What are we leaving our children?

I would like to say I have had these views all my life, but I haven’t. It’s only been since I have become a dad. Since I realised that nothing else matters but the start I give them. The morals, ethics, values, critical thinking, care, compassion, work ethic, and spirituality that will allow them to be good people who make a difference. It’s early in the journey, but I constantly fear getting sacked for doing a bad job.

But I look around, and am ashamed and scared of the world that we are creating for our children. I have considered what makes up ‘society’; what are the building blocks of our world. Not exhaustive I am sure.

1. Resources: we exploit the natural world for our own consumption. We tear it apart to access resources for energy, building, technology. We take, we return nothing, no husbandry, care, concern. We invest in companies that strip the earth bare, to increase our own wealth.

2. Spiritual: we are arrogant in our beliefs on ourself. We degrade and destroy any belief structures. We attack others and their beliefs. We are so busy that we invest little in the idea or belief in something bigger, more meaningful, and greater than ourselves. We believe the seen, the facile, the superficial.

3. Physical: we build over earth, we destroy topography, wildlife, nature. We hunt and catch to extreme. Species die by the day, we pump tons of chemicals and unnatural content into the earth. We pollute, move, shift, and carve for our comfort and convenience.

4. Community: house to car to work to house. A smaller and more isolated life. No time for the lonely, needy, and elderly. No time for the sick, focused on ourselves and our ‘busy schedules’. No time to chat, share, help, support. Travel has opened the world up, while at the same time we ignore the community under our noses. A sense of belonging to a space, to continuity, to tradition, to each other – changed for digital bytes and avatars.

5. Work: work is less about creating value, to creating a sustainable cycle of goods and services that all benefit from. Work has become a route to bonuses, to wealth, to status, power amd privilege. We communicate less, train less, and ignore the young. We treat jobs like any other number on the balance sheet. Something to increase or decrease as we need to. The sense of work as a facilitator of community, to creation of value has been replaced with leveraging false products that exist only in the minds and computers of few. We can’t even understand how and where goods come from, as long as we can purchase – we are happy.

6. Family: reduced, sliced, diced. The sense of boundary, care, concern that gives children safety, learning, and guidance. Gradually eroded, not improved, not increasing in value. Why will our children want families when so many including politicians do all they can to destroy and devalue.

I don’t see a world that we are adding to, just a world that is a net loss from our time here. Technology doesn’t serve, it self serves. Why are there so few products amd services driven by technology to improve the care of the elderly, the facilitation of learning?

I only say all of this as I have been having a chat to myself. What can I do better to add to the world, to ensure my boys have something to work with, to have an example of increasing and giving? Plenty methinks.

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Economic growth; lessons from Africa.

I was talking to a Nigerian friend of mine recently about the growth and economic and social situation in Nigeria. He mentioned a key driver that immediately made me think about the economic situation in the UK.

Aspiration; a key ingredient in the growth of Nigeria and the drive of entrepreneurial spirit beginning to unlock the potential of 100million+ people. 

We are hearing daily news about the Bank of England, Government, Europe, and Business; their respective roles, responsibilities, and mistakes in not doing more to drive ‘growth’. It made me think that a slightly harder, but more sustainable approach (albeit unpopular politically) would be to uncover and incentivise aspiration. If we had a nation of individuals who took an aspirational (I don’t mean consumer driven) approach to life, out-with the system of education, job, entitlement, and comfortability – we might be able to actually find the drive, creativity, and innovation to create real value in our country. Encouraging more and more consumer driven spending is not aspiration. Learning, creating, inventing, working hard – these are aspirational behaviours. 

Is it simply that emerging countries have more cheap labour than the west; or that the level of aspiration to improve their with very little, puts us to shame?

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Culture and application of technology

Recently it has become clear to me that there is a two speed progress towards the realisation of business value from technology and innovation around data and information.

The hares of the business world are focused on the application of technology to drive innovation, customer experience and real business value. This is not new. The difference between them and those on the slow track – is culture.

Reconciling two different generations that are very different in outlook and capability. At the risk of generic stereotyping; there is an older generation who can apply rigour, process, and discipline with experience. Perhaps a little more narrow-minded on technology and the capability of that technology.

A younger generation is coming through with full awareness and embedded comfort of technology and capability; but without the rigour and focus that comes with the functional, measured approach that business has had since the industrial revolution.

Marrying these two together with a complementary, educated and clear culture; results in the full benefits of the advancements we have made. Decision making based on data and information is embedded within the culture of the young. Gut, instinct, and experience of the senior teams could benefit greatly from a closing of the gap between real insight, the customer experience and decisions.

