Getting people to embrace ideas and bring them to life.
An interview with Kasey Lobaugh about creating and achieving long-lasting objectives.
If you are just closing your eyes and hoping your white paper will go to scale…
You might be going about it the wrong way!
Our guest today is Kasey Lobaugh, the Chief Futurist for the Consumer Industry and Principal at Deloitte Consulting, LLP. As a senior leader, Kasey is working to get people to embrace their ideas and shape the future of their company and industry as a whole.
To gain a profound understanding of the future of their industry, Deloitte spent a year speaking with more than 800 people in the industry – including experts of all ages, Deloitte’s customers, and even their competition. The culmination of this work is a white paper titled Buying Into Better. Kasey takes us deep into the process of the research, who they spoke to and why.
While the information found in the white paper is profound, Kasey helps us understand that the paper is only a derivative of the platform they’ve created which will act as a long lived capability investment and objective that they are organized around.
Kasey shares that scale is the biggest challenge most organizations face and how they are training people across the business to fully grasp the ideas and be able to take it into the world in actionable ways. Through a two day workshop people learn how various forces come together to create impact, examine the proud things they’ve learned and find empathy through role-play.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Value comes from scale, impact, conversation, and stories.
- When doing research, one of the most profound questions you can ask is, “Who else should I talk to?”
- In order to create change, you have to engage a lot of people in the process.
If you need a strategy to bring your thought leadership to market, Thought Leadership Leverage can assist you! Contact us for more information. In addition, we can help you implement marketing, research, and sales. Let us help you so you can devote yourself to what you do best.
Join the Organizational Thought Leadership Newsletter to learn more about expanding thought leadership within your organization! This monthly newsletter is full of practical information, advice, and ideas to help you reach your organization’s thought leadership goals.
Bill Sherman How do you take an idea to scale within and beyond the organization? That’s a challenge even in a small organization. But when you have an organization with 100,000 employees or more, it becomes a massive challenge. Good ideas simply do not reach scale on their own. As today’s guest says, it’s not just a white paper anymore. Kasey Lobaugh is both the chief futurist for the consumer industry and a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP. In today’s episode, we’ll talk about what it takes to do a deep end environmental scan in search of insights. We’ll explore how you bring others within the organization on board. And we’ll talk about why thought leadership is most definitely a team sport.
Bill Sherman I’m Bill Sherman and you’re listening to Leveraging Thought Leadership. Ready? Let’s begin. Welcome to the show, Kasey.
Kasey Lobaugh Thank you. I’m thrilled to be here.
Bill Sherman So you and I were having a conversation a couple of weeks ago, and you said something that stuck with me. And I want to start this conversation that you were referring to, a project that you had just completed and taking out into the world. And you said it’s not a white paper, it’s a platform. So what is that project and what did you mean by that when you said.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, okay, I like that one, because that was when I’m saying quite often these days, because we did recently published a report that we call Buying into Better the Future of the Consumer Industry, and that that report was the culmination of a year’s worth of work where we engaged with over 800 people from across the industry internal to Deloitte, external Deloitte, a lot of different titles, a lot of different expertise that we brought together. And we did that in order to really shape our thinking about the forces that were coming together that would shape the next decade of our industry. Now, we did that for on behalf of our clients, but we also did that on behalf of all of us so that we could have a deep understanding and shape our own strategy around this. Now, yes, you heard me mention I did. We have published a paper and it’s available. However, that’s an asset, that’s a derivative of the platform. And what I mean by the platform is that, you know, this idea about buying in the better is an objective. The objective is to help the industry begin to shape itself and to influence it, to make the right choices, to shape the future that we want more broadly, but also to do the same for us at Deloitte, shape our own practice, shape our own industry, shape our own priorities. And the platform, you know, we believe will have, you know, it will be long lived. We will have a whole series of research that we continue to do. We continue to refresh, we continue to update. I’m confident we’ll have a whole series of papers that get published on the backs of that research. But the real thing that I try and impress upon people is that what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to move the market. We’re trying to move our own firm. And that’s the objective. And the platform is dedicated to that. So what I try and do is say, it’s not a paper, we do have a paper, but that’s a derivative. But the real platform is this long lived capability, this long lived investment, and this long lived objective that we’re organized around. So hopefully that makes sense of the difference between the two.
