Nicky Bleiel: Seth Mattison is the founder and CMO of FutureSight Labs. He’s an expert on talent management, change and innovation, leadership, and the future of work. All that, and he’s also the opening keynote speaker at the STC Technical Communication Summit this May in Washington, DC. Hi, Seth.
Seth Mattison: Hi, Nicky. How are you?
Nicky: I’m great, how are you?
Seth: I’m doing well. I’m so looking forward to our time together in DC.
Nicky: We all are. That’s great. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your work at FutureSight Labs, which is a great company name, by the way.
Seth: I appreciate that. That name is really rooted in my upbringing. I grew up on a fourth‑generation farm in southern Minnesota. I grew up working alongside my father, my grandfather, my great‑grandfather. My great‑grandfather was born in 1910 and I was lucky enough to have him around until I was almost 15 years old. Almost a hundred years of wisdom through these generations.
One of the key lessons that I learned from growing up in this environment was this idea of understanding the value of knowing where you came from and what’s made me so successful without holding on so tightly that it makes you miss what’s coming next.
That balance between respecting your legacy and your history and honoring that, but not getting locked onto it…which is hard not to do. We romanticize and we get stuck. They were great at being able to stay fluid and flexible and evolving into whatever the marketplace served up next. It really laid the foundation for much of my work.
We’ve been researching, writing, and speaking on workforce trends, generational dynamics, marketplace shifts for the past decade. We get a chance to work with just about every single industry, every single sector across the board. We do about 75 live events a year. This is what we love to do. We’ve got a new book that’s coming out this month, thinking about the future of work and leadership and communication.
I’m so excited to get to spend some time and to start a dialogue about the future of work and influence and communication in DC.
Nicky: That sounds great. It sounds like you and your company have really found a way to look at change management without just saying, “Oh, it’s the past. Let it go.” It’s a fluid structure.
Seth: I’m so glad you picked up on that, Nicky. That’s actually a big part of who we are and what we try to bring to the marketplace. A mindset I’ve tried to instill in my culture with my team is, despite the fact that yes, we are looking at the future, I have a saying. I always say, “We can’t talk about the future without having a little perspective on the past.”
Everything we do reflects that. It’s not an “out with the old, in with the new.” It’s finding the balance between the two. To be honest, I think that’s what’s helped our clients and our audiences when we show up, to know that we’re not just saying, “throw away where we’ve been.” That in turn helps people embrace what’s coming next.
Nicky: Everyone is looking forward to your talk at the Summit, which is titled “The Shift — Building the Next‑Generation Enterprise for a Next‑Generation Workforce.” Could you give me a short preview of the talk and what we will learn?
Seth: Yeah. When we think about the shift, essentially what we’re talking about, and this is really at the foundation and the base of our new book that we have coming out, called The War at Work, is when we looked at these trends impacting the future of work and communication and leadership, and there’s so many, oftentimes we were able to boil it down to one key, massive shift.
Essentially it sits at this dynamic tension between what we call hierarchies and networks.
What we’ve found is that despite charging headlong into this new networked, hyper‑connected, fluid, flexible world of work and life that we’re all operating in today, the structures and, more importantly, the deeply embedded culture of the hierarchy still exists in our world, still exists in our organizations.
The tension between these two worlds is creating massive ripple effects. It impacts everything from how we show up, of course, as leaders, but it impacts everything from communication and collaboration and how do people want to access knowledge and content?
From a technical communications standpoint, from a writing standpoint, how are we delivering these insights? What channels will that be communicated, and how do we ultimately elevate our influence and impact in this new world?
It goes back to what we talked about before. You can’t talk about the future without having some perspective on the past. It’s not that either one of these worlds is right or wrong, better or worse.
The research…we didn’t land in a place to say the hierarchy and hierarchical forms of communication are bad or dead or not relevant, in that we’re all going to be operating in new networked, fluid, flexible structures ‑‑ it’s finding a balance between these two worlds.
We’ve got to understand which one we’re communicating in, through which channels that we can best show up to most effectively be heard and get our communication across to our audiences. In our session together, I’m going to reveal the research. We’re going to talk about what this looks like, what it means, and then drill down to some really practical applications for all of us to be able to, again, elevate your impact, elevate your influence, more effectively communicate and connect in this new world.
Nicky: That sounds really, really interesting. Thanks so much for joining me, Seth. We’re looking forward to your keynote at the 2017 STC Summit in Washington, DC this May. Everyone should be on the lookout for your book. The name was…?
Seth: The War at Work.
Nicky: And you’re @sethmattison on Twitter.
Seth: Across all social channels, yep. You’ll be able to get me @sethmattison, one word.
Nicky: Everybody can find you there, and I look forward to meeting you in May.
Seth: Take care. See everyone soon.