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Here’s the thing. Disruption isn’t just Uber and AirBnB and others. It’s more. It’s fast science, robotics, 3d printing, exponential technology, new materials, big dreamers, the rise of the small and so much more!

Watch this video NOW. Disruption is real, it’s happening now,  is is much bigger than you think!

One of my key responsibilities as a futurist is to help my clients — some of the largest associations and companies in the world — align themselves to the fast paced trends of today. One key question that always comes up? “When do we get involved with any key trend?”

I walk them through that issue from a variety of perspectives and with observations I’ve seen from spending time with countless Fortune 1000 organizations. However, I stress that when it comes to the issue of timing, it is critical that they get involved in some way with any new trend or technology.

Some don’t. History has taught as that some when it comes to key trends, some organizations don’t bother showing up at all or don’t show up at the right time — and end up missing a lot of opportunities. Hence, the quote in the picture!

How do you determine when to invest? The best guidance comes from something called the “Gartner Hypecycle.” Years ago, the global research company suggested that any new technology goes along a curve – it appears, hits the time of excessive hype and expectations. That is followed by the inevitable collapse of enthusiasm as people realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to implement the technology and determine the opportunity that comes from it. But inevitably, both the expectations and technology itself matures, and it becomes a key component for innovation and so much more.

You can take any technology and place it on the curve.

Consider e-commerce: it appeared, and people got carried away with the potential during the dot.com era of the late 1990’s. However, that involved a period of rather excessive and ridiculous hype, and so we had the inevitable dot.com collapse. Plateau of productivity? Amazon is steamrolling retail in North America, and Alibaba dominates retail trends in China. Everywhere, stores are closing and online shopping is accelerating. Amazon buys Whole Foods. Do you get the point?

Now consider the explosion of new technologies around us today: 3D printing, the Internet of Things (#iot), virtual reality, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars. A key component to your strategy is figuring out where they are on the curve, and hence, what you should be doing with them in terms of an innovation strategy. There are some useful observations to be found online, such as this one which takes the hype-cycle and places a variety of technologies at their current point on the curve.

But here’s the thing: if a key technology shows an opportunity, don’t ignore it if it is still early days. Otherwise, there is a good chance that you won’t be ready when it becomes real – when it hits the plateau of productivity. 

This is where my “think big, start small, scale fast” mantra comes into play. Even if it is early days, you should make sure that you are working with, experimenting with, and gaining expertise in any new technology. Fail early and fail fast! That way, you will be better positioned when it hits the “plateau of productivity.”

One thing I’ve learned? Some organizations don’t take this step. They don’t show up to the starting line. They are too dismissive of new ideas and new technologies The result is that they don’t even appear in the race, and miss out on building up the early expertise and experience with a key technology.

 

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I’ve just put up another “highlight” post about the fascinating events that I’ve keynoted or spoken at for the 2nd quarter of the year. It’s a good overview of the unique topic areas and clients that I take on.

So how do these events come about? I’m often asked by people as to how clients discover and book me. Some of it happens directly – through word of mouth, previous clients, or by people finding my Web site and learning about the highly customized keynotes that I do. But a good number of my bookings also come in from a number of major global speakers bureaus who have actively represented me for a number of years.

In mid-April, my wife and I visited the Washington Speakers Bureau, one of several major bureaus who actively represent and book me. Right at the entrance, I was reminded that they are a real class act with a welcome sign. There I was!

These bureaus are aware of my expertise, the topics I cover, and most importantly, how I work with their clients to build a highly relevant customized presentation. (Should you have found me through one of these bureaus, let’s make sure they are involved in any contracting process. It makes no difference to your cost, and they can help to ease the contracting and logistics process. They are also an invaluable resource when you are looking for other speakers or people of note).

Given their role, I invest a lot of time with my bureau partners. They are critical in helping people find the right experts for particular meetings, and only represent people who have proven themselves in terms of insight, content, and presentation capabilities. Some of my partners are the biggest in the industry: they range from groups such as Dallas based Gail Davis & Associates (who booked me into the PGA of America and an event in St. Andrews Scotland in one year!!!),  the Washington Speakers Bureau, Keppler Speakers, Leading Authorities (all in Washington),  and the Toronto based National Speakers Bureau, among many others.

I often take the time during my travels to visit with these folks to keep them up to date. This quarter saw two great visits, to the Washington Speakers Bureau and to the Harry Walker Agency.

Walking into WSB was fun — for my visit, they did place my book, The Future Belongs to Those Who are Fast, next to those of some other folks they represent.

(I am not under any delusions; the spot is used regularly, and it was replaced shortly after  when Simon T. Bailey visited…)

In any event, I met with 25 folks on the WSB team and had a great discussion on the trends, topics, business issues and more that I am seeing in the industry. I ended up writing a blog post that they distributed to their client list: take a moment to read Keeping Up with the Speed of Change: Future Trends in the Speaking Industry.

I also had the chance to visit one of the other bureaus that represents me, the Harry Walker Agency in New York City, just a few weeks ago. They have a great client list; for example, they booked me in to headline the Sports & Fitness Industry Association leadership meeting, where I had the distinct honour of being followed on stage by Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL.

The neat thing about Harry Walker is that they are the exclusive agent for another couple of folks new to the speaking circuit.  (What I would give to share the stage with either of them! Being an optimistic futurist, I am pretty certain that this will happen! Michelle and Barack, here’s to a great keynote together at some point! I’ll cover the future trends, and one of you will talk about what we need to do to get there — or something like that…..)

I take a lot of care to ensure that all of my bureau partners are kept in the loop on my topics, and these visits are a critical part of the process. These are but two; I’ve visited many of my other partners through the years.

To cl0se out this post, here’s one other speakers bureau item of note: just the other day, I had a session with the Board of Directors of a major credit union in Toronto; it was held at the Westin Airport Hotel in that city.

Driving in, I realized that this was the very hotel where I did my very first speaking gig, way back in October 1993, for a packaging company. That event, which would launch a carerer that now spans 24 years and over one million people, was arranged by my longest surviving speakers bureau parters, the National Speakers Bureau in Toronto.

 

What goes on in the life of a futurist? Lots of stages and lots of fascinating events, with talks focused on linking future trends to opportunities for innovation! Here’s a wrap-up of some of the events from April to June of this year.

Gore Mutual, Toronto

This was certainly a highlight – I shared the stage with Astronaut Chris Hadfield (best known for his rendition of David Bowie’s Space Odyssey from the International Space Station, with 36 million+ Youtube views) and Environmentalist David Suzuki.

The event was arranged for insurance brokers and distributors, encouraging them to align themselves to the future trends that are reshaping their industry. My role was to speak to issues of disruption and change in the insurance industry, a topic I’ve covered for many major insurance conferences and companies worldwide.

I used a brand new slide deck at this event — it’s two weeks old! — and I must say: it rocks. The material flows at a fascinating pace, the audience reaction was tremendous, and it does a great job of conveying our world of fast change. I’m adopting this deck for all keynotes going forward — and I will have some video from this presentation soon.

Genentech, San Francisco

This event was for 550 executives from this pharma-tech company — it’s owned by French pharmaceutical giant Roche. It’s also one of the global leaders in the business of pharmacogenetics : that is, the development of highly targeted drug therapies based on particular genetic profiles.

My keynote took a look at the future of healthcare and the big transformative opportunities that exist in a world of accelerated science. The topic strikes close to home for me : I’ve had my own genetic profile done (the news is all good!)

Godiva Chocolates, Ghent, Belgium

This was a repeat engagement — the company, along with its parent Ulker from Turkey, had me headline a global leadership meeting in London, UK in January. The Godiva team found the message to be powerful, and so they invited me back for a deeper dive into global retail trends. My keynote took a look at consumer behaviour, fast new retail store technology, the impact of Amazon, the role of the mobile device in collapsing attention spans, the new product influencers and so much more….

