We’re not sure what next year will bring. We hope great business success, new technology to add to our services and new insight and key relationships to grow and expand our organization. These aren’t predictions (a usual buzzword around this time of year), but rather vital ‘focusing points’ that we think are important, game-changing and crucial to our future as a business. Maybe there is one or two you think might lend itself to your industry or business – feel free to join us in some of our focus points!
- The relationship – we’re seeing great value in connecting with people, partners and future clients on a one to one basis, in person. In an age of massive content production and social media pushing this content out, we think business in our industry still happens much more from a one to one outreach, answering questions and needs as best we can. Social is getting more and more noisy – you might just start to see people tuning out. That being said, our content and social platforms still serve as a way to add value and stay connected, but we find they don’t match the human network and genuine human connection that you see from physically being with business partners. A couple ways you’ll see this be actualized is our decision to open a satellite New Directions office in Albany, NY come January 2014. We will also continue to provide public workshops on some of our best trainings as a way to make that one-to-one connection with people and provide a real-life experience of our training method.
- Social Media as a horizontal function – we’ve talk a lot about the need for social to be more horizontal and operational in organizations. The mistake that many organizations make is to put social media and new technology in a single silo not unlike accounting, marketing, etc. Social is a living and breathing tool that an organization can harness to speak better about their brand, increase communication and engagement, and innovate faster and quicker then ever before – in many different facets of the organization (HR, Customer Service, Teaming, etc.). Social media should be happening inside and outside of your organization. It should be used to utilize what Peter Drucker called the white space in an organization.
- Base Camp and ongoing team meet ups – we’ve recently partnered with a large service organization to help them create a high-performance teaming culture throughout many of their plants. The ability for a team to connect and distribute information has changed greatly since the first Team-Building Tool Kit. Social media and technology has provided the opportunity to connect more minds, heighten relationships, and move tasks and process forward at an amazing, efficient speed. We’re exploring Basecamp as a platform where a team members can privately come together in a virtual chat room, distribute charts, reports and information on the fly, communicating in real time. Team members are notified via email when a new discussion or event has occurred and can reply quickly. This, in our belief, will help facilitate the ongoing buzz of the hive and enhance the self-directed work team experience.
- A return to high-performance teaming – speaking of teams, we truly believe this will be the year(s) where we see a return to well-organized teaming facilities. As the economy continues to improve, organizations know they must get more out of the workers they’ve got, retaining and fostering key talent and engaging the whole mind of the employee (not just what their title indicates). This goes hand-in-hand with the teaming philosophy. Additionally, as the economy improves employees will become more mobile with the safety of leaving for new and better jobs. Organizations will have to focus heavily on retention and employee engagement. Organizations also know that key abilities and competencies are being left on the table. We have partnered with the well-known management series Memory Jogger and will be publishing our 5th book, Memory Jogger: TEAMS (working title), in 2014.
- GoToTraining and online experiences that matter – online webinars, trainings, classrooms and executive coaching sessions with clients are great ways to provide service at a good rate and affordability. We’re enhancing our online learning platform with GoToTraining. We think more and more people will demand a better, useful online learning experience. The virtual classroom mixed with excellent online facilitation skills (those are hard to come by) will be the deciding factor for many if online learning (vs. classroom-led) is worthwhile or a waste of time.
- Great design – Apple and Google have ruined us all. Now, we all expect good design to accompany good and useful function. Design, like social media, will not only have to be an outward, commercial expectation of organizations, but employees will want the nicely designed and functional employee web portal to online services, internal branding of programs, and learning options that exude quality. Why? Because it shows you care. Quality and design show that you were willing to invest in the internal culture of the organization. As some of you have noticed our brand has changed in the last few months. Our new logo, tagline (Think In New Directions) and focus points will help redefine what New Directions is for the future. We’ve simplified and focused our energy on three core functions: teaming, leadership, and organizational health. We’ve changed NDCBlogger to New Directions Insights and streamlined our content to give the viewer worthwhile information. We will continue to enhance both our physical presence, as well as our online brand to meet the ongoing demands of a design/function-rich world.
