With blockchain grabbing headlines, people want to learn about this transformative technology. While a good first step is reading our primer, The Blockchain Disruption: Insight report on Blockchain, the following titles are a great place to start or deepen your understanding of this disruptive technology. Read on …
1. Blockchain Revolution – Don Tapscott & Alex Tapscott
Wikinomics author Don Tapscott and his son, Alex, explain blockchain, its applications, and provide a broad overview of changes that could be brought about. For those getting started in the space, Blockchain Revolution describes the technology as a simple but transformative protocol that enables financial transactions to be anonymous and secure through the decentralized ledger—a public, tamper-proof virtual ledger of value.
2. Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy – Melanie Swan
Melanie Swan is a technology theorist at Purdue University’s Philosophy Department and founder of The Institute for Blockchain Studies. She focuses on detailing the implications of decentralized ledger technology in an academic style. This book is a good next read after Tapscott and Tapscott’s Blockchain Revolution (above) and takes you beyond currency and smart contracts to explore blockchain as a new form of information technology and the possibility of how it can expand how we think in financial markets.
3. Mastering Bitcoin Programming the Open Blockchain – Andreas M. Antonopoulos
This guide is recommended for those looking for a deeper understanding of Bitcoin’s technical operation. Mastering Bitcoin describes its and other cryptocurrencies’ technical foundations, from cryptography basics (such as keys and addresses) to data structures, network protocols and the consensus mechanism mining that underpin Bitcoin. Each technical topic is explained with user stories, analogies and examples, and code snippets illustrating the key concepts.
4. The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology – William Mougayar
William Mougayar is an angel investor who has been investigating cryptocurrency and broader distributed ledger ecosystem. His book explores how enterprises and organizations should look at distributed ledgers and specifically, blockchain.
5. Business Innovation Through Blockchain – Vincenzo Morabito
This book explores the main challenges and trends related to the use of blockchain technology for digital business innovation and provides stimulating insights and ideas. It explores topics in three broad sections: 1) Blockchain technology and management (including impacts on value chains and systems, governance, and security issues) 2) The Bitcoin phenomenon and main technological trends in the use of blockchain, and 3) Examples of business innovation using blockchain that is drawn from across the globe.
Workforce Management (WFM) is a fairly common word in the world of consulting and business. Encompassing a variety of topics and features, WFM is generally associated with the process and organizational behaviour change around maximizing the performance level of staff.
Top organizations take Workforce Management to the next level by encompassing a full circle approach. Listed below are the main components of an efficient and fully structured Workforce Management program for any company of any size.
Data Collection & Process Definition Organizational data is found everywhere, however, finding the right data is often hidden. Implementing a successful workforce management program begins by finding the right data within an organization. Through detailed cataloging, defining business processes, and collecting data on an ongoing basis, workforce management provides organizations with up to date findings.
Coaching & Staff Development In today’s workforce, it is essential for management to identify and develop employee’s skillset to meet the needs of a growing business. By understanding an organization’s current and future staffing needs, Workforce Management aims to create a dynamic workforce that produces high performing staff armed with cross-functional skills. This proven approach helps management harvest the true potential of their employees in a sustainable manner, producing long-term results.
Forecasting & Planning Experience has proven that management often struggle to identify expected work or capacity beyond a one month time frame. Without adequate forecasting and planning abilities, organizations often either waste valuable resources or fail to meet SLA’s. By leveraging industry best practices and equipped with reliable algorithms, Workforce Management helps senior leaders predict and anticipate change in demand and provide tools for resource management. Whether it’s busy season, or slow season, having a strong grasp on future needs and the resources available is essential to remain competitive in today’s demanding business landscape. Through successful forecasting and planning abilities, businesses can realize tremendous cost savings that extend to the bottom line.
Analytics & Insights Workforce Management provides leaders with data-driven insights to promote informed decision-making. By collecting and synthesizing large data sets, sophisticated analytical tools provide user-friendly dashboards and insight-driven action plans. Within minutes of viewing these reports, filled from key collected data, management will be well-equipped with the information needed to make the right decisions and management choices.