In this case, the small meeting room (with 50 executives from 18 countries, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Germany and more…) didn’t offer a great photo, but the view outside of my hotel room sure did! I love doing events in Europe! Invite me in!

The world of retail is changing at a furious pace – witness the recent purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon — and I’m doing quite a few talks on trends in this area, including for a major retail conference in Las Vegas this fall.

4C Summit, Tucson, Arizona

I love it when I get repeat gigs! Back in 2010, I was invited into this annual event, to speak to 250 cattle ranchers on future trends with ranching, food, consumer behaviour and more. I had several billions of dollars worth of cattle in the room and reported on it at length in a few blog posts.

They invited me back again this year for a keynote that took a look at the new world of consumer influence, issue messaging and more. In the era of fake news and rapid myth-information, cattle ranchers need to do a better job in telling their story to the world, and that was the entire focus of the event this year.

In my opening keynote, I put these trends into perspective. And, to be honest, I was blunt with them that if they recognize that some misinformation exists, they should their emotions to drive their passion for purpose.

Hence, a rather undiplomatic slide. But it did get a lot of retweets!

Drive 17, CUDirect, Las Vegas

This event took a look at the future of automotive lending with a particular emphasis on the credit union sector, which is the line of business that CUDirect is focused on.

I had a bit of fun at the sound check the day before, with Vegas being Vegas after all – you’re always guaranteed a great stage! Here’s an infinite me!

Of course, the next morning I was on duty, outlining the many ways in which the era of self-driving cars, intelligent highways, the sharing economy and many more trends would come to challenge the very idea of automative lending in the future. The auto industry is accelerating fast — and I’m doing numerous talks for industries and companies affected by this trend.

Nasscom C-Summit, New York

Now this was cool! I was invited in by Nasscom, which represents the global software and business process outsourcing industry for India. Essentially the national trade association for one of the largest software and services industries in the world.

My closing keynote, “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Innovating in the Era of Disruption”, provided context on how quickly our world is changing. This was the debut of my new slide deck (mentioned above), and walking on stage, I realized it more than rocked!

This was a great audience: I had global CIO’s from Johnson and Johnson, Schneider Electric, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Phillips Health, NBC Universal, Estee Lauder, GE and Anheuser Busch Inbev, and over 200 more.

As an aside, these folks know that, despite a world of fantasy in Washington, access to global skills is a key factor for future success.

Highmark Health, Pittsburgh

This is one of the leading players in the healthcare insurance and group benefits market in Ohio, and they invited me in for a talk on the future of healthcare. In attendance were senior executives, HR and benefits managers for major employers throughout the region.

While political volatile rages, the science and technology of healthcare isn’t slow down, and I put some context on the transformative trends that can redefine our approach to some of the more complex issues of our time. Highmark is part of the Blue Cross group, and I’ve keynoted at least 15 other Blue Cross events over the last 15 years.

I didn’t have a picture of the stage, but did get this great photo during my morning walk in the City of Bridges. That’s their HQ in the background!

Western Manufacturing Technology Show, Edmonton, Alberta

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers has had me keynote some major events in the past — 2,000 manufacturing executives in Las Vegas at the IMX show , and 1,500 more at the BigM conference in Detroit. Each of these also involved a small, intimate dinner presentation for CEO’s and others the evening before.

Based on that track record, SME has booked me to headline 3 major Canadian manufacturing events; this was the first in the series. Like every other industry, manufacturing is being reimagined and reinvented at a furious pace.

My keynote took a look at fast trends involving 3D printing, the factory of the future (“Industry 4.0”), rapid digitization, the role of the Internet of Things in the factory, rapid prototyping and so much more. In the fall, I will headline the biggest Canadian manufacturing event in Toronto.

Exelon

My talks don’t just involve events on massive stages in Las Vegas : I also do an ever increasing number of small, hands on working sessions with small groups of executives.

In that context, I was approach by this major energy company to come in and spend a morning with their nuclear division, with a particular focus on the “future of energy.”

Given the audience background, I literally had a room with a whole bunch of nuclear engineers! A good example of the unique type of topics that I take on through my process of detailed customization.

Habitat For Humanity Annual Conference, Kelowna, British Columbia

Sometimes, you get a keynote that goes beyond the issues of disruption, business model change and other issues. In this case, the role for passion, purpose and caring in society.

My keynote for the annual conference of the Canadian component of this global initiative took a look at future trends impacting philanthropy and charitable organizations; the changing nature of the home and shelter; smart cities and more.

I launched a phrase in the room – given the current ugly political environment in the US, my belief that it is time that people “double down on dignity.” There seem to be so many in society who are driven by an agenda of hate, fear, distrust of immigrants and the poor, and in that context, its important that we examine our social and human values. And hence, double down on our philanthropic efforts.

The phrase and the context in which it was said certainly caught some attention!

Allegacy Credit Union, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The CEO saw me speak last year at an event in Chicago on the trends impacting and disrupting the financial services sector, and so she decided to invite me in for a working session with their regular Board of Directors meeting.

It sort of expanded from there, and I ended up speaking to a room of about 50, consisting of the Board, key leadership executives and a few community leaders.

I don’t have a stage shot, since it was held in the main meeting room at the Wake Forest University football stadium — but did get this shot before I began.

It’s been a busy time for me with talks in the credit union industry — just two days ago, I spent 3 hours with the Board of a major Canadian credit union on similar issues of disruption.

Ontario Municipal Systems Association, Windsor, Ontario

This event had several hundred CIO’s and IT executives for cities and towns from across the province. My keynote examined the future of smart cities, intelligent infrastructure, the role of the Internet of Things in a municipal setting and more.

The keynote certainly caught some attention, with an article appearing in a national trade publication – municipalities should not be left behind in an era of acceleration!

There is a very important theme here: an increasing number of economic development decisions are being made based upon the ‘smart infrastructure’ of a region. This will be a focus of a keynote I do in the fall for the Nevada Economic Development Association.

Sir Adam Beck Public School, Toronto

Last but not least, this quarter featured the conclusion of my time capsule project with a Grade 5 class. I blogged about the project earlier — essentially, I golf with a Grade 5 teacher, Ian Bates, and suggested to him one day that his class should do a project!

So they did! They did all the work — and we sealed the capsule on June 13, only to be opened on the same day in 2045!

Why 2045? I’m not quite sure how this came about — but I do know that I’ll be 86 years old when it is opened, so I’ve got to stay focused on my future!

There were several other keynotes in this quarter, and I’ll blog about those too. I’m winding down for the summer, with only 4 events scheduled (by choice!). And this fall is already busy, including an event in Tokyo where I headline Nikon’s 100th anniversary celebration.

Stay tuned!

 

I spent the morning yesterday with the Board of Directors of a multi-billion dollar credit union, taking a good hard look at the trends sweeping the financial services space. They know that disruption is real, and that it is happening now.

And disruption is everywhere: every business, and every industry is  being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other challenges.


The speed with which these changes occur are now being increasingly driven by he arrival of a younger, more entrepreneurial generation; a group that seems determined to change the world to reflect their ideas and concept of opportunity. They’ve grown up networked, wired, and are collaborative in ways that no previous generation seems to be.

And therein lies the challenge.

Most organizations are bound up in traditions, process, certain defined ways of doing things — rules — that have helped them succeed in the past. Over time, they have developed a corporate culture which might have worked at the slower paced world of the past — but now has them on the sick-bed, suffering from an organizational sclerosis that clogs up their ability to try to do anything new.

Those very things which worked for them in the past might be the anchors that could now hold them back as the future rushes at them with ever increasing speed.

They are being challenged in a fundamental way by those who think big, and by some really big, transformative trends.

How to cope with accelerating change?  Think big, start small and scale fast!

