Facebook Has Brought Us To A Tipping Point

Facebook is appointing what its leader calls a “supreme court” for resolving issues in content censorship. This oversight board will be appointed by Facebook; therefore, it is fraught with conflict of interest from the get-go. Consider that Facebook already has a bigger daily impact on the lives of some people than their government and in some respects has a comparable amount of influence. Now, what 2.4 billion people see and interpret as truth daily, and the $36 billion firms spend in advertising annually, will be “governed” by a single for-profit company, first by algorithms with inherent biases and lastly by people with strong ties to a single leader — a single leader that, through preferred stock, is entirely controlled by said company. That gives us pause. What should give you even more pause is the fact that Facebook is creating a cryptocurrency. If successful, this could make it the most powerful financial institution in the world as well as being the biggest media company. No modern firm has ever had both of these influences at the same time, certainly not one that has already violated our privacy and let rogue actors influence elections. What is more, Libra’s proposed ties to fiat currencies are raising huge concerns about the risk to our financial system. In essence, Facebook is flexing its muscle as a new type of world superpower. This is a big ethical and societal dilemma brought on by the exponential effects of technology innovation chains. It calls into question our current stances on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the role of financial regulation, the applicability of antitrust laws, taxation, and a bunch of other tools we have to maintain a free society. These have simply never had to deal with a Facebook. Now, they do. This trend must be on your radar. See Brian Hopkins’ blog, Facebook’s Recent Moves Highlight The Grand Challenge of Digital Ethics.

Wayfair’s Walkout Signals A New Kind Of Talent War

The Wayfair walkout demonstrates a new fault line in the tension between business and social/political values: employees’ values. Increasingly empowered customers use social to voice perceived value breaches, as Forrester has noted with Nike and Gillette, requiring a rewrite of the brand crisis playbook. Now these values-based consumers are scrutinizing their employers through this same lens, as several Silicon Valley revolts along with Wayfair’s now show. Company leaders must prepare in two ways: First, understand their firm’s risk profile by assessing the proclivity of the employee base to demand strong corporate values. “Progressive Pioneer” employees have the motivation to press for strong values and skills to use social tools to mobilize other employees. Second, map their company’s value categories vs. how it expresses them to clarify where things stand today. It’s getting increasingly hard for some to stay neutral when it comes to values — but there’s a bright side. Data from our Employee Experience Index shows that 85% of employees who feel aligned with company values are more productive at work, compared to 72% of total employees. And companies that positively reinforce employees’ embrace of corporate values have year-over-year revenue growth of five percentage points higher than firms on average.

How To Prepare For The Coming Recession: Become An Adaptive Enterprise

Recessions are notoriously hard to predict; the timing, severity, and characteristics of recessions are often missed, even by top economists. Yet rumblings about a 2020 recession are growing louder: 40% of top economists expect the Federal Reserve Bank to cut interest rates in response to a deteriorating economy over the next year, while half of European business leaders believe that a recession will happen in the next five years amid rising bad debt losses. While pinning down the timing may be difficult, we know that capital market risks, trade policy risks, political risks, and climate risks are all multiplying. So what can leaders do to prepare? The good news is that the success factors for driving customer obsession — which allow you to survive and thrive during recession — are the same as those for non-recessionary boom times. The key trait that companies must promote is adaptiveness, which must take root in both the technology stack and in business processes. Adaptive firms continually flex, evolve, and pivot in response to rapidly changing customer, competitive, and technology trends. Why is adaptiveness the key? We’re living in a business environment of permanent, continuous change, with more risks and uncertainties than in the past. Driven by ever-shifting customer needs and desires, which can include changes in spending when recession hits, companies need to organize their adaptiveness in service of customer needs. We’ve just released a report, “Ten Ways To Prepare For The Next Recession,” detailing the steps that CEOs, CIOs, and other leaders can take to become adaptive — and to be ready for whenever that next recession strikes.

Fast Versus Perfect

A key principle of customer-obsessed companies is the shift from perfect to fast. This has been well evidenced in firms such as Netflix that turn out new software releases in rapid fashion to drive significant customer value. However, the recent challenges with the Boeing 737 MAX point to real issues with moving too fast and not with the right resources, policies, procedures, or security. And the problems may extend beyond planes to automobiles that, contrary to public opinion, are less safe than planes and whose ultimate automated end state is much closer for humans to experience. Now, this doesn’t mean that you go back to the days of slow but perfect. Rather, you need to make sure that you have the right approach to being fast that yields the proper approach to driving real customer value in a manner that is safe and aligned to your brand. And you have to have the right view of service partners and talent — outsourcing to $9-per-hour vendors may not be the right move when lives are at stake.