Bill Sherman I think it does. And the risk of a white paper or report is it gets attached may be shared a little bit, but it doesn’t necessarily fuel the conversation in the same way. Right. And so you need people to embrace the ideas for them to come to life, both, as you said, internally within Deloitte as well as and to clients so they can start thinking ahead. So with that, you did a lot of research and you said a year’s worth, but you talked to a lot of people. Let’s break down some of those conversations as to who did you talk to and how many conversations.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, of course, a part of impacting change is actually engaging a lot of people in the process. So part of the reason why we’ve engaged so many people was for that reason we wanted to engage people deeply, let them swim in the content, let them help shape the content. So of the 800 or so people that we’ve engaged with, I’ll give you some categories that we certainly had quite a few people within Deloitte senior people that have expertise in the various industries that make up for us, the consumer industry. So this is every, you know, everybody our industry, such as hotels and auto restaurants, retail, consumer products, but even companies like telco or even life sciences that. Are increasingly focused on a relationship with the consumer. So we had that expertise that was participating with us, but we also had external expertise, meaning clients that were involved. We had academia, multiple institutions that participated. We engaged with think tanks, Wall Street stock analysts that have different perspectives than others. Right. And we also engaged with deep expertise, some of which was in the firm and outside the firm around things like economics or sociology or government policy. There’s people that have deep expertise in those topics, and those topics matter. However, they’re only a piece of the puzzle. And so that’s the kind of any of that. One of the things I’m proud of, I think Deloitte may be one of the few organizations that can organize the kind of group that we were able to bring together for this conversation. And so, as you mentioned, part of it was I want great input because no one person amongst those people had a complete view of all the topics that mattered. Only when you convene the right richness of group did you understand that. Second of all, the diversity of, you know, along a lot of dimensions, you just get a lot of different perspectives. So we included some of the youngest people at Deloitte in the conversation because they brought very unique perspectives about the consumer industry, about that the state of the world, the planet where things were heading. And we also included, of course, very senior people at Deloitte who participated. We also used our what we called the state of the global consumer tracker Deloitte version, which really looks at monthly. We’re surveying consumers for input on intentions and changing perspectives, etc. So very rich input. But part of that was by design so that you get the answer right, or at least you’re in the right direction, but also because you want people to be part of the conversation. If you really want this to be a platform and not just a paper.
Bill Sherman I love a couple of things that you say there, and I want to draw a line underneath some of them, the building of the list as to who will we talk to and what categories and perspectives do. We need is often one of the most important tasks to be able to get that environmental scan, to be able to look out and make sure you’re getting a good view of the landscape. Because if you don’t do that right, your synthesis falls apart, right? Because you’ve only got a limited view. I also love the fact that you said, okay, we went to some of the most junior people at Deloitte and I can imagine the junior analyst looking up and going, You want to talk to me? Wait a minute. This is different. Most organizations have expertise that’s latent, which is not often thought of and pulled into a conversation when they can add value.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, one of the best questions to ask is who.
Bill Sherman Else should I talk to?
Kasey Lobaugh That’s one of the most profound questions because you’ll discover, like, I never thought of that. That’s a great you know, that’s a great idea. Or sometimes they’ll say somebody you’ve already talked to, that’s fine. But just asking that question expands the aperture. And honestly, part of my part, part of my approach was I didn’t say no to anybody, anybody that was willing to talk to me, you know, to us we would spend time talking to. In fact, I put a request out on my LinkedIn because, you know, I’ve been in the industry now for 27 years, so I’ve built up my own personal network and I put the request out, Here’s what I’m talking about. Who wants to participate in a conversation? And surprise to me, I got at least four or five competitors that raised their hand and said, I’ll talk to you. And so not only amongst that group did we have our own expertise. We actually had other organizations that were, you know, people from those other organizations that were willing to participate in the conversation, too.
