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What are the big issues that organizations need to be focused on?
Think about three simple words: transformation, acceleration and collaboration.
That’s been the focus of a number of CEO-level keynotes I’ve recently done. A good example was a dinner keynote I did for key clients of BASF, a global chemicals company, in San Antonio, Texas.
How do these three words help senior executives reframe the idea of innovation? Like this:
- transformation: nothing will ever be the same, and complacency with strategy is not a great idea for going forward. What worked in the past surely won’t work in the future! Everything is changing at a furious pace: business models, customers, products and services, new competitors, organizational structure. Give me a minute with your company or association, and I can give you deep insight into how your world will look entirely different five to ten years out.
- acceleration. Companies need to relentlessly reinvent themselves, particularly in terms of the products or services they offer, the markets they operate in, the business proposition at their core. In this world of hyper-connected global business models, speed is the new metric for success going forward. Give me a minute with your company, and I’ll give you innovation heroes who are busy reinventing themselves at the velocity that is demanded today.
- collaboration. To transform and accelerate, be relentless with structure. Constantly rethink you skills they employ, the partnerships you pursue and the insight you glean from shared ideas. We’re in the era of the global idea machine as witnessed with crowd-thinking and crowdfunding — align yourself to the new insight that comes from the connected organization. Give me a minute with your company, and I’ll give you insight into the new hive-mind of success that is a 21st century innovation hero.
Does it work? One fellow at the dinner came up to me after, observing: “I’ve seen a lot of speakers, but your crystallized todays’ world in a really unique hard-hitting way. Oh, and it was great fun too!”
It was an awesome event, in an intimate setting, with senior executives of some of the largest energy and infrastructure companies in the world!
The last several months have involved a tremendous number of unique, and exhilarating keynote presentations.
Every once in a while I offer up a summary of what I’ve been doing, as it proves to be useful to potential clients who are exploring my services. It also will give you a sense of the tremendous range of talks and topics that I undertake.
Quite simply, I seem to stand out in the industry of futurists and speakers for the really extensive work and customization I put into my talks, as well as the breadth of the unique topics that I take on.
Here’s a sample of just a bit of what I’ve been up to:
- an opening keynote for the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, with a focus on the role of technology in helping to grow the game, attract younger players, and improve the player experience. I was on stage after Lee Trevino, and followed later by Bubba Watson. It was a real thrill, and the 2nd time the PGA has brought me in for a major event! You can read more simply by hitting the PGA tag in my Web site.
- I opened the Sporting and Fitness Industry Association with a talk on trends impacting the future of sports and fitness. It was kind of fascinating to be followed on stage by Roger Goodall, Commissioner of the NFL! There’s on extensive post I wrote post-event – Avoiding the BIG MISS – Will Your Company Be the Same in 10 Years? as well as Trend: The Future of Sports? All Interaction All the Time. And there’s lots more on the future of sports and fitness in that section of my Web site.
- a keynote for the 2016 Manufacturing in America Summit in Detroit, with a good, hard look at what is a real renaissance in the sector in North America. There were several other manufacturing keynotes along the way, including for QAD (ERP software for manufacturing companies) and the PowderMetal Manufacturing Association. Everyone knows there is a lot of political rhetoric around manufacturing right now (most of it dishonest) and so I am getting a significant number of bookings in this space from people looking for real insight into the challenges and opportunities in the sector. What’s really going on? Read my blog post, Trends: Why Manufacturing Needs to Reinvent Itself – Fast for more, or hit the Manufacturing Trends section for extensive blog posts, video clips from the stage and more on the reality of manufacturing today.
- Cruise Line International Association, which represents most if not all of the major and minor cruise line organizations in the world, brought me into their annual leaders summit for a talk on innovation and future trends.
- Johnson and Johnson, Whirlpool/AON Hewitt and other Fortune 1000 organizations had me in to speak at major leadership events on specific industry trends and broad trends involving business model disruption and other issues, built around the theme, What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t Do? The comments back? “We received great feedback about your session. Attendees found it valuable, insightful, interesting and somewhat terrifying J. Thank you for being such a great contributor to the event’s success!”
