John Hagel

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.

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?

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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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.”


Last year, we hosted the 2017 MVP Awards across three of our sites. In order to get ready for this year’s coming awards across even more of our sites, we’re catching up with some of our judges from the previous awards who offered their time and insight to make the awards even better. Take a look!

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 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 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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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.

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.

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?

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?

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.

Go Beyond the Christmas Stories to Find the Christmas Narrative

John Hagel

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate Christmas, this might be a good opportunity to reflect on why Christmas has become such a global holiday, with a growing number of participants each year, extending far beyond the Christian communities that would naturally celebrate Christmas. While the cynics among us would assert that it’s all a conspiracy by retailers to get us to spend more money, I suspect there’s a deeper reason for the spread of Christmas that deserves to be explored.

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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.

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.

Independence Day

John Hagel

Today is the day that Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence that marked our intent to establish our own nation, free from British colonial rule. Like many holidays, I believe it's an opportunity to reflect on our history as a better way to understand where we might head in the future. Agency versus passivity.

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Where Are You Headed? What's Your Narrative and Purpose?

John Hagel

In my last blog post , I explored the distinction between purpose and narrative in the context of institutions. I’m going to shift here to explore how these concepts operate at the level of the individual. There are some similarities, but there are also some differences. For those who haven't read my previous posts, let me start with some definitions. I’ve been exploring narrative for years, but I have a very specific meaning for the word.

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The Big Shift in Platform Business Models

John Hagel

Everywhere you look today, platform businesses are in the news. Most of the stories focus on what platforms do. Some highlight the value they provide in terms of ease and convenience in connecting with needed resources. Others focus on the risk of monopoly as network effects take hold and as platform participants become commoditized and their earnings squeezed. Relatively few look beneath the surface to try to understand the business models that drive platform businesses.

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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).

Follow the Data to Find the Money

John Hagel

The perennial question here in Silicon Valley is: where’s the money? Given the techie culture here, this question usually gets translated into: what’s the next breakthrough technology? Let me suggest that’s the wrong way to frame the question. If you want to know where’s the money, then follow the data and don’t get distracted by the technology.

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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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Make This the Best Year Ever

John Hagel

As we approach the New Year, it’s an opportunity to step back and reflect on our journey. Are we headed in the right direction? Are we making the kind of progress that we would like to see? For most of us, we approach this opportunity in a relatively granular and ad hoc way – we craft a set of resolutions for how we’re going to act in the New Year.

The Demise of Advertising Business Models

John Hagel

In a blog post earlier this year, I explored the emergence and evolution of new business models enabled by digital technology infrastructures. At the very end of that blog post, as a teaser, I mentioned in passing that advertising business models are unlikely to be sustainable as the Big Shift unfolds. Now, that’s a pretty bold statement given that it’s one of the most widespread business models, especially in the media business and Internet businesses.

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Crafting Corporate Narratives: Zoom Out, Zoom In

John Hagel

I’ve been writing a lot about the significant missed opportunity to craft a compelling corporate narrative here and here. Done right, this corporate narrative can mobilize a large number of third parties to provide growing leverage, learning and loyalty for the company offering the narrative. While this is appealing to many executives, they stumble over the process of crafting a compelling narrative.

Exploring Business Types and Business Models

John Hagel

OK, I’ve created some confusion. I’ve been writing a lot recently about business models, including here and here. But I’ve also written a lot about business types/roles, including a popular Harvard Business Review article almost 20 years ago. Many of you have approached me to ask, so what’s the difference between a business model and a business type? And, if there is a difference, what business models should each business type adopt? Well, fasten your safety belts.

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Business Practice Redesign

John Hagel

In the world of scalable efficiency, processes rule. Businesses around the world are well into their third decade of “business process reengineering”, massive initiatives designed to create more and more tightly integrated and standardized business processes to squeeze out the inefficiency that lurks when people don’t follow instructions to the letter. And, it’s not just companies – all of our institutions have caught the process religion, whether it’s schools, governments or even NGO’s.

Robots Can Restore Our Humanity

John Hagel

Red alert! Robots are getting more versatile and artificial intelligence (AI) is getting exponentially smarter! Our jobs are in jeopardy and no one is safe! We’ve all seen the headlines. Anxiety and fear are steadily mounting that we are on the edge of a profound transition (some might even call it a Big Shift ) that will put us out of work and on the streets.

Harnessing the True Potential of Internet of Things Technology

John Hagel

Despite all the hype, businesses are still significantly under-estimating the business impact of Internet of Things (IoT) technology. In my last blog post , I explored at a high level the likely evolution of business models in the Big Shift. Now, I'll use IoT technologies to illustrate how just one of many technologies will enable the evolution of business models. The Internet of Things space.

Drawing Inspiration From Independence Day

John Hagel

Independence Day in the US is a time of celebration, recalling a historic milestone when a small group of fragmented colonies in a distant part of the world came together and bravely declared independence from a world power. Rather than simply celebrating an event in the distant past, maybe we can use the occasion to inspire ourselves to pursue a different kind of independence today. The prison of conformity. What do I have in mind?

Optimism or Pessimism?

John Hagel

People often ask me whether I am an optimist or a pessimist. I have real trouble with that question because it implies that I should be one or the other. As with many things in my life, I challenge the conventional wisdom by responding that I am both. In truth, I'm a long run optimist and a short run pessimist.

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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.

Leave Those Resolutions Behind

John Hagel

As we enter the New Year, we all tend to embrace it as an opportunity for some new beginnings. New Year’s resolutions abound, all made with the best of intentions. Some resolutions are truly audacious while others focus on small improvements on the edges of our lives. Whether big or small, most of these resolutions soon fall by the wayside as the pressures of day to day living resume their relentless quest to consume every minute available.

Catalyzing Passion through Strategy

John Hagel

As we approach the end of yet another year, I want to go out on one of my favorite topics – passion. In particular, let me explore one very promising approach to catalyze and amplify passion within the workforce. By my best estimates only about 12% of workforce have real passion about their work, so companies need all the help they can get to stimulate passion.

A 21st Century Global Declaration of Independence

John Hagel

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for individuals to dissolve the institutional bands which have connected them with another , and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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.

Where's the Money? The Future of the Mobility Ecosystem

John Hagel

I just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and it was striking how much the automobile has become a center of attention at this gathering. It was timely because I just published a new report on the future of mobility – Navigating a Shifting Landscape – and I had an opportunity to present my perspectives at CES. My key message was that we need to avoid getting distracted.

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The Disruption Debate - What's Missing?

John Hagel

I admit that I’m mystified by Jill Lepore’s article in the New Yorker attacking Clayton Christensen and his theory of disruptive innovation. Not only does it have a meanness that isn’t warranted, but it leaves the reader with an unanswered question: if Clay's theories are not helpful (and I still believe they are), how do we explain the cascading disruptions that are playing out in markets and industries around the world?

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Exploring passion – what kind of passion do you have?

John Hagel

I've become passionate about passion.    The more I explore it, the more convinced I am that it’s the key to unlocking sustained extreme performance improvement, both at a personal and institutional level. 

Making a Movement: Narratives and Creation Spaces

John Hagel

What better day than Labor Day in the US to explore movements and narratives? Labor Day emerged directly from the powerful labor movement in the US. Throughout history, we’ve had a lot of movements that have shaped our economic, social and political arenas. I believe we’re on the cusp of a new wave of movements. These new movements will be built on two solid pillars – compelling narratives and nurturing creation spaces.

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