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When it comes to the future of education, it's all about "just-in-time knowledge" .... about 50 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge activities within the decade” -- Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll has been the keynote or leadership speaker for a wide variety of major education clients and conferences, including the annual Institute for Credentialing Excellence Conference • American Society of Testing Professionals • James Madison University • Pearson CITE National Education Conference • Cengage Learning Corporation • College Board Colloquium • Pearson Global Marketing Conference • University of Oklahoma • National Association of College Stores • Texas College & University Professionals Facility Managers • McMaster University • Blackboard Systems • Moorehead State University • Maine Technical College System •


Microsoft runs one of the largest training and certification communities in the world, related to its Microsoft Developer program. And they certainly “get knowledge” ; indeed, I often use a quote from the organization that outlines their belief that in the future, half of GDP will be generated from knowledge acquisition and education.

One of the observations from Jim Carroll during his keynote: "How do we test and certify people for jobs and skills that don’t exist yet?"

One of the observations from Jim Carroll during his keynote: “How do we test and certify people for jobs and skills that don’t exist yet?”

That’s why I was thrilled to see that they had some representatives in attendance for my opening keynote in March for the Association of Test Publishers ; folks who manage such things as SAT and LSAT tests, and scores of technical and professional testing programs. I had about 1,000 folks in the room.

Microsoft just ran a blog post over their at their “Born to Learn Training and Certification Community” blog with their thoughts on the conference ; near the end, you’ll find their observations on my talk, which I think offer up a pretty good summary of what I spoke about on stage.

At the end of this post, you’ll find a lot of links on how I view the future of knowledge. Click on the running dude on the right for my thoughts on ‘The Future of Knowledge!”


The Changing Face of Certification, by Liberty Munson – Microsoft

The key note speaker was Jim Carroll, a futurist and author, who spoke at length about the need for our industry to look at the accelerating rate of change around us and embrace it so that our businesses are well positioned for the future.

He repeatedly said “The future belongs to those who move fast.”

Here are some of the challenges we face in the testing industry given that knowledge is being refreshed at an increasing pace and is quickly outdated:

  • How might the acquisition of knowledge be measured in a way that’s both timely and relevant?
  • How do we stay ahead of change? How can we be proactive rather than reactive? How do we keep our assessment content in line with those frequent changes?
  • How do we test and certify people for jobs and skills that don’t exist yet?
  • Today, learners want real-time knowledge ingestion based on video offerings, such as YouTube, Khan Academy, etc. because they have a desire for continuous knowledge replenishment; how do we continually update our offerings to meet this demand?

This session underscored our industry’s (training and certification) need to adapt to the lightning speed at which technology changes and how those changes are affecting our students’ and test takers’ expectations about training and exam content. As I mentioned, this theme/conversation/concern re-asserted itself through many of the sessions as testing organizations struggle with how to manage

  1. the rapid speed with which knowledge and skills become obsolete, and;
  1. the impact that instant availability of information has on candidate expectations (known as “finger tip” knowledge–we don’t have to know the answer…we just need to know where to find it online; in fact, research shows that if someone knows they can find the answer later, they have more difficulty remembering it but have a good memory for how to find it!).

Along these lines, more organizations are looking to gamification (game-based exams) as the next big thing in testing because it can be very engaging and new entrants (in most cases, these are those young whippersnappers just starting out in a field) are largely engrained in the gaming universe in one form or another. I find this concept intriguing and am trying to figure out how Microsoft might apply it to our certification exams. Clearly, there are many hurdles in the implementation of something like this, but the notion of gamification in terms of certification may be one way to start thinking differently about what certification means and what exams might look like.

To me, the conversations around the future of certification are the most intriguing as we explore how to meet the demands of the future and embrace the speed at which technology changes things. After all, “the future belongs to those who move fast.” What do you think the future holds for certification? Where do we go from here? What do you think changes? What stays the same?

If knowledge is doubling every eight years, no single person can keep up with it. That fosters greater fragmentation of skills, and thus greater competition in the marketplace for niche-oriented skills.

I’m working away at preparing for a keynote for an ice-cream and dairy company today. Not that this has anything to do with the topic of the “future of knowledge.”

But going through some old slide decks while preparing, I came across a list I used a year ago for a keynote that summarized my thoughts about the “future of knowledge.”

