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Cyberspace, Cultural Space: What the National Park System Can Teach Us about Digital Security

Posted July 29, 2014 by Editor
Categories: Technology
national park

This post was written by Matthew Ford, a strategist here at Jump. You can find him on Twitter @matthewdford, or get in touch with him by commenting on this post.

I recently discovered a surprising connection between two seemingly unrelated cards in my wallet. The first was a national parks pass, which provides access to all of the U.S.’s national parks and monuments (I’ve been avidly visiting as many as possible this year). The second was my debit card, which was compromised in the Target security breach from earlier this year.

After attending a talk by Bill Tweed, a former park ranger at Sequoia National Park and author of Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks, I realized that the challenges the park system faces with security from outside threats points to opportunities for innovation in connected devices and cybersecurity.

Throughout his lecture, Tweed argued that the national park system was created with the flawed intent that one could fence off a region and preserve it “forever unimpaired for generations to come.” This notion was largely derived from classical views of biology, which focused on understanding the behaviors of individual organisms. In contrast, as Tweed emphasized, modern biology focuses on ecosystems, or relationships between organisms, instead of simple taxonomy.

This shift in perspective has led to much debate within the parks, given that actions outside the park’s border affect what happens within. It’s not enough to put a wall around something and try to manage it internally, in isolation from external factors like climate change. The conflict has always been whether (and how) to interfere with ecosystems. If a lightning strike starts a wildfire in Yosemite, should you extinguish the fire or let nature take its course?

The question of fencing in something we value without adequate acknowledgement of its environment and outside influences is also a symptom of current technology. Over the last 10 years, the Internet has transformed how we use technology, forcing us to consider not just the performance of an individual device, but the interactions between our devices and the data they exchange. While Apple found success integrating mobile software and services, Japanese technology companies, such as Sony and Hitachi, took a big hit in global market share as they focused on optimizing the performance of individual hardware without regard to the way that hardware connected to external services.

Mobile computing has created a large shift from devices to ecosystems, bringing integrated experiences with increasing levels of complexity in protecting data and devices from outside threats. It’s no surprise that the market for cybersecurity is on the rise. In the next few years, the connected home and Internet of Things will bring millions of new devices online, each of them with the potential to be hacked. Security compromises to cars, thermostats, or medical devices could be far more dangerous than a virus that attacks a desktop computer.

As the technological fences come down in favor of greater exchange, companies and governments are balancing demand for integrated experiences with the need for heightened security. In one interesting take on this challenge, and in an effort to streamline government services and build their economy, Estonia launched a digital citizenship program, providing each citizen with a card and two "authentication" and "authorization" PINs for corporate, tax, and healthcare transactions and processes. These cards limit and distribute the data associated with each account, protecting against potential security breaches. Investors abroad can easily become “satellite citizens” and establish companies that will give Estonia a global reach.

Security concerns are prompting more and more consumers to value data ownership. When Target announced that 40 million customers had their cards compromised, they followed the typical corporate response of signing customers up for subscription account monitoring service with Experian, who in turn packages and sells customer data to marketers. Customers have also become aware of the amount of data companies like Facebook and Google store and sell, and the revelation that Facebook conducted social experiments on its users has further fueled the growing distrust.

The move toward distributing data away from company servers is ripe for innovations in security. Companies like Wickr are evolving the path set by Snapchat by eliminating servers entirely and bringing encryption and temporary data storage solely to individual devices. Likewise, Indie Box is enabling customers to control their own cloud, transforming the belief that Dropbox is the best way to store data.

As we move forward, the challenge for companies innovating across industries with connected devices will be similar to the challenge of building a park without a fence. For our national parks, redefining ownership and decentralizing control may be the best approach to managing dynamic external forces. Tweed points to Scotland as an as example for the future of national parks. The collective spirit and values of individual ownership have created a park system with no borders, where citizens take responsibility for the treasured spaces and treat them like cherished belongings.

Customers will soon demand tools and flexibility to own their data. Moving data away from servers is easy to understand for instant messaging, but what does it mean for the connected home, banking, healthcare, and other sectors? A change in revenue models may be the key. Flexible, subscription-based APIs that link a host of hardware devices and software platforms for the transactions they complete would make data more nimble and secure while handing control back to the very customers who generate and exchange information.