To learn more about top-tier Workforce Management, please reach out to The Burnie Group to discuss how WFM can help take your company to the next level.
by: Andrew Martel, Senior Business Analyst & Darren Olevson, Business Analyst
Stress, the root cause of burnout, causes Canadian economy an estimated $33 billion a year in lost productivity each year. Over 6 in 10 highly stressed workers identified work as the main source of their stress.
Taking some simple measures to prevent burnout and reduce stress can go a long way towards keeping workers fitter, happier, more productive, and stress-free.
It is a proven fact that reading can help reduce stress. However, many of us don’t find this to be true because we have so much “required” reading in our daily lives. But when we read for pleasure we know it’s an enjoyable and stress-relieving activity.
The simple act of reading can have considerable benefits, from improving our health and well-being—even six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds—to enlarging our capacity for empathy and strategic decision making.
Naturally, we thought we’d ask our practice leaders about some of their favourite reads. And, well, they geeked out, offering us this list of 10 recommended books. Read on …
1. The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
Set in a world torn apart, where man enslaves his fellow man and freedom remains elusive, THE POWER OF ONE is the moving story of one young man’s search for the love that binds friends, the passion that binds lovers, and the realization that it takes only one to change the world. A weak and friendless boy growing up in South Africa during World War II, Peekay turns to two older men, one black and one white, to show him how to find the courage to dream, to succeed, to triumph over a world when all seems lost, and to inspire him to summon up the most irresistible force of all: the Power of One.
2. The Innovators Dilemma – Clayton M. Christensen
Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen says outstanding companies can do everything right and still lose their market leadership — or worse, disappear completely. And he not only proves what he says, he tells others how to avoid a similar fate. Focusing on “disruptive technology” — the Honda Super Cub, Intel’s 8088 processor, or the hydraulic excavator, for example — Christensen shows why most companies miss “the next great wave.” Whether in electronics or retailing, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know when to abandon traditional business practices. Using the lessons of successes and failures from leading companies, The Innovator’s Dilemma presents a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.
3. The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.
4. This is Water – David Foster Wallace
“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
A commencement speech turned book, David Foster Wallace’s This is Water explores how one keeps from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace’s electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others.
5. Outsmarting Google – Evan Bailyn
If you aren’t at or near the top of Google searches, you won’t be found. Your company might as well not exist. But many common Google “search optimization” techniques don’t work–or even make things worse. In Outsmarting Google, world-renowned search expert Evan Bailyn reveals real, gritty, up-to-the-minute tactics that helped him attract more than 50,000,000 visitors last year without spending a dime on advertising! You won’t find any unethical “black hat” tricks here: only proven techniques that reflect comprehensive testing and extraordinary insight into Google’s secret rules.
6. Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea – Jang Jin-sung
In this rare insider’s view into contemporary North Korea, a high-ranking counter-intelligence agent describes his life as a former poet laureate to Kim Jong-il and his breathtaking escape to freedom.
With in-depth insight into the workings of everyday life in North Korea, a society that is very closed-off from the rest of the world, this book can be difficult to read but will leave you with great appreciation for life in Canada.
7. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t – Nate Silver
Nate Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.
Nate Silver’s book provides a foundation for analyzing and asking questions about the statistical models and predictions that surround us.
8. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done – Peter F. Drucker
What makes an effective executive? The measure of the executive, Peter F. Drucker reminds us, is the ability to “get the right things done.” This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mould them into results.
Drucker identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned: Managing time Choosing what to contribute to the organization Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect Setting the right priorities Knitting all of them together with effective decision-making.
9. Start with Why – Simon Sinek
Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?