Bill Sherman Well, and when you’re talking about as broad of a topic of trends within consumer behavior in the retail industry and you’re looking for out, you can’t narrow it down. So I love this idea of saying I am open to conversations wherever the conversations lead me and that great open ended question of who should I talk to? And then here’s a topic I’m willing to talk about. Anyone want to join a conversation about invitations?
Kasey Lobaugh You’d be surprised how many people. I was surprised just how many people that showed up, that had perspectives that were unique and different and diverse. And it just was a very personally fulfilling process to go through. And it was humbling, too, because as as I mentioned, I’ve been in the industry a long time. I thought I thought I kind of had it. And only through this process can I look back and go, Wow, I’ve learned so much. And many of the things I thought I that I thought I understood, I did not understand only because this group helped to educate me.
Bill Sherman I’ve often referred to that process as thinking in public and being willing to say, Here’s what. I’m thinking about. I don’t have all the answers, but I’d love to hear your thoughts as a way to open up the conversation then. Certainly, like you said, to learn. Right. Because it forces the person opening the conversation to approach it with a little bit of humility, because you are admitting right off the top, I don’t have the answers. I want to hear your perspective.
Kasey Lobaugh So I agree with that. But there’s also an evolution where at the beginning of the process, we’re very much like, we don’t even know where to start.
Bill Sherman So. Right, Right.
Kasey Lobaugh And towards the end of the process, we’re actually starting to test some ideas because at this point you’ve started to hear enough commonality and some things start to emerge. And so at the end, you’re asking some questions, but really you’re testing ideas to see if they resonate or if they agree.
Bill Sherman Well, and that ability to sift information as you go through the process and you talked about doing interviews over the course of a year, you see the themes that emerge. You can do some hypothesis testing and see, okay, is this a pattern that just because I talked to three people, it’s really a pattern, or was that a unusual selection and sample of those people?
Kasey Lobaugh That’s right. That’s right. One other thing that we did next, once we talked to the people and then the topics came up, we actually took that over 100 topics and went and did deep research on those topics. So that was sort of the next step where I had a team that said, Let’s go dig into these and try and figure out what I like to say is what’s happening on the cutting edge, because most of the topics that come up would say, Oh, I think I understand that. And then when you go to the cutting edge of it, that’s where I’d say, Oh, I didn’t understand that. Like, these are evolving fast, and most of our understanding of these topics tends to be in some ways I say pedestrian. In some ways it’s conventional wisdom, it’s the commonality. So even on things like I use an example, the growing diversity of the consumer, I would, if not in my head and said, Yep, I’ve heard that, I understand that. But mostly we’ll talk in averages, we’ll talk about the population is X, Y, or Z. The cutting edge would say, No, no, no, let’s not talk about the population. Let’s talk about Gen Z, just Gen Z. Right, right. Because that becomes the consumer of the next decade. And so I don’t want to average it out. I really want to understand what’s happening on that cutting edge. When I look at that data, I say to myself, Oh, I didn’t fully understand what was happening. And now suddenly I’m enlightened about the degree of change that we’re talking about on that one topic. And frankly, I use that one topic, but I could say the same on any of the topics, whether it’s artificial intelligence, whether it’s changing sexuality and gender identity.
Bill Sherman If those were the data points that I when I read through the report, I think it was what, 25% of Gen Z expected that at some point they would have a gender fluid identity and at some point.
Kasey Lobaugh That’s right.