I’m doing many keynotes in which I outline the major trends and opportunities that come from “thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast,” by addressing some of the fundamental changes that are underway.

1. Entire industries are going “upside down”

One thing you need to know is this: entire industries are being flipped on their back by some pretty big trends.

Consider the world of health care. Essentially, today, it’s a system in which we fix people after they become sick. You come down with some type of medical condition; your doctor does a diagnosis, and a form of treatment is put in place. That’s overly simplifying things, but essentially that is how it works.

Yet that is going to change in a pretty fundamental way with genomic, or DNA based medicine. It takes us into a world in which we can more easily understand what health conditions are you susceptible or at risk for throughout your life. It moves us from a world in which we fix you after you are sick — to one in which we know what you are likely to become sick with, and come up with a course of action before things go wrong. That’s a pretty BIG and pretty fundamental change. I like to say that the system is going “upside down.”

So it is with the automotive and transport industry. One day, most people drove their own cars. One day in the future, cars will do much of the driving on their own. That’s a pretty change — sort of the reverse, or upside-down, from how it use to be.

Or think about education: at one time, most people went to the place where education is delivered. But with the massive explosion of connectivity and new education delivery methods involving technology, an increasing number of people are in a situation where education is delivered to them. That’s upside down too!

You can go through any industry and see similar signs. That’s a lot of opportunity for big change.

2. Moore’s law – everywhere!

Another big trend that is driving a lot of change comes about as technology takes over the rate of change in the industry.

Going forward, every single industry, from health care to agriculture to insurance and banking, will find out that change will start to come at the speed of Moore’s law — a speed of change that is MUCH faster than they are used too. (Remember, Moore’s law explains that roughly, the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months while its cost cuts in half. It provides for the pretty extreme exponential growth curve we see with a lot of consumer and computer technology today.)

Back to health care. We know that genomic medicine is moving us from a world in which we fix people after they are sick – to one where we know what they will likely become sick with as a result of DNA testing. But now kick in the impact of Moore’s law, as Silicon Valley takes over the pace of development of the genomic sequencing machines. It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome, which by 2009 had dropped to $100,000. It’s said that by mid-summer, the cost had dropped to under $10,000, and by the end of the year, $1,000. In just a few years, you’ll be able to go to a local Source by Circuit City and buy a little $5 genomic sequencer – and one day, such a device will cost just a few pennies.

The collapsing cost and increasing sophistication of these machines portends a revolution in the world of health care. Similar trends are occurring elsewhere – in every single industry, we know one thing: that Moore’s law rules!

3. Loss of the control of the pace of innovation

What happens when Moore’s law appears in every industry? Accelerating change, and massive business model disruption as staid, slow moving organizations struggle to keep up with faster paced technology upstarts.

Consider the world of car insurance — we are witnessing a flood of GPS based driver monitoring technologies that measure your speed, acceleration and whether you are stopping at all the stop signs. Show good driving behaviour, and you’ll get a rebate on your insurance. It’s happening in banking, with the the imminent emergence of the digital wallet and the trend in which your cell phone becomes a credit card.

In both cases, large, stodgy, slow insurance companies and banks that move like molasses will have to struggle to fine tune their ability to innovate and keep up : they’re not used to working at the same fast pace as technology companies.

Not only that, while they work to get their innovation agenda on track, they’ll realize with horror that its really hard to compete with companies like Google, PayPal, Facebook, and Apple — all of whom compete at the speed of light.

It should make for lots of fun!

4.  “Follow the leader” business methodologies

We’re also witnessing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move by their competition – or risk falling behind.

For example, think about what is going on in retail, with one major trend defining the future: the Apple checkout process. Given what they’ve done, it seems to be all of a sudden, cash registers seemed to become obsolete. And if you take a look around, you’ll notice a trend in which a lot of other retailers are scrambling to duplicate the process, trying to link themselves to the cool Apple cachet.

That’s the new reality in the world of business — pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up.  Consider this scenario: Amazon announces a same day delivery in some major centres. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have be able to play the same game!

Fast format change, instant business model implementation, rapid fire strategic moves. That’s the new reality for business, and it’s the innovators who will adapt.

5. All interaction — all the time!

If there is one other major trend that is defining the world of retail and shopping, take a look at all the big television screens scattered all over the store! We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend towards constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by

Ron Boire, the new Chief Marketing Officer for Sears in the US (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): “My focus will really be on creating more and better theatre in the stores.”

We are going to see a linking of this ‘in-store theatre’ with our mobile devices and our social networking relationships. Our Facebook app for a store brand (or the fact we’ve ‘liked’ the brand) will know we’re in the store, causing a a customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promotion with a  hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think!

6. Products reinvented

Smart entrepreneurs have long realized something that few others have clued into : the future of products is all about enhancement through intelligence and connectivity. Nail those two aspects, and you suddenly sell an old product at significantly higher new prices.

Consider the NEST Learning Thermostat. It’s design is uber-cutting edge, and was in fact dreamed up by one of the key designers of the iPad. It looks cool, it’s smart, connected, and there’s an App for that! Then there is a Phillips Hue Smart LED Lightbulb, a $69 light bulb that is uber-smart, connected, and can be controlled from your mobile device. Both are sold at the Apple store!

Or take a look at the Whitings Wi-Fi Body Scale. Splash a bit of design onto the concept of a home weigh scale, build it with connectivity, link it to some cool online graphs and you’ve got a device that will take your daily weight, BMI and body-fat-mass tracking into a real motivational tool.  Where is it sold? Why, at the Apple store too!

Do you notice a trend here?

7. Careers reinvented

For those who that the post-2008 North American recovery from the recession was slow, here’s an open secret: there was a significant economic recovery underway for quite some time, as companies in every sector ranging from manufacturing to agriculture worked hard to reinvent themselves. It just didn’t involve a lot of new jobs, because the knowledge required to do a new job in today’s economy is pretty complex. We’ve moved quickly from the economy of menial, brute force jobs to new careers that require a lot of high level skill. The trend has been underway for a long, long time.

Consider the North American manufacturing sector, a true renaissance industry if there ever was one! Smart engineers at a wide variety of manufacturing organizations have transformed process to such a degree, and involved the use of such sophisticated robotic technology, that the economic recovery in this sector involves workers who have to master a lot of new knowledge. One client observed of their manufacturing staff: “The education level of our workforce has increased so much….The machinists in this industry do trigonometry in their heads.”

Similar skills transitions are underway in a wide variety of other industries….

8. The Rise of the Small over Incumbents

We are living in the era that involves the end of incumbency. Companies aren’t assured that they will own the marketplace and industry they operate within because of past success ; they’ll have to continually re-prove themselves through innovation.

Consider Square, the small little device that lets your iPhone become a credit card. What a fascinating little concept that has such big potential for disruption. And it’s a case where once again, small little upstarts are causing turmoil, disruption and competitive challenge in larger industries — and often times, the incumbents are too slow to react.

Anyone who has ever tried to get a Merchant Account from Visa, MasterCard or American Express in order to accept credit cards knows that it is likely trying to pull teeth from a pen – many folks just give up in exasperation. Square, on the other hand, will send you this little device for free (or you can pick one up at the Apple Store.) Link it to your bank account, and you’re in business.

So while credit card companies have been trying to figure out the complexities of the future of their industry, a small little company comes along and just does something magical! No complexities, no challenges, no problems.

* * * *
There are people who are making big bold bets, big bold decisions, who are going to change the world and who are going to do things differently.” That phrase was from my opening keynote for the Accenture International Utilities and Energy Conference in San Francisco some years back.

It’s a good sentiment, and is a good way to think about the idea of ‘thinking big.’

No doubt you are finding many futurist or innovation experts who might help you with your leadership meeting or event. So why Jim? Watch this — he outlines how he will work with you in a way that no other speaker will.

Contact Jim through his office or through the speakers bureau that directed you to this site.

