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How to Create a Circle of Safety at Work

Posted April 17, 2014 by Editor
Categories: Hybrid Thinking
circles on office floor

This post was written by Jed Morley, Vice President of Strategy here at Jump. You can find him on Twitter @Jed_Morley, or get in touch with him by commenting on this post.

There’s a popular saying in the world of business: culture eats strategy for breakfast.

There’s no innovation strategy in the world that can overcome a culture that doesn’t trust people to take chances, be themselves, and clear the air with one another when there’s a misunderstanding.

As Simon Sinek points out in his new book Leaders Eat Last, humans have an innate need to feel like they belong by working with groups of people who have their best interests at heart. But many of today’s shortsighted businesses do just the opposite, creating a toxic environment that may actually be detrimental to our health.

How can employees be expected to give their best when they don’t trust the work environment where they spend a majority of their waking hours?

Transforming your company’s culture and creating a ‘circle of safety’ as Sinek advocates can seem like an impossible mandate. If you’re unsure where to begin, a seemingly small choice a can make a sizable difference in creating a more trustworthy work culture: Hold a 10 over your colleagues’ heads.

A core value at Jump Associates, one that was introduced to us through Sarah Singer-Nourie, who has been a formative influence on our company’s culture from the outset, is being committed to the success of our fellow Jumpsters. One of the ways we practice this value is by “holding a 10” over one another’s heads. This means that we strive to treat one another as we can become, not as we are—especially in our weaker moments.

So if someone falls back on a commitment they’d made to you or fails to treat you with the respect you feel you deserve, we strive to recognize that those behaviors aren’t representative of who that person truly is or can become. Before we react or retaliate, we’re taught to pause for a moment and genuinely inquire as to what they were thinking, and to calmly communicate what our expectations were, and in what way they’ve let us down.

Often, these sorts of misunderstandings are the result of unclear expectations or accidental errors. If you enter a clarifying conversation from a place of intention with a genuine desire to help a colleague live up to the 10 in them, you may realize that they had a different understanding of what they were supposed to do, or how they were supposed to do it. Inquiring instead of accusing helps keep relationships intact so you can continue working openly with teammates in a free flowing, trusting way. This concept has powerful implications for all of life’s relationships.

Everyone recognizes the benefits of having a strong and effective corporate culture like at Southwest Airlines or Zappos, but this ideal can often seem out of reach. Assuming good intent and holding a 10 over your colleagues’ heads can help to create your own circle of safety and begin to build a more trusting work space.


photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Facebook’s Acquisition of Oculus Rift: What It Is, and What It Isn’t

Posted April 15, 2014 by Editor
Categories: Strategy, Technology
Facebook map

This post was written by Neal Moore, Directing Associate and Senior Strategist here at Jump. You can get in touch with him by commenting on this post.

Mark Zuckerberg and company have billions to spend on, really, whatever.

And one school of thought is that a company with that much capital should be making risky investments in non-core, orthogonal businesses just because one of those potentially disruptive technologies could end up being the next big thing.

There’s also the school of thought that criticizes recent acquisitions by big brands like Facebook and Google as “a reflection of uncertainty as the companies search for tech's next big thing.” But in either case, this move is much more strategic than that.

If we unpack what’s possible technologically, what’s desirable for Facebook’s users, and what’s profitable for Facebook and their partners, we can come to a new understanding of the opportunity.

Zuckerberg’s Vision

Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement talks about immersive gaming, virtual courtside seats for a game, virtual doctor’s visits, and above all, making it possible to “share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life.” There's no question that this is a long-range gambit.

While the courtside seat case is really interesting for its own reasons—imagine TBS losing clout with advertisers as viewers seek out richer experiences online; the NBA could make deals with Facebook instead—the most interesting thing to me is the core Facebook value proposition: sharing experiences with friends. And with that in mind, we can move into a closer look at what this acquisition is, and what it isn’t.