Connected devices and mobile computing are fundamentally changing the interactions and ecosystems of daily life. From buying groceries and cooking dinner, to filing taxes and getting a medical checkup, advances in security will make or break the next wave of innovation. And, like the national park system, the future depends on how we choose to intervene.

6 Steps for Turning Corporate Responsibility Into Bottom Line Growth

Posted July 24, 2014 by Editor
two starbucks coffees

This post was written by Esther Luk, an associate here at Jump. You can get in touch with her by commenting on this post. 

Whether we’re talking about a startup with 10 employees or a multinational corporation with offices all around the world, one thing is hard to deny: nearly all companies have unique resources at their disposal to set the stage for their mission and create a positive impact on the world. 

The best forms of corporate responsibility are those that leverage what your company is best at. By finding out what you’re best at, you can look for causes that align with those strengths and find a way to make a greater impact than simply volunteering in off hours or packing boxes with school supplies. It’s up to you to decide what purpose you seek to impact, how much you should invest, and what workstream you’ll use to realize that purpose.

You can leverage what your company is best at by adapting your social impact strategy to what’s relevant for your business. Here are a few steps for figuring out a cause that you can get behind:

1. Envision: What does your dream world look like? How can you and your company play a part in making this happen?

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, has always had a vision for a different kind of company, not just a different kind of coffee. He hoped to bring the feeling of connection felt in Italian coffee shops to the States. The mission statement of Starbucks is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit–one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” Over the years, Starbucks has achieved this vision through strategic investments, like providing market-leading benefits for part-time employees.

The company will soon provide a free online education to thousands of its workers (without requiring that they remain with the company long-term). The company has always been fairly unique in its approach to its employees, but this effort goes above and beyond. With it, Starbucks is leveraging its resources to build a more robust, educated workforce—something that, despite a few potential downsides, is to be admired.

2. Articulate: What kind of headline would be ideal for your business? Outside of your business itself, what do you want to be known for?

In 2010, Unilever made a public commitment to double profits and halve its environmental footprint by 2020. The company decided that a durable, sustainable business model would be one that factored in the externalities of doing business. It examined the broader trends affecting resource depletion and decided that it had a powerful role in counteracting them.

3. Reflect: Find your competitive advantage—what types of competencies, resources, and capabilities can your company do better than other companies in a week, month, or year?

Always—a feminine product brand produced by P&G—leverages the marketing powerhouse of the consumer packaged goods multi-national to create new conversations in cause marketing. A recent Always commercial demonstrated and confronted the stigmatic phrase of acting “like a girl.” The video went viral—it racked up 31 million views in a week—and while it’s unclear exactly how many people the commercial has impacted (or will impact), it’s at least gotten people thinking about a phrase many forget has profound ripple effects. Always is starting an important conversation that matters.

4. Diagnose: What are the obstacles that keep your company from being able to achieve your vision?

Google recently launched a $50 million initiative to teach young girls how to code. Their new website, Made With Code (which launched a few weeks ago), is the result of long-term research by Google to determine why girls are opting out of learning to code.

Finding that most girls decide long before college whether or not they’ll want to learn to code, Made With Code aims to help impact that decision early on, and ultimately bring more women into the tech workforce. Once again, this project leverages many of Google’s strengths and could potentially have a global impact in the next five, ten, and twenty years. It could also funnel back to Google in increasing their potential workforce.

5. Enroll Allies: Who are the primary and secondary stakeholders in this initiative? Who do you need buy-in from? How will you keep momentum going, and what support systems do you have in place for when the inevitable hiccups arise? 

Whole Foods encourages its employees to “upcycle” old materials, repurposing them into new value. In so doing, the company enrolls stakeholders across store departments and regions to participate in its sustainability initiatives. This helps the company continue to reduce waste, promote local relationships, and attract diverse allies that will propel its corporate responsibility programs.

6. Make the Leap: What’s the immediate next step you can take to move onto the pathway towards realizing your vision? What’s a follow-up action assuming success and failure?

Always realized the influence its advertising could have and used that to further a positive cause. Google’s Made With Code is based heavily off of Google’s core competencies. And Starbucks, having already taken great strides in providing a positive employee experience, pushed above and beyond with its employee education program. All great immediate steps towards realizing several very different visions.

