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How to be innovative

Don’t be someone who asks “what happened?” — make things happen. Change your attitude, and you’ll find that things really can improve. The next year is full of opportunity, and it’s yours if you want it!


With almost 200 video clips on my site, people have been asking me to organize them into manageable chunks.

I’ve finally found a great tool that will help me to do that — the SmartSlider from NextGen. Here’s a quick set of quick clips about innovation — enjoy!

I’m covered in the January / February issue of an Australian publication, Think and Grow Rich. It’s oriented toward franchise operations. Enjoy!

 The Power of One
from Think and Growth Rich
January/February 2014

TGR14_CurrentIssue

Notes Jim Carroll: ” look around and I just see a countless number of methods by which a franchisee can run the business better, grow and transform their business. And that’s what innovation is all about!”

Despite a small slump in figures during the Global Financial Crisis, franchising has come out of the mire relatively unscathed and in fact the numbers for franchisors and their franchisees are looking very healthy. TGR looks at what the franchise sector can expect as we embed ourselves in the 21st century.

Many top companies, from Disney to Visa, have hired futurist Jim Carroll to speak about his views on the future. So it is interesting to hear his views about franchising. He told Multi-unit Franchisee, “There’s nothing to fear really, if you view future trends as being full of opportunities rather than as a threat. I find that many of my clients think about future trends and think, ‘Oh, this can’t be good, it’s going to be pretty difficult to deal with.’ The first step with getting into an innovative frame of mind is to think of every trend as an opportunity, not a threat.

“So let’s think about a few of them. Consider social networks; there are huge impacts on how consumers perceive, interact and provide feedback on brands. Obviously, if you don’t pay attention to the trend, it can turn into a big negative for you. But if you get involved, engage the new consumer, and continually experiment with new ways of taking advantage of this new form of interaction, then you are doing the right thing.”

Carroll went on to say that to be successful you must keep up-to-date with current trends.

“There are just so many opportunities to grow the business. We’ve got all kinds of new location-intelligence oriented opportunities – people walking around with mobile devices that have GPS capabilities built in. Think about instant couponing apps that might encourage customers to drop in and purchase something. There are new methods of getting the brand image out there; we’ve seen so many franchise groups with successful viral videos. For restaurant franchisees, there’s the rapid emergence of the new health-conscious consumer and opportunities to reshape the menu to take advantage of that. I look around and I just see a countless number of methods by which a franchisee can run the business better, grow and transform their business. And that’s what innovation is all about!”

In Australia, the outlook is just as optimistic and there are many entrepreneurial franchisors taking this kind of innovative approach that would make Carroll proud. For instance, the Franchise Food Company led by Stan Gordon launched its Gives Back campaign in August 2013. The initiative hopes to help a number of local community groups and initiatives by donating a total of $10,000 to a variety of causes over the next 12 months.

Gordon says the program will provide much-needed support to charities and community initiatives, to help many Australians who have been met with adverse circumstances or might be doing it tough.

“Cold Rock is all about giving people a reason to smile. The campaign is for anyone and everyone who’s working hard to make a difference in their community; whether you’re supporting a local sporting team, raising money for serious illnesses or fighting to save a historic landmark, we want to hear from you so we can help you along the way.”

The unique and inclusive initiative, housed on the Official Cold Rock Ice Creamery Facebook page, offers charities and community groups four opportunities to receive a one-off donation of up to $2,500.

Community groups and individuals are asked to submit an application detailing why they need a helping hand via the Gives Back Facebook Application.

Running over the coming 12 months, Cold Rock hopes to assist a variety of organisations with meaningful donations and build on the strong history of giving that Stan Gordon and Cold Rock has developed through years of community involvement.

It’s a unique use of social media and a great marketing tool, as well as a community initiative.

Meanwhile, the FFC continues to acquire strong franchise brands. The company’s latest acquisition is the iconic Trampoline brand, which fits nicely into the treats niche along with Mr Whippy, Cold Rock, Nut Shack and Pretzel World. FFC is unique, but like any franchise business, systems are crucial and will remain so, no matter how many years we move forward.

Pacific Retail Management is one of the largest franchise companies in Australia, with ownership of Go Sushi, Wasabi Warriors and Kick Juice Bars.

Part of its success is its systems management. Julia Boyd is the project and marketing coordinator. She says, “Pacific Retail has implemented strong operational systems to assist their franchise partners at every stage of training. Travelling operational team members continue to visit all national stores throughout the year and stay for up to a week or more to assist the business. They help to improve sales and are heavily involved with the franchise partners and any issues they may have.

“Support can also come from fellow franchisees in the group who are experiencing the same things and working towards the same goals. When franchisees work together towards a common goal, you can achieve great success and a cohesive team.

“Being part of a franchise network also means assistance and guidance from industry experts with the set-up of the business. This can include help with site selection and brokering of the lease with the landlord; financing through franchisors relationship with lenders and major banks; expedited process from initiation of agreement to store opening; and ultimately the sale of the store including finding a buyer.”

Of course franchising won’t be for everyone. With the advent of social media and vast new ways to reach clientele, the model will become easier to manage and far more sustainable. However there remains a lack of independence.

“Some prospective business owners are put off franchise networks and prefer to remain independent to avoid such established systems with little room for individual creativity, having to adhere to the operating systems in place and the initial payouts including franchise fees and training and marketing launch costs,” Boyd says…


Excerpted from an article originally published in the February/March 2014 issue of Think & Grow Rich Inc. magazine. You can access the Web

 

Here’s a new clip — I’m challenging the audience to move away from a tactical role to a strategic role, as part of their focus on innovation — and to confront the innovation killers that can cause organizational sclerosis!

Part way through, you’ll notice I do a live text message poll to get my audience thinking about the attitudes and issues that are holding them back from pursuing opportunities.

Learn more about my text message polling during my keynotes here — it’s a very effective tool whether in front of an audience of 50 or 7,000!

 

Plastics Today, Chicago, September 9 —The competitor who could threaten your company’s livelihood or industry’s relevance 10 years from now might not even exist today.

2013MMAChicago

A keynote on the trade show floor at PLASTEC Midwest, Design & Manufacturing Midwest, ATX Midwest, Pack Zone, Quality Expo, and MD&M Chicago ….a pretty diverse group!

That hard truth about the pace and scale of change in technology came from Jim Carroll, author and futurist. Carroll delivered the opening address at the Tech Theater presentation forum presented as part of UBM Canon’s collocated advanced technologies shows at Chicago’s McCormick Place, including PLASTEC Midwest, Design & Manufacturing Midwest, ATX Midwest, Pack Zone, Quality Expo, and MD&M Chicago.

