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"Your future members will work in industries, businesses and organizations that evolve faster in terms of their focus, products, services and mandates" -- Jim Carroll

Over the last 25 years, Jim Carroll has keynoted the annual meetings and conferences for hundreds of associations, with audiences of up to 4,000 people. He has written dozens of articles for association, meeting and event industry publications related to the future of associations. Some of his clients include • National Recreation and Parks Association • Sporting and Fitness Association of America • Texas Cattlefeeders Association • American Association of Preferred Provider Associations • American Marketing Association • Association of Land Surveyors • Utah League of Cities and Towns • Association of Petroleum Landmen • Association of Professional Executives • Confectionery Manufacturers Association • Crop Protection Association • Equipment Leasing Association • International Newspaper Marketing Association • Mechanical Contractors Association • National Association of Fleet Administrators • National Rural Electrical Cooperative • National Rural Telecom Association • Professional Marketing Research Society • Propane Gas Association • Purchasing Management Association • Western Retail Lumbermen's Association • World Congress of Association Executives • Young Presidents Organization .

Recent Posts in the Associations category


Post 9-11, all kinds of people predicted that we would see the end of corporate meetings, annual conferences and incentive trips. Instead, given the fear and concern with travel, and the rapid evolution of new technologies, most meetings would go virtual. Webcasts. and things like that were all the rage!

Back then, I called out this idiocy for what it was, and wrote an article for a leading meetings industry publication, Successful Meetings, entitled Get Real.

A key comment? “An event is as much about team building and networking as it is content.” At the end of the day, its about a group of people getting together, getting inspired, sharing ideas, and moving the future forward.

Read the article here

The Canadian Society of Association Executives had me write a series of articles with some of the unique challenges presented to associations in the context of fast-trends.

Here’s the 2nd one.

The nomadic worker carries different attitudes towards life and work, and rejects many of the currently accepted “norms” of the corporate environment. Their attitudes will revolutionize the world of work.

The nomadic worker carries different attitudes towards life and work, and rejects many of the currently accepted “norms” of the corporate environment. Their attitudes will revolutionize the world of work.

They provide good food for thought! More to come over the next week!

Nomadic Workers

The workforce is transformed as “nomadic workers” dominate the economy.

The number of full time jobs will continue to dramatically shrink – yet, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in the change of the relationship between employer and employee.  Companies will hire the best talent, regardless of where that person might be. A

new form of career competitiveness is emerging, with extreme competition for this group of nomadic workers – highly skilled individuals who call the shots.

All this in the context of a global economy in which where people work from won’t matter – a trend that has implications for the future of both rural and urban economies. Lifestyle choice will come to dominate career decisions.

The nomadic worker carries different attitudes towards life and work, and rejects many of the currently accepted “norms” of the corporate environment. Their attitudes will revolutionize the world of work.

The end result? The shape of tomorrow’s company won’t be defined by the walls in its offices – it will be defined by the reach of its computerized knowledge network, and its ability to tap into the skills and capabilities of the nomadic worker, at the right time, in the right place, for the right purpose.

Questions for Association Leaders

  • What are you doing to attract the new, independent contract worker into our association, and how do you remain relevant to their needs?
  • As your profession fragments into many different sub-specialties, how do you retain your relevance?

The Canadian Society of Association Executives had me write a series of articles with some of the unique challenges presented to associations in the context of fast-trends. Over the new week, I’ll play out these articles in a series of blog posts. They provide good food for though!

Your future members will work in industries, businesses and organizations that evolve faster in terms of their focus, products, services and mandates - what are you doing to challenge your mandate to deal with that?

Your future members will work in industries, businesses and organizations that evolve faster in terms of their focus, products, services and mandates – what are you doing to challenge your mandate to deal with that?

Over 20 years, I’ve keynoted numerous association and meeting professional events. Check the Association section (under Trends) of my Web site for more!

Crowd Thinking

Crowd thinking has replaced most forms of peer research. Most long established medical and science journals have transitioned – big time – accepting a new form of instant crowd thinking as
the best way to evaluate the new world hyper-science. In an instant, a researcher can summon acrowd of vetted, quality specialists who have niche knowledge in a rapidly changing field.

The result? A further acceleration of knowledge and in the pace of the discovery of new ideas and concepts. The impact? Massive velocity in the development of new technologies,pharmaceuticals, medical devices and forms of treatment, agricultural concepts an methodologies — every industry and profession has seen a profound shift bigger than the once amazing macro-knowledge burst of the Manhattan project.