I’ve written extensively about all of these topics online or speak to them at various keynotes, particularly in the education sector. In essence, we’re living in a period of time that is witnessing these trends unfold at blinding speed, all related to the evolution of knowledge.

  1. Rapid knowledge obsolescence
  2. Rapid knowledge emergence
  3. Disappearance of existing careers due to 1)
  4. Rapid emergence of new careers due to 2)
  5. An ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment because of 1-4
  6. The migration of knowledge generation further away from academia (i.e. community colleges, high end manufacturing skills) because of the need for faster new knowledge deployment
  7. A massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation
  8. The fast emergence of new micro-careers because of specialized knowledge
  9. An economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment
  10. A fundamental transformation in knowledge delivery

Putting a little more detail on these trends? A few years ago I addressed a prestigious groups of educators on this theme. Here’s what I covered. All the quotes are verbatim from my keynote.

1. Knowledge is growing exponentially. For example, the rate of discovery based on research into gene variants for common diseases is increasing rapidly: One or two were discovered each year beginning in 2000; thousands were discovered in 2007. “This knowledge reorients the entire medical system, from one where patients are treated once they are sick to one where patients are treated for what they are likely to develop as a result of their genetic makeup.
The volume of medical knowledge is doubling every eight years, and similar changes are occurring in other trades and professions.”

How is the fundamental business model of education challenged by exponential growth? Should it continue to focus on providing a fundamental body of knowledge over four years of higher education and then send graduates out into the world? Or should it be doing more?

2. The foundation of knowledge generation has changed. Academia was once the home of most of the fundamental research that occurred in the world; a majority of new discoveries took place in the world of higher education. “Higher education is no longer the central force in the generation of knowledge There are different terms for what has replaced it: peer-based knowledge, community knowledge or the infinite global idea cycle. For example, in terms of renewable energy and green technologies, some of the research and development is occurring in the world of academia, but it is also occurring in the global idea machine. Ten years ago, knowledge generation was based on peer-review journals (a slow, careful and deliberative process) — but today, backyard tinkerers are plugged into a global network of peers. The impact of this trend is that the rate of scientific discovery speeds up; the new way leads to much faster innovation.”

What is the role of traditional academia in the era of community knowledge? How should the business model change to respond to this new reality?

3. The velocity of knowledge is accelerating. The typical video game makes 60 to 70 percent of its money in the first four or five days after it is released. Everything is focused on maximizing revenue at the beginning. The next generation of televisions, LED televisions, is expected to have only 18 to 24 months to maximize revenue before they are obsolete and replaced by the next generation of televisions. “Ideas can go from concepts to an industry literally overnight. Anyone can put an idea out into the global idea machine where someone else can grab it and build on it. Knowledge is being impacted by velocity.”

All areas are affected; for example, in construction, new methods, new materials and new priorities, such as eco-design, are changing the way buildings are built. In every profession and career, the ability to keep up with new knowledge and to act upon it defines success. College graduates will encounter constant change in their work lives. Can education challenge itself to deploy knowledge faster? Or do we have a fundamental business model that is slow to react in a world that is quickly catching up?

4. Exponential growth of knowledge leads to massive career specialization. It increases the volume of knowledge workers are expected to have, and it speeds up the pace of developments that can impact careers. “If knowledge is doubling every eight years, no single person can keep up with it. That fosters greater fragmentation of skills, and thus greater competition in the marketplace for niche-oriented skills.”

For example, in terms of the trades, there is a huge volume of new technical knowledge to master. There is a niche for manufacturing engineers who understand all the new manufacturing methodologies and thus can help companies compete with offshore manufacturers. There is a need for manufacturing engineers who are “process transformation specialists,” focused on how to streamline an existing manufacturing process. “We are reaching a world in which everything around us is getting plugged into everything else. And as everything is getting plugged in, manufacturing is fundamentally changing.”

Is our future narrow in terms of what we deliver? Is our future wide? Do we focus on narrow niches, wide areas of knowledge, or both?

5. Fundamental structural organizational change is occurring. How we think about careers and jobs is undergoing a substantial change. There are unique ideas as to what constitutes a career. “Evidence of this shift is that baby boomers tend to ask, ‘What do you do for a living?’ while those under age 25 ask, ‘What do you like to do?’ Watch for this. The new generation prefers to get work done in odd hours, using BlackBerrys; they care less about structure. They define their lives not by what they do for a living, but what they like to do. It is a fundamental, significant transformation — and I don’t think we appreciate the depths of what it means in terms of the future of knowledge.