Simon Sinek’s book is a well-argued narrative that both people and companies should rethink their approach to work or to the marketplace. Most of us start with ‘What do I want?’ and end with ‘How will I get there?”. Rarely do we ask ‘Why?’. Sinek challenges us to turn this around and begin with ‘Why do I work?’ or if a company, ‘Why do we exist?’. Only once this has been answered, should we move on to ‘how’ and ‘what’. Although more difficult than may first appear, understanding one’s “Why” can be a powerful lever in both personal career success as well as overall business success.
10. Bossypants – Tina Fey
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.
From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Burnout—exhaustion, lack of motivation, and feelings of ineffectiveness and frustration—is a growing concern for many Canadian companies. As workplace stress rises, the implications of disengaged, overworked, highly-stressed employees present some very real challenges for businesses.
Stats Canada recently reported that the majority of highly stressed workers (62%) identified work as the main source of their stress. A separate 2013 survey by Kronos, found that 54 percent of employed Canadians admitted that they have called in sick to avoid going to work. And the majority of those (65%) said it was because they felt stressed or burned out.
It can be tough enough to manage your own stress. But how can you, as a manager, help the members of your team handle their feelings of stress, burnout, or disengagement? As a leader, you play a huge role in creating a work environment in which staff have the resources and support they need to be productive and effective and where they feel valued.
Although it’s unlikely that the pace or intensity of work will change anytime soon, there’s a growing body of research that suggests certain types of activities can effectively build personal capacity for resilience. Below we delve further into two tactics that we at The Burnie Group believe are effective in managing workplace stress before it becomes burnout.
A key challenge that many of The Burnie Group’s clients face is having access to in-depth daily data from which to make operating decisions. They often do not know what was accomplished, what was left behind, and how to meet SLAs on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Without this data, managers and staff are often overwhelmed by workloads that appear to be beyond their daily capacity, which is one of the main culprits of burnout.
Workforce management allows an organization to optimize the productivity of its employees at the individual, team, and entity-wide levels. Managers are empowered with tools that help them develop an agile workforce and meet targets in a steady and stress-free manner. From matching employee skills to specific tasks over time, to quantifying the amount and types of labour needed to accomplish particular jobs on a day-to-day, or even hour-to-hour basis, effective workforce management has been proven to dramatically reduce workplace stress while enhancing staff engagement.
Investing in Wellness
Understanding and prioritizing activities that promote well-being for yourself and your team will not only contribute towards the prevention of burnout, it will also increase productivity and team engagement. Simple activities or tools that we have found to be effective include: mindfulness and resilience training; encouraging people to take time for exercise or other renewal activities, such as walking meetings; and building buffer time between key deliverables to help work at a manageable pace. These 5 Productivity Hacks are also great ways to help keep staff motivated and engaged.
The bottom line is that both personal development and effective team management can truly help reduce burnout, all the while enabling higher productivity and greater staff engagement. Doing well at work and encouraging people to feel well isn’t just possible — it’s the foundation of a high-performing team.
Productivity is all about efficiency — doing more, faster and with less.And with increasing demands from today’s anytime, anywhere workplace, productivity has never been more important. To get the most out of your day, try employing these 15 PRODUCTIVITY TIPS into your workday.
All companies want to improve employee productivity, but study after study consistently show that a disturbingly high number of employees are disengaged and not working at full productive capacity. Making productivity (and the ways to increase it) part of the norms at your office will mean that each day from start to finish people will be thinking about how to perform their jobs more efficiently.
Accordingly, organizations need to prioritize the “culture of productivity”. Here are our top 5 “hacks” to help make your business more productive:
1. Take Breaks
Clicking through photos of baby animals at work? That’s not silly procrastination, it’s an exercise in heightened focus. Short breaks have been shown in several studies to correlate with higher productivity. In a recent study, employee computer use was tracked; the highest-performing 10 percent of employees tended to work for 52 consecutive minutes then take a 17-minute break.
While a hard-and-fast break policy won’t accommodate everyone’s individual habits—after all, some people work in short bursts, while others need long, uninterrupted stretches of time—it’s in your organization’s best interest to encourage employees to step away from their desks and take breaks.
