Blockchain For Managers

No matter one’s professional background, these days it is almost impossible to escape at least a very basic introduction to “blockchain.”

At its core, blockchain has the potential to give every individual access to data, processes, and the ability to transact with others on a scale that was never before possible. From a strictly mid-20th century point of view, the introduction of blockchain is the next step in a future foreseen by Peter Drucker. Many individuals will be self-employed, and the value creation process will be overseen and managed in a way that no longer requires multiple layers of other human beings to be part of the process. It is likely to be implemented by HR departments for employee record and compensation management, and will almost certainly be the final nail in the coffin of mandatory centrally located physical workplaces. It could also be used for proof of work, and as a means of payment using virtual currency such as Bitcoin.

For professional managers, a discussion about blockchain opens up several landmines, none of which are easily dealt with. The reason? The technology will wreak havoc on the managerial class. Many things managers do – and in many industries – are about to be automated out of existence.

Blockchain will create the same kind of career obsolescence for managers in many industries as the self-driving car, automated manufacturing, and automated supply chains will produce for “blue-collar” workers.

Unlike the less educated, lower skilled part of the workforce, however, managers will be tasked with planning their own extinction.

How to embrace that future?

Firstly, as a manager, you need to become an expert on how blockchain can be implemented in your industry. And secondly, you need to step up to the plate, and lead the change in whatever area it is that you work.

For anyone who comes from a non IT background, this might sound like a daunting proposition. However, for the current batch of MBA graduates, usually somewhere between their late twenties and early fifties, this is the task currently at hand. It will be impossible for this group to escape further formal education or work experience that requires them to understand, deal with, or implement blockchain in some form or fashion.

While a good technical background will of course be helpful, understanding how blockchain will impact your industry is much more about understanding your industry, the needs of your customers, and how this new technology might be able to solve problems in new and more efficient ways.

One of the most important things to remember about blockchain is that it is uniquely suited to tracking, monitoring and creating data in process-heavy parts of an industry. As a result, blockchain will initially be useful in banking and financial services, but will also quickly take hold in supply chain management.

Digital natives and those who have adopted this new technology because of the demands of working life (Gen X in particular), will have little trouble understanding how blockchain can be applied to these kinds of use cases.

What Are Concrete Steps I Can Take Now?

Human work and organization is in the early stages of being redesigned in a way that will be every bit as transformative as the industrial revolution was in the 19th century.

Revolutions, by definition, cannot be managed. Change, however, certainly can be.

One of the first steps to riding the wave of change is to accept that the world is rapidly transforming and that blockchain is one of the key drivers.

To that end, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.

  1. Take a course on blockchain. Consider a specialized course offering for managers in a banking or finance center where you will have access to the best teachers and thought leaders in this space including but not limited to IT experts (which often include lawyers, academics, regulatory agencies, and people in leading industries) where this is hitting first.
  2. Look on Meetup for groups interested in tech. This is a good way to meet other professionals who have a common interest.
  3. Think about vital processes in your industry and how blockchain might be used to improve them.
  4. Design a flow chart with one process you believe can be improved by a blockchain application.

Embracing blockchain will help you to understand the technology and identify ways that you can manage change within your industry, and be a positive driving force for innovation.

Marguerite Arnold is the founder of MedPayRx, a blockchain healthcare startup in Frankfurt. She is also an author, journalist and has just obtained her EMBA from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

Image: Pexels

Moving Things Around

The logistics industry provides opportunities for both movers and shapers

Supply Chain

(Source: Flickr)

BACK in the good old days, before the PC and Macintosh, if you wanted something done you would often just do it yourself.

Companies sent their own trucks to the factory to pick up supplies, and the local department store could do “home deliveries” if you were happy to wait a week or so.

Life was simple, but also slower paced.

With the advent of hyper colour t-shirts, puffy hair and jelly shoes, successful manufacturers were increasingly turning to transportation and warehousing experts to help them get supplies from the factory and products to the store.

It turned out that moving lots of stuff from one place to another is a tricky business, and logistics experts could get the job done faster and more reliably, at lower cost.

With the dawn of a new millennium, and the growth of a novel technology called the Internet, the dynamics in the logistics industry changed, again.

The Internet enables suppliers to access customers directly, communicate with them in real time, and (if managed properly) to provide better service at lower cost.

The flip side of the coin, though, is that customers now have higher expectations than ever before.

This presents a challenge, but at the same time a big opportunity.

With the number of goods flowing back and forth, and with the amount of organisation required, an opening has emerged for managers, IT experts and business people to help coordinate the physical flow of goods.

The logistics industry, it turns out, provides opportunities for both movers and shapers.

[Note: Deloitte and BCG appear to have their fingers on the pulse. What about your firm?]