Bill Sherman That’s how it forces you to think in a different way than if you’re looking at the entire aggregate that is current, you know, population. Right. Yeah.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, that’s right. And in fact, that causes and that particular data point talks about gender identity. There’s another data point that talks about the changing degree to which people are LGB. And again, the Gen Z, if you compare Gen Z to the baby boomer generation, it’s dramatic difference. And then I just I’m going to ask my clients, you think about some retail clients who are organized by here’s the men’s department and here’s the women’s department, and you actually begin to see in the data. Now there’s a level of diversity and fluidity and there’s a level that’s becoming apparent that actually would cause us to think differently about how we think about our business, how we organize it, how we target, how we cater to, how we serve. You know, all of those sorts of topics actually start to open up pretty broadly on the cutting edge. So technology’s the easy one to sort of understand on the cutting edge. Like, you know, we’re seeing a lot with generative AI in the news. Right? Right. A year ago we were digging into this and mind blowing what’s happening on the cutting edge. You know, and if you’re familiar with some of the chat, you know, sort of functionality that’s out there, etc., and realize like Stanford University says that AI is fast moving faster than Moore’s Law. It’s doubling every three months. So stop and think about that. Whatever it is that’s mind blowing to you today will double in three months in its capability. That’s cutting edge. That actually causes you to think differently about what you thought you understood.
Bill Sherman Yeah. So by the time we get to the end of 2023, we’ve gone through four doublings. That’s. That’s amazing, right?
Kasey Lobaugh To me, it’s hard to comprehend what does twice as good look.
Bill Sherman Right?
Kasey Lobaugh Right. I’m not sure I. You’re saying? Because what you’ll see out there is really mind blowingly good already, though there’s still.
Bill Sherman A few things. There are things where you look and you say, okay, well, that needs to be refined or how do you make sure the information it’s delivering is actually truthful? Yeah.
Kasey Lobaugh That’s right.
Bill Sherman I think one of the data points I saw recently is someone asked one of the Chat – whether was ChatGPT or one of the others, what the population of Mars was. And it confidently replied, 250 million. Right. And that’s a knowable fact. But it is arguing that fact with the confidence of sort of like a first-year college undergrad, even though they’re completely wrong. Right.
Kasey Lobaugh So you look at how come you look at that and go, okay, first of all, it’s mind blowing, but it’s also a little funny to have to find out where the mistakes live. Right. Just to comprehend and imagine that Stanford University’s wrong. Just imagine for a minute that there maybe it’s not every three months. What if it’s every six months? What if it’s every year? It doesn’t matter. It still tells us to think very differently about the next decade. Now, what I did, I shared with you what, three or four different data points that say cutting edge. But I would tell you across the 100 or more topics, you have the same sort of aha moment that happens on each one. But secondarily, they converge. And that’s the harder part to sort of think about because you can think about everyone individually and think about it linearly and sort of go, how is this one progress?
Bill Sherman But when you get all those takes an academic perspective of I’m going to focus on these topics and just keep researching them, that you have to take the next step and say, okay, what’s important? What’s going to shape the future and be predominant so that I can find the signal from the noise.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, Yeah. So let me give you an example, because part of our work is we do these collaborative workshops and we send people and we ask them a topic like, Hey, take the future of relationships, how we as humans forge relationships, what our relationship is with technology. And now go spend your time. And we put up on the wall all 100 or so things we say, Go pick the things on the wall that you think that when they come together, they, they tell a story about how much this topic might change. And what you discover, by the way, we tell people that go pick three and they can never just pick three, They always pick 8 to 10 and then they come back. And after they spend a little time thinking about it, they tell a phenomenal story that they never would have gotten to if they went linear on oh eight gets better, and therefore it looks like this.
Bill Sherman If you’re enjoying this episode of Leveraging Thought Leadership, please make sure to subscribe. If you’d like to help spread the word about our podcast, please leave a five star review at ratethispodcast.com/ltl and share it with your friends. We’re available on Apple Podcasts and on all major listing apps as well as Thought Leadership Leverage dot com forward slash podcasts.
