In May, I’ll open the Professional Records & Information Services Management annual conference in Bonita Springs, Florida, and will focus on some of the key issues in terms of corporate records management.
They recently interviewed me, and have run this article on my keynote.
Futurist Jim Carroll to Urge Faster, More Strategic Innovation During PRISM Keynote Address
By Carolyn Schierhorn
World-renowned futurist and innovation champion Jim Carroll intends to spark conversation, creativity, and commitment to strategically lead change when he delivers the opening keynote address on May 17 at the 2016 PRISM International Annual Conference in Bonita Springs, FL.
“My role will be to challenge PRISM members to accelerate their ability to deal with the faster rate of change that their businesses are going through and come up with solutions, opportunities, and ideas faster,” said Carroll, whose upcoming motivational talk is titled “What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t?”
During the past 20 years, Carroll has led or keynoted all manner of corporate events and association conferences, serving clients as diverse as Walt Disney Co., NASA, and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. “I speak in virtually every industry on every kind of topic,” said Carroll, who is based out of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. This gives him a broad, interdisciplinary perspective that allows him to see patterns, identify nascent trends, and gauge whether innovative ideas from one realm will work as well in another.
But Carroll’s knowledge of records and information management (RIM) dates back decades. He made his first foray online in the early 1980s while working as a CPA for a major accounting firm. “I was on the precursors to the Internet before a lot of other folks,” he said. “I had been building a global e-mail system—a global collaboration machine—for the firm when I undertook a new project: the development of a document capture, storage, retrieval, and access system.”
Carroll points out that information management expertise is typically viewed by companies as tactical knowledge. “It’s viewed as a practical role by senior management—simply a necessary evil,” he said. “But records retention, access, security, and privacy are really strategic issues. Look at all the things that can go wrong.” During his address, Carroll will urge the RIM industry to transition to a more strategic role.
Indeed, Program Planning Chair Christopher Powell Jones hopes Carroll will galvanize conference attendees into pressing for a strategic voice in their clients’ decision-making. “We have a window in which we can help our existing clients solve problems related to the way they deal with information,” said Jones, a consulting team leader for Secure Records Solutions in Tallahassee, FL. “We already have our clients’ trust. If we don’t take advantage of that, they’re going to decide to solve their problems elsewhere, perhaps using technologies that aren’t the best fit for them.”
Seizing Opportunities to Lead
Given the explosion of data in many fields, the RIM industry needs to be at the vanguard, proactively seeking and promoting solutions, said Carroll, the author of several books on innovation. For example, he points to the ever-growing amount and complexity of information that could potentially reside in electronic health records. “What happens if you have a patient who is linked to a hospital by a remote blood pressure device or a remote glucose monitoring device?” he asked. “Is that a hospital record, or does that data belong to the patient?” The RIM industry should be at the forefront of defining what is a record and establishing the policies and procedures for storing and retrieving such information, Carroll said.
Similarly, with the advent of the Internet of things—a world of such hyperconnectivity that most household appliances and industrial machines will be monitored and
controlled online—RIM professionals must become thought leaders on how all of this generated data will be organized, protected, and accessed, he emphasized.
In his book The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast, Carroll reveals why so many organizations are “innovation laggards,” as he puts it:
- They fear the unknown.
- They have a culture that is risk-averse.
- They are unwilling to confront the truth.
- They have a short-term focus.
- Inertia is easy.
- It’s easy to avoid tough decisions.
- They fail to adapt to fast markets.
- They refuse or are unwilling to adapt to new methodologies and ideas.
- Like most other fields, the RIM industry needs to become more nimble and forward-thinking, according to Carroll.
“A lot of research and development today is occurring through Kickstarter,” Carroll observed. “It’s occurring in what we call the maker or tinkerer community. A lot of organizations are flat-footed while kids are reinventing their industry.”
“We know this is a world with massively increasing volumes of information. And the ability to sift through it, sort it, find it, and turn it into something relevant is becoming more complex,” said Carroll, noting how important it is for RIM executives to understand what is happening in Silicon Valley. “Clearly, research institutions, universities, and companies like Google and Amazon are developing new algorithms for how to deal with all of this data.” RIM firms will need to reposition themselves to stay relevant, he said.
Carroll’s keynote speech should jump-start discussions and brainstorming among meeting participants. “My objective,” said Jones, “is for Jim to begin a conversation that will inspire the rest of conference, which has the theme ‘Navigating the Oceans of Opportunity.’ Jim will get us thinking about all of the opportunity that is available to us, given our existing resources, and about the opportunities that lie ahead. There is a lot of room for our profession to grow. I expect Jim to paint a picture of the different areas we have to explore.”
“My objective is for Jim to begin a conversation that will inspire the rest of conference.”—Christopher Powell Jones
On his website, www.jimcarroll.com, Carroll provides 10 tips on how to become more innovative. During his address, Carroll will elaborate on a number of these insights, explaining how they apply to the RIM profession:
- Hire people you don’t like. “The reason you don’t like them is because they are different, and that is probably the exact reason why their ideas are important,” he writes.
- Forget everything you know. “Knowledge is momentary,” he states. “Learn to grab it when you need it. And don’t assume that what you know right now will have any relevance tomorrow.”
- Get young. “Take the time to listen to young people—anyone 10 years younger than yourself,” he advises. “They’re building the future right now, and you’ll do well to understand it. Their future is hyperactive, interactive, and multi-tasking.” Millennials get bored more easily and are more entrepreneurial than previous generations, Carroll notes.
- Appreciate wisdom. “At the same time you listen to young people, be patient with anyone 10 years older than yourself,” he writes. “The fact is, they possess something that you might not have yet—experience and the wisdom that comes from having been there. Your impatience for change might delude you into thinking that things are far easier than they really are.”
- Forget permanence. “Get with the program—everything is temporary and change is constant,” he says. “Accept that, and the rest comes easy since it will help you
focus on what needs to be done rather than looking back at what was done.”
- Make decisions. “Don’t be someone who asks ‘What happened?'” Carroll urges. “Make things happen. Far too many people have forgotten how to analyze information and move forward based on what they see.”
- Change your focus. “Old glories and corporate nostalgia won’t define future success,” he stresses. “Aggressiveness and adaptability will. Stop thinking about the past, and focus firmly on the future.”
- Trap creativity. “It’s a precious resource,” he says. “The ideas, thoughts, and initiatives of those who surround you can be your most potent weapon.”
- Think clear and present opportunities. “Don’t focus on the negativity of change,” he warns. “Instead think about what can be done.”
- Get excited, and be happy. “Studies show that most people don’t like what they do,” he writes. “That’s sad. 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.”
Carolyn Schierhorn is a freelance writer based in Wheaton, Ill.