- three events for key customers of CDW, a major distributor and infrastructure company in the hi-tech space. My talk focused around the future of IT, particularly as a foundation for innovation for high velocity companies. There’s a good synopsis of the topic here — Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Aligning Yourself for the Era of Acceleration
- the future of agriculture with Reinke Manufacturing ; this is the company that manufactures those giant irrigation wheels you see on farms across North America. In the room were approximately 500 representatives of their dealer network, who were seeking insight on where agriculture goes next. For more, check the agriculture trends section of my Web site, as well as the 10 Trends for Agriculture post, which is undeniably the most popular page on my Web site, as well, it seems, one of the most popular pages on the Internet with respect to the future of agriculture!
- an invitation-only keynote for leaders of major national and regional veterinary associations, held at the massive National Association of Veterinary Medicine conference in Orlando. My talk took at look at the issues of business model disruption, the impact of social networking on pet care, the rapid evolution of veterinary science and more. I still have to blog about this one — it was fascinating!
- a look at the future of automotive, trucking and transportation for the North American leadership team of Volvo/Mac Trucks. This was a repeat performance for the group – it’s always great when they invite you back again! This was a talk around the future of the sector — autonomous vehicles, intelligent highway infrastructure, the end of car ownership and more. I’ve been doing quite a few talks around these topic areas — it’s a hot topic. For more, read my post , Accelerating the Auto Industry — and the Challenge of Change, as well as the Automotive and Transportation section of my Web site — lots of video.
- APICS — the Association of Professional Inventory Control Specialists, featured me for their annual conference in Las Vegas, with about 3,000 in the room, where I shared the event stage with the legendary Jack Welch, ex-CEO of GE. Read the press release here. I took at a wide ranging look at the future of retail and wholesale, consumer behaviour, shortened product lifecycle, the new state of manufacturing and more!
- a talk for the senior leadership and legal team for Kiewit. Who are they? One of the largest organizations involved in massive infrastructure and constructions projects, including energy, highways and more. Check the Energy & Infrastructure section for a bit of insight into the topic areas I covered for these folks.
- PracticeMatch, which is involved in physician recruitment, had me in for a talk that looked at the challenges and opportunities in recruiting the next generation of doctors. Read the blog post I wrote around my keynote – Trend Report: Physician Recruitment in the Era of Digital Intimacy. this is indicative of the type of massive, customized research that I often put into my talks.
That’s scratching the surface!
Going forward, September onwards looks like a lot of fun, with a similar broad range of topics, keynotes for major events, as well as private leadership meetings. Stay tuned!
A few months ago, I was the opening keynote speaker for QAD Explore, a major manufacturing conference. Prior to the event, I cut a little promo video for them.
It’s a good summary of trends in manufacturing — and is an example of the type of promo video I can cut for you when you book me for an event! (-;
If you think the industry you operate in will look the same in 10 years, you’re wrong!
Here’s a variety of video clips in which I put in perspective how various industries are being subjected to transformative change and disruption. Rethink your assumptions going forward into the future!
I had an inquiry to see if I might be able to do a keynote on the future of food and food trends. Of course I can! Here’s a clip from when I was the opening keynote speaker for the International Dairy, Deli & Bakery conference – it’s a big event in the industry, with about 2,500 people in the room.
Key issues? The nature of our relationship with food is changing faster. Social media drives taste trends. New taste sensations move faster. Even food trucks are having a big impact on what we choose to eat. The Mad Men TV series had a huge impact on trends within the beverage industry! Have a look.
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.
Investing in experiential capital is one of the most important things you can do.”
When people ask me about the “secrets” of innovative organizations, this is one of the key attributes I outline. They realize they are immersed in a world of fast-paced ideas — and they take on many different projects, some of which are doomed to fail, in order to build the overall experience of the organization.
Innovation is a mindset. Do you have what it takes?
Here’s a few simple thoughts on how to get out of your innovation rut!