But it’s not just happening with them. There is a prediction that in the U.S., 60 percent of consulting engineers will be freelancers — nomadic workers for hire — making their specialized skills available to organizations on a just-in-time basis. Do you think a lot of Fortune 1000 companies will hire full-time employees after the current economic situation is resolved? No, because they will recognize the cost of employees in terms of health care and other long-term investment. Increasingly, American workers will become nomadic workers for hire. We are witnessing the end of the concept of the organization as we know it. As far back as 1987, an op-ed in the New York Times referenced a ‘world without walls,’ where corporations would hire people with specialized skills on a demand basis. What’s fascinating here is that we are seeing the development of the extreme specialist at the same time that we see the emergence of the extreme knowledge generalist. For example, “hospitalists”: People who understand all the medical specialists and understand how hospitals work; their role is to guide patients through the increasing complexities of the system. This career is expected to grow from the current 12,000 hospitalists to 130,000 by 2010. We have to acknowledge these two key trends — the fast emergence of niche skills deployment and the emergence of masters of generalization — to determine how to educate people to simply understand the high-velocity knowledge niching that is occurring in the world today.

6. By 2020 or sooner, it will be all about “just-in-time knowledge.”In a world of fast knowledge development, none of us will have the capability to know much of anything at all. The most important skill we will have will be the ability to go out to get the right knowledge for the right purpose at the right time.”

Last year, I was the opening keynote speaker for the 2010 International Association of Conference Centersl my focus was on the future of the meetings and events industry (in which, as a keynote speaker, I play a frequent role.)

Jim Carroll's thoughts on the future of the global meetings industry

I just found that they ran a report on my talk, and it’s a good summary of what I believe to be the key trends driving this industry forward. It was a fairly accurate overview, in that signs for 2011 are that by and large, many aspects of the global meetings and events industry, though still challenged, are bouncing back from their lows of 2009 and 2010.

—–

From IACC’s CenterLines Publication

Futurist Jim Carroll confidently assured his audience of IACC conferees that their bread & butter – face-to-face meetings – is not leaving the business landscape.

The words of his Thursday morning keynote were music to the ears of an audience that is battling business downturns. Carroll said he’d lived through five recessions and the thing they have in common is that they all are temporary.

What happens with an economic correction, even a significant one?” Carroll asked. “We always get to the point where we see articles about economic growth. The collective sense in this room is that we’ll see this happen in six months to two years. … We know how this movie ends.”

While acknowledging the wonders of evolving technology and the specter of developments not yet imagined, Carroll said the need to meet face- to-face is fundamental and will not be replaced.

New products are developed and updated with amazing speed, and how do you have a sales force that can deal with that continual flood without providing proper education?” he pondered. “Effective sales teams are built through sheer enthusiasm for a goal that comes from face- to-face meetings.”

Carroll pointed to an Australian study that predicted that 65 percent of preschoolers would eventually work in jobs and careers that do not currently exist. And, in any degree program based on science, because knowledge is evolving so fast, it is estimated that half of what somebody learns in the first half of the degree program will be obsolete or revised by the time they graduate.

The reality of the future of meetings is that learning is what most people will do for a living in the 21st century,” he said. “There will be a requirement to constantly replenish that knowledge, and a huge focus on knowledge delivery.

Carroll observed that Microsoft has suggested that in the coming years, 50 percent of U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge delivery. Progressive organizations will continue to bring people together to meet. Carroll ignores the purveyors of doom who say the meeting business is in a death spiral.

We’ve been there before. Remember the post- 911 buzz? Everybody was going to stop flying, stop going to hotels – it was the end of the event industry,” Carroll said. “People said it was the end of face-to-face. It didn’t happen then, and it isn’t going to happen now.”

Carroll suggested that constant re-evaluation and the quest for new ideas is key to staying ahead of the curve. Observing key habits and attitude, Carroll said that world class innovators …

  • possess a relentless focus on growth
  • move beyond the short term
  • constantly replenish revenue streams.
  • obsess over the concept of corporate agility
  • don’t fear the future; they just do the future
  • invest heavily in experiential capital
  • banish the innovation killers.

