The Stealth Attack That Could Disrupt Your Business

 5th July 2017 by gihan

I’ve had a credit card merchant facility for my business for almost 20 years, and I recently saw some alternative options that would make it cheaper and more convenient. I investigated two options, and had two very different experiences …

Scenario #1: New merchant account with my current bank

Four phone calls …
45 minutes on hold …
3 new forms to fill in …
Have to actually go into a branch and line up …
Two weeks later – still not resolved!

Scenario #2: New merchant account with Square

Walked into OfficeWorks and bought the card reader for $19 …
Signed up online in 10 minutes …
Selling products the next day!

(Image: Rosenfeld Media)

This is not just a complaint about the bank …

I’m sure the bank – one of Australia’s Big Four/Five – thinks they are a leader in their industry, and offering a world-class product and superior customer experience. But they’re not. They’re just not.

Perhaps they are doing a good job compared to their traditional competitors.
And perhaps their customer satisfaction scores are still on an upward trend.
And perhaps they have customers who would still rather deal with a traditional provider.

But they just don’t hold a candle to an upstart like Square, which doesn’t play by the same rules, and offers a far better product and experience.

What is the equivalent in YOUR industry?

It’s no longer good enough to be better than last year, or even in the top in your industry. The businesses that survive in the future look outside their industry as well, and know how to compete with the upstarts that could disrupt the industry from outside it.

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The Training Fix That Builds Skills Fast

 27th June 2017 by gihan

When a team member needs some training and development, consider an online course as an option.

Although we’re still in the early days of online training, it’s still advanced far enough to be valuable. It’s also fast, accessible and affordable, which makes it ideal for your team members.

For some of your team members, particularly the digital natives who have grown up with online access, learning online is natural, and they wouldn’t want it any other way. Even if they had the option to learn the same material in a training workshop, they might prefer the online version.

Why choose this option?

Online courses are generally more efficient than traditional training courses, because:

  • Your team members don’t need to “down tools” for entire days or weeks. They do the online training modules in smaller chunks, fitting it in around their other work, and some will even do it on their own time.
  • Even if the course runs to a particular schedule, they can do it at their own pace (for example, skim-reading material they already know if they want to go faster, or watching a video three times if they need to go slower).
  • It takes up less of your time supervising and coaching them.

But be careful, because it’s easy to take online training for granted! Because you don’t have to engage a trainer, book a training room, and set aside time for the participants, it’s tempting not to take online training as seriously as a workshop. But treat it with the same respect as any other development activity for your team.

Evaluate the course

First make sure the online course will deliver what you need.

You can do the research yourself, or ask your team member to do the research and bring it to you for review. Then ask these questions about the course:

  • What will they learn?
  • Is an online course the best way to learn it?
  • Why did they choose this course, and from this provider?
  • How much time do they need to set aside – including the online lectures and reading, assignments, study and tests?
  • When will they do the work?
  • How and when will they check in with you to report on progress?
  • How will they apply this in their work?
  • How can they share their learning with the rest of the team?

These questions will help them get the most value from the course, and will help you leverage that value in the team. However, don’t push too hard to force them to justify their choice. They shouldn’t feel that they have to do a full cost-benefit analysis! Ask these questions to help them, but give them the benefit of the doubt.

Online courses – and MOOCs in particular (Massive Open Online Courses) – have their share of critics. Most of the critics point to the high drop-out rate, which can be as high as 95%. That sounds terrible (and is, compared to an in-person training course), but happens because it takes almost no effort to sign up. Many students enrol without making a real commitment to seeing it through to the end. Some are just curious about the technology, others underestimate the effort involved, and others choose a course without checking the content. So don’t judge a course by its drop-out rate.

Enrol in online courses yourself

In my conference presentations, I often ask how many people have done any online courses. Typically, only about 10% of people raise their hands. If you’re like the majority and haven’t yet attended any online courses yourself, it’s time to do so! Until you do, you won’t really understand their strengths and weaknesses. Don’t start with a large MOOC provider such as, because that takes a large time commitment. Start instead with a smaller – but still reputable – provider, such as, which is backed by leading Australian and New Zealand academic institutions. The courses are shorter and less intensive, but still give you a taste for online learning.

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The Future of Conferences

 22nd June 2017 by gihan

Videoconferencing, online meetings, telepresence and other collaboration technology are gaining traction. Does that mean the in-person conference is obsolete? No – not by a long way! But its role has changed. In this webinar, I’ll show you the trends affecting our professional and personal lives, and how great conference organisers – and speakers – take advantage of them.

This is a MUST WATCH webinar for anybody involved in conferences – including businesses, conference organisers, bureaus, delegates, and speakers.