Carroll polled attendees, who filled the allotted seating and spilled over into a standing crowd, in real time, having them text answers to questions. He noted that at conferences with CEOs, the older generation might be unaware of how to text or Tweet an answer. When he conducted the same experiment at a high school, however, 297 of of the 300 teenagers in attendance replied within 30 seconds, laying bare the generational technology gap.

Jim Carroll, futurist and author, described the best practices of world-class innovators. That demographic difference in how technology is embraced was one of the key points Carroll described between world class innovators and everyone else. “That’s the next generation,” Carroll said of the high schooler’s who always have a mobile device at the ready. “That’s the generation that’s going to change the manufacturing industry,” Carroll said, adding that fully one half of the global population is under 25. “The next generation thrives on change,” Carroll said. “They’re wired, collaborative.”

Will it be survive, thrive, or die?
The fact that industry is dealing with upheaval is not new, Carroll said, pointing at past economic crises ranging from the oil embargo to the dot-com bust. Those times of challenge have a way of winnowing the competitive field. Carroll said studies of those periods show that 60% of companies survive, albeit barely; 30% die off; and 10% become breakthrough performers. The 90% that just endure but don’t accelerate growth have a syndrome that has become prevalent in recent years, as the economy haltingly climbs out of the great recession. It’s a condition Carroll has dubbed “aggressive indecision.”

The companies that can overcome indecision will still be faced with a much faster decision making process. “World class innovators have adapted to the speed of Silicon Valley,” Carrol said, using the medical market, and advent of gene-based preventative medicine as an example. “10 years out, 20 years out, the world of healthcare will be turned upside down,” Carroll said. “Today, we fix you after you’re sick; 20 years from now, we’ll treat you for what you will have based on your genes.”

As Silicon Valley has taken over the formerly laborious and prohibitively expensive process of DNA sequencing, the speed of development has gone up while costs have gone down. Carroll noted how it cost $3 billion to sequence the first human genome, but by the end of this year, the cost is forecast to be less than $1000.

Find opportunity
Carroll called on attendees to alter their competitive viewpoint. “When world class innovators look out and see a new trend,” Carroll said, “they don’t see a threat; they see an opportunity.”

Before finishing his presentation, Carroll called on those in attendance to take advantage of their time at the show. “Walk the show floor,” Carroll exhorted of his audience. “Find three ideas that you can implement to help get your company out of a rut.”

(This is a long post. Trust me, it’s worth it, with lots of fascinating photos from magazines in the 1920′s and 1930′s. Credit needs to be given to my wife Christa and son Willie for doing all the scanning and Photoshop work that went on behind the scenes to make this work; it’s not easy to pull this stuff together. Check out my son’s photography company, wcfotography.com. Highly recommended!)

(And for those who ask, yes, I can send you high resolution scans of any of the articles referenced below, within reason).

For the last 20 years, I’ve been in the business of helping to shape how people think about the future. I’ve got some pretty unique clients; thrilling keynotes in front of 7,000 people in Las Vegas and a talk for 25 CEO’s in St. Andrews, Scotland.

But so far, nothing compares to the extraordinary bit of fun I had when I was invited to spend a day speaking and working with some of the top leadership, scientists and researchers at Nasa’s Goddard Space Center. What a day — I knew it would be special when my son Willie and I came through the security checkpoint for a big welcome on the main entrance signboard:

NASA's Goddard Space Center welcomes Jim Carroll, where he hosted a number of discussions around future trend and innovation in the context of the changing business models of the space industry.

NASA’s Goddard Space Center welcomes Jim Carroll, where he hosted a number of discussions around future trend and innovation in the context of the changing business models of the space industry.

When NASA first approached me to come in and talk about future trends and innovation, I was kind of ‘gobsmacked” to say the least. As I noted in a pre-planning conference call with the group arranging to bring me in, “how could I possibly help them? These are really smart people!” (This was not my first talk for NASA though; I previously spoke to a group of astronauts, mission directors, launch controllers and other folks down in Texas a few years back…)

The answer came to me quickly, however, and provided the context for my talk: the business of space is changing. And it’s changing faster that we or they might think. 5, 10, 15 or 20 years out, it is quite likely that the buisness of space will look nothing like it does today. And so folks at NASA Goddard — and every other legacy space organization, need to innovate, change, and adapt to the new world we find ourselves in.

That would be over-arching theme throughout my keynote. I spent a lot of time going down that path during my talk and subsequent discussion with their team.

But enough of that for now! Let’s talk about how I opened my talk about the future for a group of people who spend their time conceiving, designing, building and hurling very complex objects into deep interplanetary space and near-earth orbit.

How could I grab their attention in the first five minutes? By taking them back to 1920, and the dawn of the space age — and the story of a real innovator in his own time!

I pride myself on the research and customization that I do with my talks. And so unfolds the story of how I opened my talk this June, in front of an absolutely extraordinary group of people. Why not start with where it all began — at the dawn of the era of spaceflight, and the innovation voyage of Robert Goddard himself! And so I took my audience back to the 1920′s and 1930′s. The era in which it seemed that science fiction was just that – science fiction.

And so I began with some relevant stories about the future — by digging out some coverage about the future from magazines such as Popular Mechanix and Popular Science from the 1920′s and 1930′s. (How’s that for research!) (Click on any picture for a full sized image. They are quite extraordinary.)

The storyline I then followed with my audience at NASA took them on a voyage at what people were thinking about at that time. In the 1920′s and 1930′s, the world was automating at a fast pace. Science fiction was everywhere. And with this rapid change came concern that technology and science just might go too far — as found in this particular piece:

ManDoomed

But at the same time, there was a belief that the future, enabled by fascinating scientific and technological developments, would lead to a new era of leisure! We wouldn’t have to work, because machines would do the work on our behalf!(This theme emerged again in the 1960′s with the arrival of computers …… “computers would do all the work for us, leaving us with a 2-day work week!” was the sentiment of that time!)

MoreLeisure

There were fantastic predictions — sometimes wrong, or perhaps not yet realized — such as ‘pulling power from the skies.”

PowerFromTheSkies

But these magazines about the future were quite often correct; consider their predictions from 80 years ago that foresaw today’s LCD projection screens (“television shown in theatres“), fax machines (“newspapers by radio“) and DVD’s (“home movies from phonograph records.”)