2. Focus on creating value
Identify one negative work habit or one action that you do daily that is detracting from your productivity and eliminate it. Even better, replace that habit with something that has value.
For example, to minimize distraction and increase focus on the task at hand try:
– Placing your phone out of site to prevent constant checking for text messages and feed notifications;
– Closing your email application and opening it only when your task is complete; or
– Turning off feeds from news sites and social media
3. Use efficiency-enhancing tools
Adapting efficiency-enhancing technologies will enable you and others in your organization to be more effective. A few of our favourite options include:
– Harvest (getharvest.com): Track your time and expenses easily while you’re on the go. Take photos of receipts and submit them on the spot – no more late nights stapling receipts and filling out Expense spreadsheets
– Fitbit (www.fitbit.com), or your preferred activity tracker: Fitbit users with one or more friends are 27% more active, and companies with worksite wellness programs experience an 8% increase in employee productivity.
An engaged employee is 44% more productive than a satisfied employee. However, an inspired employee is 125% more productive than a satisfied employee!
There isn’t one single strategy that can magically inspire or motivate all employees, however, here are some general rules of thumb that’ll get you started:
– Provide individual attention and give direct praise to team members;
– Provide a clearly articulated career path and advancement opportunities;
– Create an inviting and comfortable work environment, and
– Foster a culture of transparency.
Productivity is all about working steadily at a goal and maintaining a consistent focus. The food you eat directly affects the way you think, feel, and work; the right food can significantly boost your productivity – the right foods can boost brain power by as much as 20%.
For optimal productivity, stock the office with bananas. One banana holds the amount of glucose your brain needs for a whole day; starting your day with a banana will keep your mind sharp and functioning well.
Blockchain is much more than the database ledger technology that powers bitcoin. It is an innovative technology that will open new business opportunities, reduce transaction costs, and improve trust, security and efficiency of existing processes. It has the potential to disrupt and transform even, and perhaps especially, industries that have been traditionally resistant to change.
Insurance is an excellent example of an industry that could be significantly transformed by blockchain. Visionary business leaders are forging new use cases for blockchain technology and entrepreneurs are building “insurtech” companies that are pioneering new products and addressing new markets.
To give you a glimpse into the future of insurance, we have profiled 3 examples of exciting startups looking to gain velocity in a traditionally slow moving space.
Combating insurance fraud via digital provenance
Globally, insurance companies lose over $80B USD to fraud every year. One of the biggest challenges faced by insurance companies in combating fraud is that adjusters primarily rely on physical processes to validate claim information such as item authenticity, ownership, history etc. that can be manipulated by fraudsters.
The encrypted and immutable nature of blockchain transactions, coupled with its extraordinarily strong provenance capability and transparency of the transaction record, presents an opportunity to create an authoritative digital record or ‘fingerprint’ of real-world items and policies and claims. These unique digital records can be used to authenticate and track physical items of value throughout their entire life while making it extraordinarily difficult for criminals to defraud the system.
One young start-up exploring this use case is UK-based Everledger.
Founded: 2015 Headquarters: London, England Snapshot:
– Won Innovator of the Year award at the 2016 Penrose awards in London
– Has received investment from Techstars (Barclays Accelerator, London) and Mastercard Startparth (non-equity assistance)
– Based on IBM Blockchain
Everledger is a permanent digital global registry that records items of value, primarily diamonds (the company has recently begun registering collectible wine as well).The application works by digitally documenting a unique record of data points for the physical item; in the case of diamonds, 40 data points are captured for each stone (cut, karat, clarity, serial number, certification etc.). This information is then cryptographically stored on the underlying blockchain. Once a diamond is registered, it’s then possible to authenticate and subsequently track this stone for its entire life. The benefits of this functionality range from ensuring diamonds are certified through the Kimberly Process (a UN-mandated method of curbing the sale of conflict stones, or “blood diamonds”) to helping law enforcement officials combat diamond trafficking. From an insurer’s perspective, Everledger offers a new and exciting way to combat insurance fraud by providing a secure mechanism to accurately validate diamond authenticity and therefore identify fraudulent claims. To date, over 1 million diamonds have been registered with Everledger.
