Tag Archives: digitalbritain

I love working on strategy – it’s all about the stories

I love working on strategy with clients especially when we can use scenario planning techniques.

It’s very exciting and engaging. It’s more about trying to understand people and what they might do rather than thinking up products and trying to work out who to sell them to. The nice thing is you can invent quite complex believable worlds with stories and thoughts about how people and businesses exist and thrive; and behaviours need to reflect the conditions in those worlds. It’s not about being right, it’s not about making predictions or being a ‘futurist’.  It is about telling stories about the future.

There’s a lot of work and thought needed to create believable stories about the future and they have to be credible. It’s really interesting to see how clients react to scenario planning. If you’re used to strategy being a linear extrapolation of what you do today, then it can be a bit of a shock. The kind of business thinking that places your business at the centre of the picture and then maps the world to it is generally resistant to scenario thinking. If you have someone who thinks like this, you can use expressions like ‘strategic narrative’ and a word with ‘ology’ at the end of it.  But don’t kid yourselves – they’re stories.

Scenario planning drives you to think about the world first and then think about what your options and decisions might be in each world.

In theory, scenario worlds should be extreme and quite different. In practice, if you make them too extreme, they cease to be credible. If worlds diverge too quickly then it’s difficult to develop pragmatic strategy. The invented worlds need to overlap to some extent – and it’s in the overlaps and gaps where you can look at the scope for innovation and new ideas.  Ideally, you should be able to think up some elements of the strategy you will adopt that work in all the worlds you envisage – this is possible but difficult. A lot of the time though, you tend to map out options as the scenario worlds develop over time.

While it may seem fanciful, we can, though, see signals in the present of how the world might evolve in the future and we can use these as a way to generate different potential worlds. How do you find and listen to those signals and which ones do you use to develop scenario worlds? This is at the heart of the creative process of scenario planning.

You can talk to people working on new things, look at trends, look at what people do around you. For example, a few years ago on trains going up and down to London from Kent, there were increasing numbers of well dressed business men (yes men) of a clear level of seniority using iPads; these were the kinds of people who previously would open their briefcases and bring out paper copies of e-mails (no doubt printed out by their secretaries) and write replies on them. One man used to drive people mad in the mornings by tearing up these printouts in a kind of artisanal shredding process! You can speculate on why this trend was happening.  Keyboards are low status or they were unable to use them so no laptop, other men were seen using iPads for business applications (remember David Cameron’s iPad government dashboard app?) so they felt able to, cost reductions and redundancies meant that there were fewer support people around, increasing environmental concerns about waste…..

Another example, in a previous job, we developed scenarios for how people might use mobile technology in their daily lives.  One of the scenarios I particularly enjoyed had people walking about with small devices using little screens to control the device and communicate. No PCs, no keyboards, no wires. We got one of our designers to draw (on a big mood board) pictures of people doing this. The client hated it! At that time (and it’s a while ago!) mobile phones were just phones; Short Message Service was used by few people (aka Texting now).  Another scenario was a world where the big fixed networks dominated and smart phones were a minority interest (largely due to cost).  We looked at how technologies were developing that would lead to smartphones and we looked at behavioural research and consumer analysis, we did PEST analysis in the days before it became PESTLE! And we developed different worlds with different characteristics.

So how does all this relate to business strategy? Using scenarios makes business strategy simpler – if you have a story about how the world might evolve then you can look at how you might behave and the decisions you might make as a result.

The world is a complex place and strategy needs to be simple. Many people think that business strategy needs to be complicated to reflect the complexity of the world.  On the contrary business strategy needs to be

1) Simple – so you can “execute” it (ie ‘do it’ – venture capitalists love the term ‘execute’ for some reason)

2) Clear – so you can communicate it to customers, colleagues and other stakeholders

3) Expressed in a model (eventually!) – so you can see if it works

So my advice is, don’t start with a business model and work up, start with your stories of the future and work down, define your strategy simply and clearly and then build a model.

C4CC is amazing – what next?

C4CC-LOGO
The Centre for Creative Collaboration
will close on 17 December 2014

C4CC will close at noon on 17th December 2014.  For 5 years, we have supported collaborations between Universities, businesses, staff and students and creative freelancers.  In the past two years we have also worked with Small and Medium Enterprises across London as part of the London Creative and Digital Fusion project – supporting more than 200 businesses directly ourselves.  We’ve also helped to form and support 37 start-ups creating over 100 jobs.

We’ve spoken to our resident projects and partners about the closure over the past month or so – and this post will, I hope, let a wider group of friends hear the news directly from us.  To cut a very long story short – our funding has finished, the University of London has decided not to support us further and the lease on our building expires early next year.