So let’s talk about those workshops for a while because you’ve been doing a fair number of them, both internally and then some externally, if I understand correctly, talk about how you’re taking the ideas and breathing life into them within the organization. So within Deloitte to begin with, because I think one of the things that we see with thought leadership is there’s this last mile problem. How do you get the idea to the people who need to hear it, understand it and use it? So let’s talk about the workshops.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, so, so I’d say that you’ve got the vitamin, the two categories. There was discovery workshops that we had done. So let’s put those aside for a minute.
Bill Sherman Right? Right.
Kasey Lobaugh Because what I want to talk about is really the real challenge that we have, That real challenge within our organization and frankly, within business more broadly is scale. We’ve got to scale the ideas. We’ve got to create an army of people that really understand these and that are facing off with clients every day. You know, I’ve spent a lot of time studying these, but if I’m the one that has to go to every meeting with every client and introduce, we’re dead on arrival.
Bill Sherman Yeah, you’d be either on planes or in public.
Kasey Lobaugh Can’t do it. Simply can’t do it. So the size and scale of glory is that we’re having active conversations in the C-suite every single day with hundreds of major companies. So I’ve got to scale. So we took on this effort where we we’ve identified a collection of people from across the business, a first wave of people, which is we take them through training because this is not something where you can read a report and then you can go have the kind of conversation that you can have after researching this for a year. So we put together a two day session. The people that we’ve identified from across our business and from all of our functions, they’re there from everywhere. We bring them together as a group and we they one we introduce them to some of these activities in the work in in the workshop we introduce them to what we call the six forces. And we’ve been talking about a lot of that here. The activity I just described where you’re taking a topic, we’re not even talking about business yet. We’re just saying take a topic like education or relationships and go spend some time talking as a group about how these forces come together to make an impact on that. Part of it is to recognize that there’s an abstract layer of change, that if you play the linear game of like, what does this mean to my restaurant client that you skip over and you want people to grapple with that. And so I always call it swim in it, think about it, argue it, and in doing that, you’re actually coming to better grips with the complexity and you’re also practicing, okay, what does this mean for okay, and then I’m on day two, by the way, we then go to dinner. And that’s actually a really important component because the conversations at dinner are so much fun.
Bill Sherman I would assume that the conversations continue and spill over and even get more lively at dinner.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, Yeah. You know, we go to a nice dinner and you add a little wine to the conversation and people are starting to talk about what did they talk about today? That was mind blowing mind. And those conversations are fun because we really start to open up a fun, interesting dialog. And of course, I’ve got the team that helped me with the research and they’re sitting around at the various tables and they’re throwing out little, little nuggets of information that sort of feed the fires. So then the next day we show back up day two of the workshop. The first thing we say is, Hey, what did you hear yesterday that was most profound? And then we ask questions of like, what are your hopes and fears and dreams for your family? Because you make it personal, because a lot of this information you’re going to talk about on this topic in particular is very personal because it reflects not only on our industry and our clients, but on our world, our society, our.
Bill Sherman Relationships with kids, everything. Yeah.
Kasey Lobaugh Yep, yep. And then then we convert and we do some exercises about okay, we break into groups. You’re a CEO, you’re a CEO, you’re a CFO, and you’re faced with all the pressures that you’re faced with every day. Now I want you to have a discussion. You know, you’re now you went through the session CFO. Now you have to balance between the pressures that you’re under today and what you heard through this session, what’s going through your head, How are you thinking about it? What might you do differently? The reason we do that is we force people into the chair of our client and force them to recognize that they have a set of pressures that they’re under. And they’ve got to balance that with our information. And we’re trying to help them figure out how to have that conversation. And really, that’s our hour to day training really is is around that. And then we set people off and then even then, people aren’t ready. Now we want them to be ready. But I get a lot of this like, well, I’ve got a client conversation, but would you come with me? And the answer is always yes, because I get it. Let’s go have the conversation together. But the expectation is that you’re investing in learning and you’re scaling. And as you do that, you know, the information that we’re uncovering is propagating. People are becoming more comfortable in conversations. We’re getting more success stories underneath this. And we’re even getting you know, today we’re largely focused on the U.S. on our first research. But now we’re getting globally, of course, Deloitte, Deloitte’s, a global firm, the various regions are all saying, okay, we’re in, we’re ready to take this to our region. And we know there may be some additional work that needs to get done, but we’re going to make that investment. So now we’re going global with the platform. And that’s why I say it’s a platform. Like you can go to the website and see that there’s a paper and yes, there’s a paper, but really the value comes in scale impact conversation stories.