- Continued authorship and the sharing economy – As we mentioned, we are partnering up with the publishers of Memory Jogger for a 5th book. Additionally, we are still committed to producing excellent content and most of it for free. Good, usable content given in a an easy-to-read, easy-to-digest way is still the number one way to get traffic to your site (thanks to all of you our traffic has grown by 2000% in the past 5 years). However, we are reigning in a little bit on the amount content. We think great content takes a little bit longer to curate and develop – we want to provide you with the best.
- Customer-led Innovation – We are realigning our efforts and energies to make the most impactful company out of New Directions (and not just to make noise). We find that necessity breads innovation – instead of self-induced innovation (for the sake of innovating), we are using Lean’s model of pull, letting the customer pull us in the direction we should go based on what they see as their need. We see this “pull innovation” in the reemergence of teams, the topics of public workshops we use, and the associations we affiliate with to meet the customer where the customer is.
- Fun setting – Finally, we’re committed to working hard and playing hard (perhaps now more than ever). We have been on a pretty bumpy road for the past 5 years. It’s easy to forget that you should also be enjoying your work and being rewarded for it. In 2014, we’ll work to embrace a work-life-tech balance – doing what you need to do to get it all done, but understanding that too much can also be harmful. As we set our goals for the New Year, our team is also doing some “fun setting. “ A certain amount of our revenue will go towards providing fun experiences for our staff. We will set the “fun” items or ideas ahead of time as we do our goal setting. When we reach certain goals or checkpoints throughout the year, “fun” is given out. Some of the fun ideas we’re throwing around include days offs, traveling vouchers, and enhancement in personal entertainment and technology. We encourage you to do the same with your team – it has been a long and tough road for many of your best champions, make sure you’re living life too.
Okay, okay – let’s do some fun predictions
- Social responsibility – in an attempt to make organizations and corporations ‘more human’ so you can relate to them, big organizations will continue to grow their social responsibility portfolio. This is a strategy for organizations to continue to capture the key demographic of the heart-on-sleeve Millennials (18-32 year olds)
- 3D Printing – soon you will be able to walk into Home Depot (which will only be a one room store) and order a custom-built, exact-spec piece of furniture and within minutes a 3D Printer will produce that exact order. Next year 3D printing will be the buzzword.
- Wearable technology – Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear are only the start. Soon you will have pockets laced with energy producers from your own body that charge your phone, act as a homing beacon or enhance how your body functions and operates.
- Gaming – virtual gaming will look to replace (or at least be a formidable presence) to experiential learning. Gaming done properly will train our best military, create new critical thinkers and problem solvers, and will probably help make work fun.
- Tech as your personal assistant – the definition of technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. We will continue to see the explosion of the tech age as it applies to “making our lives easier.” This will be realized in your phone holding onto all your credit card info so you can just scan your phone to make a purchase like GoogleWallet. Google Now is a notification system (much like CNN notifications) sending you alerts for your meetings, what the weather will be like today, your grocery list, the score of the game, that your package has shipped, and important dates and birthdays to remember.
- Social intimacy – as more and more people look to embrace technology and social media the space will become increasingly noisy. Don’t be shocked if you find people backing out of these social media for a more intimate relationship with a group or select people. We see this with the emergence of a different style of social media like Path. BombBomb is a quick email service that allows you to send personal videos connecting with your clients. Circle adapts to your location in real time and lets you discover what’s happening near you. No longer is it mass media, just media that matters to you in real-time context.
So hopefully that gets you excited for 2014; we’re excited! As we mentioned these are not predictions or our top 10, but more of some investigative ideas that we’ll be looking into and perhaps you might find interesting. We’ll keep you in the loop as we move through the next year.
Here’s hoping that you, your families, and your organizations have a very happy and successful New Year.
We encourage you to think in New Directions next year!