With a lot of university graduations and commencements, it might be a good moment and pause to think about a degree that colleges and universities should be offering their students. That’s why I opined a number of years ago that we needed to prepare people for a fast paced future by letting them enroll in a Masters of Business Imagination Degree.

MBI PDF

Grab the PDF to the right, and share it around. Here’s how it reads.

“In a time of rapid, disruptive change can be a death sentence – not only for organizations, but for the careers and skills of those who work there! It’s time to abandon the thinking that has had you anchored firmly to the past – and to shift your focus to the future, with enthusiasm, motivation and imagination.

You can do this by abandoning any pretense that the skills of yesterday will be important tomorrow. Figuratively and literally, it is time to move beyond the thinking that has led us to a world of MBA’s – Masters of Business Administration – and focus upon the critical skill that will take you into tomorrow. The world doesn’t need more administrators. It needs more MBI’s – Masters of Business Imagination!

What are the attributes? MBI’s:

  • see things differently
  • spur creativity in other people
  • focus on opportunity, not threat
  • refuse to accept the status quo
  • bring ideas to life
  • learn and unlearn
  • refuse to say the word can’t
  • accept challenges with passion and enthusiasm
  • thrive on diversity
  • challenge assumptions
  • are solutions oriented

Grab the Masters of Business Imagination PDF

Report: The future of education
November 18th, 2009

2009EduReport.jpgEarlier this year, I was invited to keynote a conference of leading US higher educators and academics at the College Board Colloquium. This is one of the leading educational conferences of the year.

The group has issued their report from the conference, and there is some pretty good coverage of the essence of my talk. Here’s a key quote:

The future of higher education is huge.” Carroll shared the following observation from Microsoft: “Probably about 50 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge activities within the decade.” Carroll then spoke about what is happening with “the knowledge economy.” The reality is, he said, that “American workers today, whether in a trade or profession, are in a situation in which the knowledge they have is continuously going out of date and needs to be continuously replenished. What is there to be concerned about when we have such massive growth potential?

In a nutshell, my perspective on the future of education (as found within the report) is that we need to rethink the context of “how we teach” in light of the realities that:

  • knowledge is growing exponentially’
  • the foundation of knowledge generation has forever changed
  • the velocity of knowledge is accelerating
  • exponential growth of knowledge leads to massive career specialization
    we are in the midst of a fundamental structural organizational and career change
  • By 2020 or sooner, it will be all about “just-in-time knowledge.”

What is this leading to?

  • rapid knowledge obsolescence
  • rapid knowledge emergence
  • disappearance of existing careers
  • rapid emergence of new careers
  • an ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment
  • the migration of knowledge generation further away from academia
  • a massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation
  • the fast emergence of new micro-careers
  • an economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment
  • a fundamental transformation in the role of educational institutions

In other words: much of the education structure that we have in place today doesn’t match the reality of what we really need to do, given the rapid change occurring in the fundamentals of knowledge.

More information:

  • Read Jim’s comments at the from 2009 College Board Colloquium by Jim Carroll
  • Read the entire reportNew Visions, New Voices for the 21st Century from 2009 College Board Colloquium by Jim Carroll

08EducationFuture.jpgI’ve been pretty busy in the education sector. Two weeks ago, I provided an overview of key education trends for the Board and senior academic team of a major university. Next month, I’ll be keynoting a conference with key leaders from Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt and countless other leading colleges and universities from throughout the US. I’ll also be spending time with the CEO and senior management team of a major player in the global education market.

All of these sessions have focused on the key trends impacting the world of education on a long term basis. It’s certainly a far-reaching topic – education twenty years from now will likely look nothing like what it does today.

Consider the kids in this picture. Most of them will work in careers that don’t yet exist; they’ll have multiple careers throughout their lifetime; they’ll constantly have to upgrade, enhance and rebuild their knowledge; they’ll find themselves having to grab new knowledge on a “just-in-time” basis. Providing for such a reality requires a fundamental rethinking a lot of the current assumptions that are fundamental to the education system.

Where do I start such sessions? By challenging the audience or CEO team to ask themselves this question — “what is the nature of the world our children will graduate into?”

I then build into that an overview of ten key trends impacting the future of education.