Heck, one of the magazines even predicted the ban on the use of cellphones during flight — “do wild radio waves cause air disasters?”. Check the caption on the picture below at the bottom of the page:

ModernMechanix2

Of course, at the same time that the folks who wrote these glorious publications dreamed big about the future, they quite often veered into the implausible. Perhaps one day “monster insects might rule the world!” At the same that mankind was in awe of the future, there was fear and concern about where it might take us. (Heck is it any different today, 80 years later?)

MonsterInsects

Indeed, there was quite often a thread by skeptics — one article making the proposition that most of what people were talking about in terms of future trends simply would not come true! This particular article focused on the concept of rocketry, and noted a wide variety of  “….scientific objections to fantastic projects such as transporting a human being to Mars….”

ScienceFictionWon'tComeTrue

Why the skepticism? Because back in the 1920′s, there were a few lonely visionaries proposing that mankind would be able to leave the bounds of earth and explore beyond. We would see “Daring Rocket Men!” flinging themselves to the heavens!

RocketMen

 

There was belief that this could happen! At one time, Popular Science ran the cover story with humans travelling to space in a rocket-ship! Have a look at the cover again.

PopularScience

In this issue, a particularly lonely visionary made his case for space exploration based upon rocketry. None other than Robert H. Goddard himself!

RocketingToTheMoon

The artwork with the article imagined a future space capsule — with ‘liquid oxygen’, ‘thermos bottle insulation’, ‘rocket openings in the side to steer the car!”

FutureRocket

My opening message to NASA Goddard? Robert H. Goddard, the rocketeer for whom the Center is named, was an incredible innovator. He was ahead of his time. As the father of rocketry in the US (with a Russian counterpart Konstantin Tsiolkovskii and German rocketeer Hermann Oberth both pursuing similar ideas at the same time), he was shunned, ridiculed, and portrayed, quite simply, as someone “not of their right mind.

After all, on January 13, 1920, the New York Times editorialized, in a reaction to a research paper published by Robert Goddard, that  “a rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”

My key point? Innovators are often treated with suspicion, derision, taunting. Their role, contribution and value is often misunderstood. It is often not till later that their accomplishments are fully recognized.

In that context, Robert H. Goddard often had to confront these demons, and would often challenge his own thinking; perhaps he was daring too much? In the Rocketing to the Moon article seen above, he commented that “I must confess I should have dismissed the thought of reaching the moon as merely another figment of the imagination of Jules Verne.” Yet as an innovator, he pursued his dreams and passions, as discouraging as it might have been.

On July 17, 1969, the day after the launch of Apollo 11, the New York Times published a “correction:”

Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th Century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.

Innovators focus. They challenge people. They stick to their belief. They know the value of their work. They dare not fall prey to the pounding drumbeat of negativity from skeptics who often know too little that of which they talk about.

That’s what innovators do!

My keynote continued from there. It was wonderful fun as I began to cover a wide range of trends that might shape the future of space exploration and commercialization. Along the way, I snuck in a few great pictures into my keynote. A key quote from Robert Goddard. A picture of Spock! Canada’s Legoman! Einstein!

Following my talk and discussion around lunch, my son Willie and I were privileged to receive an inside tour of some of the most fascinating research and projects underway at Goddard.

The Innovative Technologies Partnerships Office (ITPO) hosts meeting with Jim Carroll

I am blessed to have such a wonderful job!

I recently spent some time with Present, a leading Canadian IT firm, in  sharing my insight in a keynote and workshop with a group of key senior executives, focused on innovation.

The video highlight reel is here — it was a great event! The press release that Present put out after can be found below.

MONTREAL, May 23, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ – Present, an established firm of IT innovation experts was delighted to provide its customers and partners in Montreal and Toronto with an opportunity to hear from Jim Carroll, a recognized Canadian thought leader and authority on important business and IT trends.

Speaking to an audience of senior IT and business executives, the focus of Jim’s talk was to examine: What world class innovators do that others don’t. Jim challenged the audience to think differently about how innovation is approached “World class innovators recognize big trends are emerging quickly,” he said. “They embrace new ideas and ways of doing things and they don’t say, ‘that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard’.”

Carroll also emphasized how world class innovators get in on new emerging markets faster – and how they constantly think of the next thing to create revenue. Another key take-away was how world class innovators will shift entire industries. For example, the medical field used to focus on treating you when you were sick, now it’s changing to knowing when you will be sick, and addressing it.

For information about how Present can help your business become more innovative and profitable please visit present.ca/it-innovation.

About Present
In business for 22 years, Present is an established firm of IT experts with a unique and highly skilled team. Present believes innovation is a core driver of growth and their goal is to assist their clients in developing and implementing strategies and tactics to spur growth and profits. They provide solutions based on IBM hardware and software, Apple in the business solutions as well as Cloud solutions.

One of my favorite innovation phrases that I always use on stage or in a CEO off-site is “think big, start small, scale fast!”

thinksmall

So I woke up this morning and came into the home office, and was thinking about the “start small’ part of that phrase. And quickly jotted down a list of small ideas.

Here goes!

  •  do small projects: too many innovation efforts get bogged down, bloated, and blow up due to big scope and size!
  • celebrate small wins : not every innovation effort needs to be a home run
  • learn from small failures: I love the phrase fail early, fail often, fail fast; you can do that better if your project is small
  • scatter your team for small exploration: there is so much going on in so many industries that is so tiny but has huge implications, you’ve simply got to let your people explore!
  • reframe the idea of small: put into perspective how small changes can have a big impact
  • look for small winners: for example, there are tremendous innovations in manufacturing concepts with small manufacturers — learn from them!
  • give a small bit: in an era of open collaboration and global insight, giving back some R&D can be a good thing
  • seek small heroes: in the global economy, there is probably a small 1 or 2 person company who is doing exactly the cool, innovate thing you need. Find them!
  • establish small decision groups: destroy committees; if there has to be one to make a decision, limit it to 1 or 2 or 3 people.
  • focus on the power of small: one person can change a company, an industry, a country, a world!

Of course, my ideas aren’t original. The original concept of small perhaps came from the greatest advertising campaign of all time — for the VW Beetle, Think Small.

It’s a powerful concept. And while I was writing this post, I was looking for an image related to that campaign — and came across this ad from a small California design firm — one that extolls the power of their smallness.

It’s right there : “Small teams work best.”

In my case, the entirety of my career as a global keynote speaker, futurist, trends and innovation expert is that it’s me, and my wife, and a small home office that is plugged into a great big world. From here, I serve up insight and guidance to a vast range of global organizations, associations, CEO’s and leadership teams. Thinking big, starting small, scaling fast.

