On the future of manufacturing

modelling additive manufacture

I was invited last week to talk about the future of manufacturing at an event run by the manufacturing practice of one of the big law firms. Here's a whistle stop summary. It's a mind-blowing vista.


On considering political, economic, social and technological factors, it's unarguable that we're contemplating major flux in manufacturing. As with any flux, today's players will either win out or lose out, and clearly everyone in this room wishes to contribute to and participate in the winning side of things!

With that in mind, I'd like to explore some major themes:

  • Dehumanisation
  • Dematerialisation
  • Decentralisation
  • Deindustrialisation

That list sounds fairly destructive, yet I believe manufacturing is then transformed, manufacturing is vital, and manufacturing is more exciting than ever. Continue reading

“A New Balanced Scorecard for Communications” – a critique

The Business of Influence, Sheldrake, Wiley, 2011

I've just been pointed to a recent post by Tim Marklein on The Measurement Standard, A New Balanced Scorecard for Communications. I can't endorse it as it stands, as I understand it, and this post explains why.

For a bit of background, this summary of the Balanced Scorecard and associated Strategy Maps is based on the one in my book, The Business of Influence, and is one of my post popular webpages attracting thousands of visitors every month ;-) Do check it out if the Scorecard is new to you.

Having been frustrated by the very narrow practice of public relations, by the plain wrong approaches to alignment and performance measurement, and by the seeming isolation of the PR function from the rest of the business at a time when its best qualities are more vital than ever, I sought in 2009 to crystallise my ideas to help organisations transition to a more relevant and mutually valuable model. Knowing that organisational change is hard, I focused on the dominant way some of the world's largest and most successful businesses seek to articulate and guide performance – the Balanced Scorecard – in order to tap into the monster's own strengths, jujitsu style.

I called the resultant framework the Influence Scorecard, and I was delighted that Robert Howie, then the Director of the Kaplan Norton Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame for Executing Strategy, penned the foreword. Continue reading

Recoding public relations

PR Genome conference New York 2015

Having co-founded, built and sold a PR consultancy. Having written a book on reframing marketing and PR for the digital age that's now recommended reading across a number of under- and post-graduate courses. Having made some of the first presentations to the PR profession on the implications of the Internet of Things, the Semantic Web, and machined media. And having co-founded the CIPR's prolific social media group, I have it appears left the profession. And for some good time now.

I've taken the best the PR profession and academe have to offer the world, and then determinedly escaped its narrow practice. I've found I can now offer consultancy that isn't framed by preconceived ideas of PR. I can combine it with management consultancy more broadly, with org design and social business, with digital transformation and web science, without anyone saying "that's not PR!"

It does I admit help that I am a chartered engineer. Engineering is my nature. I will always be an engineer, but my association with PR is always framed these days in the past tense, if only to disassociate myself from inadequate and inappropriate context.

21st Century public relations isn't a synonym for media relations, or earned media, or simply "communications" come to that. It isn't publicity or, worse, spin. It isn't a side function and it's definitely ill-suited as a marketing function. Continue reading

Google on collaboration – a new study

Google collaboration report June 2015
First published to Gigaom Research.

Our customers often tell us that encouraging and enabling collaboration has dramatically improved their business. We decided to dig a little deeper by conducting some original cross-industry research that measures the power of workplace collaboration in concrete terms.

This is how Google introduces the findings of its recent survey of senior staff and C-suite executives at 258 North American companies across a wide range of business sectors and sizes. (PDF of full report.) The primary conclusion is presented up front:

… collaboration has a significant impact on business innovation, performance, culture and even the bottom line.

This is quite right and quite wrong. Collaboration is at once driven and the driver; it is both a cause and an effect. As is culture come to that. Effectively, Google must grapple with two distinct appreciations of business among its customers and prospects.

Simply complex

If there’s one thing that differentiates organization this century from the last it’s that we may now acknowledge complexity and do something about it. We increasingly have the technologies to help navigate complexity. Choosing to do so offers competitive advantage for the time being; there will soon come a time when failing to do so renders an organization unresponsive, fragile and, consequently, bust. (Note that complexity and complication are different things.) Continue reading

Work IT: bring-you-and-your-own-everything


First published to Gigaom Research.

Cast your mind back a decade or more. Did you request specific hardware from your company’s IT team? If so, you started a trend that continues to play out to this day, and will continue to its logical and exciting conclusion.

You may or may not have been successful in your request given IT’s historic intransigence, but nowadays many of us expect to rock up to work with the laptop and tablet and smartphone of our choosing – often our own – and expect the IT team’s full accommodation.

We’re also bringing our own applications. Non-IT staff have adopted software-as-a-service without necessarily going through their IT colleagues. Yammer, Trello and Slack for example. Perhaps Google Docs crept in without organization-wide adoption of Google for Work. Meeting schedulers. Note-takers. Expense trackers. Skype. Dropbox. Instagram. The list is as long as the kind of things you need to get done.

It’s useful to think of this in terms of Enterprise IT and Work IT. The enterprise owns Enterprise IT whereas the worker owns Work IT. In simple terms, Enterprise IT is focused on the organization, Work IT on organizing. Enterprise IT is top-down with the starting position of locking everything down, whereas Work IT is bottom-up, thriving by facilitating sharing and openness. Continue reading

Toward a social compact for digital privacy and security

toward a social compact for digital privacy and security, Global Commission on Internet Governance
Updated 16th September, embedding the videos of the session below.

The Global Commission on Internet Governance (ourinternet.org) was established in January 2014 to articulate and advance a strategic vision for the future of Internet governance. With work commencing in May 2014, the two-year project is conducting and supporting independent research on Internet-related dimensions of global public policy, culminating in an official commission report.

toward a social compact - Global Commission on Internet GovernanceThe Commission published a statement 15th April 2015 for the Global Conference on Cyberspace meeting in The Hague. It calls on the global community to build a new social compact between citizens and their elected representatives, the judiciary, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, business, civil society and the Internet technical community, with the goal of restoring trust and enhancing confidence in the Internet.

I have been invited to discuss this statement with Dame Professor Wendy Hall and Sir David Omand at a Web Science Institute event this afternoon.

The core elements advocated in building the new social compact are:

  1. Privacy and personal data protection as a fundamental human right
  2. The necessity and proportionality of surveillance
  3. Legal transparency and redress for unlawful surveillance
  4. Safeguarding online data and consumer awareness
  5. Big data and trust
  6. Strengthening private communications
  7. No back doors to private data
  8. Public awareness of good cyber-security practices
  9. Mutual assistance to curtail transborder cyber threats.

Here is the brief slidestack framing my contribution today:


Dame Professor Wendy Hall introduces session (1min 32sec)

Sir David Omand (12min 45sec)

Me (9min 35sec)