1. Rapid knowledge growth

As of late, I’ve been speaking “ever-growing sapiential circles” as the core trend that is driving rapid knowledge growth, and which is having the biggest impact on education.

The phrase comes from Warren Bennis, a distinguished professor, Southern California’s Marshall School of Business — he was referring to how the knowledge of a group tended to increase exponentially as new members were added to the group. What we are witnessing in the world today is a dramatic increase in our own human sapiential circles as a result of global connectivity.

Quite simply, we have connected the minds of people around the world who share an interest in a topic or issue — they become a sapiential circle. And the result is dramatic — for example, the amount of medical knowledge doubles every eight years; it is said that half of what an engineering student learns in their first year is obsolete or revised by the time they graduate.

As such, there are some fascinating issues at work here, with the key point being that teachers need to not only teach children knowledge, but they need to teach young people how they can continue to absorb new knowledge in the future.

In other words, we need to teach them how to learn. That’s why one of my favorite phrases continues to be “learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.”

2. Rapid career change

The rapid rate of knowledge growth is leading to rapid career change – - hence, the Australian observation that “65% of children in pre- school will be employed in roles and jobs that don’t exist today.” Given my understanding of change, I’d happen to believe that to be true.

I often work to ensure that educators understand that we must be prepared to engender a mindset that involves adaptability, flexibility; a mindset that embraces and does not fear constant change; a mindset in which they will view a future of constant change with wonder and awe, rather than concern.

Here’s an Interesting statistic — a survey of consulting engineering students revealed that most of them thought a long term career was one that lasted from 2 to 5 years….! The kids are already thinking about this — we can instill them with our wisdom and guidance as educators in order that they can do it right.

3. Rapid career extinction

Workers of the future will change jobs 19 times during their lives — and parallel careers become the norm as people extract themselves from professions that are becoming extinct.” That’s from the Daily Telegraph — and I think I’m already witnessing career extinction occurring all around me.

Educators need to know what is happening; how careers go extinct; how people survive extinction; and how they use extinction to thrive. Knowing this will once again help them in preparing young people to cope and thrive in a world of constant, relentless change.

4. Just in time knowledge

Related to this — I’ve often explained that the incredible challenges young people will face come from the rapid rate of change that envelopes us — and with so much change, we need to be prepared to learn darned quickly. Hence, we need to provide the skill of “just-in-time” knowledge” — I explain what it is, and why it will be so critical … and what the elements of “just in time knowledge” are, and how we can bring this idea into the classroom.

5. The challenge of globalization

I also explain that the rate of change is only going to speed up more as the BRIC and N-11 countries become more affluent, and take on more of a role on the world stage…..

This observation really does it justice — “Two decades ago, there were relatively few technology graduates from Chinese and Indian universities. Yet, those countries now individually award more science and technology degrees per annum than America” (“Will offshoring shift innovation’s frontier?” Electronic Engineering Times-April 2004)

Think about the impact! Suddenly, we are seeing the emergence of vast new numbers of people with scientific backgrounds — what this is going to lead to is faster discoveries, faster innovation — and even more challenges. There is a lot of new focus that is required to return certain economies to the forefront of scientific knowledge.

6. The impact of demographic issues

The end of retirement.” “Integrating Gen-Y into the workforce.” Two of my recent articles, and there are certainly education issues that flow here.

Consider, for example, the issue of adult continuing education — if it is likely that people will have to keep working past retirement, what do we do to continue to keep their knowledge evolving? Particularly given that a whole bunch of folks are going to find themselves needing to pursue new career and knowledge options given the recent economic meltdown.

7. Social / cultural change issues

Lots of interesting things going on here — in Australia, 80% of children are taken care of by their grandparents. The same trend is evolving in North America. The fact is that the very nature of the family unit continues to change — did you know that 2 out of divorces see the parent with the child moving back in with their own parents?

25% of British couples expect that they will be supporting their children into their 40′s — i.e. when their children are 40!

What is the impact of the changing nature of the family on the education system? Does the extended family imply unique, new economic challenges that might impact the demand for education? Are there new mentoring possibilities that can be pursued? That too is a good question to ponder.

8. Technological trends

I recently keynoted a conference on robotics and intelligent systems. I used this quote from a head researcher in Robotics at MIT: “In just 20 years the boundary between fantasy and reality will be rent asunder? Just five years from now that boundary will be breached in ways that are as unimaginable to most people today as daily use of the World Wide Web was 10 years ago“.