Reward failure, and tone down the “I told-you-so’s”
Too many people think when times are volatile, that it’s not a good time to focus on big ideas. Not true! Consider history: many people stuck their neck out in the 1990’s and tried out new ways of doing business, new technologies, and innovative methods of dealing with markets and customers. Yet many of those efforts collapsed in spectacular fashion due to the dot.com/technology meltdown, and a dangerous sense of complacency set in. Back then, innovators had to hang their head in shame, and the nervous nellies who dared not innovate reigned supreme! Yet those who took risk excelled — they invented Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram…. When times are volatile and fear reigns, that’s the best time to make big bold moves.
We live in a time of unprecedented feedback and communication – and yet few organizations are prepared to listen! Customers are telling you, loudly, what they want. Young people are defining a future that is different from anything we’ve dealt with before. Competitive intelligence capabilities abound. And yet most or- ganizations ignore these signals, or don’t know how to listen – or even where to look. Organizations should reconsider the many effective ways of building effective digital feedback systems, in order that they can stay on top of fast-changing events, rediscover markets, and define opportunity – which will help them understand how and where they need to innovate.
Let your customers in the building
Don’t just listen to your customers – lead them in through the front door! The vir-tual building, that is. Global connectivity now provides an unprecedented opportunity for interactive design and innovation. Customer-oriented innovation should be your guiding phrase — les customers become intimately involved in the overall design and evolution of your products and services.
Encourage frivolous education
“Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century” – that’s a phrase that neatly captures the reality of the fast pace of change that envelopes us. Yet, how can employees innovate if they are restricted to formal education programs? Why not establish some “playtime” where staff can try out a multitude of new technologies, go shopping in a mall, or surf social networks – and then share what they’ve learned? Set them out onto frivolous activities with a goal in mind – to measure customer service, examine competitive activities, take a look at new products, or simply come up with some cool new ideas. Maybe you’ll get some unique insight that doesn’t come from traditional, boring, staid educational programs!
Promote offbeat time
Don’t stop at sending them to the mall – send them to the beach! Don’t restrict innovation into the organizational structure. Some years back, a mobile device company developed rainbow-colored cell phones, popular with young people, after some executives decided to hang out at the beach one day. It’s by promoting “whacky time” that organizations can come up with great ideas.
Destroy organizational sclerosis
It’s been said before, but needs to be said again – hierarchy is the enemy of inno-vation. Everyone knows that the big challenge in many organizations are silos, uncommunicative departments, and a culture that doesn‘t promote openness. To improve the ability of an organization to innovate, communication barriers need to be broken down.Today, there are countless methods to destroy “organizational sclerosis,” particularly through frivolous employee communications. Establish informal innovation idea channels, and magic will flow!
Throughout the next year, take the time to listen to young people — anyone 10 years younger than yourself, or even more. They’re building the future right now, and you’d do well to understand it. Their future is hyper-active, interactive and multi-tasking – this generation gets bored quickly, and they are beginning to dominate your workplace. They are also becoming your new competitors. Don’t expect them to subscribe to the same old beliefs as to structure and rules, working hours, and corporate culture, or business models. You won’t survive in their future if you don’t take the time to understand what they are doing, talking about, and thinking.
As an optimistic futurist, I’m always looking for the upside — I believe that the only way to move forward is to have an upbeat attitude on what you can do to shape the future in a positive way, rather than the easy way out of denigrating the potential of what comes next. It goes to one of my main points on stage: “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Real innovators see the same trend — and see an opportunity!”
Which brings me to skiing!
At the age of age of 39, some years ago, I somehow thought it could be an important cornerstone in my life and that of my family — that of becoming active, healthy and involved. If I was to live through my 40’s and beyond in good health — well, we should embrace winter!
So we took up skiing and my family became a family of skiers and snowboarders. I am so proud! (I could barely get down the baby hill the first few days – but in five short years, found myself skiing the Swiss Alps after I was the closing keynote speaker for the Swiss Innovation Forum.)
Little did I know that just about the same time, at my home ski club — a little bump of a hill in eastern North America known as Georgian Peaks — a young girl who was about 12 years old, was setting her own goals, determined to reach the podiums in her own life.