Those organisations that grasp the nettle of change, culture, and people will gain competitive advantage. Those that are focused on technology and processes will lose out.

Culture is hard, people are difficult, and organisations lack the insight and feel of how to create good cultures. But those that encourage the adoption and melding of the old and the new – will claim the prize.

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Resetting of values

Like most of us, it has been hard to escape the news of corporate chicanery. Whether its the banks fixing rates, miss-selling products to SME’s, or pharma selling products without appropriate authorisation; it’s hard to escape the overwhelming feeling that much of the ‘growth’ during the boom years didn’t come by honest means.

It feels very much like the wealthy (businesses and individuals) got richer on the exploitation and manipulation of the masses and the system.

We know this – the only surprise is the amount we still have to uncover.

It is amusing to watch the efforts to prop up a system that daily seems to be morally and ethically corrupt.

Everything – from data to finance, from politics to boardroom; is exploited to create profit and bonuses for ever hungry employees and ‘shareholders’.

I wonder if there will be a backlash soon, when most of us realise the system isn’t going to be fixed, when we realise there is more to life than working for companies that give nothing back. Attempts are made at CSR, a drop in the ocean against the exploitation and lack of value being created where we need it most – structurally in the communities and relationships that matter.

Maybe when we don’t have the ease of consumption – we will reset our values to giving more?

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Politicians, listen to us!

Dear Anne
I write to you as a father, human, and concerned citizen. Babies and children are being killed. At the same age as my children, 6, 3, and 1. We invade, kill, and justify intervention in many countries in our ‘national interests’. The securing of power, economic levers, natural resources, national security. We allow rendition of innocent people, to satisfy our political partners. We do many things that are unspoken, kept secret, and unjustified in our own interests.

Yet now (and before in Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan) – we talk vacuous talk, we make meaningless statements, and we do the sum total of nothing.

I ask you as our elected representative, to do everything in your power to agitate, stir up, and draw attention to what is happening with Syria. We are global citizens, we want to travel, buy, consume, and admire the world. We cannot not take responsibility.

Represent us, your constituency to do something right. Speak up, listen to us, and know that you and all politicians make yourselves meaningless and irrelevant of you don’t listen to what we want, what is important to us, and what we care about.

Something must be DONE about Syria, where children are being killed, murdered, and massacred.

As Edmund Burke said, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing”

Hear us, and do something.

Regards
Ben Silcox

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Old dogs, new tricks?

Let me start by saying, this is not about age.

Have been attending a technology for business event. Lots of discussions on emerging technologies and the application / opportunity for business. I can’t help but feel that the real value for businesses will not emerge for a few more years – because fundamentally, there is a lack of knowledge, understanding, and arrogance about it. Trying to reference something new against your own knowledge is fundamentally limiting.
This means that people in positions don’t think about value, and how it can be created – because you have vested interest in a role / position.

Disruption by new businesses will keep coming, because businesses are made up of people made up of limited structures, limited understandings, and limited horizons.

This isn’t a blanket view, but based on what I see an hear – it makes me feel that there are two wheels turning at different speeds.

It requires a mindset of creativity, analytical thinking, curiosity, and humbleness that is missing in large businesses.

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Preventing disruption

Large companies that are established, traditional and with significant market share face a difficult challenge. How to compete with startup businesses that are agile, fast, employ new or emerging technology and with a close connection to customers; disrupt the established order. So far, we know this.

A little thought about how big corporate behemoths could guard against this disruption. 

Utilising the same approach and methods that create the opportunities for startups – speed, agility, technology & focus. Combine this with flat decision making, remove barriers, and provide a focus on value.

Divide your business up into smaller, flatter business units with an entrepreneurial culture. Remove line of business silos, and replace with multi skilled teams that are organised around the customer. Understand that data and technology are enablers to create a better product or service. Remove personal KPI’s (old school) and add in result indicators focused on value. 

Too many businesses only measure output, sometimes input – but this all exists at a ‘task’ level. It doesn’t inspire passion, purpose, or innovation. Get more of your employees touching the customer. Give them responsibility to align technology, analytics, organisation development to create real value.

You could create a culture that focuses more on the customer, true value creation, and innovation that could match the disruptive start up.

Businesses that are focused on customer experience, problem solving, innovation and speed – will deliver far more value to shareholders than businesses managed by a few C-level executives who focus on quarterly short term performance to line their own pockets. 

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