It would be fascinating to put into perspectivewhat’s coming here — and the impact this will have on learning and the classroom.

9. Thriving with multiple careers

In my own life, I’ve coped with massive change — I’m on my 4th career!

I’ve picked up all kinds of new skills through the years — I’ve kept myself going through thick and thin when confronted by new issues and challenges where I have lacked knowledge.

The biggest challenge for an educator can be wondering, “how do I keep up” — dealing with the velocity of change is critical, and adapting career skills at the same pace is an imperative.

10. A flexible delivery system

Agility and flexibility defines the educational organization of the future. As I note in the intro for my College Board keynote, “The “velocity” of knowledge is leading us to a world of “just-in-time knowledge”; the result being the reality that the relationship between educational institutions and students is set to change; primarily, from a period of short term, concentrated knowledge delivery, to one more related to the lifelong, ongoing replenishment and rejuvenation of knowledge. The challenge for institutions of higher learning is how to change their ingrained thinking, behavior, structure –and outcomes — to adapt to this reality.

This is tough one for institutions; changing a centuries-old system is very difficult. One of my favorite quotes that I use is that “Perhaps the only person who likes change is a wet baby.”

Yet change is inevitable, and I can certainly incorporate a good bit of discussion on attitudes to change, how to deal with change, and how to turn change into an opportunity.

2008Colleges.jpgI’m thrilled to learn that I’ve been selected as the opening day speaker for the College Board — and specifically, a chance to speak with some of the leading minds in the university and college scene in the US on the issue of the future of education.

The audience for this invitation only event, to be held in January 2009, includes the Chancellors, Presidents, and senior admission officers for the largest colleges and universities in the US, including Duke, Cambridge, Harvard, Vanderbilt and the University of Texas, among others.

The group gets together annually to examine the challenges and opportunities facing higher education. This year, they determined that it was a good time to take a good, hard look at the education trends that will impact them in the future.

That’s where I come in. My session description, recently written, addresses these issues:


The “velocity” of knowledge is leading us to a world of “just-in-time knowledge”; the result being the reality that the relationship between educational institutions and students is set to change; primarily, from a period of short term, concentrated knowledge delivery, to one more related to the lifelong, ongoing replenishment and rejuvenation of knowledge.


The challenge for institutions of higher learning is how to change their ingrained thinking, behavior, structure –and outcomes — to adapt to this reality.

What’s driving the future of education? At a fundamental level, ever more rapid scientific discovery; knowledge fragmentation due to rapid knowledge growth; massive skills specialization and ever more narrow career niches. Knowledge and careers are also being impacted by rapidly changing business models; increased volatility in industry; shortened careers (imagine 18-month micro careers); rapid emergence of new industries; more rapid knowledge obsolescence; and the rapid emergence of new careers.

In the last fifteen years, I’ve spoken to numerous groups on global education trends. Given that what we do in this area makes or breaks the future success of a nation, it’s a critically important issue — and I am honored that I will be able to share my thoughts with such a senior group of leaders.

futurecareers-sm.jpgWhether I’ve got an audience of 3,000 people in Vegas, or a small CEO-level meeting of 20 people, I always open with the same observation. It’s from an Australian study which concluded that 65% of the kids in pre-school today will work in jobs or careers that do not yet exist.

I then challenge people to think through the global trends at work which are making such a bold statement into a reality. And I often walk through the types of new careers that are emerging in every industry to emphasize the point.

So what are a few of these new professions? There are dozens: here’s five to start your day thinking about:

