unemployment Innovation Challenge

John Hagel

While unemployment rates in certain parts of the world appear to be slowly improving, unemployment in many other parts of the world remain stubbornly high and, in some cases, are even increasing. More fundamentally, there’s a growing concern that rising unemployment may be one of the most significant economic, social and political issues that we will face in the decade ahead.

Seeking Your Help - A Future for More Human Work

John Hagel

Everyone seems to be talking about the changing nature of work. The primary change dominating everyone’s attention? Automation, especially the more sophisticated automation enabled by AI and machine learning. Unfortunately, the future of work conversation today is inevitably framed as “win-lose,” a zero-sum game – worker-less factories, driverless vehicles, the end of “robot-proof” white collar jobs – with companies and workers pitted against each other.

Seeking Strategic Advantage? Break Down Walls and Cultivate Networks

John Hagel

Where’s the advantage? In traditional business strategy, the answer was easy: build a wall. The companies with the highest and strongest walls would win. In the Big Shift , that answer becomes less credible. Walls work in stable worlds but they can actually become obstacles in more rapidly changing worlds. In the exponential world we’re entering, walls may be replaced by networks as the most promising sources of advantage.

The Connection Between Narrative and Purpose

John Hagel

Narrative and purpose. These are two widely used words in business and life, yet they’re often loosely used. They’re really important words, so I want to at least clarify how I use them, because I think meaning matters. Defining terms. I’ve been exploring narrative for years, but I have a very specific meaning for the word. As those who have followed me know, I make a key distinction between stories and narratives that I’ve explored  here and  here.

Disruption by Trusted Advisors

John Hagel

What’s “the next big thing”?   Coming from Silicon Valley, I often get this question from executives around the world.    Usually, they frame the question in terms of the next wave of technology innovation. They want to know what’s the next big technology that could disrupt everything? That’s an important question, but I often shift the question to disruptive business models.

The Big Shift in Business Models

John Hagel

In the Big Shift , we are all experiencing mounting performance pressure. Our response to that pressure so far has been failing, as revealed by our analysis of the collapse in return on assets for all public companies in the US since 1965.

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