Perhaps the real secret to succeeding in a world where the future belongs to those who are fast!

 

Last week, I had a fascinating session with a leading financial services firm.

The client wanted to book me for a keynote talk for 5o members of their member service team, in order to take a look at future trends in terms of interaction, support  and relationships.

Live interactive planning during a workshopSome of the issues on the table involved the type of thing that I cover in my post, for Financial Advisors and Financial Organizations” href=”http://jimcarroll.com/2010/01/14-key-innovation-strategies-for-financial-advisors-financial-organizations/” target=”_blank”>14 Key Innovation Strategies for Financial Advisors and Financial Organizations, among many other trends. This was kind of a unique client situation, and so there was a lot of additional research undertaken.

But the client didn’t want to limit themselves to an overview of the trends and opportunities for innovation — they wanted a fun, lively interactive session.

And boy, did I deliver!

We ended up with a 3 hour session. Into the middle, after covering trends and innovation opporutnities, I led them into a discussion of two key questions:

  1. What will be the biggest change in the relationship with the typical existing member within 5 years?
  2. What will be the biggest change in the relationship with a new member in 2 years?

There were 10 tables of 5 ; they were given 20 minutes to discuss these two questions.

I then led a round table discussion, asking each table to provide their best, unique answer, with a little discussion around those answers.

But here’s where the fun part came in — I then loaded the 10 unique answers to each question into a text message poll, and had the room vote on both polls. And so what bubbled to the top was some pretty unique insight into what could be the major key priorities that they need to focus on in the future.

It actually worked extremely well, and was quite a bit of fun! If you are interested in exploring a way to kick it up a notch for your next leadership meeting, let’s have a chat!

And take a look at my outline on CEO/Leadership meetings for some additional insight.

A great little interview featured in Credit Suisse’s global publication, Bulletin, in which I offer up my thoughts on innovation and future trends.

I talk about knowledge growth, hyperinnovation, and a variety of other issues.

Consider my comments on the growth of knowledge:

“It’s the foundation of what will happen in every single industry, every market and every type of profession. Let me give you an example that will put this into context. In the health care industry, it’s estimated that medical knowledge is now doubling every eight years. That has a myriad of impacts. There will be a rapid emergence of new medical technologies and methodologies, pharmaceuticals and treatments. And, no medical professional can possibly know everything there is to know, so we are seeing huge fragmentation in terms of every type of medical career, and that fragmentation will continue. Knowledge growth has a huge impact on that industry, and I believe it will carry over into every industry.”

I also offer up my definitiation of innovation:

Most people think of Apple iPod when they are asked to give an explanation of innovation. People think innovation is limited to new product development. It’s much more than that. It’s having an organization where everybody, from the CEO on down, is always asking: “What can we do to run the business better? What can we do to grow the business? What can we do to transform the business?” The only way to stay ahead of the game is through constant innovation with those three fundamental questions.

If a company gets into that line of thinking there are huge opportunities for innovation. It can start with its business model, to its business processes to staffing methodology and to customer service. We can also innovate with the type of insight we use to understand how quickly our markets are changing. 

You can read the full article by clicking on the image or grabbing the PDF here.

Earlier this year, I was invited to open the Southern Gas Association in Austin, Texas. In the room, I had about 800 of the most senior executives in the natural gas industry in the US, including utilities, distributors, exploration companies, producers and suppliers. It was a pretty heavy duty crowd. This was one of several high profile events I led off in the energy sector — I was the opening keynote, for example, for the 2012 Accenture International Utilities and Energy Conference.

At the close of my talk, I reframed the concept of innovation for the group:

It’s a great little synopsis of how you can rethink the concept of innovation – run, grow and transform the business!

Through the years, I have hosted or spoken at a number of innovation awards shows. Last week, I keynoted another one – the 14th Annual KIRA Awards. They celebrate the knowledge, communication and information technology industry in the province of New Brunswick, Canada.

In a post about another innovation award presentation I was involved in, I commented on why innovation awards are so important: “… they celebrate the heroes who are still busy innovating, staying ahead, and positioning their organizations for the future – because they know that trends like these will provide for significant market and business opportunity in the future.”

The KIRA Awards were tremendously well done – I’ve done previous events in Nebraska, Chicago, and even a video taped presentation for the Deloitte South Africa “Best Company to Work For” awards …. but this was truly a remarkably professional production. And what I witnessed in the city of Fredericton that night was something that was truly magical. An entire community of business leaders, entrepreneurs, government officials (the Premier was there), educators and others who believe it is tremendously important to celebrate innovation in a big way.

You should think about doing this too.

  • Some really nice hardware!
  • Hollywood style – ramp up the excitement!
  • I’m on stage before the awards presentation doing some live audience polling…
  • The winner of the 14th Annual 2012 KIRA Awards
  • Here we are for another photo-shoot before the post-awards show cocktail bash!
  • I’m looking out at the audience from the stage, and thinking, “innovation awards are truly awesome!”

 

(Photos by Lucas Roze, Enterprise Frederiction, used with permission)

If you are serious about innovation, you should set aside a big budget. Go for Hollywood production values. Invest in some real hardware.

And celebrate the innovation heroes! Put them on a pedestal. Make them stand out. Make some noise! Show them off!

Why? Because this just might help to build your innovation culture faster than any other way. It’s a rocket fuel for innovation. It helps to frame the importance of focusing on the opportunities of the future through innovation, rather than bemoaning the challenges of the past and slipping further and further behind.

What is going on in the Province of New Brunswick is one of the most successful, motivated and innovative hi-tech communities I have ever seen. Anywhere. These folks would put some entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to shame. And I think it is the spirit such as found in the KIRA Awards that helps this community to accomplish great things.

A few years ago, when I wrote a series of trend predictions for the year 2010, I wrote that this type of thinking would be very big going into the future. Here’s what I said:

  • American-Idolatry : People love competition, they love winners, and they relish the battle! Everyone is learning that if they are to succeed in the future, they have to appeal to the new base of hero-worship that comes from our new awards driven society. Everywhere I go, I see companies who are far more willing to celebrate and elevate heroes. DHL holds an annual innovation day which includes an award ceremony with partners who have worked with them on innovative ideas. Deloitte South Africa hosts an annual “Best Company To Work For’ survey and combines into it an elaborate awards ceremony. The future of workplace and partner renumeration is all about the red-carpet, the spotlight, and the celebration of success!