Questions for Association Leaders:

  • Are you capable of migrating the professional education component of our role, so that rapid advances with crowd thinking become part of the curriculum/training?
  •  How quickly will the acceleration of knowledge that comes from crowd thinking challenge our professional skill set?

What do you need to be thinking about now when it comes to skills issues? Read my PDF  here or by clicking on the image.

21stcenturyskills

“Skills are Experiential. Skills are Generational. One of the most important assets that a company can invest in is “experiential capital”—that is, the cumulative knowledge the company has generated through innovation, risk, failure and success. Boost that skills capability and you’ve done something that flows onto the bottom line.”

 

An article from Meetings.Net on a recent keynote I did in Orlando….

Carroll digitalnow_0

The key to engagement? Not only to change up the seating and format, but to hire speakers who are not afraid to shake up the event, and who know enough about the meeting content to answer a variety of questions in meaningful ways.

DigitalNow’s creative Collaboration Sessions engaged the keynoter speakers with the audience in ways that felt fresh and unscripted.

Some 250 association executives and technology experts who gathered at the Hyatt Regency Orlando last week for digitalNow experienced a creative approach to the traditional keynote. Each morning’s general session, which featured a thought leader on a big idea, was followed by a “Collaboration Session.”

Fusion Productions, the Rochester, N.Y.–based company that organizes the forum, and which specializes in new communications technologies aimed at educating and motivating, crafted the staging and format for these creative Collaboration Sessions. They were an interesting blend of a panel, which asked follow-up questions, interspersed with questions from the audience, all facilitated by a skilled moderator.

The staging made for interesting engagement. For example, for the opening morning Collaboration Session, keynoter Jim Carroll, futurist and innovation expert, sat on stage in a director’s chair, with the moderator standing just off to his side. The room was set in crescent rounds. The three panelists, all association CEOs, and thought leaders in their own right, sat in director’s chairs positioned approximately in the middle of the room, spread out in a semi-circle. They posed a variety of smart questions to Carroll, which were seemingly unrehearsed and which he candidly answered (as candidly as one who foresees future trends can answer). The audience piped in on occasion to ask questions, or sent questions via text messaging to the moderator, who skillfully interspersed meaningful comments and questions throughout.

The key to engagement? Not only to change up the seating and format, but to hire speakers who are not afraid to shake up the event, and who know enough about the meeting content to answer a variety of questions in meaningful ways.

Carroll, who in a later interview said he prides himself on being the “content guy who loves to get into the meat of the issue,” when hired by an association or company to keynote. “There’s always an overriding theme or challenge when I talk to the association CEO,” he says. “I get frustrated when an association confronted with big challenges hires ‘Shark Tank’ people as their keynoters. They’re choosing that over content?”

Because he’s hired by so many associations, and writes columns for association magazines, Carroll understands the association business. “Many associations’ annual events are on autopilot. Same old title, same old speakers, they talk about the same old stuff,” Carroll continues. “I see a need in the association world for short-term strategic meetings.” He also sees the need for video learning, particularly among younger people.

Bottom-line, says this futurist, face-to-face meetings will always be part of our future, because “at the end of the day, it’s about getting together for a wine or a beer” to discuss the day’s events and the business at hand. “You can’t do that virtually.”

JimCarrollOver on the CPA Success Blog at the Business Learning Institute, there’s a good article on the future of knowledge and careers.

It’s based on a keynote I did for the DigitalNow 2016 conference, in which I spoke to 300 association executives on future trends affecting their organizations.

Want to stay relevant? Learn for a living
April 23, 2016  /  by Bill Sheridan

Change and complexity? We’ve talked about this stuff to death, but nobody has illustrated for us how quickly things are changing quite like Jim Carroll.

The futurist — who also happens to be an accountant — keynoted the 2016 edition of the always-awesome DigitalNow conference in Orlando by scaring the crap out of the association professionals who paid good money to hear him speak.

Consider these nuggets from Carroll:

  • Sixty-five percent of children in preschool today will eventually work in jobs or industries that do not currently exist.
  • Half of what freshmen learn in their first year of college will be obsolete by the time they graduate.

“We live in a world of acceleration,” Carroll took the DigitalNow crowd. “The future is becoming the present faster than ever.”

“That future,” he added, “belongs to the fast.”

The culprit for much of this complexity? Technology. Moore’s Law marches on … much faster, in fact, than our ability to keep up.

That’s just the changing nature of the world today. And really, for the youngest generations, it’s not complexity at all. It’s just life, and they’ve been raised to roll with the punches.

For the rest of us, things are getting a little crazy.

Carroll says we’ve lost control of the pace of change within our respective industries. That control now lies with the tech geniuses in Silicon Valley.