You can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers:

“All of it was useful and the most useful thing is: From event to journey”

“Explore different ways of delivering conferences “

“Pre-conf prep … most conferences don’t do, well not in the health area”

“Future demographics in 2050”

“Will do more research on participation methods/strategies for conferences”

“The power and influence of social and future virtual connectivity and the flow on affect for the future of the traditional conferencing model”

“The options available now and in the not too distant future for better conferences, forums and even meetings.”

“Direction of options for future conferences”

“Expect the unexpected”

“That our world is changing rapidly”

“Participation ideas, BRiN, International Speakers Conference, Connected conferencing ideas”

“Ways to engage delegates into being participants and looking at the VR options for future conference”

“This was one of the most interesting webinars you’ve given – and they are all interesting. Especially as I’ve just returned from attending a ‘real’ conference that included many of the elements you mentioned”

“Identifying platforms like Brin and Virtual Speech”

“Conference attendees are no longer just attending but expect so much more engagement before, during and after the event”

“I’m going to try to buy the book – Disrupt Yourself as it seems to be a follow through from the Webinar”

“The potential of virtual reality- I will order the kit as suggested”

“Prepare for change !!!!”

“The future of conferences, great tips on apps and resources”

“Generational differences eroding traditional conference model. Other alternatives for face-to-face conference speaking”

“Very thought provoking about the future!”

The Future Proof Webinar Series

The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future - what's ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I'll cover an important topic about the future - for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I'll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

Register here

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The Real Secret to Surviving Disruption (It’s Not What You Think)

 20th June 2017 by gihan

If you have a heap of sand and remove a single grain, you still have a heap of sand. The same if you remove another … and another … and another. Eventually, when you’re down to a few scattered grains, you wouldn’t call it a heap of sand.

But at what point did it stop being “a heap of sand”?

Clearly, it ended up not being a heap of sand. But there’s no definite point where you can say that taking this grain of sand changed it from “heap” to “not heap”.

This is exactly what happens with disruption in business.

Most disruption doesn’t happen all at once. It happens piece by piece, step by step, grain by grain.

That’s what happens with most established busineses that get “disrupted”. Looking back, it might seem like a major event shook up the industry – such as a new technology, or a giant like Google entering the market, or new government regulations.

But that’s only the view with hindsight. It usually happens in much smaller steps.

At first, you’re facing new competitors in the market, and you all fight for market share.
Then a regulator might step in and chip away at some competitive advantage.
Then a smart startup builds an app to grab some of your customers.
Then overseas competitors who don’t have to play by the rules step in.
Then somebody from another industry sideswipes your industry and takes your customers.
Then eventually your entire industry gets wiped out by some new technology.

But it didn’t start that way!

Most businesses ignore the little grains of sand along the way. Don’t!

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 15th June 2017 by gihan

Many industries are experiencing disruption – sometimes from inside the industry, but more often from outside. Are you going to thrive and survive in a time of disruption and change, or will you nose-dive and disappear?

You can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers:

“If I was a close competitor, how would I go about targeting my own business (funds management) for disruption?”

“Start before you’re ready – a gem!!”

“Focus on Fast, Flat and Free when seeking solutions for my clients, in the problem solving process.”

“That I am slow bumpy and expensive and becoming more so”

“If it ain’t broke…break it.”

“Makes me think more about opportunities”

“If it ain’t broke, break it. We tend to be stuck in aged technology and procedures, and although the will is there, activity is slow, and we tend to wait more till our ducks are aligned. Don’t wait until all your ducks are in a row to act…..the future is now!”

“Thinking about how slow, bumpy and expensive I must be to some of my potential and current clients.”

The Future Proof Webinar Series

The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future - what's ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I'll cover an important topic about the future - for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I'll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

Register here

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Never Be Boring Again – Free Webinar on Thursday

 13th June 2017 by gihan

In our rapid-fire, overloaded, chaotic business world, marketers find it hard to get people’s attention, let alone keep it for the entirety of a presentation. This is especially challenging online where an audience is easily distracted and interrupted.

How do the best marketers grab the audience’s attention then keep them interested – leading to a real action response? What simple tools can help marketers achieve this?

Join Gihan Perera, futurist and author of Webinar Smarts, as he shares the four key steps to building an effective online presentation – one that sells.

In this webinar, in joint partnership with Campaign and GetGo, you will learn how to…

  • Capture attention and interest in your online marketing material and presentations
  • Use proven psychological tools to persuade and influence
  • Create a compelling case for change
  • Follow up to increase conversion and sales

When: Thursday 15 June 2017, 11am BST (U.K.), 6pm Perth, 8pm Sydney/Melbourne

Register Now

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Use Case Studies to Accelerate Learning

 8th June 2017 by gihan

One of the best ways to deliver learning in a workplace is through a well-designed case study.

Think of a case study as a training course that’s more interactive and embedded than most courses. Instead of sitting quietly and listening passively, the participants engage actively every step of the way. Of course, a well-run training session also involves active participation, and might even include case studies. The difference here is that the case study is the training, and your job as a leader is to facilitate the discussion rather than to teach or train.


