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‘Access is the new ownership.’[1]

With the recent dramatic growth of companies like Airbnb, Uber and Spotify, it is hard to overlook the common denominator linking multiple major industries. The concept of ownership seems to be aging into a thing of the past, as renting and borrowing become more legitimate solutions to everyday needs.

Over 30 years ago, a cohort of middle school students was given some mathematics problems to solve.

If you had told the manual workers of the previous centuries that one day the average person’s ‘work’ would primarily be conducted from one little device we call a ‘laptop’, they would not have believed you – and they definitely would not have thought of it as ‘work’. Today, we are in a similar situation. What we have come to understand as ‘work’ is changing rapidly – the employment experience of tomorrow is certain to look drastically different to the one we have come to know.

In the existing world of power and politics, the story of David and Goliath has never really rung true. Aside from the odd revolutionary who led a charge against the world’s reigning forces, power has historically always belonged to organisations – be they religious institutions, government bureaucracies or corporate behemoths. The individual has always lacked power.

Until now.

One thing we know about disruption is that it is definitively unpredictable. Perhaps the most unprecedented disruption businesses have faced in recent years has been that of environmental sustainability. As awareness of climate change and its dangers has grown exponentially in the last few years, with student protests filling cities and legislation being passed in many countries, businesses are having to respond to the overwhelming consumer demand for environmental sustainability in products.

If you ask any high school teacher what the biggest killer of class productivity is in a class of students after lunch they will tell you, in more or less the same words, it is inertia – the tired drag of disinterested students who will not act unless acted upon by an external force, often in the form of a frustrated teacher. The same goes for large and mature organizations. In business, just as it is in nature, size is almost always inversely related to agility, and inertia is the biggest killer of progress and productivity.

Nothing turns a customer off more than friction. In fact, nothing turns an employee off more than friction either. If businesses are to remain Indisruptible in the years to come, identifying friction is paramount, so here are 3 key questions to help you find it.

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

Six hours’ train ride south of Stockholm in the Swedish town of Helsingborg, you will find one of the more interesting museums you’re ever likely to come across. What is most remarkable about this museum is what it celebrates. Inside you will find no exhibits commemorating triumphs of human ingenuity of creativity – rather, you will encounter exhibit after exhibit celebrating, of all things, failure. That’s right, an entire museum dedicated to many of the greatest stuff ups, misfires and train wrecks of human history.

Imagine a world where you enter a retail store and are instantly identified by your mobile phone. Your preferences, credit card details and buying history are immediately recognized along with your identity and from that moment on, the entire in-store experience is customized to your needs and desires. You select products either by scanning a code on your smartphone or by placing items in a physical shopping cart the old-school way. When you are finished shopping, your shopping tally is calculated as you walk past sensors near the exit and the amount owing is immediately charged to your default credit card.

Sound fanciful or futuristic? Well this is almost precisely the automated retail experience shoppers are already enjoying in Amazon’s recently opened bricks-and-mortar retail stores.

If you rose through the grades of the schooling system in the last forty years or so, it is almost certain that at some point you were encouraged toward university. With its lures of prestige and its promises of the expansion of the mind, and a cap, gown and certificate waiting at the end, it has kept young people captivated by the hope of their own future.

Inversely, vocational training, apprenticeships and industry work have been negatively affected by people’s prejudices against them. Presenting as paths of education with fewer prospects, less prestige and less purpose, numbers within them have dropped dramatically compared to tertiary education, and society is feeling the burden of this imbalance.

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