Slack = Collaboration + Communication

Recently Croixstone Consulting joined Industrious Charlotte and our fellow coworking companies on a newly launched Slack Channel. We are enjoying the opportunity to build community through the enhanced communication the channel provides. Launched in 2014, Slack is the fastest growing business application in history, and the company boasts 9 million weekly active users and 50,000+ paying companies including 43 companies from the Fortune 100 list. Slack, a cloud-powered team collaboration and communication tool, is capable of bringing together team communication and giving everyone a shared workspace where conversations, decisions and work are organized and accessible. Additionally, Slack’s App Directory allows users to find apps and integrations including Dropbox, Google Docs, and Salesforce to name a few. You can even order Domino’s Pizza through Slack and book your next hotel room with an emoji on Slack.

  • Learn why Fast Company thinks Slack is one of the most innovative companies of 2017 here.
  • Find out why you should Slack it up for workplace collaboration and communication here.
  • Built on a game foundation, read more about why Slack can’t slow down here.

Croixstone is On the Move!

We are thrilled to formally announce the relocation of Croixstone Consulting from our start-up loft in South End to Industrious Charlotte in Uptown. When Croixstone initially opened its doors, we intentionally selected the loft space in South End for many reasons, including its robust history as a center of innovation and entrepreneurialism. South End is home to the nation’s first gold rush, attracting men and women to the Queen City, and in 1926, a pioneer snack company born from an innovative idea of pairing creamy peanut butter with crackers made South End its home. In the early 1990s, the corporate headquarters for Lance Crackers was converted into mixed-use space which kick-started the revitalization of the South End area. Innovation, entrepreneurialism and revitalization mirror the values our maverick consultants deliver to our clients.

Our selection of Industrious in the Bank of America Plaza building as Croixstone’s next home is also intentional. The dictionary definition of industrious captures the spirit of our firm. We are a tribe of industrious, forward-thinking individuals tackling industry challenges and propelling companies forward. Our consultants understand the importance of questioning the status quo and diligently culling through the issues to solve complex problems and advance critical outcomes.

In February 2017, Forbes wrote an article about the Industrious formula for productive coworking spaces. The parallels between our beliefs at Croixstone in a balance of serious business + fun and Industrious’ formula for productive coworking were too coincidental. Our move to Industrious allows us to continue to expand and grow, while surrounding ourselves with other companies, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, working just as hard. The move also allows us to extend an invitation to our consultants to drop in and work in a vibrant, professional community as the need arises. Click here to read more press about Industrious.

Freelancing in America

Did you know that 36% of the U.S. workforce are freelance workers?  This equates to 57.3 million workers earning an estimated $1.4 trillion annually. By 2027, the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance, according to findings in the “Freelancing in America Study: 2017” released in mid-October. The study conducted by Upwork and Freelancers Union defined freelancers as “individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, project- or contract-based work.”
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To learn more about freelancing in America, check out the following:
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  • Click here for a complete guide from entrepreneur.com to the highest-paying jobs, companies, freelance jobs and more.
  • Prepare for the future as a freelancer by following these 3 tips here.
  • Want to quit your job to go freelance?  Here is a list of 10 skills that are in hot demand now.
  • Are we all fated to become “solopreneurs”?  Read here about the four key criteria needed to stay competitive and successful as freelancers.

Re-Envisioning the Future with Generative Design

Could the current manufacturing, distribution, assembly and maintenance processes become obsolete in the not too distant future?  Today, we take a look at generative design as an innovative approach to thinking outside the box when it comes to design and its implications to manufacturing.
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At Croixstone we are inspired by mavericks…those unconventional thinkers who can see past conformity and who can accomplish what others say can’t be done.  Generative design has the ability to generate unconventional design options that go beyond our imagination alone and can be used to create everything from running shoes, earbuds and airplane partitions, to a revolutionary approach to designing the office space and buildings of the future.
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So what is generative design? According to Autodesk, a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, “Generative design is a technology that mimics nature’s evolutionary approach to design. It starts with your design goals and then explores all of the possible permutations of a solution to find the best option. Using cloud computing, generative design software quickly cycles through thousands—or even millions—of design choices, testing configurations and learning from each iteration what works and what doesn’t. The process lets designers generate brand new options, beyond what a human alone could create, to arrive at the most effective design.”  To better understand what generative design is all about, click here for a short video.
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  • Learn how generative design and additive manufacturing (i.e., 3-D printing) is changing the manufacturing world here.
  • Check out how generative design could radically transform the look of our world here.
  • Delve into a new world of highly efficient products made by generative design here.
  • Take a sneak peak into the first large-scale generative designed office here.

