Posts filed under “Disruptive Technology”

Free Download! ArchiTechs Volume 2

ArchiTech Volume 2

ArchiTech Volume 2


I’m delighted to share the second volume of ArchiTechs, an on-going series of long form essay that explores how individuals are leveraging new technologies to access a scale and scope of power that was traditionally reserved for large organizations and associations. The series explores how technology is impacting our daily lives. Volume 2, focuses on the evolution of online identity and outlines the phases of online development that got us to our current state.

We also discuss how countries like South Korea have tackled some of the challenges of allowing anonymity to exist online and some of the dangers that comes with too much transparency.




Download Red Thread | ArchiTechs Volume 02


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When Robots Weep Who Will Comfort Them?

This post explores some of my thoughts around concepts of Digital Culture.  You can find the other related entries HERE. 

*** This is an excerpt from the June Issue of Red Thread’s monthly newsletter. ***






What if one day, someone told you that you weren’t human – but a sophisticated sentient machine that was engineered in a factory. Your memories, your emotions, your habits, your quirks – everything that makes you unique – are all just binary code running in the background of an advanced operating system. Would you still consider yourself human? (If you’re intrigued by this premise, check out Battlestar Galactica.)

This month, we’ve thinking about the complicated interactions that take place between humans and technology.

Scientists have been trying to isolate the characteristics that differentiate us from other species for hundreds of years. The addition of technology into the mix has only further confused the issue. Frombiometric contact lenses to implants that enable us to control artificial limbs with our mind – we are redefining our relationship with technology on two fundamental levels.


1. Looking Inward: How much machinery can we integrate into ourselves while still being human? 

In last year’s RoboCop reboot, the main character, Alex Murphy, must face his own definition of humanity when his consciousness is transferred into a robotic cyborg. He discovers all that is left of his physical self are his lungs, one hand, and most of his head. Let’s just say, he doesn’t take the news well. If you take away the flesh and bones of a man, what does he retain?
2. Looking Outward: What kind of relationships can we have with machines? 

A 2007 study reported that people who owned Roombas (small, autonomous robotic vacuums cleaners) developed deep emotional attachments to their device, including giving it a name, creating customized covers for it, and even rearranging the furniture to accommodate it better.

Soon, the technology will be smart enough to recognize and even reciprocate our feelings. David Levy, AI expert and author of “Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships predicts that by 2050 “Robots will have the capacity to fall in love with humans and to make themselves romantically attractive and sexually desirable to humans.”

In her book The Human Age, historian Diana Ackerman wonders whether machines can ever possess that intangible spark that makes us human.

Key quote:


[Robots] will never be embodied exactly like us, with a thick imperfect sediment of memories, and maybe a handful of diaphanous dreams.

Who can say what unconscious obbligato prompts a composer to choose this rhythm or that — an irregular pounding heart, tinnitus in the ears, a lover who speaks a foreign language, fond memories evoked by the crackle of ice in winter, or an all too human twist of fate?

I don’t know if robots will be able to do the sort of elaborate thought experiments that led Einstein to discoveries and Dostoevsky to fiction. Yet robots may well create art, from who knows what motive, and enjoy it based on their own brand of aesthetics, satire (if they enjoy satire), or humor.

Technical Literacy and Budget: 2 Hurdles for Big Data? [Amsterdam]


Thalys Train

This post is a part of my thinking around the concepts I wrote about in my latest book, “THE DECODED COMPANY: KNOW YOUR TALENT BETTER THAN YOU KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS.”  You can see some of my other thoughts about big data, organizational culture and talent management HERE

I’m currently writing this from the Thalys train that is speeding from Amsterdam back to Paris. I am marvelling at the wonders of the modern age: traveling between two countries (three if you count our stop in Brussels) is seamless and I am comfortable and happy thanks to roomy seats and free wifi. One of the main benefits of living in Europe has been access to these amazing trains systems. I always prefer trains to the security hassle of removing shoes and putting liquids in tiny plastic bags. 

I was in Amsterdam keynoting  an event, and the conversations I had with some of the attendees afterwards got me thinking. Data literacy and budget constraints are the two hurdles I hear about most frequently that are standing in the way of organizations interested in embracing the Decoded Model.


1. The Decoded Model is a Philosophy

The great thing about the Decoded Model is that it encompasses a unifying philosophy to integrate analytics, not just a tactical response. This means that you can have 10 companies who are using the Decoded Model in 10 very different ways. This isn’t a solution  you pull off a shelf and plug into your organization. It’s a very powerful resource that helps bridge strategic vision,  cultural objectives and analytics together in a cohesive and coordinated way. So if you’re a small team or a huge multinational, our thinking around people, technology, and culture can be successfully implemented.


2. Being Decoded is not binary: It’s a spectrum

For some reason, there is this weird, persistent belief that implementing Big Data initiatives is an all or nothing approach. This is not true! Being Decoded falls on a broad spectrum. A small team who is looking to implement Technology as a Coach to create customized learning is going to have a different budget and scale than a company with 30,000 employees seeking to do the same. They are both applying the principle but in very different ways. This is good news: it means that no matter what your constraints are there is a spot for you to become Decoded in a way that makes sense for you and your team. This goes double for your technical competency: you don’t have to know how to code or be familiar with databases and algorithms to get started. In writing the book, we made sure to include experiments and easy to complete tasks that addressed a variety of skill levels.