A brand today can go from hero to zero in a matter of months….” In that context, you’d better get ahead of the fast future, before it gets ahead of you!

Consider Sony. Once they were a really cool company with the coolest technology on the planet — the Walkman.

Then they weren’t, because they didn’t keep up with the future, and didn’t innovate fast enough.

We live in an era of instant obsolescence. I often tell the story on stage of how my sons — now 24 and 22– perceive many of the things which were once a part of my life as being from the “olden days.” We’ve actually come up with a pretty long list.

Sony once had a really cool brand name, and the Walkman had deep, deep brand value. Yet Sony seemed to lose its innovative spirit, and started going wrong in a big way. It ended up destroying a good chunk of the brand value behind the Sony name — when I think of Sony now, I think of a company that is slow, behind the times, ponderous.

Which begs the question : are you operating with enough agility and rapidity in order to ensure that your own brand doesn’t become a “brand from the olden days?”

The rate at which the Sony brand lost its value is nothing short of stunning — and was due to a series of well known missteps (among others):

  • they failed to keep up with the rapid growth and demand for flat panel TV’s and other hot new technologies: they failed with market agility.
  • they decided that going to war with their customers (by slipping destructive software onto their music CD’s) was more important than developing great technology that caught the next wave of consumer electronics. Look up “Sony rootkit” for the story from over a decade ago.
  • they dropped the ball on the necessity for continuous operational excellence , as evidenced by a disastrous recall of laptop batteries some years back.

The list goes on. Are you making similar mistakes that is costing you brand image? You certainly are, if:

  • Your brand looks tired, because it is tired. Case in point — many companies in the automobile industry missed out on the revolution as the dashboard becomes a computer, because they weren’t watching what their customers were doing. They were busy releasing automobiles that were some five years behind the living rooms of their customers — and that certainly brought the brand sheen off of some of the biggest auto companies. They are still trying to catch up.
  • Customers see a lack of innovation: Consumers today are immersed in a global cloud of new ideas. They’re witnessing constant, relentless, awe-inspiring forms of innovation all around them, as they deal with a flood of new consumer technologies, packaging based product innovation, and ongoing advancements in retail environments, both offline and online. They’ve come to expect that the brands they deal with are at the leading edge, in design, functionality, message and purpose.
  • Lousy, ineffective customer service: Guess what – when it comes to interaction with your customers, they measure you up against the world’s best. If you don’t add up, you are doing some significant damage to your brand equity right there. Customer support is no longer good enough — fanatical support is better.
  • You don’t know that you customers know more about your brand than you do: Your customers today are immersed in the global innovation idea feedback loop. They busy sharing ideas on what’s really cool, and they are even busier taking apart the folly of those who have been left behind. In doing so, they are rapidly reinventing products, services, brands and image. If you aren’t listening, you are guaranteeing that you’ll fall behind.
  • A lack of purpose or urgency: I’ve studied many organizations who still don’t have the key information they need for market agility. They don’t have instant feedback mechanisms which tell them of rapid developments in specific markets. They don’t know how to regroup quickly “when bad things happen.” They still operate blind, as if it’s 1990: their sales force goes into a customer meeting, oblivious as to what that customer has been thinking about them. They approach every day as if it were the same as yesterday; meanwhile, their market and their customers have run away from them!
  • A lack of market and competitive intelligence: It’s the information-age, get it? There’s no shortage of information to be had. Yet I see companies who seem shocked when a competitor drops a ‘bombshell’ announcement — only to realize that they were the only one who thought it was a bombshell. Everybody else knew what the competition was up to, because in this new hyper-connected world, everyone knows what everyone else is doing!
  • A regular series of fumbling missteps: The saddest thing is that Sony has messed up in so many ways, that some customers now look at as if it has a “L” on its forehead. Today, small mistakes can be instantly compounded. Take the concept of compounded financial interest. Now realize that a small PR mistake, a lousy executive decision, or poor execution, can lead to the same type of instant, global brand devaluation — that can compound on itself at an extremely high interest rate!

A brand today can go from hero to zero in a matter of months. How do you avoid such a fate?

  • Recognize that brand longevity is now a critical issue
  • Ensure your sales, marketing, development and customer support team are relentlessly focused on the currency of the brand
  • Make sure that continuous brand innovation is part of your corporate mantra
  • When confronted with the new and challenging customer, learn from them rather than running away
  • Be incessantly focused on the likely innovations that will come to impact your brand
  • Learn to think five to six product lifecycles in advance — and plan to do them all within six months.
  • Make forward oriented intelligence a critical aspect of what you do.
I’m off to New York, where tomorrow I will be the closing speaker at Nasscom’s inaugaural C-summit (hashtag: #nasscomCsummit!)
The National Association of Software and Services Companies is a trade association representing the major players in the Indian IT and business process outsourcing industry. The event is taking a look at future trends and opportunities for innovation, and features a wide variety of other fascinating speakers, such as the CIO’s for Johnson and Johnson (also a client of mine), Praxair and Schneider Electric.
Of course, everyone knows that we live in interesting times, and that like many nations and organizations in the world, Nasscom is working hard to align folks to a new world order of crazy twists and turns, often illogical policy directions and massive uncertainty. Such is the world today!
Here’s what I know: every business in every industry is faced with unprecedented change through the next 5 to 10 years as disruption takes hold. Read my 10 Drivers for Disruption, and ask yourself how you will be affected.
Then ask yourself : will you have the skills, agility, strategy and capability to align yourself to a faster future? That’s what I will be covering in my keynote! A key part of that equation involves the skills equation. While there might be wishful thinking in parts of the world as to how to deal with a challenging skills issue, the reality is that having a great skills strategy is a crucial factor for success in the era of disruption.
With that thinking, here’s my keynote description!
Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Innovating in the Era of Disruption
We live in a time of massive challenge, and yet one of fascinating opportunity, as every business, and every industry is  being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other trends.
In this keynote, futurist Jim Carroll outlines the key drivers of disruption, but offers a path forward. Undeniably, we must align ourselves to the realty of multiple trends: hyper-connectivity, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, neural networks, deep analytics, autonomous technologies, self-learning systems. All of these trends and more are merging together,  leading to a massively new, connected, intelligent machine that will transform, change, challenge and disrupt every industry. As this happens….every company becomes a software company, and speed defines success. That’s why the New York Times recently indicated that the methodologies of agile software development are increasingly becoming a key general leadership requirement.
In this new world in which the future belongs to those who are fast, experience is oxygen. There’s no time to learn, to study, to plan. It’s time to figure out what you don’t know, and do the things that are necessary to begin to know about it. Experiential capital is the new capital for the 21st century.
How to cope with accelerating change? In this keynote, Jim outlines his simple but transformative structure : Think big, start small and scale fast! Jim has been working with and studying what makes organizations survive in a fast paced world. His clients include NASA, the PGA of America, the Swiss Innovation, the National Australia Bank, the Wall Street Journal, Disney, and many, many more.

Back in 2006, I keynoted the Society of Cable Telecom Engineers at their annual conference in Tampa. At the time, YouTube was only just beginning to have an impact, and social networking was still in a nascent stage. It was January — Twitter wasn’t even around!

My job was to alert them that forthcoming trends would mean that they would be  faced with the need to accelerate the bandwidth on their networks. I spoke to the trends I predicted in my book of 1999, Light Bulbs to Yottabits, which took a look at the forthcoming world of online video.


My job, as opening keynote, was to get them in the right, innovative frame of mind to deal with an upcoming tsunami of change.

I ended up writing an article for Broadband Magazine, on my keynote theme, Are We Thinking “Fast” Enough? I recently dug the article out the other day with respect to another upcoming talk within the industry.

It still makes for good reading today, starting with the observation that “in this era in which new developments and technology are coming to the market faster than ever before, everyone must become an innovator, whether it be with new business models, skills partnerships or customer solutions.”