Bill Sherman I think you said a couple of things that I want to underline. One, making it connect to individuals personally. What does this mean for you, for your family? How does this idea impact and making a create rather than abstract? Because I think it’s often easy to look at statistics and numbers and forget the human side of it, right?
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, totally.
Bill Sherman And then the empathy exercise that you described of the OC, you’re sitting now as the CFO or the CIO. Put yourself in their shoes. Think from the challenges they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Those are ways to overcome the barriers to getting attention for ideas. Because if we can’t figure out how an idea connects with us, either on a personal level or professional level, we’re going to scroll by, skip over, tune out, whatever, because we’re under cognitive load most of the time.
Kasey Lobaugh That’s right. That’s right. Right. There’s a fun thing that’s happened here. Like my teammates that I worked with, you know, I’ve got teammates who are younger in their careers and are passionate about the work that we’re doing. But they would tell you that that they and I can relate with this like we’re no good at dinner parties anymore because we’re so deep in topics that and we have so much like to say because we’ve learned so much, we want to impart the knowledge. You know, so somebody might bring up a have you seen the latest A.I. technology? And, you know, that’s a dinner party conversation. But suddenly we’re like, Oh, boy. Like, we’ve got so much to talk about. And I’m confident. I know my wife would roll their eyes at me as I start to talk at dinner parties. Some people find it fascinating, but we’re probably ruining our ability to socialize.
Bill Sherman Well, and sometimes you can frame it as curse of knowledge in some ways, or the curse of the expert. Right. Where you’re thinking at a graduate or post-doc level on a topic when someone is really just entering into a topic and saw a cool article online or something and they’re like, Hey, I’m at the one on one level give you. Right, right. The basic steps of what we’re talking about. And you’re like, No, no, no, no, no. Here’s differential calculus.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah. You know, the old story of like, well, who is it that said, if I had more time, I’d have written a shorter story or letter. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Bill Sherman So I think that’s attributed to Twain sometimes. And I think so. I think also Descartes has been another person who’s been attributed to.
Kasey Lobaugh All right. So this has been a challenge for me lately. And I’m working on I promise I’m working on it. I had a call the other day where a with one of my colleagues said, we’ve got a CEO of a major company. Yeah. You got 10 minutes to tell him what you’ve been up to. And so over.
Bill Sherman The last year.
Kasey Lobaugh Or so, I got it. 10 minutes. Got it. Got it. Now, I’m happy to say that we did that and it worked. And, you know, that was we knocked the ball out of the park in 10 minutes. But it’s really hard to say in 10 minutes. Kind of like, here’s what we learned.
Bill Sherman Well, and really, in some spaces, 10 minutes is enough. And maybe you can do it in five as well to get someone to say, okay, that’s interesting. Yeah, tell me more. Right. That’s right. You didn’t give me all the evidence. You didn’t give me all the data. I don’t have the full picture, But you now convinced me it’s relevant to me. And you have my attention, right? That’s right. And that’s that 10 minutes sort of permission for feature conversation?
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah. At the end of the day, I look at it like this. Like we went out and talked to 800, you know, incredibly smart people from across the industry, all disciplines, clients, you know, everybody. And would you like to hear what we took away from that? I mean, that that in and of itself is like, oh, that’s interesting. I’d like to hear that. I call it the no risk offer.
Bill Sherman Mm hmm. So I want to turn the focus of this conversation a little bit to you, Kasey, and ask the question. You’ve got the title of a chief futurist, specifically for the consumer industry at Deloitte, but you came from being managing director and you’re a principal, and so you’ve been working with clients rather than from an academic background and as a research background. How did you get here and how do you get the title of Chief Futurist journey like?