I talked to Lloyd Davis recently and we recalled the excitement of getting the keys early in February 2010 – and how big and empty the space seemed.  The project was scary and exciting at the same time.  It’s worth remembering that, when we did the research for the project (in 2008/9) there were very few spaces in London that we would now recognise as co-working or collaboration spaces.  So it was a bit of a leap in the dark – and a testament to the vision of our early supporters, especially Sir Graeme Davies who was
Vice-Chancellor of the University of London at that time.

We will hold an event on 12 December at C4CC to share our experiences, tell stories and celebrate what we’ve all been part of – if you would like an invitation, please let me know.

My plan is to ‘to do my own thing’ again as an independent consultant and adviser; I’m looking at a number of opportunities for 2015.  I’ve learnt a lot of new (and I hope useful!) things in the past 5 years – and I will be happy to help other people and projects to benefit from my experience.  So if you’d like to talk about opportunities to work together, please get in touch.

I am on social media as brian_condon or add a comment to this blog.

Drawing Conclusions at #INCAftth

Moving into the final plenary – here’s the liveblog

Alternative Funding Mechanisms – at the FTTH Council / INCA workshop

Moving back into Plenary to look at funding issues. Here’s the liveblog:

FTTH Council / INCA UK Workshop

As part of the first FTTH Council Europe Council conference in the UK, FTTH Council and INCA – the Independent Networks Cooperative Association are collaborating on this workshop on the UK scene.

Here’s a quick audioboo overview of the Opening Plenary session:

Some views from Malcom Corbett of INCA:

And here’s the liveblog made during the session:

NextGen12 – 9 October

Broadband for All?

Discussion at NextGen12 on the House of Lords Report

Storified by Brian_Condon · Tue, Oct 09 2012 01:53:54

mT @digiscot Broadband for All report being presented by Lord Inglewood #nextgen12 http://t.co/fOS5NyZV (links to pdf)
Lord Inglewood opens the day #nextgen12 "an alternative vision" – broadband for all twitpic.com/b2htiqBrian_Condon
King of Spades now on stage at #nextgen12
Inglewood on Broadband for All: upload is as important as download #nextgen12
Lord Inglewood "on the whole politicians are ‘behind the curve’ on digital technologies" he says this has to change – #NextGen12
@brian_condon Better get on with planning Parliamentary Social Media Surgery #NextGen12
@johnpopham Good idea! He said there are notable exceptions – broadly though they have underestimated the impacts #nextgen12
Lord Inglewood thinks politicians are behind on "these things". File under admit first to be able to fix. A great thing! #nextgen12
Super fast broadband is a meangless thing to say! The goalpost moves! Fiber to everyone is the endgame! I like Lord Inglewood. #nextgen12
@Julianlstar yes – at least the HoL is having a go at it. Inglewood says “we need to open it up” need Open Access #nextgen12
Lord Inglewood coming our strongly against Net Neutrality. I fear the telcos have won political hearts and minds on that one. #nextgen12
What matters is to get about it in a proper way! This speech by Lord Inglewood may prove to provide quite a few good quotes! #nextgen12
@fiberguy but he also talked open access and competition. Maybe need to get close on him on that. #NextGen12
Matt Yardley of Analysys disagrees with HoL report – hub concept flawed he says #nextgen12 twitpic.com/b2hxz2Brian_Condon
Chi Onwurah comes strongly for open access, but no one defines what they mean by that. Openreach says they’re Open Access… #nextgen12
Shadow Queen of Spades criticises current Spades approach but shares vision of King of Spades at #nextgen12 House of Hearts under attack!
Yardley criticises foundation of King of Spades report – and in doing so gets a weak applause at #nextgen12.
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice."You must be," said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.” #nextgen12
Lord Inglewood says that “we wouldn’t want to start from here” – but we have to deal with what we’ve got. Yardley says that he sees the HoL model being like sub-loop unbundling; and this hasn’t worked in Europe. He says that the hub concept proposed by the HoL report is flawed economically.
Francesco Caio says UK has done well on usage – need to make sure we equip our people for the future economy – this needs NGA #nextgen12
Yardley says that there are State Aid issues – Inglewood responds that there aren’t such issues if all networks are made open; providing the access is paid for on a realistic basis.