Some of the key points I raised are even more critical today:

  • Innovation has moved from the corporate to the collective, a trend that is causing absolutely furious rates of discovery.
  • This rate of scientific advance is such that a world of yottabits and zetabits is going to arrive faster than you might think,
  • Things are happening so fast that some industries are beginning
    to witness the end of the concept of the product life-cycle
  • Rapid innovation and technology development means that new competitors can now come into a marketplace and cause fundamental, significant and long lasting change at the drop of a hat
  • Rapidly evolving technology is resulting in an increasing shortage of critical skills

Run through that list, and ask yourself if that is your industry situation today.

Read the full article below.

Continue Reading

It’s about time someone starts to talk about the future implications of the new world history that we are now watching unfold.

There are real economic implications in a time in which a nation chooses to turn its back on the rest of the world. The impact likely won’t be apparent for years to come, but clearly decisions are now being made now which will change the global economy in significant ways.

I decided to write this post after reading of Angela’s Merkel recent comments on the fact that Europe needs to go it alone. Quite clearly, she is voicing what many other political, business, science and other leaders worldwide are thinking.

There are real economic implications in a time in which a nation chooses to turn its back on the rest of the world. The impact likely won’t be apparent for years to come, but clearly decisions are now being made now which will change the global economy in significant ways.

In my mind, as a futurist dealing with the facts of trends, here’s a starting list of what we can expect.

  1. Science and R&D relocates. For long time, the US has been the engine of the global R&D machine; but that is no longer the case. The trend began long before the current era of political discourse – I documented it in a post back in 2008, Revisiting the Hollowing out of Global R&D Trends. But the current anti-science  mindset that is percolating throughout the US will only accelerate a trend that is already underway. A good chunk of the pure science research that drives future economic growth won’t occur in the US. That has massive implications for the countries that choose to take advantage of this realignment.
  2. Energy and green industries invest where it matters. There can’t be a more exciting industry — next to advanced manufacturing — than what is happening with wind, solar and other forms of energy generation. Exponential science is driving exponential change. Yet if you make a decision not to align yourself to the fast innovation trends which are unfolding, you miss out on the jobs, growth and new companies which are appearing in this space. I expect that many companies in this sector will make economic development decisions that are influenced by an attitude that welcomes their innovation.
  3. Travels shift. Immigration bans, an increasing climate of hatred, the degradation of a climate of diversity, laptop bans. Quite simply, a greater percentage of the world’s population will choose to visit other parts of the world. The laptop ban itself causes the mind to boggle. Why would anyone encourage people to spend hours travelling in an environment that is massively unproductive, when they could choose to go elsewhere?
  4. Meetings and events relocate. The global meeting industry generates billions of dollars in economic activity. Quite simply, countless scientific and other conferences and events will choose to host future events in a more tolerant, idea-diverse location than the US. Meeting professionals understand this, but few are willing to listen.
  5. Sporting events move. I have a friend who has just been appointed to take a senior role at the Canadian Soccer Association, who has an initiative to pursue the hosting of a future World Cup event with a combined bid involving Canada, the US and Mexico. Think about the chances of that happening in the current climate. Like, it won’t.
  6. Minds that matter move. If I were a PhD candidate, where might I choose to place the efforts of my mind today? Into an environment in which ideas matter! We are living in a modern day era of Atlas Shrugged. Who is John Galt? He and she are out there, and they are making their decision.
  7. Skills training evaporates. Economies move forward by enhancing the skills of their participants. The world of manufacturing provides the perfect example: dead-end brute force manufacturing jobs are gone, and they aren’t coming back. Robotics, digitization, 3D printing and more define the future, all of which involve higher-level skills and education. Countries worldwide are racing to enhance the skills of their workforce. Clearly this will slow down in the US given the current environment. The eventual winners embrace new skills; the losers cling to old, outdated irrelevant skills.
  8. Silicon Valley loses its dominance. This morning, I came across a really interesting Tweet which mentioned a Greek engineer who chose to move to Eindhoven in the Netherlands, considered to be one of Europe’s “Silicon Valley’s.” In years past, that fellow might have moved to the US, turned on his mind, and created the future, growth, and jobs. That era is coming to an end. The implications are profound. For the last 50 years, the California IT engine has dominated the accelerated innovation that comes from technology. That’s now changing quickly: the new growth engines are “Silicon Wadi” in Israel, the Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Park in China, Canada’s Technology Triangle centred on Kitchener. They are set to take momentum and innovation away from Silicon Valley as America loses its dominance in one of the key drivers of innovation success, technology innovation.
  9. New multinationals become the corporate model. The US Fortune 500 has dominated the global economy for a long time, but if you take all of these trends, growth will occur elsewhere. Companies will choose to realign themselves to growth. The new Fortune 500’s will be headquartered in Germany, Singapore, China, and elsewhere. As corporate office power shifts, so too goes economic growth.
  10. Political discourse matures elsewhere. Long the beacon of democracy, it really seems we are witnessing its decline. Advanced economies are having discussions about the reality of climate change, skills retraining and more. Temper tantrums don’t define future success; mature discussions do.

What is happening today matters. The implications are pretty profound.

You should be thinking about this.

Credit Union Magazine just ran a great article on my keynote yesterday in Las Vegas for Drive 17, the annual conference from CU Direct on trends in the automotive lending space for credit unions.

Self-driving cars, drone technology, Apple Watch, and even FaceTime.

It’s technology we see depicted in “The Jetsons,” a cartoon from 1962 that depicted the life of a futuristic family. But we’re already seeing much of the technology today, more than 40 years before the cartoon takes place in 2062.

It’s staggering to think how quickly the world around us is changing,” says innovator and futurist Jim Carroll, who addressed CU Direct’s Drive 17 Conference Wednesday in Las Vegas.

The technology in The Jetsons is just another reminder that credit unions need to innovate and not only develop new products, but also transform to keep up with the speed of change, Carroll says.

Given the fast pace of change, more than 80% of conference attendees believe their current business model will not stay the same in the next 10 years due to the significant disruption.

We need to deal with the innovation killers which hold us back from pursuing the opportunities of the future. The future is coming at us with a greater intensity and great speed,” Carroll says. “We need to think big, start small, and scale fast.

Carroll offers credit unions five strategies for successful innovation:

1. Think big

Innovators need to make big, bold decisions to be transformative. This is the only way credit unions will be able to counter the impacts that disrupters, such as fintech companies, have, Carroll says.

Think of Tesla, Carroll says, which has transformed the auto industry by manufacturing vehicles on demand and have placed their dealerships in retail shopping areas rather than in stand-alone structures. Some 400,000 people have signed up for these vehicles, he adds.

2. Presume that everything will speed up

Credit unions are not the only industry struggling with the speed of technology.

Technology is rapidly changing in vehicles, says Carroll, who believes Siri or Alexa buttons, augmented reality screens, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and payment technology embedded in the dashboard may be features in vehicles by 2020.

For credit unions, think about how biometric scans can be used at ATMs.

3. Align to Moore’s Law of innovation

This law says the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months. Technology is constantly changing and is becoming embedded in more items, such as garage doors, ceiling fans, and even grills, Carroll says.

Hyperconnectivity is becoming the rule.

Credit unions need to be aware of the expectations members have for personalization, their use of technology, and a desire for real-time support or interaction when needed.

You need to be prepared to innovate quickly,” he says.

4. Align changing business models and consumer behavior

Mobile devices have a huge influence on people’s purchasing and financing decisions. Research shows the average consumer scans 12 feet of shelf space in a second, and 80% would leave a store if they must wait more than five minutes to pay.

Determine ways to grab your members’ attention and provide solutions faster, in addition to providing a way for members to interact online, Carroll says.

5. Realign to the impact of generations

Recognize how younger generations live their lives. Don’t cling to a routine or process just because that’s the way your credit union has always operated.

