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Live from FEI EMEA 2013: Macro Trends: Building Blocks for Improvisation

Presentation by Heather Moore @hmoore Strategy & Future
Vision, Vodaphone Group R&D.

You can tell when at the end of the
presentation if it was a great presentation, you just want to know more.
The talk has some deep under streams to think about longer
term, longer term here defined as longer as the next 3 years. The talk was in essence a story about the resilience of your
company in highly unstable periods of history, and new ways of thinking and new
tools to deal with the unpredictable.
'Disruption is the new normal' was almost the opening
one-line by Heather Moore. She referred to Steward Brand's diagram on 'rates of
change' impacting fashion, commerce, infra, governance, etc
Social, political, economic events are pulled along by the exponential technology evolution. Everything is
connected in very complex and fast feedback loops. Increase in resilience is
affected positively by increase in flexibility and innovation. New skills are needed
for addressing these new challenges. Some skills mentioned were 'network
smarts' and 'improvisation.
The core of Heather's talk was about improvisation,
performing without a script, but that does not mean without preparation. Behaviors associated with improvisation include the following capabilities:
  • Listen; open to change
  • Agree and say 'yes'
  • Not only say'yes', but say 'yes, AND''
  • Play and experiment with what is there, for
    example with macro
  • Appreciate there are no mistakes, only
    opportunities
Heather then went into a long list of macro-trends (large
movements that are driving change, I sometimes call them the ' under streams'),
some of them obvious to professionals in the innovation space, others less obvious.
Let me focus on some less obvious ones, or on the specific twist that Heather
gave to them:
  • World increasingly filled with Digital things
    and 'Digital Vintage creates giant digital archive, everything becomes digital'
  • 3D printing is about replicating cherished
    objects
  • Digital Patina, grows with you, digital
    equivalent of sock-monkey, reflects what you are
  • Digital Objectified, the making physical of internet
    memes, and give real access to them; this is about shared values and needs to
    belong to the same group
  • Movement towards the 'WE', creating some
    collective energy
  • Alternative economies becoming a lit more
    legitimate, with more reliance on transparency and resource matching (new
    models for supply/demand matching, at micro level and ad-hoc)
  • Changes in production processors and actors: the
    trend towards 'small batch' anything, hyper-personal, against mass production.
    Obvious examples were Nike, but also 'Local Motors' where car designs are
    uploaded, voted upon, produced. This is about 'Sales on demand', Completely
    open- sourced. The equipment stays the same, the process changes
  • The electronic me, reshaping the individuals:
    the importance of creating your own branding, so you can target your expertise
    to small niche audiences. This almost smells like the 'long tail of demand'
Heather closed her presentations with a recommendation to 'Create
space for improvisation and collaboration skills and culture'
There was also a quite interesting Q&A part to this
session, with most questions about how Vodaphone uses this knowledge in
concrete product launches.  Obviously,
Heather could not speak beyond her confidentiality policies, but she alluded to
the fact that some products are in development, and we will see 2-3 products
based on this research in the next year or two.

 I would have loved a bigger deep dive on the
other resilience related themes and skills.

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