So do this now. Walk down the hall to see your boss. Ask for a budget of $100,000 to put on a big innovation awards show.

Think big. DO BIG.

The future belongs to those who are fast.

I recently discovered that I was quoted in one of the Phillipines major business journals, BusinessWorld, n an article, “Biggest Business Innovations Engines of Innovation” published back in February.

It’s always great to see the media pick up on a few of the key themes that I am always trying to hammer home to people — there’a s lot of very simple and basic guidance, that often seems so obvious, that can help organizations get on the right path with their innovation efforts.

So it is with the two points that are referred to in this article.

They picked up on two key themes that I often focus on, and it’s worth pointing them out:

Stagnation will also buy a company a quick ticket out of business. According to futurist and innovation speaker Jim Carroll, the most original firms and industries are those that experience very high velocity, or a lot of fundamental change at a fast pace. For them, this is a necessity in the face of various trends and challenges – whether it’s to address shorter product life cycles, to keep up with ever-changing customer expectations, or to collaborate with a partner organization and leverage their skills.

Taking notes from firms that evolve at such a pace is one way to rekindle that creative spark. Curiously, Mr. Carroll has noted that these sources of inspiration are often found in completely different sectors from one’s own.”

I’ve often suggested that companies try to deepen their creative pool, either by studying innovation in completely dissimilar industries, and event o the point of hiring people you don’t like. Otherwise, you can simply get stifled with the sameness that comes with unoriginal thinking. I’ve even suggested to people that rather than going to the same old conferences every year, they should pick one or two events from entirely different industries in order to site their creative juices.

  • 10 great innovation ideas – “hire people you don’t like” 
  • Article – Re-energize your association – Listen beyond the grassroots 

I also find that too many organizations get caught up in fads when trying to innovate. Certainly that is true right now with social networking; while it is certainly important, I think too many are jumping in without a clear idea of what they are trying to do. This was referred to in the article:

On the other hand, Mr. Carroll has warned against blindly pursuing the latest innovation trend, a common trap he has called “bandwagon innovation.” If taking the hip approach ends in failure, it can derail any creative progress the company has made so far.

By then, employees may become too disillusioned and burned out to try out the next “in” strategy. A company’s real free-thinking workers are not compelled by the “slogan-based management” that comes with bandwagon innovation, and will hardly be enthused when they see their execs following the crowd.”

 I’m also referring to situations in which I’ve seen a company or organization form a special innovation team. They start up their project, go into a special room — and everyone wonders, ‘what’s up?” This fails because it makes innovation special; it makes it seem like it is something you do once as a project; it is just wrong on so many different levels. Innovation is a corporate culture — an attitude driven from the leadership that continually challenges everyone to ask themselves, “what can I do to run this better, grow the business, and transform the business.”

  • 10 surefire ways to destroy innovation – Form a secret committee 

 

I was a keynote speaker in San Diego last week for the PSCU 2012 Senior Leadership & Member Forum. I was honoured to be following Captain Mark Kelly, NASA astronaut, onto the stage.

Need to think a bit more about opportunities from innovation? Read my “Masters in Business Imagination Manifesto!”

The conference is attended by senior executives of credit unions from throughout the US.

My keynote, built in close consultation with the client, focused on key three points related to the overall theme of innovation:

  • it’s urgent that credit unions focus on innovation right now
  • it’s important that as they do so, they re-evaluate the concept of what they believe innovation to be
  • it’s critical that they take on a large number of experimental projects oriented towards innovative thinking, and that they do it now

Putting each of this issues into perspective explains my thinking:

Do it now: The world of financial services is faced with unprecedented change — the impact of mobile banking, the transfer of wealth to a new generation who thinks about financial management in entirely different ways, the emergence of new competitors. The list goes on and on. That’s why it important that credit unions establish a culture in which innovation is a priority, in order to keep up with and take advantage of the trends swirling around them

Reframe the concept:  Many organizations fail at innovation because they don’t really understand what it could be. For many people, they think innovation is for cool people who design cool products that change the world: call it the “Apple effect.” But for years, I’ve been reframing innovation from another perspective that helps to open up the minds of people as to its opportunity.

Innovation is a culture in which the leadership and the entire team continually challenges themselves with three questions: what can I do to run the business, grow the business, or transform the business?

There’s a good video clip that you can watch on that theme, “Rethinking Innovation”  

A few years back, I was interviewed at ProfitMagazine, and had this to say about the concept of innovation as I see it:

Profit: So Jim, one of the frustrating things that I find with the term innovation is that people often equate it with only product development.  So what’s your definition of innovation?

Jim Carroll: It’s absolutely true.  I Call it the Steve Jobs iphone innovation problem.  Everybody hears innovation, they think of the iphone, they think about iPod, they think about Apple and they think that’s all that innovation is, you know, coming up with cool products.  To me, it’s about much more.  It starts out with a fundamental presumption, it doesn’t matter what your business is or what industry you compete in, you’re going to be faced with more competition, more challenging customers, your business model is probably going to be subjected to greater changes.  You’ve got issues in terms of cost input, you probably finding your top line, your revenue line is being subject to the pressure.  You’ve got all kinds of challenges being thrown at you.  And from my perspective, innovation is coming up with a lot of unique ideas, whether it’s around your business model, whether it is around the manner by which you compete, whether it’s around your structure, whether it’s around, you know, the methods that you use to compete in your market place, whether, you know, nothing to do with your skills, I mean, it’s everything.  It’s simply, you know, taking the mindset that that my world is going to change on a continuous basis and I am going to make sure that I have a constant stream of ideas as to how I can keep up and how I can deal with those trends.

Experiment – a lot: There is so much changing the world of banking and credit unions. Technology, social networks, new competitors, the emergence of the digital wallet — you name it, and there is an absolute flood of ‘new stuff.’ World class innovators continually establish a regular series of projects by which they can build up their experience with the stuff that comes from the idea-flood. The more experience they build up, the more “experiential capital” they create. I’ve argued that going into the high velocity 21st century economy, “experiential capital” will become as critical if not more important than financial capital.

I actually spoke about the concept of “experiential capital” when I was the opening keynote speaker for the annual general meeting of the PGA of America – it’s worth a watch.  

Suffice it to say, if you rethink innovation in terms of these three basic concepts, it will help you deal with a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast!

The folks who publish the newsletter The Watercooler: Straight Talk on Strategic Issues” liked a blog post I ran a while back and asked if they could reprint it.

I said sure – in fact, I encourage anyone to reprint materials they find on my site (with permission, of course.)