Millennials, for example, have been weaned on technology, speed, and innovation, and are open to transformations and changes that take this into account, Carroll says.

 

Tomorrow morning, I’ll keynote Drive 17 — it’s a conference for credit union executives around the topic of the future of lending. Particularly, automative lending. This is similar to a keynote I did in January of this year for the American Financial Services Association — same topic and issues, except for banking executives.

It’s a challenging time to be in this space, as we witness seismic changes in both the very nature of automotive ownership and the manner by which lending decisions are made. Particularly with the next generation, who are very different from their forebears:

  • they don’t have a job for life – they freelance
  • their banking is mobile – they don’t use cash
  • they don’t think long term – 25 year mortgages are a foreign concept
  • they don’t stay at hotels – they use AirbNb
  • they don’t use taxis – they Uber
  • and 1 in 10 works in the sharing economy…. and so they don;’t have the typical risk profile of an employee

The biggest challenge? They might not even buy cars, but rather will take advantage of all the opportunities that the sharing economy presents. Of course, if you are in the business of lending money for the purchase of automobiles, this can be a problem, and requires some innovative thinking.

If they do, however, buy a vehicle, the manner by which they will seek financing will be very, very different. It will be done through their mobile device; they’ll expect instant options, and instant approval. We’re talking 30 seconds here. If you can’t meet their expectations in terms of the time for the transaction, they’re gone. Which means you need to challenge yourself in terms of interface, risk assessment and more.

In my keynote tomorrow, I’ll cover these trends and more. The reality? Every credit union and financial institution today needs to comprehend the speed with which transformative change is occurring, and how they must focus on innovation as a means of turning those challenges into opportunity.

 

Gore Mutual is a property and casualty insurance company located in Canada, and they are running a full day session to help their broker understand and deal with the fast pace of change.

I’m thrilled to be a part of the day, and will share the stage with well known Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield!

 

I’ll be focussing on disruptive, fast change:

I love ‘small world’ connections, and here’s what’s fun about this event:

  • the artwork for the event (above) was done by Laurence Smink — a graphics and artistic superstar! Laurence did the cover for my book, The Future Belongs to Those who Are Fast!
  • He also did the cover artwork for the book of a good friend, Nicola JD Maher, the Tiniest Warrior of All, published by my publishing arm, Oblio Press
  • Chris Hadfield has published multiple books — and his book agent is Rick Broadhead, Canada’s leading literary agent, at RBA Literary. Before he did that, Rick and I wrote 34 books about the Internet in the 1990’s that sold well over 1 million copies!

This is going to be a great event, and I look forward to sharing the stage with two iconic thought leaders.

 

I spend a huge amount of my time dealing with senior executives in global companies; just hit my client list for a sense of what I do. This usually involves a lot of conversations with CEO’s of Fortune 1000’s, startups, and other C-suite executives.

With that, I’m always fascinated by the public promise of a company, and the eventual reality of what is delivered.  With that, I give you the public promise of Sir Richard Branson of Virgin when it comes to his staff:


That’s a good message for a CEO to promise. Treat people as you would like to be treated.

Sir Richard, maybe you should make sure your staff treats potential business partners with the same degree of respect. Just a thought…..

As a global expert on trends and innovation, I often see the dichotomy between the promise of a brand and the reality. So here’s a story for you to ponder. Is the promise above real?

Maybe not, from a recent experience of mine. Listen in: it’s not much a story, but I  find it interesting and want to get this off my chest…. and you might find it to be so too.

It was a thrill for me back in February of this year when I was contacted by the office of Sir Richard Branson to see if I might contribute to a “book”  his office was putting together, specifically:

Virgin is embarking on a project to consider the future of UK work and business 20 years from now. We’re keen to bring together some of the best minds in the country – to form predictions on the most pertinent emerging trends and recommendations for how we best work towards a thriving 2037.”

Their ask  was to see if I could contribute to a section on the future of the workplace, as in:

The How you Work chapter will focus on working environments, communication with colleagues, access to the office, commuting, global vs local, access to support communities”

The idea was that they would deliver this sometime towards the end of this month, with a number of contributors participating. They indicated that given my background with speaking and writing about the future of the workplace, workforce and the organization that I would have some ‘powerful’ insight.

I don’t mind saying that being involved in such a project would certainly be a thrill and probably one of the highlights of my global career, next to such things as doing talks for Disney, NASA and the Swiss Innovation Forum!

With that, an exploratory call was arranged by the folks at Sir Richards office to discuss my potential contribution. I took the call while out on a ski hill, and we kicked ideas back and forth for about 1/2 hour. The call certainly seemed to go well, and they indicated they would get back to me within a week to talk about ‘next steps.’

And then, silence. Nothing. So I followed up with an email. Then another, and then another. And ….nothing. Complete and utter — and baffling — radio silence. Not a simple, single response to several emails asking if the project was moving on. Not even anything telling me, ‘thanks for the exploratory call, but we’ve moved in other directions…..”

To this day, I still don’t even know what happened with the project. Who knows — maybe we’ll see something in the next few weeks, and I will know that I didn’t make the cut.

So what? Well, here’s the thing: what I see from Virgin in this case is complete disrespect from Sir Richards staff. The complete and simple lack of the courtesy of a response to several inquiries, following up on our original conversation. How do you square that with the promise of a CEO to treat his staff with respect? If that very staff can’t treat potential external business partners with similar respect….?

This isn’t sour grapes; it would have been a lot of fun to participate. Heavens knows I’ve got plenty of other things to do….

But what gets me is this: Sir Richard is known for establishing companies, and a culture, that thrives on the utmost of respect and service. Virgin Airlines, for example, can put many other companies to shame for its ability to be relentlessly customer centric. His promise in a quote such as above is to excel in establishing a staff culture based on respect…

Yet that respect doesn’t seem to trickle down from his office….

My question to Sir Richard is this — why can the staff in your office not carry the same attributes? It might be time for you to ask a few questions….

Just wondering.

Innovation? Do These 10 Things Now….
May 12th, 2017, by Jim Carroll

Obviously, I spend a lot of time thinking about innovation. And given my global client list, I have a unique front-row seat into what organizations are doing to succeed — or, as they case may be, not succeed — with their innovation efforts.

With that, here’s a quick list of 10 more things that smart, innovative companies do to create an overall sense of innovation-purpose.

  • Heighten the importance of innovation. One major client with several billons in revenue has 8 senior VP’s who are responsible for innovation. And the fact is, they don’t just walk the talk — they do it. The message to the rest of the company? Innovation is critical — get involved.
  • Create a compelling sense of urgency. With product lifecycles compressing and markets witnessing fierce competition, now is not the time for studies, committee meetings and reports. It’s time for action. Simply do things. Now. Get it done. Analyze it later to figure out how to do it better next time.
  • Ignite each spark. Innovative leaders know that everyone in the organization has some type of unique creativity and talent. They know how to find it, harness it, and use it to advantage.
  • Re-evaluate the mission. You might have been selling widgets five years ago, but the market doesn’t want widgets anymore. If the world has moved on, and you haven’t, it is time to re-evaluate your purpose, goals and strategies. Rethink the fundamentals in light of changing circumstances.
  • Build up experiential capital. Innovation comes from risk, and risk comes from experience. The most important asset today isn’t found on your balance sheet — it is found in the accumulated wisdom from the many risks that you’ve taken. The more experiential capital you have, the more you’ll succeed.
  • Shift from threat to opportunity. Innovative organizations don’t have management and staff who quiver from the fear at what might be coming next. Instead, they’re alive from breathing the oxygen of opportunity.
  • Banish complacency and skepticism. It’s all too easy for an organization, bound by a history of inaction, to develop a defeatist culture. Innovative leaders turn this around by motivating everyone to realize that in an era of rapid change, anything is possible..
  • Innovation osmosis. If you don’t have it, get it — that’s a good rule of thumb for innovation culture. One client lit a fuse in their innovation culture by buying up small, aggressive, young innovative companies in their industry. They then spent the time to carefully nurture their ideas and harness their creativity.
  • Stop selling product, and sell results. The word solution is overused and overdone, but let’s face it — in a world in which everything is becoming a commodity and everyone is focused on price, change the rules of the game. Refuse to play — by thinking about how to play in a completely new game.
  • Create excitement. I don’t know how many surveys I saw this year which indicated that the majority of most people in most jobs are bored, unhappy, and ready to bolt. Not at innovative companies! The opportunity for creativity, initiative and purpose results in a different attitude. Where might your organization be on a “corporate happiness index?” If it’s low, then you don’t have the right environment. Fix that problem — and fix it quick.
Follow Me!
May 7th, 2017, by Jim Carroll

If you want to follow me, I’ve set up links over in the sidebar on the right.