NextGen12 – 8 October 2012

NextGen12

Towards the digital economy

Storified by Brian_Condon · Tue, Oct 09 2012 01:39:22

This is a Storify around the NextGen 12 Conference in The City of Westminster, London. I’m chairing the conference and will also try to keep content moving into the Storify.
Lorne Mitchell tells a story (an allegory) at #nextgen12 twitpic.com/b27o8kBrian_Condon
I am at #NextGen12 today. Looking forward to Chairing a session on broadband policy. Good line up over the next 2 days!
Listening to a fireside story from @lornemitchell at #nextgen12
Listening to a story from Lorne Mitchell at #NextGen12. Hilarious.
#nextgen12 Find 10 of Spades, 5 of Spades, 2 of Spades, Queen of Hearts, Queen of Diamonds, Ace of Clubs and the Joker to win today’s prize!
Peter Cochrane on stage at #NextGen12 pic.twitter.com/reW5W86bB4theRuralSouth
Listening to Peter Cochrane OBE talk bandwidth and the future of data demand #NextGen12
Peter is going for the bigger picture and looking at what it means for the way we produce products and services. 3D printing is about shipping designs not shipping products.
#NextGen12. Peter Cochrane. Stellar show: take-away-"without hi-speed intelligence, we`re dead". Build better future bottom-up.
#NextGen12. PeterCochrane. next tech hot-spot= intersection of nano_AI+IT+Bio…
At NextGen conf, Prof Peter Cochrane -time to wake-up + stop sweating the small stuff, gear-shift thinking + change is needed #NextGen12
#NextGen12. PeterCochrane. User-Generated Design+ 3-D print= `Open Hardware`…
Peter Cochrane makes a good point re the west stumbling into the future with no plan. At #NextGen12
#NextGen12. PeterCochrane. Europe is (unlike Asia) on a random walk into the future. we can have vision, mission, plan too!
The need to stop talking and start doing driven home at #NextGen12. How did we end up with the mess that is BDUK?
RT @paulinerigby: RT @paulinerigby: Broadband: never have so many talked so long with so little effect – to paraphrase @PeterCochrane @ #nextgen12
RT @hugopickering: RT @hugopickering: Peter Cochrane makes a good point re the west stumbling into the future with no plan. At #NextGen12
@hugopickering #NextGen12 there is a plan, peter doesn’t like it, which is his right
"Fibre to home is futureproof and as much funding as possible should be devoted to it," says Karin Ahl of FTTH Council Europe #NextGen12
@Watchingtheflow Your plan Bill. Patching up the old phone network to protect your investment is Not Good Plan #nextgen12 #da12bb
#nextgen12 ‘Big plan is to cover the whole area’ Karin Ali. This means fibre, not copper phone lines. Say no to #fttc stopgaps.
"For every 1,000 new FTTH end users 80 new jobs are created," says Karin Ahl of FTTH Council Europe #NextGen12
Live blog #NextGen12 here http://t.co/TXI2tDIw
FT reports that DG Comp is ready to approve BDUK State Aid. Maybe @eurohumph will give an update at #nextgen12. Who blinked?
NextGen Events :: NextGen 12 – 8 & 9 October 2012 :: Live webcast from NextGen 12The UK’s independent focus for next generation broadband transformation as an essential foundation for economic growth, innovation and easier development.
#nextgen12 Prysmian’s Richard Thomas says biggest consumer of optical fiber is mobile not access – China Mobile doing fibre to the antenna.
Richard Thomas Prysmian Group presentation available for download #NextGen12 http://t.co/kqTjduTU + live http://t.co/m3zBluvo
Peter Cochrane said "stop talking and start building"; hearing from Richard Thomas, Prysmian about project in Almond in Scotland #NextGen12
RT @helenmilner: RT @helenmilner: Liv Garfield up now at #nextgen12 RT @finalninth: @nextgen12 The Queen of Hearts is on!
Liv Garfield up now at #nextgen12 RT @finalninth: @nextgen12 The Queen of Hearts is on!
RT @cyberdoyle: RT @cyberdoyle: Fibre on demand to rural areas not available. cos we aint got cabinets. so we stay on dial up? #nextgen12
Liv Garfield says no one needs more than 24 MB – can’t generate more than that from a family #nextgen12 twitpic.com/b29n7mBrian_Condon
BT are hiring former forces personel in Open Reach #NextGen12
Good! Liv Garfield says fibre in the great is no good unless people use it – growth for businesses and for communities #NextGen12 #BT
@brian_condon Please could she tell my kids that? #nextgen12
@ClaireatWaves she said that they can’t re-create or simulate the conditions or uses more than total of 24mbps per household. #NextGen12
Liv Garfield says BT is the only global company who is able to physically and commercially deliver fibre #NextGen12
@helenmilner Liv is a great speaker, but she believes the hype. Copper is not the future. #nextgen12
:) thx to @kat_braybrooke @brian_condon & #nextgen12 audience for great discussion re importance of digital inclusion & transparency. @OKFN
Really enjoyed the @kat_braybrooke and @helenmilner discussion at #NextGen12 – some delegates looked a bit scared I thought! :)
It’s ok though, we’re now back on more comfortable ground talking cloud and wireless infrastructure. #nextgen12
Nicholas James talking about mobile broadband for tenants – as the best solution #NextGen12 #digihousing
RT @kat_braybrooke: RT @kat_braybrooke: for more info re: the apps I referenced in #nextgen12 #digitalinclusion panel just now, links: @OKFN @openspending @ …
@danielheery sits in the balcony #nextgen12 under a sign that says ‘unfading splendour’ ! pic.twitter.com/9cVinY4kBrian_Condon
A lovely symmetry talking about future tech in beautiful old building MT @brian_condon: ‘unfading splendour’ pic.twitter.com/GKV0eIw8 #NextGen12helen milner
#nextgen12 The Joker in the pack which looks like a Brussels Sprout (with his rules on State Aid) continue to dominate the debate!
@brian_condon is sitting under banner "true light" exactly what his insightful chairing deliver ing at #nextgen12 pic.twitter.com/ayQsf7T3danielheery
@sivangr @openspending @schoolofdata i was mentioning apps + initiatives by @okfn that promote digital inclusion + literacy at #nextgen12 ;)
@hokulele glad you enjoyed – was interesting (& important!) discussion. would like to hear more about your work! cc @helenmilner #nextgen12
RT @kat_braybrooke: I was mentioning apps + initiatives by @OKFN that promote digital inclusion + literacy at #nextgen12 ;) (@SchoolofData)
Then we split into 2 sessions running in parallel
"From Oxford Tweet to Leicester Share" session kicking off at #NextGen12 – all about how Westminster worked with O2 on free WiFi
O2 wifi in Westminster biggest outdoor free wifi in Europe #nextgen12
#nextgen12 Listening to Wesminster City Council and O2 talk about their WiFi project @ruckuswireless
There’s quite a bit of Tweeting from the rural broadband session
Scream if you want to go faster – rural broadband workshop streaming live from 4.30pm at join in at http://t.co/j5kdeg4y #nextgen12
#nextgen12 standing room only in Cambrian rural broadband break-out!
Joker Brussels Sprout thinking on Fixed Wireless networks being discussed at #nextgen12 rural broadband break-out
Licenced or Unlicenced for fixed wireless rural networks? That is the question at #nextgen12 breakout on rural broadband.
Fixed wireless quite capable of providing 35Mbps NGA with 40 years mean time before failure at #nextgen12 breakout on rural broadband
Hearing about allpay (wireless broadband) on the church towers in #Herefordshire at #NextGen12 How is it being used?
Church of England enlightened by supporting wireless schemes in from churches in Herefordshire, Norfolk & Kent! Elegant circle at #nextgen12
No whisky yet from Daniel Heery championing #fieryspirits at #nextgen12.
@danielheery outlining challenges for rural broadband schemes: weather, powercuts, coordination, & finance are some at #nextgen12
@danielheery outlining challenges for rural broadband schemes: weather, powercuts, coordination, & finance are some at #nextgen12
Knave of Diamonds all over the place at #nextgen12. The rise and rise of community "fiery spirits" very exciting at #nextgen12 !!
Real worries on risk of bankrolling schemes when Wildcard Hearts go and trump your local scheme at #nextgen12