Click on the PDF and have a read … feel free to share it around.

Jim Carroll: "As I dig into the culture and attitude of a client through interviews with the CEO and other team members, I’m always mystified to find that some organizations just seem to do everything they can to shut down new ideas. Here are some points to consider to find out if your company is on the way to killing innovation."

You can access the full current and back issues of the Watercooler online — it makes for a great read. 

A few years ago, right around the approach of the New Year, I wrote a blog post that I called ‘10 Great Words.”

Since that time, this inspirational post has become one of the most heavily tracked pages on my Web site; it also happens to provide the structure for the closing of most of my keynotes on stage.

In a few other years, I’ve updated the concept with other lists of inspirational words, and the meaning behind them. It’s always been a good way for me to clarify to my readers, and to my audiences while on stage, what they should be thinking about if they truly want to embrace the future and be an innovator.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about the words that might inspire people as they go forward into 2012. I’ve obsessed over this for quite some weeks now. I just haven’t been able to hit the right note.

And then while at the gym yesterday, and right after an interview for a newspaper in Sarajevo, the words for 2012 hit me like a torrent. Here’s what I think you should be thinking about as we go into a new year :

  • optimism: 2012 promises to be a year of volatility – economic, political, social. I suspect it will be easy to lose sight of the future and maintain the focus that you really need to innovate and stay ahead of volatility. To do that, you need the right mindset — you need to be eternally optimistic! I am – I think that’s why I thrive in what I do. So make this your first step for 2012 — be grounded in optimism!
  • perceive: make sure you understand the trends that surround you and what they might mean, and how they can build your optimism. Take the time to perceive where we might be going in the future in terms of your career, industry, company or skill set, and think about what it means.
  • opportunity: to be optimistic with future trends, you must have a sense of how these trends will define your opportunity — the  third key word. The world is full of opportunity — if you choose to find it.
  • attitude: add those three thoughts together, and you get to the fourth key word. Your success in 2012 will really come from the attitude that will carry you forward. Remember, some people see the future and are filled with fear. Others see the same future, and see nothing but hope!
  • focus: of course, to maintain your optimism, you need to filter out the noise. You will be continually slammed by raging headlines related to the economy and all the other things that might go wrong. Stay focused – don’t lose track of your optimism; don’t let noise cloud the opportunities; don’t let volatility reshape your attitude!
  • passion: do these things, and you are well set for the future. If this is the case, then you need to make sure that you develop a huge amount of passion for the opportunities that you see, and the activities and actions you intend to pursue.
  • embrace: so you are in the right frame of mind, see the opportunity, and are filtering out the noise, and are excited about the future. Great — now you can embrace the opportunities for innovation and the future trends that surround you. Establish a goal, set a plan, and make sure you embrace this plan!
  • experience: this means that as you begin to focus on innovation, you’ve got to make sure that you experience a lot of things that you haven’t tried to do before. That means that you must build up a lot of experience in areas where you lack previous involvement. Experience is a great word — the more you build up, the better you are positioned for the future. I call it experiential capital – explore that concept throughout this Web site.
  • rebound: of course, if you are going to try to do some things you haven’t done before, you are bound to fail at a few of them. That’s where the word rebound comes in — pick yourself up, don’t focus on the failure, and try again!
  • thrill. In my original 10 words, I closed off with the word “enjoy.” On stage, it’s often my last comment, as in “if you follow these 9 words, you get to the 10th most important of all, and that’s enjoy!” And that’s why for 2012, I still think the same thing holds true — if you adopt these 9 words, you’ll get to the 10th most important word of all — you’ll enjoy the thrill, as I do, of embracing the future and being innovative.

Remember – some people see a trend and see a threat. Other seem the same trend and see nothing but opportunity.

We’ll see you throughout 2012!

 

Video: The Innovation Killers
November 30th, 2011

Here’s a clip that I had out on Youtube, but realized that I had never worked it into the blog. It’s a quick clip on the “innovation killers” — the attitudes and actions that some people posses that manage to stifle innovation within an organization.

10 Enemies of Innovation!
November 22nd, 2011

I had a conference call with a client yesterday with respect to an upcoming leadership meeting; I’ll be helping the organization think about some of the barriers they have towards innovation, and what they need to do to overcome these challenges.

One of the worst enemies of innovation are the "innovation killers." Click the light bulb for a great list of the attitudes and phrases that can shut down innovative thinking in your organization.

As we were talking, I scribbled down a short list of some of the issues that I was identifying with them.

  •  tradition. Some organizations are too caught up with the past, which causes them to lose sight of opportunities for the future.
  • culture. Often corporate culture can stifling, if not deadening. Some build up an organizational sclerosis which eventually clogs up their ability to try to do anything new.
  • organizational memory. It causes people to focus on the past instead of the future.
  • bureaucrats. Their job is simply to shut down ideas, get people to fill out forms, and reduce the everyday work experience to a series of mind-numbing tasks.
  • stock markets. They cause too many senior executives to spend their time thinking about short term hits that can keep the stock price up, rather than working on the big bets that can provide for transformative opportunities. No wonder so many organizations are going private!
  • job descriptions. They reduce the role of people to a narrowly defined set of activities and small goals. I’ve encountered few organizations where innovation success is actually enshrined into the job description, let alone the HR reward system.
  • mission statements. They can be a great thing to give everyone an overall sense of purpose. On the other hand, most organizations don’t update and refresh them, which means that in many cases, the mission statement has nothing to do with what the organization actually needs to be doing.
  • strategic planning. Some organizations get so caught up in the process of strategic planning that they never get beyond the planing statge. Where do you think the phrases “analysis paralysis” comes from — organizations who are busy analyzing things as part of their planning process!
  • lone wolves. They’re often folks who can lead innovation, since they can have the brilliant ideas that are the spark for greatness. On the other hand, they can become so blinded by their belief that they refuse to accept the ideas and insight of anyone else, forgetting that collaboration is often at the root of all great innovations.

That’s a short list of some of the enemies of innovation – there are lots more!

If you want to known why you need to speed up your organization, spend a bit more time staring at an iPhone — or for that matter, any Apple device that you might happen to have in your home or office.

Think about the fact that Apple now masters such a torrid pace of product development that 60% of its’ revenue comes from products that didn’t exist four years ago. Then ask yourself if your organization could do the same thing.