 

Each business day, you’ll discover a new motivational stage quote posted to Instagram and Flickr. Visit those pages, and you’ll discover over 200 such quotes! Folks seem to be loving the unique insight that comes across as I shape may thoughts with my morning coffee.

In addition, blog posts are automatically linked to my Facebook page and Twitter feed.

I keep pretty busy on Twitter with insight into trends, commentary on news, and other issues.

My sons won’t let me use Snapchat. We’ll see about that!

Give me a follow, and share your insight!

I’ll admit, I’ve become a relentless golf nut, and I’ve even got a fairly decent handicap, often breaking 90 (which is less than what 1% of golfers can do.) I’ve got a son with a 1 handicap, which makes for  rather interesting rounds!

One of biggest career thrills as a futurist who focuses on the concept of innovation is found in the fact that the PGA of America has had me in to keynote their organization not once, but twice. The first time was for their annual general meeting, and then last year, to open the annual PGA Merchandise Show — where I was on stage after Lee Trevino and followed by Bubba Watson!

Both of these events have involved a focus on the idea of innovation, and what the industry and sport needs to do to continue to drive innovation, growth and interest in the game.

The common buzz ‘out there’ is that golf is a sport in decline. You’d certainly think that by reading the media. I beg to differ, and believe that the reality is far more positive. Much of this is due to the fact that there are a whole bunch of people in the game who are doing fascinating things to drive interest in what golf is all about.  Much of it involves reaching young people, using social media, to draw interest into the game.

With that, here’s my list of I think are the most important initiatives and people today in growing interest in the game.

Topgolf

Essentially, a driving range with technology, GPS golf balls, beer and chicken wings. If you check out the Instagram feed, you’ll see posts of young kids exploring whats involved in swinging a club. View social media postings around #topgolf, though, and you’ll see that it can be crazy busy on Friday and Saturday nights. I had the chance to interview the CIO on stage in Orlando at the PGA Merchandise show, and he has some wonderful insights on the impact of TopGolf on game growth. Watch the video clip here.

Essentially, TopGolf is getting people to try out a golf swing in a fun social environment. Statistics show that 1 out of 3 go on to try out golf in a real golf course. That’s a huge driving factor for growth!

Women with Drive

TopGolf uses social media to drive the game forward — and so much growth in the game today is being driven in the same way. With that, check out Women with Drive, another social media initiative. In this case, a number of young ladies  are using the power and reach of Instagram, Facebook and other tools to encourage women to discover the game. Their tag line is “Inspiring women to connect and play more golf“. The posts encourage those to find fellow women partners to come out for a round and either learn about or share their love for the game.

On Instagram, you’ll find many posts around new individuals getting involved in the game. Just this morning, they had a group in San Diego, doing what they do. It’s a national effort to get young women to come out for a round, and learn and love the game. Golf can be intimidating — it can be tough to break into, and there is a massive learning curve until you feel comfortable in getting out there and joining in for a round with people you don’t know. Women with Drive seems to be eager to break down those barriers, and I’ve got to give them credit for their passion and purpose.

(I will admit that golf has become the driving factor for many of my own Instagram activities – I follow a lot of golf pros and other folks. And if you follow #teamwwd, you can’t help but discovering the #golfbabes hashtag. I only follow that for the insight into innovation and the game, and not for the pictures!)

Rickie Fowler’s Snapchat / Instagram feed

While Women with Drive often shows a more sophisticated, feminine approach to growing the game of golf, the younger male generation also takes to social media to share their interest in the game. And no doubt, you’ve seen posts around Rickie Fowler’s annual trek to the Bahamas with fellow golf pros.

You get to see rising stars, normally found on the quaint, organized PGA tour, letting loose with a round of golf and other activities. They’re out golfing shirtless, beer in hand, behaviour bordering on the outrageous — which is what a lot of weekend hackers do. It provides the perfect connection between the average weekend golfer and the multi-million dollar golf pro, and gets out the message that the sport can be fun and inspiring at the same time!

Doug Lawrie & Michelle Holmes –  PGA Professionals

Most people, when they hear the phrase “PGA Pro”, think of folks like Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler. Those are the ‘touring Pros’ — but there are also PGA Professionals, folks who are the teaching professionals, helping others to master the complexities of the swing and they game grow.

Perhaps the most important PGA instructors out there today are those who dedicate their lives into getting young people into the game. Hence, I give you Doug Lawrie and Michelle Holmes!

Doug I know well — he’s the head teaching pro at my home golf club, Credit Valley. Michelle I have never met, but I’d love to meet her!

Doug regularly uses social media to tell the story and share the insight of the young people that he coaches. He’s tremendously successful – one of his proteges, a 10 year old girl, went on to win her category in last years world championship. Doug also has attention deficit disorder  – hence, his teaching company name, “Focus Golf Group”. Just the other day, I met him on the range and he was teaching a young girl a lesson; she’s deaf! He seems to take delight in taking on challenging cases, and turning these challenges into big opportunities.

Michelle Holmes I discovered through my connection with Rich Smith (below). Her feed on Instagram and Facebook is filled with fascinating photos and stories of her work with young people around golf lessons, summer golf camps and more.  Check this post, in which she notes, “Golf is a journey of a lifetime.”

Her passion for everything in getting young people into the game is infectious, and is another role model for what we can do to get the next generation involved in this wonderful sport.

Suzy Whaley

This passion for growing the game with young people flourishes out in the grassroots with Doug and Michelle — but it s also infused throughout the top leadership of the game. Case in point: Suzy Whaley, soon to be head of the PGA of America.

When I keynoted the 2010 PGA annual general meeting, little did I know that one of the most dynamic individuals in the world of golf was in the room – Suzy Whaley. She’s currently the Vice President of the PGA of America, and if all goes to plan, she’ll assume the leading role soon. Although we’ve never met in person — our paths have crossed — I’ve had the opportunity to learn from her insight.

What strikes me about Suzy is this : while she’s very busy with her responsibilities with the PGA, it’s also obvious that she is doing what she loves: helping young people to get involved in the game, or as a mom, cheering on her college age daughters, both of whom compete for their colleges!

Consider the magic in this post: here you have one of the most senior executives in the world of golf today, and what is she doing in any extra time she might have? Getting young people involved!

Cathy Butler, A Mom, and Peter Butler, a Dad

Suzy Whaley is one aspect of the world of golf at a career level. Then there are the moms and the dads, and parents who get their children out to the range, to the course, and to the lessons.

So I bring you Cathy and Peter Butler, good personal friends. Cathy has been golfing as long as she can remember, and carries a mean handicap. (She’s also the only person who has invited me out for a round, only to see me leave for a complex reason on the 13th hole. I will never live it down.) Peter, her husband, took it up later once he met Cathy….

Cathy and Peter are also the parents of 25 year old Thomas Butler, a marvellous year old fellow who has Downs Syndrome.

