STATE OF AMERICA
From Work/Life Balance To Work+Life Fit – The top reasons working Americans stay with their current employers are work+life fit and enjoying the work that they do. This was ahead of benefits, pay and lack of other job opportunities. When people refer to work+life fit, they refer to working differently and more flexibly. The shift away from balance to fit comes as more people prioritize their lives in context to work so that what matters to them personally and professionally can both happen on a regular basis. This has happened because the workplace has transformed radically over the past two decades. There are now few physical and time boundaries between work and people’s personal lives. People are willing to work very hard when required, however, they might want to work from home or come into the the office earlier or later than traditional hours. This open prioritization of both work and life acknowledges a new workplace reality.
BRAVE NEW CONSUMER
Older Entrepreneurs Lead the Way – While young pioneers such as Facebook’s 28-year-old founder, Mark Zuckerberg, represent the usual media image of modern entrepreneurs, the reality is that these innovators are now more likely to be aged 50-plus. A key demographic trend identified in a study into US entrepreneurs by the Kauffman Foundation highlighted the increasing prominence of entrepreneurs aged 55 to 64. This group represented 14.3% of new entrepreneurs in 1996, whereas it represented 20.9% of new entrepreneurs in 2011. An example: Mac Lewis, who co-founded FieldSolutions in 2007 at the age of 60 after 14 years with IBM. When Lewis was in his late 50s, he became an early stage/angel investor. Lewis found investing to be a good way to give back, but he said that “being an investor was less active and didn’t get the adrenaline flowing.” As an experienced entrepreneur, Lewis has not only the years of experience, he has lived through the evolution of many new companies.
AOL Reinvents Email- The way we use email has changed dramatically in the past decade-plus. But David Temkin, AOL’s SVP of Mail & Mobile, argues that email clients haven’t kept up with the changes – with the last major innovation coming in 2004 when Gmail launched. The company isn’t just bolting on some new features to the existing AOL Mail product. Instead, it’s launching an entirely new webmail client called Alto. Alto looks like a mashup of Gmail, Twitter and Pinterest, with incoming mail showing up in a vertical feed along the left side of the page. The right two-thirds of the window is dominated by rows of tiles called “stacks.” These are the source of the platform’s unique look, as well as its innovative functionality. The stacks update dynamically and work continuously, automatically sorting incoming messages, which also appear in your main feed, into five default groupings: daily deals, social notifications, retail, photos, and attachments. These piles reflect the most common categories of email received and the fact that even in the Facebook era, email remains the de facto beast of burden for photos and attachments. Alto uses a visual search to display the content being delivered: Click on the photos or attachments stack and you get an instant array of thumbnails displaying its contents–no searching or opening of messages required. Users can also create custom stacks for subjects like travel, work projects, or family by setting simple rules for sorting by sender, domain, or keywords. By sifting through bulk mail, you end up with the things that really matter in your inbox.
Forget Business School, MBAers Go To Design School – Stanford University’s d.school-the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design-has gained recognition in recent years for introducing the problem-solving concept known as “design thinking” to executives. Design thinking uses close, almost anthropological observation of people to gain insight into problems that may not be articulated yet. Traditionally, companies have relied on focus groups to get feedback on products that were already in development. With design thinking, potential solutions are modeled, then tested and quickly adjusted based on user feedback. Designed to ignite creativity and collaboration, the d.school’s interior looks like a preschool playroom for grown-ups. The school said much of the lay out is for the sake of teamwork. Organizations are taking note. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, game co.Electronic Arts, JetBlue Airways and the software firms SAP and Intuit have worked closely with the school, acting as test cases for courses or posting job openings on d.school boards. Procter & Gamble, Google, Nike, and Fidelity Investments are recruiting heavily for students with a design-thinking background. Given corporate interest, other schools are adding integrated business and design offerings.
ON THE RADAR
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Read This: Econovation is a trends book written by entrepreneur, futurist and Fortune 100 innovator Steve Faktor. Faktor points out that we’re moving from consumerism to a producer-driven economy. As a result, the work place is changing dramatically and business leaders who want to keep up will find value in the book’s tips on how to encourage sustainable innovations for the future by tapping into the the new office culture’s proclivity for connectivity, entertainment and fame.