‘Negotiating the Maze – State Aid & Next Generation Broadband’

Understanding and Debating the Issues – an INCA Seminar

The Programme is in four sections:
1) The European Dimension
The first session on the agenda focuses on the European dimension, Europe’s ambitions, the 2020 targets, the new draft State Aid Guidelines, CEF, different models for deployment and what we need to do in the UK and Europe to achieve the targets. The speakers contributing in this session include Hervé Dupuy, European Commission, Tony Shortall of Telage and Chris Holden of Corning and the FTTH Council Europe.
2) State Aid in the UK
The second section deals with practical experience from the UK in both urban and rural projects, plus some of the higher level issues about where we are going with the BDUK process. In this session we will hear from David Cullen, INCA Board and former CEO of NYnet, Raj Mack, Head of Digital Birmingham which has recently gained approval for their Ultrafast project and Dave Carter, Chair of INCA and Head of Manchester Digital Development Agency.
3) State Aid & the Private Sector
In the third session we will hear from two key private sector players – Mark Collins, of City Fibre Holdings and Nick James of UK Broadband giving their perspective on how private investment and state aid can best work together with FTTH and Wireless networks.
Also Felipe Florez Duncan from Oxera Consulting, who will speak about the economic aspects of state aid. Oxera produced the widely respected report ‘How A Co-investment Model Could Boost Investments in NGA Networks’, published by Vodafone.
4) State Aid Compliance & the New Draft Guidelines
The final session includes Duncan Gillespie of DLA Piper who will explain some of the key issues in project design, with Louise Lancaster, INCA’s Policy & Regulatory advisor, who has analysed the new draft State Aid guidelines from a UK, non-incumbent perspective.

Here’s the Full Agenda:

INCA State Aid Seminar Programme

And here’s the liveblog where I’ll be making notes and collecting Tweets by participants and others.