Providing real-time insurance for the sharing economy
The emergence of the sharing economy, exemplified by companies such as Uber and Airbnb, has created the opportunity for new, dynamic insurance products that address the challenges inherent in leveraging personal assets for commercial purposes. Beginning in 2015, UK-based SafeShare Global is using blockchain technology to facilitate short term commercial insurance contracts for the sharing economy.
Blockchain technology enables SafeShare Global to provide on-demand, time-stamped and secure records of insurance without the need for a costly centralized “processor”. The cost disruption afforded by blockchain is allowing SafeShare to open up a whole new market.
Founded: 2015 Headquarters: London, England Snapshot:
– Developed by the Z/yen Group (a London-based commercial think tank)
– Won Insurance startup of the year at the 2016 British Insurance Awards
– Featured in the Financial Times article Top Ten Fintech startups (Nov 2016)
– Underwritten by Lloyd’s of London
Safeshare Global is the first company in the world to launch a blockchain-based insurance solution to meet the needs of the sharing economy. Partnered with Vrumi, a UK-based company that allows homeowners to rent extra rooms in their private homes to individuals in need of space to run their businesses, the SafeShare application enables users to acquire temporary short-term insurance for each day of the rental agreement. The coverage provided (which is underwritten by Lloyd’s of London) fills a gap that is often left by standard residential homeowner’s policies when the insured property is used for short-term commercial rentals. The underlying blockchain infrastructure enables SafeShare Global to provide a time-stamped, immutable record of insurance in real-time and at a substantially lower cost than traditional home-based business polices (just 2 GBP a day, or roughly $3.50 CAD). This insurance solution is generating significant buzz and recognition; the company was recently shortlisted for best insurtech startup at the 2017 Digital and Insurtech awards in London.
Using ‘smart contracts’ to enter new insurance markets
One of the most powerful capabilities of blockchain technology is “Smart-contracts” pioneered by the Etherium blockchain.
Smart-contracts are programmable logic that self-execute once pre-determined conditions are met without the need for third-party intervention. This technology has tremendous potential to automate, and thus dramatically reduce costs, of all manner of contracts including insurance claims.
One company that is currently developing this potential is Etherisc.
– Won 2016 Blockchain Startup contest facilitated by BlockchainHub Graz
– Won the “Blockchain” Oscar for Most Innovative Blockchain Startup as part of Blockshow Europe 2017
Etherisc is a German-based insurtech company that is leveraging the Ethereum blockchain to build decentralized insurance applications. So far, Etherisc has demonstrated the power of leveraging the Ethereum blockchain to create insurance applications with their Flight Delay Decentralized Application (DApp) experiment. The Flight Delay DApp experiment was conducted in September 2016 and allowed participants the opportunity to obtain flight delay insurance (to a conference in Singapore); if their flight was delayed or cancelled they would receive a payout based on the terms of the policy purchased. The application cleverly leveraged an API with flightstats.com which permitted the calculation of flight cancellation and delay probability based on historical data, this information was subsequently used to determine payout and premium. If the flight was delayed or cancelled, the Flight Delay DApp was digitally notified and automatically processed a payout without any manual verification or processing.Although this test was limited in size, the results from the experiment clearly demonstrated an innovative use-case that has formed the starting point for Etherisc to expand into other insurance verticals and to develop completely new insurance products.
These are early days for blockchain technology. The technology is developing very quickly as significant capital and countless innovative minds are being invested into it.While it is still too early to think about migrating core business systems to this new technology, it is time to conduct a blockchain impact analysis, build a Blockchain strategy and pilot potential solutions through controlled experimentation and testing. Blockchain opens up an exciting new world of possibilities and those who don’t act quickly may be left behind.
Did you find this article interesting? Would you like to learn more about how to leverage blockchain technology in your industry? Contact us.
By: Bret McCaffrey, Associate
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