Thomas golfs.He skis. He does things that bring other people joy as they watch him and see his joy in doing wonderful things.

And he’s got a wicked drive which would put many other people to shame! Check it out! 220 yards straight down the middle!

Cathy and her husband Peter have done everything they can to provide their son with an enriching life full of powerful experiences. Cathy founded Events for Life, the charity for special needs young adults, for which I am now the Webmaster and on which my wife Christa sits on the Board of Directors. I am in awe of Cathy and Peter, and think they provide an important pathway to bring special needs children into the game.

Rich Smith, Executive Director, North Florida PGA

I got to know Rich through my keynote for the PGA. Aside from his unhealthy fascination for anything Star Wars related, he is one of many individuals in the PGA who has taken on a leading role in moving the Drive, Chip and Putt initiative forward.

That’s the national program which allows young people to progress through a series of regional competitions, the winners of which get to participate in an annual event at Augusta, days before the Masters.

Rich is putting a tremendous amount of effort into this initiative, and his passion shows in every single post and activity. That is, when he’s not obsessing about Star Wars!

Lexi Thompson and the LPGA

Last but not least — if you have any interest in golf, you’ll know of the boneheaded move by the LPGA to assess professional women’s golfer Lexi Thompson an additional, bonus-point penalty a day later, after someone watched something on TV. (With that, the LPGA became the most destructive force in the world of golf today!)

If anything, Lexi has taught her young fans everywhere that above all, sportsmanlike behaviour, decency and values are important attributes to bring to the game. Like the others, Lexi is a huge inspiration to young girls, and as a new type of role model, is helping to bring the game forward.

The 9th hero! (aka The people who support we who are golf nuts)

Oh, but wait, there’s more! Behind every golf nut, there’s an unsung hero. In this case, my wife!

She’s had to take up the game, schlepping her golf bag through airports, putting up with my relentless drive to tee it off at many of the fabulous golf resorts I get to visit as a leading global keynote speaker! To all the unsung heroes in our golf lives — we are grateful!

And the 10th hero!? Tom Carroll! (aka The people who drive our interest in the game)

The challenge with a list like this is that it keeps on growing!

I just came back from the range with my son, Tom — he’s the one with the 1-handicap. (Although, he’s just graduating from college, and will start full time work with an investment firm in a month, so his handicap is bound to go up.)  Tom is one of the main reason for my passion for the game — he took it up at a young age, and as a dad, I wanted to do whatever I could to be a part of his life as he got older.

While hitting some balls, I realized he really needed to be on the list. In everyone’s life, there is a kid name Tom — the driving reason why someone else develops an interest in the sport. So this recognition is for all the “Tom’s” out there – the other people who help to get others involved in the game.

Tom has competed in golf events, has worked for a golf pro teaching little kids, and has developed a reputation as a young man around our home club who people just like to golf with. He’s been tremendously patient with my erratic game, often offering me swing tips when needed, but backing off when he knows it will be a thankless exercise. The coolest thing? He’s still willing to go out for rounds with his dad on a regular basis.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

The most fun, perhaps, came from the day that he met Vice President Joe Biden on a golf course!

Who are your golf heroes? Share your stories with me, and with others — and let’s grow the game!

Here’s a video clip in which I’m speaking on stage at a trucking conference in Phoenix about just how quickly things are happening in the world of intelligent, self-driving vehicles.

Including why penguins are so important!

 

Half of the events I do as a futurist and innovation expert are spent at corporate leadership events. I’m frequently engaged by a CEO or other senior executive for a global Fortune 1000 company to come in and challenge their team as to how to align to a fast paced, disruptive future. After all, the reality is that speed is a new success metric.

There’s a lot of work and customization that goes into each and every talk — just last week, I met with 20 executives in the nuclear industry, and spent a lot of time updating myself as to trends in the energy and nuclear sector so that I could guide and challenge their thinking in a powerful way.

While researching and preparing, or while delivering my insight, I’ve noticed an increasing number of organizations are seeking to set their innovation energies on fire by encouraging their younger, interactive generation to explore opportunities for the digital, disruptive future through what I’ve come to call an Xbox room!

Why? Because this generation gets-it, knows how to innovate, and is the most powerful force for change in our world today. Consider the reality:

  • half of the global population is under the age of 25
  • we know they are globally wired, entrepreneurial, collaborative, and change oriented
  • and they are now now driving rapid business model change, and industry transformation as they move into executive positions

With that reality, organizations are realizing they should allow this generation to light their creative energies on fire, even if they aren’t sure as to what they might do or where their efforts might go!

The idea is to set them up with an innovation facility by which they can explore and accelerate the adoption of leading digital tools throughout the organization that can accelerate innovation efforts, provide for better collaboration and so much more.

Case in point: I spent some time in St. Louis with Amsted Rail: they manufacture the ‘bogies’ which are the wheel-undercarriage assemblies found on railcars. It was a thrill for my wife and I to have a tour of their manufacturing facility before my talk to see what they are doing to realign themselves to opportunities for innovation in manufacturing.

And the tour included what they call their iLab — or, what I would call for the fun of it, an Xbox room! In this facility, they are continually examining a variety of ideas as to how to continue to move the organization forward. This includes exploring a variety of ideas and technologies, including:

  • state of the art brainstorming centres to facilitate ideas colliding from all corners of our company
  • real-time employee collaboration tools across geographically diverse sites (to promote “a collision of ideas”)
  • how to use connected SMART Boards to simultaneously write/draw/share over any application using “digital ink”
  • 3D scanning/modelling systems to enhance product R&D and quality capabilities
  • advanced tensile testing techniques for enhanced product strength & durability

I had a chance to chat with the young fellows in the Xbox room — and listen to their ideas. It’s obvious its a rocket engine for innovative thinking!

That’s but one example: the more I witness what organizations are doing to accelerate innovation, the more I discover some sort of ‘Xbox room.’ I recently keynoted a major conference on the future of trucking in Phoenix.

While on stage, I spoke about a company in Winnipeg, Canada — Bison Trucking. They’ve set up a facility to encourage younger staff to explore how to align the fast pace of technological change in trucking to opportunities for digital technologies — read an extensive blog post about their efforts in the post Trend: In Trucking, Aircraft Control Towers Are the New Offices.

There’s plenty of others – Xbox rooms seem to be springing up everywhere!

Here’s what you need to think about:

  • you should set up a digital facility with all kinds of ‘toys’ relevant to your industry, and set the creative energies of a group of young staff free to explore
  • don’t set any specific goals, objectives or deliverables on the project — simply set it free to explore!
  • explain the purpose and mission of the group to the rest of the organization, and encourage them to bring unique problems to the group

Go ahead – make an Xbox room!

 

 

I just had a short talk in an airport with an urban planner; the inevitable question came about as to where I was going, and then, what I do. (In today’s case, I’m going to speak to 250 cattle ranchers about their future….)

So I explained the idea of a futurist, and in order to make it relevant, I came up with a trends scenario for him: “What do we do about zombie cars from an urban planning perspective?”

The essence of the issue is this:

  • one day, we’ll have a lot of self-driving vehicles
  • in that context, there are many communities where people have to pay extra for overnight parking spots, either for their condominium or due to the unique design of the neighbourhood they live in
  • in some communities, these parking spots are expensive — upwards of $500 to $1,000 a month
  • people with self-driving cars will avoid this cost, simply by sending their cars out at 6 or 7pm to drive around the neighbourhood for the night, or to go park at a shopping mall parking lot somewhere
  • everyone will order them back around the same time — say, 6AM
  • and so we will suddenly have to deal with new traffic jams occurring at 6am
  • so the question is, what will an urban planner do to deal with the new challenges coming from zombie cars?
  • Will it be an issue, and how should we manage and plan for it?

Just saying. Just one of many fascinating topics I bring into my keynote, Accelerating the Auto and Trucking Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles.

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