John Hagel

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.

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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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?

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.

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 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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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.”

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.

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.

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.

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).

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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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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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.

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.

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?

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.

Feed 100

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? In fact, I had intended to follow up with a second blog post explaining why my learning pyramid is actually a pyramid and not just a triangle. You see, there’s a third dimension that I haven’t yet shared, but that’s critical to learning. People as the missing dimension.

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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Mastering the Learning Pyramid

John Hagel

Our media and conversations are consumed by the future of work, which tends to quickly reduce to concerns over the spread of AI and what it will mean for jobs. I’ve noticed that the discussion quickly turns to what skills we will need to continue to be employable in the future, especially when the participants have children who are trying to prepare themselves for the world ahead. The static world of skills. We’re focusing on the wrong thing. Focusing on skills betrays a static view of the world.

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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.

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.