3. Money isn’t the issue.

The other big issue that gets mentioned quite often is always about money. Isn’t data expensive? Clients tell me that they don’t have the budget to invest in customized analytical solutions. Once again, budget is a constraint that falls on a spectrum. A small company with limited budget shouldn’t have to invest hundreds of thousands (or millions) into a customized platform. It doesn’t make sense! Instead, when looking at the Decoded Model know that there are many inexpensive or free tools that can help you get started without a large capital investment.

I should note that while there are a multitude of ways to implement data and analytics inexpensively, doing so will always require a significant investment of time: it will take awhile to familiarize yourself with the new and available tools and  to deeply examine your own systems and processes to spot areas where you can apply the Model. I wrote a few months ago about some easy ways for companies to track their productivity, that you can use to help you get started right away.


Don’t Psych Yourself Out!

The biggest hurdle is often a mental one: letting go our beliefs or assumptions about what we think big data and how we can use it to make better decisions. Remember, if you have a piece of paper and a pen – you can be Decoded. Know how to use an excel spreadsheet? You can be Decoded. Have a budget of $0? You can be Decoded.

Interested in applying the Decoded Model to your team? Check out my MasterClass.



If you’re interested in staying updated about my research, upcoming books and general cool things I find online, sign up for my monthly newsletter and get my best stuff first. Subscribe!  

Be Informed Not Afraid. Don’t let Big Data Scare You.

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The Arcadia (via P&O Events)

This post is a part of my thinking around the concepts I wrote about in my latest book, “THE DECODED COMPANY: KNOW YOUR TALENT BETTER THAN YOU KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS.”  You can see some of my other thoughts about big data, organizational culture and talent management HERE


Data Is Everyone’s Responsibility

Last week, I had the opportunity to keynote the IT Directors Summit and HR Forum at a very interesting venue: a cruise ship. Getting there was an adventure, my very own version of trains, planes and automobiles! I took the Eurostar from Paris to London followed by the Gatwick Express to the airport. I few to Guernsey, a small island in the UK that is apparently also a phenomenal tax shelter. Finally, I boarded a small tender that took me aboard the Arcadia.

I spoke about the importance of understanding the possibility of analytics – not just from a technical standpoint but from a strategic and cultural perspective as well. Too often, many people assume that Big Data (or not-so-big data as we call it) is outside of their job function – and this couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is this: data is everyone’s responsibility.

As an employee it is up to you to be informed and engaged with your organization’s data policies. We must each be accountable for own data footprint and that means asking for clarity and transparency when needed.

  • Do you know exactly what data your employers are tracking?
  • Do you know how they collect it?
  • What do they do with it?


The Vital Role of Transparency: The Corporate Public Record

Many employers cover some of these policies in handbooks but it never hurts to get extra clarifications. For example, many organizations use swipe cards for security purposes.  At my co-authors’ company, Klick, the door swipe data is used to track your location and the number of steps you take – information that has been very transparently communicated and easy for people to access and understand. Klick has taken the time to explain to their employees exactly what purpose they have in mind for the data: in this case the number of steps is used to foster friendly competition between colleagues to see who can take the most steps and encourage a culture where people make healthy choices by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Guernsey. Flickr: stephoto, CC

As an employer or manager, you must make sure you asking the right questions about any new data initiatives to make sure they are ethical, transparent, and helping to build a positive work culture. In The Decoded Company, we outline a set of guidelines to help executives assess the ethicalness of their policies. We stress the importance of being open and transparent about the data being collected and introduce the concept of the Corporate Public Record – job-focused metrics that can be used to measure performance without invading an employee’s privacy.  Too often, we let technology or a desire for more data blind us to the cultural ramification of introducing invasive data policies that end up breaking trust and damaging the working environment.


Pairing Culture and Analytics Is Key

Klick has been very clear about not using data for punitive purposes. The swipe card data that tracks when you get into work and when you leave are never used against you in performance reviews or reprimands. However, it is used to help Klick’s managers make better informed decisions. For example, if an employee has stayed late several nights in a row, Klick’s analytical system will ping their manager to let them know there might be a workflow issue. The purpose of this data is to help establish organizational culture norms: Klick values work/life balance and the company does not want to see employees staying late. This information is used to start a conversation that can uncover an underlying issue such as the need to hire more staff to handle demand. It enables managers to spot an employee who is at risk of being burned out and overworked before disaster strikes.


Interested in applying the Decoded Model to your team? Check out my MasterClass!


If you’re interested in staying updated about my research, upcoming books and general cool things I find online, sign up for my monthly newsletter and get my best stuff first. Subscribe!  

DECODED wins Gold Axiom Award!

I’m delighted to announce that The Decoded Company has won a Gold Axiom Award for best 2015 business book in the Business Technology category. We tied for first place with Walter Issacson’s The Innovators, which is a huge honor!  To see the entire list click here.


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From the website:

In August of 2007, Jenkins Group launched the Axiom Awards, “designed to honor the year’s best business books and their authors and publishers.” Now, eight years and 3,000 entries later, we announce the winners of the eighth annual, 2015 Axiom Business Book Awards, honoring the year’s best business books, their authors, and publishers.

The Axiom Business Book Awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary business books and their creators, with the understanding that business people are an information-hungry segment of the population, eager to learn about great new books that will inspire them and help them improve their careers and businesses.