Many of the organizations who bring me in for a CEO level leadership meeting, board retreat or staff event want to focus on a message that revolves around the idea of ‘how can we innovate faster.’ They recognize that increasingly, they too are becoming like Apple, in a world in which they must continually reinvent their products and services to stay relevant to their customers, or simply to keep up with the pacesetters in their industry.

With that context in mind, watch this video from a recent keynote in which I talk about the how innovators align themselves for this world of fast-paced innovation by taking advantage of what I call the “big global idea machine.”

 This is a great story, since it demonstrates how organizations are realizing that we are in a world of ever accelerating scientific velocity, driven by global collaboration, increasing speed with pure and accidental research, the impact of a global ‘tinkering’ culture, and other factors which are speeding up the discovery of new knowledge.

New knowledge drives new innovation — and its’ by learning to tap into new knowledge that you can accelerate your innovation cycles.

That’s where an increasing number of organizations have been engaging me — to help them understand how to speed up their knowledge ingestion capabilities. They know they have to do this because the shelf life of the product or service that they have in the marketplace is continuing to decrease at an often alarming rate. And in some industries, products are obsolete before they get to market. (Just ask HP with its’ new Tablet product, which was abandoned shortly after being brought to market!)

Think about that for a moment: we now find ourselves in a period of time in which innovation and change is occurring so quickly that the very concept of a product lifecycle is beginning to disappear. And just as product lifecycles collapse, so too does the half life of knowledge and the relevance of skills. It’s only by picking up the pace of reinventing that knowledge and skills that you can get ahead — and one of the ways to do that is through the “global idea machine.” Hence, people are focused on open innovation, global innovate idea sourcing, new forms of collaboration, and other methods to generate insight and knowledge faster — to speed up the process of R&D.

Whether I’m dealing with a company driven by rapid change in the  medical, scientific, financial, mechanical or engineering knowledge, one thing is clear: the knowledge that a organization needs to succeed in the future  is becoming infinitely more complex every minute, with a constant, relentless flood of that which is new. And from my perspective, the story of the Apple is becoming increasingly common — as every organization is driven by the same rates of change that are enveloping this global giant.

The bottom line is simple:

  • the ability of obtaining rapid, instant knowledge generation is becoming an urgent necessity in almost every field of endeavor;
  • the ability to quickly digest, understand and assess new knowledge is an increasingly important skill – one that not a lot of organizations have mastered;
  • the ability to reformulate our thinking, assumptions and capabilities to respond to the constant change being thrust upon our organization is of increasing importance

In a nutshell, I coined the phrase “just in time knowledge” over a decade ago to describe the nexus of these realities. In the world of hyper-change represented by the Apple iPhone, it’s clear that we are already there.

Just in time knowledge involves a form of continuous learning that is instant, fast, and urgent. Think about situations where a need for JIT-knowledge is evident:

  • Some estimates suggest that medical knowledge is now doubling every eight years. Rapid advances in new methodologies, technologies, treatments and methods of care evolve at a furious pace. In such a world, medical professionals can’t be expected to know everything there is to know within their particular field of endeavor. The new reality going forward for doctors, nurses and any other professional is that these professionals are increasingly forced to go out and obtain new knowledge, just at the time that they need it. The same holds true for pharmaceutical companies, medical device technology manufacturers, and anyone else remotely involved with health care.
  • Sales based organizations are quickly discovering that furious rates of hyper-innovation in their marketplace require a sales force that is extremely adaptable, agile, flexible — and quick to understand the potential of new markets. If a product has a life of about six months in the marketplace, an organization can’t afford to waste any time in preparing to assault the market. The result is that there is an ever increasing need for sales based organizations gain deep, rapid insight into the sales potential of a new product line, while discarding the knowledge and understanding they have of the old product line.
  • Mechanical engineers continue to see rapid developments in manufacturing methodologies, as well as a need to quickly master the art of managing ever more complex global supply chains. With increasing sophistication and agility in the manufacturing process, every engineer involved in process automation must have the ability to quickly gain insight and intelligence into leading edge issues associated with plant design, construction, automation, assembly, robotics, and all kinds of other complex topics.

The reality going forward? If an organization is to succeed in the future, it must be a master of the ability to succeed with just-in-time-knowledge.

Are you ready for the world of just-in-time knowledge? Here’s what you should do to answer the question:

  • Undertake a knowledge turnover assessment. The first thing you need to do is get an accurate picture of just how quickly the issue of just-in-time knowledge is becoming a critical success factor in your industry. How quickly does new knowledge expire? How quickly is new knowledge generated? And what does this suggest to you in terms of the knowledge replenishment role that you need to master?
  • Consider the risks and opportunities. What happens if your company doesn’t adapt to this fast paced new reality? What’s the downside? Now is a good time to frame the future in terms of bold contrasts, and in terms of the cost of inaction.
  • Envision the future. If your organization excels at just-in-time knowledge, what will they be doing in 2015? 2020? How will their role have changed? What might they be doing day to day on January 15, 2015, compared to what they are doing today? And what you will, as their knowledge mentor, have done to have helped them make the transition?
  • Educate your leadership and staff. I’d hazard a guess that few of your executive team are even thinking about the issue and challenges that come with just-in-time knowledge. If they aren’t aware that it is an issue, they likely aren’t aware that their future opportunity and success will come from mastering this critical new corporate capability. If they don’t know about the challenges that lie ahead, educate them now.
  • Prepare a road map and adjust your strategy. Attaining the objective of having an organization master just in time knowledge promises to be a long, complex and arduous task – but what an opportunity! Start to rethink everything you do in terms of your new just-in-time knowledge role – whether in your board meetings, strategy sessions, or leadership discussions, and you’ll find that everyone is thinking the same thing: we need to start working to prepare for it now.

Many people don’t know how to think big — how to envision bold news ideas. In this clip from Las Vegas, Jim talks on stage in Las Vegas at a major manufacturing conference, about he challenged an auto company to think bigger by thinking about Google as a potential competitor. He uses this as opportunity to talk about the impact of future trends — particularly 3D manufacturing — upon industry and manufacturing.

The world of manufacturing is in the midst of a huge trend — we will witness the emergence of 3D printing and an inevitable shift to “additive manufacturing” from subtractive manufacturing based on “cutting, drilling and bashing metal…”

A few days ago, the Smart Blog on Leadership wrote a blog post covering my recent keynote at the IMXchange manufacturing conference in Las Vegas. It drew quite a bit of attention on Twitter, particularly the vein having to do with my concept of what holds back a lot of innovation  efforts.

Some of the Twitter retweets began to focus on the section in the post which concentrated on my idea that what holds back a lot of innovation is a culture of “aggressive indecision.”