  • knowledge farmers: exponential knowledge growth, in part driven by social networking, is leading to information overload everywhere. KF’s are the uber-editors who immerse themselves in global data-feeds, extracting relevant knowledge and insight from data-torrents. They’re the new editors, and its their ability to apply their insight to knowledge-rivers that will place them in high demand.
  • location intelligence professionals: see my earlier post on this. I’ve been talking about this for years. These are the folks who are linking GoogleMap type data to existing business process and services, and who are building entire new global infrastructure on spatial information. This one is going to be huge!
  • mash managers: as innovation moves from the core to the masses, creative insight is emerging from those who learn how to take multiple new ideas, and input them into the innovation process. These people synthesize ideas from multiple sources, study markets, interpret insight, and decide how to re-evolve a product, service, brand, marketing campaign, or just about anything else. Their focus in “constant innovation,” and it’s their idea-immersive environment that drives them forward.
  • tactical controllers: in this wildly information-chaotic world, some people are busy searching for the next big thing. A new and very real profession emerges with those who step beyond the “minutiae-of-the-moment” and instead focus on providing tactical, strategic guidance on what-to-do-in-the-next-moments … they are the PR expert who knows how to steer the company through a global viral idea meltdown; the brand expert who knows how to re-energize a brand next week; the individual who studies what the global knowledge farmers are revealing, and who understands what to do next as a result.
  • analytical architects: the world’s big problems are being solved by those who are learning to throw sophisticated solutions at complex problems. These are the folks who will architect the smart-highway infrastructure; load-balanced two-way energy grids; just-next-week manufacturing processes for the era of the customization of one. They’ve combined an education in combinatory theory with big server farms to generate the new smart-infrastructure that is set to envelop us.

That’s a starting point. See your own new careers emerging? Let me know!

JimsBooth.jpgI’m one of the keynote speakers today for the grand opening of Virtualis, which bills itself as “the largest and most meticulously designed convention center in the computer-generated world of Second Life.”

Virtualis features ballrooms, breakout rooms, and an extensive trade show floor. I’ll be speaking in the Grand Ballroom at 4pm EST; my own “trade show booth” (pictured here) features links to my blog, books, and to streaming video from strategically placed video screens on the wall.

Will such “virtual worlds” come to play a role in the meeting and convention industry? The media seems to have been quite down on Second Life as of late; at one recent digital marketing conference, it was dismissed as a waste of advertisers time, and the biggest project sinkhole in the last year. (See The Client Side blog link below).

Maybe so. Maybe not. I don’t know whether that is true or not.

But I do know this. Ten years ago, we didn’t have a Google; five years ago, there was no FaceBook. New methods of interacting are emerging at a furious pace. Ten years from now, we’ll be in an economy in which organizations will have to figure out how to “deliver knowledge quickly.” I think we will see a wide variety of platforms and methods of accomplishing this — and that’s why I’m spending some of my time exploring the opportunity within Virtualis.

I’m a big believer that meetings and events will continue to be a “key strategic component of an organization’s success” in the future, because they involve the delivery of knowledge.

And there’s going to have to be a lot more of that in the future. Organizations must deal with the fact that their world is becoming faster: they must deal with innovation time compression, the rapid emergence of new markets, fast opportunities for emergence of new product or service branding, increased skills specialization, rapid business model transformation and the emergence of new competitive challengers.

The impact is quite simple: rapid market, business, industry, and skills change leads to a need for faster “knowledge delivery.” We might need to upgrade the knowledge of a sales force for a new emerging market; help a leadership team focus on a new business competitor, or steer a project team towards dealing with a new industry challenge. Whatever the case may be, knowledge delivery is key to success in the future.

I think we’d be fools to think that we won’t do a lot more of this online. Hence, the importance of new explorations such as Virtualis : it helps to solve a fundamental purpose, and plays a key strategic role, just as real-world conferences and events do. And so this is a critical and important first step.

It’s all about innovation and trying things out. And as Larry Ellison of Oracle stated, “when you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts.”

More information

  • Read Meetings.Net report on Virtualis launch adobe.gif
  • Virtualis advertisement adobe.gif
  • The Client Side Blog: The Hype Wagon Loses a Virtual Wheel

Some weeks ago, I spoke at the University of Oklahoma, on the role of innovation in education.

The biggest area for any educational institution in the future is in the area of “just-in-time knowledge.” Whether we are dealing with medical, scientific, financial and business, mechanical or engineering issues, one thing is clear: the knowledge that people need to know to do their job today is becoming infinitely more complex every minute, with a constant, relentless flood of that which is new. In such an environment:

  • 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 individuals have mastered;
  • the ability to reformulate our thinking, assumptions and capabilities to respond to the constant change being thrust upon us is of increasing importance
    That’s where the concept of “just in time knowledge” comes in, as it best describes the nexus of these realities.

And from an innovation perspective, there is plenty of opportunity for meeting the demands of our fast-paced world through just in time knowledge.