Kasey Lobaugh So I like the question. I appreciate the question, but I’d say that, you know, really my career at Deloitte has been client service. So that’s, that’s where I’ve been and that’s still my primary focus. So this idea of sort of focusing on this effort was secondary to, you know, I serve our clients who are trying to make a difference and transforming themselves in many different ways. You know, early in my career, I put a stake in the ground that said the area that I wanted to focus on was e-commerce. And now when I say early in my career, keep in mind we’re talking about 1996, 1997, when, you know, the very early ages. In fact, I remember somebody at Deloitte, I was very junior and as you mentioned, I was an intern and back in. In 96. So I’m young in the firm, and I remember somebody telling me, Oh, you want to do e-commerce? And then they said, What is that? And I told them and they said, Yeah, we don’t do that. And so I really spent the next ten years going, Yeah, we do. And, you know, I serve in retail and really that’s where I started. So in other words, what I was already doing on day one was looking to the evolution of the industry, what was coming next. And really that’s been the story of my career is really paying attention to understanding deeply what’s coming next. The reason I’ve been asked to play this role is because I have a good track record, or at least an established track record of, you know, seeing things on their horizon and, you know, aggressively sort of positioning around those things. And then more recently, we just say, boy, there’s a lot more change coming. How should we think about this? And I’ve taken on that role now at Deloitte, the chief futurist role. That title is held by multiple people. So, for example, we’ve got a man, Kelly, who is really a mentor to me. He runs our Office for the future. Now, what’s the office for the future? Office for the future is really, you know, somewhat of a think tank that helps all of us that are in our domains to help one drive connectivity and consistency about how we’re thinking about. And so many of the early workshops I was doing in conjunction with Aikman and his team and the Office for the Future, we’ve also got a gentleman named Mike Bechtel, who I think about and really look up to. He’s our chief futurist for consulting and for consulting. He really focused a lot on the technology side of things and where things are heading. So I look to him and then I’ve got partners of mine like Neil Batra, who leads the future of health care. And of course, the convergence between consumer and health care is high. So he and I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how we’re going to face off in that area. But what it is, is just a collection of people who are dedicated to thinking about what’s on their horizon, what’s it mean for us, and what’s it mean for our clients. I’m really proud that Deloitte is forward thinking enough to be willing to make the investment to allow me. Over the last year there’s a lot of different things the firm could ask me to do, but the fact that they asked me to do this tells me that they think it’s important and they’re willing to make the investment.
Bill Sherman And it is something that rarely happens by accident. Either one of two things happens. An individual like you were talking about earlier in your career, and I know you did some earlier projects as well that we could talk about where you said, Hey, here’s a topic I need to understand more about and do your own research on that and then bring the ideas in. Or alternatively, the firm says, Yeah, this is right, you’re the person. Can you synthesize this sort of state of thinking for us? Right. And if you wait for serendipity, you’re betting on luck. So structurally making the bet and saying, we’ve got to understand where the world is going makes a lot of sense.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah. And really, this idea about being able to see things, being convinced like conviction, I see something that I don’t that I’m not sure that other people see. And I actually want to help people to see it and understand it. You and I talked about some of the previous research that I had done where I spend time with a client and they say something to me that makes me go, okay, I understand where your perspectives are, but I also understand what that you’re misunderstanding a topic. And if I could do the research and convince you otherwise, I think I’m going to make a difference. And so that’s what I that’s what I’ve done and sort of had this track record around identifying these topics that I could go make a difference on. And it was that track record one after another that led us to take on such a bold topic as we’re on right now.
Bill Sherman So as we begin to wrap up, Casey, I want to ask you a question. Right. And I want you to think about your younger self. You mentioned yourself in the nineties, right, Whether it’s in the intern days or soon after. What advice would you give your younger self about the practice of thought leadership and bringing ideas to scale? And the reason I asked that is not just a retrospective for yourself, but there are a number of people who are seeing more opportunities in thought leadership in their work. And what advice would you give to someone starting on the journey today?