This is a topic that I’ve been writing about and speaking about on stage for well over a decade — indeed, since the dot.com bust more than a decade ago!

I’ve actually got the video clip from the Las Vegas keynote available on this blog — watch it here — and you’ll see the comments that the SmartBlog on Leadership picked up on.

In addition, I thought it might be a good time to pull tout an article that I wrote way back in 2003 about aggressive indecision. It made sense back then — it seems to make even more sense today given increased economic volatility. There’s valuable lessons you might use to challenge yourself as to whether you or the organization you work for is suffering from this malady.

Paralyzed by indecision? Just do it; Fear of the unknown has made doing nothing the new reality in business. Here’s how to stop spinning your wheels
18 July 2003, The Globe and Mail

You’ve been providing clients with a project quote every quarter — and when you decide to finally press them to close the deal, they are shocked to learn that you’ve been doing it for 2½ years.

You have a new initiative based on a key business trend that is still on the list of “things to deal with” — long after the trend has gone supernova and disappeared.

You finally decide to upgrade some of your significant business systems — only to learn that you’ve waited so long that the software you plan on purchasing is already out of date.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s the new reality in business: aggressive indecision.

Corporations have lost their sense of direction. In the nineties, people had a sense of purpose, a desire to get things done. “Nobody knows where we’re going, but we’re making great time” could have been the catch phrase. Well, now no one knows where they are going, and they sure are taking their time getting there.

Quite simply, people have decided not to make decisions — and they like it. The result is a economy in which everyone seems to be stuck in a rut, unwilling and unable to move forward.

Why is this happening? In part, fear of the unknown. Executives are afraid to make decisions because the next unforeseen event might prove to have negative consequences. Combine this with the current focus on cost-cutting, a disastrous number of ill-advised decisions in the past decade during the investment bubble and increasing corporate scrutiny as a result of ethics scandals, and you’ve got a general reluctance with many executives to do anything new.

The fact is, our confidence in the future has been shattered. Corporate nervousness has become the watchword, with the result that everyone is taking the easy way out: Deal with uncertainty by doing nothing.

What should you do to deal with this new reality?

First, look for the warning signs: a business mindset that is adverse to any type of risk; an absence of any new product or marketing initiatives; or an organization that is stuck in a rut, wheels spinning, and no one has decided even to call a tow truck.

Second, realize that aggressive indecision means that you’ll likely have to respond to external pressures faster than ever before. That’s because while people have learned that they can hold off until the very last minute, they are also learning that they can still get things right. This leads to a business cycle that involves extended periods of frustrated waiting, followed by a blur of activity as organizations rush about to respond to the customers’ demands for instant action.

Third, be prepared to change your corporate culture and work processes. You can’t get mad at your clients for waiting for 2½ years and then making a decision with a demand that you be there tomorrow. Don’t let it lead to an expectation gap — when your customer lives with aggressive indecision and you are still geared up to perform and deliver at the slow and steady pace that might have been appropriate in the past.

Finally, make some decisions. Remember what it used to be like when you had the courage to do something? Let’s call it the decision adrenaline rush. It’s good — and it can be addictive.

Want to test it? Find the one big decision that you’ve been deferring the longest, and decide one way or the other. Right now. Didn’t that feel good? Try it again — immediately. See? Isn’t that an amazing feeling?

You might not have made the right decision, and something could go wrong — but at least you’ve decided to start moving forward, rather than spinning your wheels in the mud. Battle aggressive indecision and you’ll find that you’ll gain back control over the future.

If your company is in the indecision funk, there is hope:

  • Recognize the problem. Aggressive indecision can be an addictive vice, and like any other thing that isn’t good for you, the first step is recognizing the problem.
  • Accept that uncertainty will continue to rule our economy. Making decisions in a vacuum has become one of the most needed corporate skills. Sure, things could go wrong as soon as you do, but that’s the way the world works today. The important thing is that you are again working to define the future, before the focus on an uncertain future does you in.
  • Accept the inevitability of change. Back in the nineties, people believed that we would see a lot of change in the business world. But now, with all that has gone wrong, it has become far too easy for people to convince themselves that they won’t be challenged by new business models, competitors or innovation. That’s a dangerous attitude to carry around, and one that can also help to doom you to a state of inertia.
  • Watch trends and react appropriately. Now is not the time to let your radar down. Fact is, while you might be suffering from active inaction, your competitors might not, with the result that you are almost guaranteeing yourself some sort of surprise in the future.
  • Redefine goals, establish priorities and set targets. Companies mired in the mud of aggressive indecision are often directionless, drifting. They’ve lost sight of the need to constantly innovate and establish new directions, with the result that most staff don’t feel any compelling sense of urgency for change. Fix that in a hurry.
  • Re-examine your business strategy. For the past several years, organizations have primarily focused on cost-cutting, and yet taking the knife to operations can only go so far. Restate where you plan to go in the next several years, and communicate that vision and direction to your staff.

If your clients or colleagues are suffering, you can:

  • Share the risk. If it is the uncertainty that is killing many a business deal, see what you can do to minimize the fear.
  • Be clear about the potential downside. If they aren’t making a decision, then why not be more open about any potential problems? If there are risks in the deal, be up front about them.
  • Clearly define the benefits. In an economy in which accountants rule the future, with every expenditure under the microscope, you’ve got to outline the benefits and return on investment clearly.
  • Scare them into action. If they are stalling, then put into perspective how their peers, competition or others in a similar position are moving ahead. People hate to be left behind, and if you can provide information on how others are charging ahead it might spur some momentum.
  • Be prepared to move on. Sadly, some people have become so bogged down with aggressive indecision that it might be time to cut your losses. If an existing client seems unlikely to do anything, then maybe you’d do better spending your time opening doors to new clients.
  • Don’t give up. Continuing aggressive indecision within your client or customer base can drive you to distraction. A continuously negative message can dissuade you. In times like these, you must constantly battle the negative energy that aggressive indecision can place within you.

The natural human inclination when faced with something that is uncomfortable is to turn away from it — lingering uncertainty is the root cause of our aggressive indecision. But we can’t afford to do this any longer — our careers, our companies and our future depend upon our ability to cope with a world of constant change. We’d better get used to it and take the time to learn the skills — and the attitude — that will help us to thrive in this era of uncertainty.

More information:

  • Watch: The recent Las Vegas keynote clip that inspired the CPI post  
  • See the original newspaper article on aggressive indecision (cool picture) (PDF)  
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