What if tomorrow morning the Great Consumer Advocate in the sky asked you to tell her exactly what the ideal "client focused" agency in 2020 would be like? How would you answer her? Would you try to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your own agency or tell her about the "Agency of the Year" in your favorite association (PIA, IIA, CIAB) or consultants group? Do you think agencies today are really client centric? Do you think in tomorrow's world they will have to be?
Would you start with a blank page and design something that doesn't exist? Would you talk to other agency principals? Would you ask consumers that will be there and buying in 2020? Would you ask friends, clients or critics? Would you ask if place and time matter? What would this agency sell? What would be free? How would it deliver what it sells, gives away or offers? Will it be virtual? Will Facebook circles or Apple's Siri replace producers and customer service representatives?
To create your design, would you talk to insurance professionals, consumers, futurists, techies, demographers, teachers, adolescents or whom? Do you want answers or need questions? I bet neither of us knows.
What follows is a fictional introduction to a 1965 convention of pizza restaurant owners. This event never happened but if it had this expert would have been right on!
"Ladies and Gentleman welcome to the 1965 Louisiana Pizza Restaurant Owners Association Convention. Our keynote speaker, Ms. Smartyr Thanu, is a futurist specializing in the Food Industry. Her topic today is Pizza 1985."
Her presentation took an hour -- the high points (or low points if you are a traditionalist) are easy to recap. "In 1965 the average pizza restaurant sits about 60 people in roughly 1,500 to 3,000 square feet. A medium pizza sells for about $4.50, and the minimum hourly wage is $1.25. We anticipate this to triple (it was actually $3.35 in 1985) in the next 20 years. We expect the inflation rate in the early 1980s to exceed 14 percent."
She shifted gears and accelerated, "By 1985 the average pizza restaurant will have less than 1,000 square feet of space and many won't seat patrons since these will offer pick up or home delivery. Two medium pizzas will sell for $8.88 -- delivered.
The audience was restless. You could hear, "Where do they find these nutcases?" Some even laughed. Those that laughed didn't make it to the 1985 Convention!
What follows is the first draft of an actual invite my partners and I are preparing for bankers considering the world of financial services delivery in 2020. If you were invited, would you attend? What questions would you ask? Don't be like the restaurant owners in 1965. This is too important.
Here's my speech:
"I believe all of us accept 2020 as the ideal for measurement of vision. I suspect most agree that hindsight is 2020. Unfortunately as a leader and / or manager in your organization there is an inherent conflict of interest with vision and hindsight.
"Author Stephen Covey wrote that 'we should begin with the end in mind.' This is the vision thing. This is the primary role of leaders. Unfortunately as managers each day, you must begin with the beginning in mind and work to stay on task. Budgets, compliance, complaints, etc. require you to keep your head down and your focus on the now. All too often the crisis du jour creates smoke and mirrors which limit your ability to see tomorrow, much less far into the future.
"Conflicts of interest are always awkward. Conflicts of interest that limit your ability to vision can threaten you and your organization's viability. What if you were standing in tomorrow (December 31, 2020) and looking back at your organization as it is today? Wouldn't this hindsight view make it much safer and easier to plan? Do you find long-term planning today challenging because it feels like you are dragging your organization kicking and screaming into the future?
"The Bankers Association is pleased to facilitate a meeting which will allow a time for focus, dialogue and discovery -- helping you to plan your future path to success. This will be a safe place to evaluate ideas, visions, strategies and risks. Then based upon what you learn, participants can decide on next steps as an individual organization, as a group of interested collaborators or as part of the Bankers Association. The decision is yours. The risk is shared and the cost of this discovery is minimal.
"Our dialogue will start with speculation and discovery of the why -- the purpose of our institutions in tomorrow, the how -- the strategies to assure passion, profit and perpetuation, and the what -- the tactics related to people, process, plans and products. Where this discovery ends -- no one knows. Join us.
March 27, 2012
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