Every organization has the ability to link their current workstream to a bold, long-term view.  What’s really exciting is that corporate social responsibility can go hand-in-hand with positive business impact, whether you’re a feminine pads company or Starbucks.


photo credit: PG.NETO via photopin cc

3 Things the World Cup Can Teach Us About Business Strategy

Posted July 22, 2014 by Editor
Categories: Strategy
fifa world cup

This post was written by Diana Cheng, a Senior Strategist here at Jump. You can get in touch with her by commenting on this post.

Over the last few weeks, I was one of over 26 million Americans who tuned in to watch the 2014 World Cup. I love watching real football—soccer—and grew up watching the games with my dad.

Despite the notion that “nobody in the U.S. cares about soccer,” World Cup viewership in the United States has been on the rise in every World Cup since 2006. And why not? There are so many reasons to watch and love what I consider to be the world’s greatest sporting event—the drama, the loyal fans, the national pride at stake, the fun in watching, and the talent on the fields. But most of all, the World Cup is about strategy. It’s not just about brute strength or speed; the key to winning is being able to make strategic decisions before, during, and after each game.

That’s not unlike business strategy. There are lessons to be learned from the pitch that can apply to any organization looking to win in its arena:


1. It’s a team effort—not about individual stars.

Germany is a great team, and that’s why they won. While none of their players rank higher individually in skills or in fame than players like Lionel Messi of Argentina or Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (ranked numbers 1 and 2 in the world in 2013, respectively), the collective strength of their team far outweighs that of a single lone star amongst mediocre teammates. Selfishness loses games, and the best teams are those that are strong, collaborative, and selfless.

The same is true for leading any team through innovation, a highly collaborative field. In an environment full of incredibly smart, talented, and highly opinionated people, the most successful teams are those who bring their best to every group interaction, and know when to check their egos or pass to others. This requires a delicate balance of knowing when it makes sense to have a heated debate to push great ideas forward, and when it’s time to take charge and make a decision.

2. A great defense saves you from unnecessary mistakes, but won’t lead you to victory in the end.

Many of the hero stories from this year’s World Cup came on the defensive side. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard’s 16 saves vs. Belgium were enough to break a World Cup record, but not enough to propel the team to victory. Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico, also a goalkeeper, propelled himself into the spotlight with a handful of remarkable saves throughout Mexico’s games. These stories are fun, and the games were entertaining, but these teams didn’t win—they were knocked out.

Good defense may provide you with a solid foundation and sustain you over time, but in the end, it doesn’t help you score points when it counts. You can’t win in your field unless you’re willing to take calculated risks—to make that run down the field and kick that ball towards the back of the net. At times, the less sexy move—defense—is a smart one. But if you want to be a pioneer, you need to let go of that tight control and take risks.

3. It’s essential not to forget your big “Why.”

Experts, commentators, and fans alike have all spent countless hours figuring out what went wrong with Brazil in their 1-7 dismantling vs. Germany (and their subsequent hard-to-watch loss to the Dutch in the third place game). As I see it, after Neymar’s injury, the team was so preoccupied with the loss of their star defensive player that they overlooked the fact that they also lost their usual captain, who was responsible for organizing the team on the field.

Once they lost order and lost their cohesive team strategy, they didn’t stand a chance. It was as though they had forgotten the reason they were out there on the field—to play great football, and to win the World Cup once again. They were so busy mourning the loss of Neymar that they forgot to play just as normal, and showcase their full potential as 5-time champions.

In business, it can be easy to get so down in the weeds as you’re working through a problem that you forget to step back and ask yourself what’s the real problem you’re trying to solve. You may also be so eager to simply do something, or get caught up in the momentum, that you forget to check whether you were headed in the right direction (there were five own goals this World Cup). Avoid that trap by staying closely in tune with your overall strategy, and intentionally stepping back every once in a while to look at the bigger picture. Big picture thinking won’t cure all evils, but it can prevent you from succumbing to pitfalls that could make even great organizations fail.

Soccer won’t give us all the answers, but as it turns out, the pitch is a decent place to look for lessons about business strategy. One thing no strategy has been able to help me with? Getting over my World Cup withdrawal. Another four years to go...


photo credit: jikatu via photopin cc

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