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, so there’s probably two components that maybe you just alluded to them. One is, is confidence. You know, have confidence in in things that you see, things that you’re starting to understand in ways that that you think others need to understand them. So once you start investing time and energy into those topics, you actually find out that’s a great way to add value. A lot of people see things that they don’t do anything about, so just practice. It’s a skill to buy the. It’s a skill of identifying and researching it and then articulating how do you how do you explain it in a way that someone can understand it and that they come away moved? Right. That’s a skill set. So start practicing that early and just be confident in your ability to do that, your ability to see. But the second thing is, and I like I’m still trying to learn this one, which is scale, scale. Everything has to do with scale. I don’t care how good research is or how great a paper is written, those are insignificant in the ability because ultimately the only reason we do any of this is to try and move people, try and make a difference, train people that get people to see opportunity or see challenges in new lights. The only way you’re going to do that is by getting ideas out and letting them run free in the wild. And they don’t do that in a PDF on a website.
Bill Sherman Absolutely. And I would add to on that sense of scale, break down the next steps so that it’s a simple next step for them so they know what to do. Because one of the barriers to say scale has been, Oh, that’s a good idea, but I don’t know what to do with it today. And so it goes into the junk drawer, metaphorically in the kitchen where it’s like, Yeah, there’s a bunch of good ideas, but I don’t know what to do. So they’re there and I’ll go focus on what I need to do.
Kasey Lobaugh So I love that one of the things we’ve done is I call it we created these board game cards. So imagine, imagine if how to get this into play was a board game. And on each card I’ve got different ways to get it into play. You could make the no risk offer. You could send the PDF, you could, you know, you could offer up a free workshop. All of those are just different ways. And what we’re discovering is there’s a lot of different ways to get this into play. And we’re trying to your point is like, I don’t know what to do with it. Well, here’s a stack of 15 different ways to get it into play. And we actually, you know, distribute them as if they’re playing cards. You know, you just open up the stack and you can interact with these and learn because that’s really the trick is no two clients are the same new two situations. No, two relationships are the same. We have to arm people with options of getting engaged in conversation.
Bill Sherman And when you had those conversations and this goes back to a point that you were talking about earlier, the comfort and confidence to have that conversation, even if they weren’t the ones doing the original research. And so, what is a tell in my mind, especially if it’s a face to face conversation, is does the person have the spark in their eye when they’re talking about the topic? Because that can’t be faked. You can’t fake the enthusiasm and the clarity and confidence with that.
Kasey Lobaugh Yeah. And that actually takes investment on behalf of the person that wants to go have the conversation.
Bill Sherman Oh, totally, totally.
Kasey Lobaugh You have to do you have to put in the time now you got to put it in a year because we did years’ worth of work. We’ve got a compendium of research and articles and we’ve summarized so many things yet, but you still have to spend the time. There’s no way to fake that. There’s no PowerPoint deck in the world that will make you legitimate on that topic. So, we try and encourage people and we try and find those people that are interested. We try and tell the stories that cause people to go, Well, why am I not doing that? Why am I, you know, and a lot of this is storytelling. A lot of it is finding success stories and telling them over and over again until people are like, okay, you got me.
Bill Sherman Kasey. I think you and I could continue this conversation for a long time, but we should stop here. So I want to thank you for joining us today and sharing not only the work about buying in to better, but how it came to be and how you’re bringing those ideas to the world.
Kasey Lobaugh I appreciate the opportunity to talk about it. It’s been a fun journey.
Bill Sherman If you’re interested in organizational thought leadership, then I invite you to subscribe to the OrgTL newsletter. Each month we talk about the people who create, curate, and deploy thought leadership on behalf of their organizations. Go to the website OrgTL.com and choose “Join our newsletter.” I’ll leave a link to the website as well as my LinkedIn profile in the show notes. Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the show.