What It’s Not

Popular assessment of this massive $2B purchase of Oculus Rift seems to be centered on three motivations:

  1. Making it possible for friends and family to meet up in virtual rooms, creating a more immersive competitor to Google Hangouts

  2. Blocking Google from the most promising VR technology yet, and beating Google to the next frontier in advertising space

  3. Enhancing Facebook’s attractiveness as a gaming platform

These assessments miss the mark. Here’s why:

  1. Casual virtual rooms are a lousy application of VR. Facebook’s brand is about connecting real people. They have video calling; 3D could enhance it incrementally. It’s not about competing with uncanny Second Life or World of Warcraft fantasy worlds. That’s a different group with a different set of needs than most Facebook users who would rather stay in 2D than get creeped out by an avatar of their friend in real-time.

  2. Blocked from a great 3D interface, Google is hindered, but they still have the world they created with Earth and SketchUp to plaster with ads. If Google wants to make a YouTube of virtual worlds, they won’t own the experience of 3D footage of events captured by friends and family until they make their own Rift-beater. What they will have that Facebook won’t, however, is Google Earth and the world-builders of their former SketchUp unit. Call this one a draw.

  3. No one needs a more immersive Farmville. Zuckerberg seems to be reassuring excited gamers that the next big thing in gaming will still happen… he’s not buying Rift to shut it down and spoil the party for Sony or Microsoft. He simply doesn’t have to care about gaming platforms; Facebook isn’t threatened by Microsoft or Sony. While Xbox One has its charms as a communications platform with Skype and the Xbox Live ecosystem, it’s far from the kind of adoption rate that Facebook has. Gaming is a red herring.

We know, then, what this acquisition of Oculus Rift isn’t. So what is it?

What It Is

The real opportunity for Facebook is immersive memories. With this concept, people could:

  • Share the journals and highlights of their experiences using Facebook

  • Invite their friends into their world one highlight, photo, story, or video at a time. They post, they boast—and their friends enter that world

  • Have a richer, more immersive, more compelling experience thanks to Facebook’s newly-acquired VR technology

This concept of immersive memories avoids all of the hang-ups we see with the popular assessment of Facebook’s new relationship with Oculus Rift, and gets right back to the all-important idea of sharing experiences with friends.

What’s Next?

To really make the most of this move towards an immersive sharing experience with friends, a playback/control input device like Oculus Rift just isn’t enough. People need to get their experience into the system, which is where things get interesting. What else would people need?

  1. 3D environment capture

  2. Wearable 3D experience video capture

  3. 3D space reconstruction and navigation

  4. Massive storage and fast access for smooth real-time navigation

  5. Solid, high-speed broadband

Oculus Rift is a step in the right direction, but there’s certainly a lot that needs to happen in order for users to be able to make the most of this experience. VR is still in its infancy. Using headgear is a big behavioral change, especially at a time when more Facebook use is happening on mobile. That said, this sort of acquisition could be the necessary next step for launching VR into the mainstream.

If Facebook wants to create a system of immersive memories, it needs to think about what companies provide these capabilities (whether to buy or partner), who else wants them, what is in it for them to go through Facebook instead of someone else, and what exactly is an appropriate valuation. With some of Facebook’s other recent acquisitions, it’s clear that Zuckerberg is able to think through these kinds of problems.

If Facebook is serious about taking the next steps to round out the system of IP or physical offerings, there are a few companies that I think Zuckerberg should be looking at:

  1. GoPro: GoPro is already capturing compelling experiences. Facebook needs more compelling experiences to make the most of this new world it’s trying to build.

  2. Telepathy One: Telepathy One is a nifty Google Glass competitor with this use case in mind. A system of immersive memories needs memories, and a device like this could help capture those kinds of images every day.

  3. Panono Ball: Toss it or roll it around, and capture a space. Useful for the type of image capturing that a device like the Rift requires.

  4. Photosynth: A software that can stich images together faster or as well as Google Street View or Earth—live and at consumer-accessible processing bandwidth by 2016. This, or something like it, is essential to capturing the environment in a seamless way.

  5. Artemis: Facebook’s interest in broadening wireless infrastructure to reach remote users (drone-mounted hotspots?) could use Artemis’ pCell technology. It could also speed up video transfer rates for already dense areas, a necessity considering the massive bandwidth that this type of imaging requires.