This video is linked to the post I originally made when visiting the folks in Oklahoma; you can read that post, What’s happening with our workforce here

What’s happening with our worforce? That is increasingly the focus of many of my recent talks.
oku.jpgYesterday I spoke to the staff and faculty of the University of Oklahoma College of Continuing Education / College of Liberal Studies.

The overall theme was “innovation in the world of high velocity education.”

Broadly, my talk was based around one of my favorite quotes: that of educator Lewis Perelman: “Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.”

There’s a lot of opportunity for innovation in any educational institution: innovating with the methodology of education upgrading, new knowledge opportunities, and innovation in the overall administration and delivery of education. Beyond that, there’s the overall issue of ensuring that in a high-velocity world, educators are delivering the right knowledge at the right time for the right purpose.

To that end, I outlined what I believe to be the primary areas for innovation:

  • the rapid emergence of new educational opportunities, with foundation knowledge, and with knowledge refreshment
  • a need for constant change and upgrading of core skills
  • more partnership opportunities due to complexity – as organizations offload knowledge refreshing / upgrading requirements
  • greater specialization of knowledge topics – and bigger opportunities for academic centres to focus as world class leader in specific niches
  • instant, just in time knowledge takes on a unique role and opportunity

There’s more to be found in my list of “10 big trends for educators,” and many of my assumptions as to where we are going in the world of education is based upon my listing of “10 Unique Characteristics of 21st Century Skills.”

I’m quoted in the Toronto Star today with my observations on the future of knowledge, careers and work. Kind of provocative, but I really believe it to be true….

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Forget what you think you know
Toronto Star, Oct 25/05

You know a diploma is worth less and less. Soon it’s going to be worth nothing at all.

If you’ve just completed an undergraduate degree you might not want to hear what Mississauga-based futurist Jim Carroll has to say.

“For young people I think one of the things they will need to understand is the skill of `just-in-time’ knowledge,” says Carroll, who advises companies across North America.

He explains that “just-in-time” knowledge is the skill of learning information during quickly advancing periods of change. The information learned is entirely — and possibly only — relevant at a specific time. Learning it will require people to immediately dump previous information that is no longer relevant at the same time.

“The concept of going to school for knowledge is kind of quaint,” says Carroll, who foresees a future when longer degree programs will become almost obsolete. “What is the relevance of a three or four or five-year degree program when half of what kids learn in their first year will be obsolete by the time they graduate?”

Carroll says the majority of knowledge needed in the workplace of the future will be gained from collaborative social networks, online sources and independent learning.

As far as formal education goes, he doesn’t think many degree programs will be longer than about nine months.

“A survey I saw a couple weeks ago said young people now think self-employment is more secure than a corporate job.

“As young people continue to completely reject the concept of the traditional workplace they will also move to educational models that suit their relationship with a changing work world.”

"Innovation in schools" keynote
September 16th, 2003

It’s been confirmed that I will be keynoting the Network of Innovative Schools conference in Calgary, AB in October.

My approach to the issue of innovation in education today? In a matter of but a few years, we’ve got from euphoria to gloom when it comes to innovation in the educational sector.

Consider how quickly things have changed — in the 1990′s, many educators came to see a blossoming in the potential for innovative learning methods, online collaboration and new methods of school and education management. Yet, with the spectacular collapse of the dot.com era, the lingering technology meltdown and general economic uncertainty, it now seems that innovation in the education sector has come to a screeching halt – particularly when it comes to technology. Skeptics who in the past have decried the role of technology in education have found a new resonance to their voice, once again encouraging doubt and sowing seeds of discontent in the minds of many.

That’s where my keynote will come in. I believe that teachers need to eawaken themselves for a renaissance of innovation. I believe that educators must bring back the courage to innovate on a day to day basis. In exploring new methods for collaboration as a unique method of dealing with an educational and business world that becomes more complex by the day. Examining methods of providing students with knowledge assessment skills, so they can learn how to cope in the data-swamp in which they are enveloped. A continual examination of leading edge technologies and their role in education, such as Weblogs, wirelesss technologies and personal knowledge archives. Methods of fostering a successful whole-school change program through innovative use of technology and an innovative mindset.

I’ll also take a look at how successful educators are removing the background noise lingering from the 90′s, and are continuing to charge ahead with exploring the potential for new methods of learning, teaching and managing, in a world in which the future continues to rush at us with dizzying speed……

Should be fun!

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