And did she ever succeed. Earlier this year, Larisa Yurkiw finished her career as one of the top-3 downhill racers in the world, racing with and sharing the podium with the likes of Lindsay Vonn, Julie Mancuso and others, on some of the most challenging courses in Switzerland, Italy and Austria, not to mention the Sochi Olympics. She challenged herself, dreamed big dreams, and established big goals — starting out a small little ski hill in Southern Ontario. During her racing career, she would hit speed of up to 140 miles per hour — and have to turn and balance on an instant.
Yet here’s the thing: Larisa’s story is not only personally motivating, but it also offers everyone fabulous unique business insight, and what happens when one if totally focused on a goal. For her, the racing career was a gruelling but ultimately rewarding trek. One that involved stunning disappointments, injuries and crashes that would condemn most mere mortals to a life of stagnation — not to mention a national ski association that turned its back on her at a critical time.
With that, she persevered, and won on her own terms. Consider these simple facts, which Larisa now uses on stage in her own keynote presentations:
- the average downhill racer hits forces of 3-5 G’s in a turn. Bode Miller has been clocked at 12 G’s in a turn!! That’s more than the 3.5 G’s that astronauts experience in a rocket launch.
- during her racing career, Larisa had 5 knee surgeries and 5000 hours of rehab — and yet still made it to the Sochi Olympics, and ranked in the top 3 in the world in subsequent World Cup racing season events
- she raised $750,000 over the last 3 years in her ‘free time’ in order to ski for Canada – because the Canadian ski team felt like distributing the financial support elsewhere, and chose not to support her after a crash just before the 2010 Whistler Olympics. No funding? No problem. She set out to build her own racing team, and raised the funds through crowdfunding and constant, relentless and innovative approaches to potential sponsors
The rest of us would do very well to learn from her example, because it it a story of stunning courage, determination, focus, and passion!
In my own case, I’m honoured to have witnessed this singularly spectacular journey from the sidelines, and am in awe of the opportunity to call her a friend. These days, I’m providing her guidance as she takes on the new and challenging role of sharing her motivational story on stage. Learn more at her Web site, www.larisaspeaks.com
Which brings me to the movie Streiff: One Hell of a Ride.
If you want to discover a great movie, watch this one. It documents the gruelling training, preparation and mastery of the mind that is downhill skiing. If you crave for a movie with depth, this is the one that you want to watch. Do it now!
What struck me about the movie, when I watched it for the first time, was that the training for this most demanding of athletic competitions was beyond intense. The start of the movie focuses on 3 different downhill racing athletes and their approach to preparing for “one hell of a ride”.
To me, it seemed that each had an essentially different approach, that involved a focus on
- agility: a racer that focused on a lot of exercise that involved the ability to quickly turn, change angles, and shift weight from one foot to another
- balance : another racer seemed to build his training around the idea of balance and gymnastics
- strength: one fellow training for the downhill is doing lunges UPHILL with heavy weights. Now that’s strong!
And while watching this, that jumped out to me as a powerful business mindset.
Given fast paced change with markets, customers, technology, business models and competitors, organizations today need to focus more on what they must do to respond. And that implies:
- they need to have the agility to change quickly — before its too late
- they must have the ability to balance their action against the reality of current demands — it’s a careful juggling act to keep one foot firmly focused on the future while the other provides a solid foundation for today
- and they require a lot of core strength — whether it is skills and talent, determination to get ahead, or a leadership team that puts in place a solid foundation for growth
As you take your organization forward into the future, do you have the agility, balance and strength that is required? It’s a good question to ask.
Do you really want to challenge yourself in this regard? Larisa and I have talked about the idea that it would be great to combine our story on stage into two powerful, back to back keynote presentations. My focus with organizations has always been that “the future belongs to those who are fast!” Larisa has demonstrated, through her racing career and her determination, that a “relentless focus on speed” works out at the end of the day — in a pretty powerful way!