If Facebook is going to create a fully immersive experience, it’s going to need more than just Oculus Rift to do it, and companies like those above could all help Facebook continue to build a full system—instead of just one part of it.

In looking at this acquisition, I find it more useful to think about finding the opportunities present in what information is available. Doing so implies a lot about what could be next—immersive memories—and what’s adjacent to where the brand is today.

In purchasing Oculus Rift, Facebook isn’t looking to make a more immersive Farmville, to create virtual rooms, or even just to defend itself against Google. It’s looking to build upon its core competencies—always a good idea—and create an even more immersive personal network, the likes of which have never been seen before.

For Ford, Options Come Directly from Early Action

Posted April 10, 2014 by Editor
sheet aluminum

This post was written by Neal Moore, Directing Associate and Senior Strategist here at Jump. You can get in touch with him by commenting on this post. For the first part of this small series on Ford’s Aluminum F-150, see Mike Smith’s post, The Bet Ford Is Placing On Their Aluminum F-150 Isn’t On Design—It’s On Consumer Opinion.

Earlier this week, Mike talked about the challenges that Ford is likely to face with the release of their new aluminum F-150. His post was a great breakdown of what it’s going to take for Ford to succeed after the release of their new truck. But the steps Ford has been taking to make their aluminum F-150 a reality have been going on since long before the truck’s announcement.

One of the success factors Mike mentioned was sourcing, and that plays a large—maybe the largest—part of Ford’s success in making this truck happen.

Currently, auto manufacturing accounts for a relatively small portion of the global supply of sheet aluminum. But according to automakers, the demand for aluminum to produce vehicles is expected to double by 2025, with the amount of aluminum body sheet content in North American vehicles expected to increase tenfold in 2025 from 2012 levels. Ford’s news F-150 plays a large part in that increase in demand, as the amount of aluminum required to make this recent change to the F-150 is massive, to say the least.

By sourcing up their aluminum contract and locking in a competitive price early on in the game, Ford has both given itself a head start—it’s releasing its state-of-the-art truck before anyone else—and given itself a competitive advantage because sourcing up a supply chain of this magnitude is such a long-term process.

It’s not that other auto manufacturers aren’t doing well—it’s just that Ford has remained innovative by having the wherewithal to make these types of decisions before anyone else, putting them ahead of the competition. GM’s version of the aluminum truck isn’t set to be released until 2018, which constrains their options for supplier contracts and pricing leverage. Much of Ford’s innovation with the F-150 was enabled by the success of their supply chain team in sourcing up the aluminum needed for this massive undertaking.

This isn’t the first time that Ford has had the foresight to act early. In a move that was similarly criticized at the time, Ford avoided government bailout by heavily mortgaging itself in November 2006 before global credit markets seized. They realized then, as they likely did now, that they were close to being backed into a corner. Realizing that before anyone else saved them a bailout, and this time, put them a few years ahead of the competition.

We’ve seen the same thing time and time again with other businesses that have taken large bets before their competitors have had time to act. Boeing is taking a big risk with its new 787 by transitioning from aluminum to carbon fiber production. And Apple, both for their pioneering (and subsequent cornering) of manufacturing techniques, and for their ability to source up supply chains until there’s nothing left for competitors as they did with the unibody Macbook, has similarly structured itself into a position of competitive advantage by acting early and eating up a big portion of the supply chain before their competitors.

In business strategy, early action is absolutely essential to success, and Ford’s new F-150 shows it.

In Ford’s case, the company’s success has been framed because Ford realized they were backed into a corner before any of their competitors, an observation that gave them more options and time to work with than anyone else. Dodge waited for $4/gallon gas to bring passenger car cylinder deactivation technology to its Ram Hemi V8, and is adding diesel to meet fuel economy targets. GM is betting on adding a smaller truck to do the same. Both of these are riskier bets; Ford’s strategy will require the least customer behavior change of them all to adopt.

If you want to help ensure the long-term success of your business, starting early and developing a long-term strategy is key. Ford has been planning this move for years and years, and we’re only seeing a very small part of the story of the aluminum F-150 today. What will be the aluminum F-150 for your business? And more importantly, how do you plan on getting there?


Photo credit: Jim Motavalli via Car Talk

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