Books That May Change Your Life

Did you know that one of the core habits that highly successful people have in common is reading?  Socio-economist Randall Bell spent 25 years studying success and found that, “Those who read seven or more books per year are more than 122 percent more likely to be millionaires as opposed to those who never read or only read one to three [books].”  Reading is not only a great source of knowledge and inspiration, but reading reduces stress and feeds your imagination.
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Billionaire Warren Buffett has been known for saying that a single book, The Intelligent Investor, written by Benjamin Graham changed his life.  In Buffett’s 2013 annual letter to shareholders he stated, “Of all the investments I ever made, buying Ben’s book was the best.”  Now, Buffett spends up to 80% of his day reading.  Billionaire Richard Branson once stated that the book that changed his life was Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. “I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the book. I’ve never really wanted to grow up and I’ve always wanted to fly!”
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Maybe one of the books from the below links may change your life!
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Check out 24 books successful people read here.
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Learn about 9 books Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett think you should read here.
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Looking for a great business book?  Check out the latest Financial Times & McKinsey‘s book list for 2017 here.
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Finally, here are 13 must-read books on success according to the Young Entrepreneur Council.
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Here’s to your next great book!

Gaining a Competitive Advantage Through Predictive Analytics

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to predict the future? According to a recent Harvard Business Review webinar, companies, governments, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and universities are using the power of big data, new technologies, and analytics to predict whether we’re going to “click, buy, lie, or die.”
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So, what is the difference between forecasting and predictive analytics? Forecasting provides an estimate to anticipate trends for a large group over time, while predictive analytics goes much further and is focused on predicting the behavior of a single individual. For example, forecasting might provide an estimate of the total sales for a particular product line next quarter, while predictive analytics tells which customer will likely buy the product. Major industries such as Banking and Finance, Retail, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas Utilities, Government, E-commerce and Travel and Hospitality embrace predictive analytics to boost sales, improve operations, reduce risks, and gain a competitive advantage.
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  • What is Predictive Analytics? Learn the about the process, applications, software and more here.
  • Read how to convert analytics into action here.

Trends Shaping the Consulting Industry

In the 2017 Management Consulting Outlook report prepared by Greentarget, a strategic public relations firm focused exclusively on business-to-business organizations, the global management consulting market has been growing revenue approximately 4 percent annually over the past few years. As the most mature market, the U.S. market grew 7.7 percent in 2015 to reach $54.7 billion, up from $50.8 billion in 2014. The global management consulting industry is now delivering an estimated $150 billion in revenue, and the growth trend is expected to continue, with the U.S. accounting for nearly half (44 percent) of the global market.
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We at Croixstone know it is important to keep abreast of the many forces and trends shaping the consulting industry. Demand for change as result of disruptive technologies and competition from new market competitors continues to drive investment in consulting.  What else is new in the consulting industry?
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  • Learn more about the who’s who of the consulting world in 2017 here.
  • What makes a great consultant?  Here are 10 attributes required for long term success as a consultant.
  • Read here about five consulting technology trends in 2017 that are more than buzzwords.

Sustainability in Business

On September 7th, the results of the annual 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America were announced, and both Duke Energy Corp. and Bank of America Corp. made the list for their focus on environmental, social and governance issues. Like Duke Energy and Bank of America, companies continue to change their business models as a result of sustainability opportunities.

Sustainability is all about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations. Instead of today’s linear ‘take, make, depose’ economic model, companies like Hewlett-Packard, who recently unveiled the world’s first printer with closed-loop recycled plastic, and Procter & Gamble, with its ongoing focus on creating a new method to recycle plastic for reuse, are helping to drive the circular economy concept of ‘return and renew’ as part of their approach to sustainability in business.

  • Is it time to tie executive compensation to sustainability?  Learn more here.
  • Learn more sustainability in today’s business world here.
  • Read about the circular economy concept here.

Welcoming Week

Welcoming America returned to Charlotte on Friday, September 15th, for a week long series of events to celebrate National Welcoming Week. The events during Welcoming Week are focused on bringing together immigrants and U.S.-born residents to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone – including new Americans.  Croixstone’s founder, Mark Weber, is Chairman of the Board of Directors for ourBRIDGE for KIDS, a nonprofit afterschool program for immigrant and refugee children here in Charlotte that provides an inclusive and welcoming environment.

During Welcoming Week, ourBRIDGE is opening its doors and inviting the community to the inauguration of the organization’s new afterschool center in east Charlotte on Sunday, September 17th from 3 – 6 p.m. at 3925 Willard Farrow Drive, Charlotte, NC, 28215. The public is welcome to attend!

  • Learn more about ourBRIDGE for KIDS here.
  • Read about ourBRIDGE for KIDS’ new home and partnership with Aldersgate here.
  • See how ourBRIDGE for KIDS won Amazon’s #TickSaveMyCity contest here.

Agile For Business

Back in 2001, seventeen people at The Lodge at Snowbird met to talk, ski, and relax, and what emerged was the Agile ‘Software Development’ Manifesto.  Those seventeen individuals may not have predicted that the agile methodology would now go well beyond IT and impact all areas of business.

As agile becomes more and more popular, business teams across a broad range of industries and functions are continuing to adopt an agile approach as a wide-ranging global business strategy.  And, big businesses aren’t the only places where agile is flourishing.  Small businesses and startups are also benefiting from embracing agile strategies and mindsets.

  • Learn about the secret history of agile innovation here.
  • Read how to make agile work for the C-suite here.
  • When it comes to scaling agile, learn how the devil is in the details here.
  • Finally, read about changes required to make your organization truly agile here.