Because you will be facilitating the discussion, it’s useful to give your participants a structure for the case study, rather than just making it a free-for-all discussion. If you’re just starting with case studies, use my QUASAR formula, which gives you a simple structure to build a compelling case study:

  • Question: Describe the situation, the people involved, and their problem, challenge or question.
  • Understanding: Dig a little deeper to understand and quantify the implications of the problem, both negative (costs) and positive (missed opportunities).
  • Alternatives: Describe various options available to solve the problem.
  • Solution: Choose a solution from the options, and discuss why it’s better than the other options.
  • Approach: Describe the approach used to implement the solution (If the solution is the What, this is the How).
  • Results: Describe the results of the process, the outcome achieved, and how this affected the people concerned.

Using this structure means you work through the case study in an orderly sequence, while still allowing enough freedom for everybody to participate at each step.


There are a number of ways to facilitate the process, depending on the complexity of the case study, the time available, your skill as a facilitator, and the interests and needs of the team.

If you only have limited time, you could just choose a scenario, stand up at a team meeting, and present the case study by going through those six steps, with your team members passively listening. With very limited time, that might be your only option. However, it doesn’t offer anywhere near as much value as the team working through the steps (facilitated by you).

You don’t require much more time to do it in a more interactive way that involves your team in more depth.

For example, you could facilitate the entire case study in a one-hour team meeting like this:

  • 10 minutes: Briefly describe the scenario and problem (Question).
  • 5 minutes: As a group, identify implications (Understanding).
  • 15 minutes: Work in small groups to discuss Alternatives.
  • 15 minutes: Bring them back together to share their ideas and then choose one Solution.
  • 15 minutes: Share the actual Approach chosen and Results achieved, and discuss pros and cons when contrasting it with their chosen solution.

With more time, you can do a more in-depth version of the case study. Follow the same broad structure as the one-hour version, but allocate more time for the activities. For example, instead of the groups only having 15 minutes to list alternatives, they could have a week. That gives them time to identify alternatives, analyse them in more detail, perhaps even do some real-life testing (for example, using social media), prepare a PowerPoint presentation, and report back to the team a week later.

Get started!

You might feel a bit uncomfortable the first few times you lead your team in this process. But there’s no better solution than practice. Besides, even if you’re clunky and clumsy the first few times, your team will still get value from the process because they are doing most of the work themselves.

So try it – you won’t regret it.

Watch my webinar “The Future of Learning”

For more about the future of learning and development for high-performance teams, watch my webinar “The Future of Learning”, which will help you go beyond the traditional training course as a tool for learning and development.

Register for future webinars (free) here:

Register here

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Power Up Your Team

 30th May 2017 by gihan

Nordstrom, the US department store, has one of the best employee policy manuals in the world. The entire handbook given out to new employees goes like this:

“We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Rule #1: Use your best judgement in all situations.

There are no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.”

You might think it’s impossible for an employee manual to give people so much leeway. After all, there are procedures to follow, policies to uphold, legislation to meet, and rules to enforce. In fact, Nordstrom does have a more detailed employee manual to cover those situations. But the essence of the company culture is in those few paragraphs above.

It takes courage for an organisation to tear down their hierarchy and let employees loose, but Nordstrom isn’t the only organisation that does it:

  • Online shoe store Zappos manages by “Holacracy” , where there are no management titles and the employees drive the company.
  • Southeastern Mills has discarded its policy manual and treats employees like adults.
  • The Morning Star Company organises all its employees in circles, where each circle must gain consensus about goals and operations, and then ask other circles to help them.
  • The creative agency Roundhouse has a few core values to guide it, but no goals, policies, systems or procedures.
  • Southwest Airlines is famous for giving employees more freedom, and it leads to hilarious safety videos that generate more free publicity than most companies pay in advertising .

Are you confident enough in your team members’ judgement that you could trust them as much as those organisations do? If not, you’re not alone. Most leaders and managers – if they were honest – would admit they don’t trust their team members that much.

If you have children, you know this intuitively. Young children don’t know about the dangers of electricity, so you protect power sockets when they start crawling. They don’t understand why it’s rude to interrupt conversations, so you have to teach them. They don’t know how easy it is to drown in a small amount of water, so you build a fence around your swimming pool.

Your team members aren’t children, but some leaders treat them as if they are – and are then surprised when they (metaphorically) stick a knife in an electrical socket or fall into the swimming pool.
Instead of operating from a lack of trust, ask yourself: What would you need to do to get to where you could trust them this much?

As their leader, you have the benefit of greater experience, which gives you deeper insight, and that in turn leads to wisdom. Help your team members acquire that same wisdom, and then you’ll be able to trust their judgement.

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