We live in interesting times, where an inane political debate makes it seem that with a wave of a magic wand, an entire industry can be transformed overnight.
It won’t happen like that, folks.
It will happen through constant innovation, big bold moves, skill set reinvention and challenging thinking that will – and already is — providing for significant transformation.
I speak at quite a few major manufacturing events. Here’s a clip where I’m in front of 2,000 manufacturing executives and engineers in Chicago a few months ago, speaking to the reality of what is occurring on the ground.
- in 1960, 24% of the US labor force was involved in manufacturing, while today, that number is 8% (yes, 5 million jobs have vanished)
- robotics and intelligent manufacturing technology has replace far more US workers than have Mexican or Chinese faciltiies
- today US factories produce twice as much stuff as they did in 1984 but with 1/3 fewer workers
- manufacturing as a % of GDP is virtually unchanged since 1960
- much of US manufacturing has shifted from the rustbelt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan to Southern states, much of which has involved significant new intelligent facilities
It’s kind of sad and tragic that a sector which has been so busy innovating finds itself in the midst of what really is a dishonest debate.
The key going forward? Manufacturing needs to continue to focus on what it has done so well in the past — innovate, focus on the future, reinvent!
Change! Deal with it!
My sons and I filmed 15 years ago; we put some signs up along what we call the “squirrel highway” in the yard; we left the camera on for an hour; and we caught this little fellow and the interruption to his routine.
It’s kind of a cute video, and since I’m on March break this week skiing and not thinking too much, I thought it would make for a great blog post!
There’s a lot of uncertainty with folks out there today, given political volatility, economic uncertainty, rapid business and industry change … and so there are a lot of mindsets that are challenged.
What’s your perspective? Is the future full of opportunity, or is it a threat? Watch this!
Over at InsightReplay, a company which makes the systems for tracking sports in real time, a blog post from 2015 with my observations on the future of interactive sports!
I post this today, because my predictions have certainly been right — the NFL is planning on embedding chips into footballs for the 2016 season!
There’s no doubt that technology—particularly interactive technology—will have an impact on the future of sports. With regard to both the player and the game, things will change, and as futurist Jim Carroll explains in his presentation, “The Future of Interactive Sports Technology,” those changes are just that—change.
You can watch Carroll’s short (6-minute) presentation here:
Some of the takeaways from Carroll’s talk include:
- Kids today are growing up in a “widely interactive world.” They expect results instantly and receive great satisfaction from interaction and online connection.
- Carroll predicts more and more sports equipment and products will have built-in interaction and data measurement. For example, today’s baseball bat is just that – a simple baseball bat. According to Carroll, the baseball bat of the future will be wirelessly connected to a web cam that automatically records a player’s swing style and speed. So not only will coaches have immediate access for coaching purposes, the kids, who are already so totally immersed in interactive technology, will upload video to social media to share with their friends and family.
- Carroll also sees big changes in the game of golf, and describes his future version of the golf ball with a built-in web cam. Imagine those interactive views as the ball flies across the golf course!
Carroll’s point is the world of sports will continue to change and evolve as more devices and more players are integrally connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).
He urges us to recognize that this progression is what our next generation wants—and is, in fact, helping to create.
While there will always be debate about whether or not these technological advancements are ‘good’ for sports, Carroll frames the changes as “not bad, different.”
Technology is reshaping sports and what it means to be an athlete. From head injury detection and prevention, to clothing that warns of dehydration, tech is helping athletes become better, faster, and stronger. Video is also a powerful tool for both training and in-game scenarios, allowing coaches and players to capture real-time evidence of what they’re doing right and where their technique or performance can be improved.
Carroll makes some bold predictions and reminds us that the sports world is changing and we are about to enter some pretty exciting new territory. The player of tomorrow is going to be more interactive, safer and better trained than ever before.
As technology advances, there is no limit to the advances professional and recreational sports will see.
#brexit #uselection #economicmeltdown
Suddenly, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world. Senior executives who are focused on trying to move their organizations are discovering that aggressive indecision has set in. What should you do? Here’s some video guidance for your innovation soul!