The Evolving Future: Small is the New Big

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Home > Articles > The Evolving Future: Small is the New Big

 The Evolving Future: Small is the New Big

Bertrand Leong | Today's Manager
December 1, 2017

Themed The Evolving Future: Small is the New Big, SIM’s SMF 2017 shows how the small but positive, mobile, nimble, courageous, and connected can take on the world.

In thinking about innovation and creativity, many feel hard-pressed to come up with the next ingenious idea to drive figures, increase profit margins, and market share. However, we might find that the more we force ourselves to be innovative and creative, the harder it is to do it.

Dramatic changes can require plenty of work and effort. Instead of paddling faster and pushing harder, consider how large transformations start with small changes in the way we think.

Principally sponsored by Six Capital, SIM’s Singapore Management Festival (SMF) brings together the world’s top management thinkers, game changers, and local and international business leaders to share thought-provoking ideas on best practices and management trends essential to dealing with a changing and unpredictable business landscape.

This year’s event featured a distinguished panel of speakers that included a top practitioner in Performance Enhancing Psychology Mr Jamil Qureshi, CEO and chief happiness officer Ms Jenn Lim, artist and architect Ms Red Hong Yi, chief digital officer of Gorilla Digital Mr Keith Nakamura, PR and media strategist Mr Woon Tai Ho, vice president for digital marketing at Mediacorp Mr Miguel Bernas, lead of talent & culture human resource at Mediacorp Mr Nadeem Ashraf, and serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Twelve Cupcakes Mr Daniel Ong.

Change and Performance: Executive Lessons in Turning Ambition into Achievement
Mr Jamil Qureshi kicked off day one’s senior management roundtable by challenging everyone to think differently. We think in words and pictures which makes us feel a particular way before acting upon it (actions and behaviour). Using soil as an analogy, he says we need to be careful about the way and what we think as the thoughts we plant in our minds will nourish and grow. Rather than work in the areas of feeling or acting (compliance), he urged leaders and managers to work in the area of thinking (commitment) by tweaking the delivery of the message (words and pictures) to people in order to drive purposeful, meaningful, sustainable change and desired behaviours.

He added that reframing questions in fun and interesting ways can help how we think. What may seem like silly questions are in fact helpful exercises that reverse problems by employing gamification techniques. For instance, if you only had four hours to work each week, what would you do differently and which aspects of work will you prioritise?

On day two, Mr Qureshi spoke about the 6Cs of high performance in a team culture and how trust is the social capital needed to build cooperation, collaboration, cognition, coaching, communication, and challenge. To boost trust in your colleagues and employees, focus on increasing your credibility, reliability, and intimacy, and reducing your ego which undermines trust and places self-interest above others.

Happiness as a Business Model
Next up, Ms Jenn Lim shared how happiness is proven to deliver positive results. Instilling happiness as a business model requires deep commitment as 75 per cent of corporate cultural initiatives in the United States (US) launched and failed due to a lack of commitment. Encouraging everyone to plot what she calls The Happines Heartbeats, Ms Lim shared that it is not just the highs that define sustainable, meaningful happiness, but the lows too. Look at your life/organisation and plot its highs-and-lows, then ask what values and people were there. Defining those answers and figuring out those mysteries will add to your definition of what true sustainable happiness or success for a company looks like.

Fear, Perception, Creativity, and Resourcefulness
Challenged by limitations, Ms Red Hong Yi paints using everyday objects and materials to transcend the traditional understanding of objects and image-making. Her resolve is evident in the way she approaches her art projects. She shares that people stop becoming as creative as compared to when we were kids due to fears of failure, rejection, and criticism. We may not be able to realise our true potential if we wait for the perfect opportunity and inspiration to come—constantly worrying about what others think. Self-doubt creeps in and we are tempted to abandon ship. Start by making a bold decision to do something creative and persevere in the process. Fail or succeed, there are always valuable lessons to learn about ourselves and what we are capable of. Ms Hong Yi challenged everyone to return to the reason(s)/inspiration(s) for embarking on their personal projects in the first place, to look at the same thing(s) differently, be resourceful in finding alternative solutions, and to never lose one’s sense of child-like awe and wonder.

Evolving from Digital Marketing into a Digital Business: Transform or Die!
Millennials spend close to 18 hours a day consuming media; one-in-two people use mobile phones; and one-in-three bought something in a mobile experience across multiple platforms. People expect to be able to do more too with just a mobile phone and credit card. Purchases can now be made simply by “comment selling” on Messenger or Facebook, and businesses without downloadable apps are quickly losing market share.

Mr Keith Nakamura shared on day three that digital marketing is not the same as digital transformation. He questioned if businesses are keeping up with the times and technology or turning obsolete and asked to consider how many of our products and services can be digitised. He cautioned that companies will have difficulty innovating and adapting if all they do is try to survive by the quarter.

Reputation Management in the Digital Age
Reputation management in the digital age is becoming a 24/7 responsibility with the proliferation of social media. One person can be on multiple platforms (radio, print, television, and social media). Firms are now expected to respond in real-time and it has to be within 45 minutes—a far cry from pre-social media days where a turnaround of several hours was the norm. Mr Woon Tai Ho cautioned that others will own a source of information on your behalf (if you don’t already own it) by making fallacious and detrimental claims to your company’s reputation. He recommends that organisations use a crisis scorecard to ascertain the severity of crises and whether to respond—adding that organisations must be transparent and avoid removing posts each time someone says something negative. Netizens appreciate honesty and stifling an online discussion or deliberately manipulating information to place oneself in a favourable light can inadvertently draw more attention to oneself. This leads to the Streisand Effect—a phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicising the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.

Digitisation of Mainstream Media—Mediacorp’s Story
Mr Miguel Bermas found that people are becoming increasingly intolerant of advertisements—to the point where they are not only using ad blockers to block advertising but paying to do so (e.g. paid Spotify, Netflix, or YouTube subscriptions). This decline is most pronounced in traditional media—posing newfound challenges for companies whose main source of revenue is traditional advertising. Mr Bermas shared how Mediacorp uses Transmedia Storytelling instead to proliferate a message across multiple digital touch points.

Build an Innovation Culture
Believing that culture equals performance, Mr Nadeem Ashraf says strategies and business plans mean nothing if we do not have the right organisational culture to deliver our strategies. He recommends giving our organisations a health check from a readiness perspective in terms of pace of organisational culture change and adaptability to changing landscapes (e.g.: customer expectations, media) and demographics (multigenerational organisations). To build successful innovation cultures, organisations
must also clearly articulate the desired culture and support this with key levers of leadership, communication, talent, and system.

Successful Tips for Entrepreneurs
Aside from touching on key attributes and the mindset of an entrepreneur, Mr Daniel Ong adds that successful entrepreneurs should research, practice, and put in their 10,000 hours. This translates to eight hours a day—3 years 5 months 9 days, or five hours a day—5 years 5 months 21 days—which if you think about it, is pretty achievable. Popularised by Mr Malcolm Gladwell, 10,000 hours works on the premise that hard work needs practice to get good at something. It requires grind, discipline, passion, purpose, and drive. Mr Ong’s motivational pep talk on his recipe of success for entrepreneurs was a fitting end to the three-day seminar—showing how small, deliberate change can indeed make huge waves.


Copyright © 2017 Singapore Institute of Management

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Today's Manager Issue 4, 2017

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