January 6, 2019


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we share tips on planning for the new year, voice-activated technologies, four “Rules of Waiting”, and a model of work arrangements for the pool of talent past retirement age. Enjoy!


1. Planning For The New Year

Consultant Anthony Iannarino started planning for 2019 back in November. While most of us turn a few top-of-mind concerns into our New Year’s goals, he follows a much more in-depth approach.

It’s based on the writings of positive psychologist Martin Seligman and the belief that you are the protagonist in your own story — not a supporting actor or actress.

He wrote a long note with all his personal goals and, perhaps more importantly, the disciplines required to realize them. Similarly, he prepared a 2,000-word document covering every business goal and changes needed to achieve them. He also ranked priorities for those ambitions.

We are urged these days to have SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound — but he strays from that formula because he believes being realistic is a poor idea.

“Most of us underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. If you are going to be thinking, why wouldn’t you think big?” he writes on his blog.

Making a Plan For 2019:

In another blog post, he shared some questions to help you with 2019 planning:

  • What did I do well in 2018?
  • In what area did I perform poorly? What was the root cause of my poor performance? How do I improve in this area?
  • What did I learn last year that will help me improve this year? In what area do I need to improve my knowledge and skills to achieve the results I want?
  • What contribution do I want to make so that I make a difference in the world?
  • What do I need to do differently in 2019?  What do I need to eliminate to produce better results?
  • What relationships do I need to build and improve?


2. There Is No Requirement To Plan

If that process seems a bit much, consultant Steve Keating says there is no requirement to plan, and in fact few people have a real plan. In particular, don’t let people push you into making a plan you have no intention of following — that would be a waste of time.

But if you do want a real plan, it must be written down, with an honest assessment of the current situation and a realistic look at the desired outcomes.

The plan should have goals for the short, medium, and long term, with a budget to manage the time and money you intend to invest. You also need to include things you will stop doing, to focus on what you intend to accomplish.

“It’s never too late to develop a real plan. If you’re one of those people who are tempted to once and for all develop a real plan for success in 2019, I have a warning for you. Once you invest the time to develop a REAL plan for 2019, it will continuously pull at your ‘lazy strings’ until they are completely unraveled,” he writes on his blog.

Soon the comfortable excuses you used in the past to explain away your “bad luck” or “unfortunate circumstances” will be forgotten. You will find yourself accomplishing more than you thought possible.


3. Developing An Ethical Plan For 2019

As you think of what you might accomplish in 2019, the area of ethics probably isn’t top of mind. But organizations can sink when they fail the ethical test. And ethical expectations in society change.

With that in mind, ethical expert Linda Fisher Thornton poses these five questions for your organization on her blog:

  • Where are our areas of strength and our gaps in adapting to increasing ethical expectations?
  • What will we do to close the gaps we’ve identified within the next 3 months?
  • What evidence will we use to prove we have closed the gaps?
  • How will we make this a regular conversation to avoid gaps in the future?
  • How will we help others on our team answer these important questions?


4. The Non-Waiting Game

Here’s something else you probably haven’t thought about in 2019: Waiting. You probably hate waiting when dealing with another organization. Your clients and colleagues probably hate it as well.

Consultant Donald Cooper warns that waiting makes people feel unimportant, and he offers these four guiding rules on his blog:

  • Don’t make people wait.
  • If you must make them wait, give them something to do that they love more than they hate waiting.
  • When customers are waiting, update them frequently and honestly so they know what’s going on and can make the best use of their time.
  • If you make them wait longer than they think is reasonable or than you promised, give them a treat or perk along with an apology.

“How could you make these ‘Four Rules of Waiting’ work for you?” he asks.


5. Zingers

  • We trust past experiences:  Retro-trust is one of the changes trend-spotter Rohit Bhargava observed in 2018:  Often unsure of whom to trust, consumers are looking to organizations, experiences and brands with a legacy, or those with which they have a personal history.  “As we’ve become more skeptical of … ulterior motives when they market to us, we’ve also become more uncertain about trying new things. The past we know is safe,” he says. (Source: RohitBhargava.com)
  • And after Millennials?  Some workplace trends cited by Debby Carreau, CEO of Inspired HR:  Gen Z workers are expected to make up 36% of the workforce by 2020; seniors will put off retirement and work longer; more employees will seek employers with a social mission; and data analytics will be increasingly used to track workers. (Source: CNBC.com)
  • Be transparent on social media:  In its annual trends report, Hootsuite points to concern about fake information and manipulation on social media, which creates a delicate challenge. Treating social media as an ad channel to be filled with flashy clickbait and promo code promotions will be out of step. Instead, focus on generating transparent and meaningful engagement. As well, try to use LinkedIn, which has remained scandal-free unlike other social networks, and now publishes more than 100,000 articles a week. (Source: FastCompany).
  • Writing for voice:  Looking at marketing trends, consultant Gina Dietrich says voice search — using voice recognition to search the web — is surging and you need to prepare your content with it in mind, which means writing in a way that people talk. (Source: SpinSucks.com)
  • For well-being, accent the positive: HR consultant Laurie Ruettimann says employee well-being will continue to be a buzz word in 2019, but with a different slant: “Rather than focusing on punitive programs meant to guilt people into losing weight, progressive HR departments are getting ahead of the curve and designing creative benefit programs to enhance the quality of life. From nap rooms to ‘pawternity’ benefits, employers want happier and healthier employees.” (Source: laurieruettimann.com)


6. The Model: Work Arrangements For Older Employees

To capitalize on a new talent pool — not millennials, but those who continue to work past traditional retirement age — we need to understand who these workers are, what motivates them, and the opportunities they present.

Here’s a framework to consider from Deloitte — on different types of work arrangements for those aged 55+ (with thanks for the heads-up to Deloitte partner Brian McKenna):

  • Bridge Workers (25-30% – work part-time with a new employer)
  • Alumni Workers (20% – come back to the organization part-time as mentors or simply come out of retirement)
  • Tenured Workers (15-20% – work is part of a phased retirement)
  • Gig Workers (5-7% – use online platforms to find work assignments)
  • Encore Workers (9-12% – engaged in volunteer or civic service)

The model features a matrix with two contrasting dimensions: older talent seeking work with the same employer vs. a new employer, and work arrangements that appeal primarily to financial vs. personal concerns.


7. Around Our Water Cooler:
   Voice-Activated Devices

Perhaps at our own peril, we’ve happily extended our use of voice-activated technologies to support our work in 2019. We’ve long been users of Dragon Naturally Speaking for our dictation needs. Now we’ve added Google Home and Amazon Echo, two of the most popular brands of small, table-top speakers.

What makes them smart is the included voice assistants — Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa — which you can ask questions or give commands. Want to know the weather? Listen to the news? Set a timer? Check an information source? Just ask.

The CBC quotes an Adobe Analytics survey last August that found 32% of U.S. adults owned at least one smart speaker. RBC Capital Markets estimates ownership of smart speakers has nearly doubled in the past year.  And in Canada, eMarketer predicts there will be 5.8 million smart speakers in use in 2019.

There are privacy concerns and tradeoffs that come with any smart speaker or voice-assisted device. It’s up to you to decide if the added convenience of voice activation is worth it. For now, we’re trying it in the office, and clients are talking about it for application in fields as diverse as long-term care and tourism.

For further reading on both sides of the topic, see:


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8020Info helps senior leadership teams and boards develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support research / stakeholder consultations, strategic planning processes, change and marketing communications. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8. Closing Thought 

“History does not repeat, but it does rhyme.”

— Mark Twain