Linda Gorchels blogs

Contemplate

What is the Purpose of a Business?

This is a question likely to cause disagreement, if not downright altercations.  Some believe the ONLY reason a business exists is to make money. Others view money as an end-result. The question may boil down to whether profits and purpose are contradictory or compatible.

Make a Profit. Period.

This spring I saw an article in Harvard Business Review titled, Companies Don’t Always Need a Purpose Beyond Profit. The gist of the article was that businesses sometimes publish lofty mission statements that feel “empty,” causing employees to feel cynical rather than inspired. Freek Vermeulen, the author, suggested that making a profit was an admirable goal:

In my view, organizations shouldn’t be shy about stating profit as its explicit and ultimate purpose.

Read the rest

Are Social Media Platforms Exploitative?

How much time did you spend on Facebook this week? How about YouTube, or Twitter, or any other social media platform?

My guess is it’s more than you care to admit.

In my post on a regenerative attention economy, I mentioned the concern of former Google staffer Tristan Harris. He said technology is downgrading humans by preying on our animal brains. Sounds kind of harsh, doesn’t it?

Before I go any further, let me clarify that I am NOT anti-technology. I was using the internet before the web came along. I enjoyed easier access to new information and connections. And I saw a lot of value in technology, mostly from the internet. (That was when “You Got Mail!” was a big deal.) So perhaps it’s best to start by differentiating between the Internet and social media.… Read the rest

Are Generalists More Open-Minded?

Generalist or Specialist?

Are you a generalist, or a specialist, or both?

It’s fair to say that on any topic you fall on a continuum from no knowledge, to some knowledge, to proficiency. Depending on the topic, there may be more or fewer people in each category. (The green curve shows fewer experts on the topic, and the red curve shows more.) In addition, you are likely to be at different points of the curve for different topics.

Regardless of the curve’s shape, who do you expect to be more open to new information—experts or uninformed people? It depends on who is more curious and open to new viewpoints. That said, being a generalist—a person in the middle of the curve—may have advantages.… Read the rest

Is a Regenerative Attention Economy Possible?

Is a regenerative attention economy possible? That’s not a very good “clickbaity” headline, is it?

Should I have used the following title (even though it has nothing to do with the content)?

9 Tips to Increasing Brain Wealth

Or how about this one?

Are all Your Friends Narcissists?

Perhaps this would grab your attention:

What the F*ck were you thinking?

But my goal is not to sell you something, or to spew advertising at you. Rather, it’s to get you to think. And to contemplate. And to (dare I say?) become more humane.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is an attention economy?

This requires a bit of history. The term “attention economy” has been around for decades. It followed the agriculture, industrial and information revolutions.… Read the rest

9 Simple Ways to Make the World a Better Place

Do you wonder why you exist? Yearn for a purpose? Struggle with how to make the world a better place?

It starts with little things. But if all of us did the little things, we could have a big impact.

Here are some suggestions.

Become an environmental steward

Pick up trash when you take a walk. It’s something I noticed my dad doing when I was growing up. It simply involves bending down, putting your fingers around a piece of litter, and transporting it to a trash can (or a bag if you are carrying one for that purpose).

Encourage your political representatives to support environmental causes and efforts to combat climate change.

Avoid pesticides that are bad for the water, the soil, the air, or the bees.… Read the rest

Join the JOMO Movement – the Joy of Missing Out

Last week I learned a new word, compliments of Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day: JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out.

What is JOMO?

The definition is “a feeling of contentment with one’s own pursuits and activities, without worrying over the possibility of missing out on what others may be doing.” It’s the opposite of FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, often linked to negative emotions. Research conducted by the University of Copenhagen discovered that heavy Facebook users increased well-being by reducing the time spent on the site. Other studies have shown that Facebook can intensify depression among millennials.

Like most people, I spend a lot of time connected to digital devices. And I’m finding that the time spent is less fulfilling.

Now I’m not saying I’m ready to throw out my smartphone or disconnect from the Internet.… Read the rest

Drowning in Plastic

In honor of Earth Month, my Contemplate post this final Friday is on the environment. I struggled with how to narrow the topic. Contaminants in drinking water? Pollution? Air quality? Climate change? Whew!

I made my decision after viewing Plastic Planet, Werner Boote’s documentary on the dangers of plastic. And we’re drowning in it. Plastic is used in our clothing, furniture, cars, food packaging, electronics, yard tools—it’s ubiquitous. Think about it.

If you took every plastic product in your home or apartment and stacked them in front of your building, how many piles would you need to make? How big would the piles be?

Drowning in pastic

Drowning in Plastic

Plastic has been hailed as a miracle—and a curse. It’s convenient to use, but hard for the earth to dispose of.… Read the rest

Business Model Advice from 8 Experts

Forget “business as usual.” Don’t believe everything you read about “best practices.” There is no “magic bullet.”

Business Model Renewal

When your market changes, you have to change your strategy–and maybe even your business model–to survive and thrive. Prepare for sustaining growth, transformative growth, and disruptive growth. And take advice from as many disparate sources as you can. Start here.

At the end of every chapter of Business Model Renewal, I included an interview with a prominent business leader or consultant. Each offered different perspectives on business models. Following are snippets of their words of wisdom for executives rethinking their business models.

The Importance of Developing a Business Model Portfolio

(Mary) Kay Plantes, Ph.D.
Expert in business models

Kay Plantes, Principal, Plantes Company, LLC

The speed with which product and service commoditization arises in today’s more open economy is remarkable.… Read the rest

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

The other day at the gym I overheard a snippet of a conversation. “For Lent I’ve decided to practice random acts of kindness.”

Now, I’ve heard of people giving up chocolate for Lent. I even heard news broadcasts about a man who had given up beer for Lent, and another man who said he gave up everything EXCEPT beer.

But doing more random acts of kindness as a resolution? What a great and relevant idea!

Random Acts of Kindness

I decided to research the topic and came across the “official site.” It’s owned by The Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation, a small nonprofit that invests resources into making kindness the norm. While there were no suggestions about using this as a Lenten activity, it did provide a host of kindness ideas.… Read the rest

Scenario Development: A Tool for Strategic Foresight

What is strategic foresight?

It’s the disciplined study of the future. It’s a strategic thinking process rather than a strategic planning process. As such, it goes beyond traditional economic, statistical, and business forecasting. It goes beyond extrapolating current and past trends. It may apply scenario development as a tool.

Why is foresight important?

We live in an increasingly complex time in which the connections between past, present, and future are often unpredictable. People use foresight to help steer a course between the false certainty of precise forecast models and the chaos of ignored circumstances.

Several years ago, I attended a certificate program in strategic foresight at the University of Houston. The class comprised a cadre of individuals from the military, national security, think tanks, corporations and higher education.… Read the rest