What we can control is our ability to learn new skills — and to teach our clients what we’ve learned in the process. That might be our new competitive advantage going forward.

“We live in a world of rapid knowledge obsolescence,” Carroll said. “Our job is to deliver just-in-time knowledge to our clients and customers. We must help them confront their new reality and embrace the opportunities it presents.”

Put another way, Carroll quoted American writer Sidney Perelman: “Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.”

Put still another way: The most important skill any of us will have going forward is the ability to learn new skills — to outlearn the pace of change, and help our clients do the same.

As I said earlier, Carroll is an accountant, so he speaks a CPA’s language. In a brief interview after his DigitalNow keynote, he tied his thoughts directly to the CPA profession. Here’s what he had to say.

In a few weeks, I’ll keynote the Digital Now conference — it’s a get together of executives from major associations across the US.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time speaking to, and writing about, the association sector — check out the Association Trends section of my blog for more.

Deirdre Reed writes numerous articles for the association sector, and had this nice writeup on some of the issues I’ll cover in Orlando!

turtles-puttering-along-together

“The digitalNow conference is a great opportunity to get away for a few days to rethink everything in the company of curious association execs who don’t accept mere relevance.”

4 Truths About the Future of Associations
by Deirdre Reid

“Innovation” is such a buzzword now that I wouldn’t blame association execs for tuning out when they hear it. But I like Jim Carroll’s slant on it: “Innovation is all about adapting to the future.” Now, that’s something we can work with.

Jim Carroll is the opening keynote at the digitalNow conference which will take place in less than a month (April 21-23) in Orlando. The conference website says Carroll will talk about:

  • technologies and innovations that will affect association business models
  • strategies for reacting to these innovations with greater speed
  • challenges associations will face ahead

Innovating is not about surviving, says Carroll, it’s about thriving. Surviving, like relevance, is a low bar. Associations must aim higher—aim to thrive and become indispensable to their community.

Carroll lays down ten truths about the future. Let’s take a look at four of them and think about how your association is handling these truths.

The future is incredibly fast.

How can you, your staff and your board keep up? Can you adjust your business processes quickly? How long does it take to discover a need, develop a solution, and roll it out to your community?

Guillermo Ortiz de Zarate’s session at digitalNow, The Lean Startup Changes Everything, is bound to give us some ideas on how to experiment with and speed up program development. Get a sneak preview of his thinking in the white paper he co-authored with Elizabeth Engel: Innovate the Lean Way: Applying Lean Startup Methodology in the Association Environment.

The future involves a huge adaptability gap.

This one blew me away because it’s so true:

Earlier generations – boomers – have participated in countless change management workshops, reflecting the reality that many of them have long struggled with change. Gen-Connect – today’s 15 and under – will never think of <the> change management issue. They just change.”

Change management experts say it isn’t the actual change we resist, it’s the psychological transition we have to make to accommodate change, that’s the tough part. Adapting to change is a skill set, one you can teach your staff and your members. Today, knowing how to develop new skills is the most important skill of all.

The future is being defined by renegades.

Nearly two years ago, I wrote two articles for Avectra (now Abila) about for-profit online communities: The New Competition: For-Profit Communities with Deep Pockets, part 1 and part 2. Since then these “renegades” have become even more popular and profitable. They saw an opportunity to deliver value to markets long served by associations, and they went for it.

“Increasingly, the future of many an industry is being defined by industry expatriates. When a real innovator can’t innovate within a company, they step outside, form a startup, and spark massive industry change on their own. Before you know, they’ve reinvented you.”

Keep an eye on innovators and hold them close. What if associations had been part of these ventures? What if associations were agile enough to play the game at that level?

The future involves partnership.

How can you help your members—both professional and vendor members—become more successful? Associations have always declared themselves member-centric, but too often their perspective is inside-out rather than outside-in, as Anna Caraveli points out in her excellent book, The Demand Perspective. The value proposition has always been based on what the association says is valuable, not what members believe is valuable. Crazy, right?

Partnering means regularly listening to members (and non-members) and involving them in the early stages of discussions about value delivery—behaving like a real partner in their success. Don’t assume you know what members need, instead be guided by member behavior (data) and conversations for your direction.

To do this, you’ll have to schedule more member interaction than you’re used to, and not just interaction with the usual suspects, but interaction with “regular” members and non-members too. But think about all you’ll learn—they call this business intelligence for a reason.

Don’t ignore those other members—you know, the vendors, consultants, affiliates, associates or whatever you call them. Here’s what you should call them—partners. How can they help you become more successful and, in turn, how can you help them become more successful? What can you learn from each other? What access and resources can you provide each other?

Associations and their boards need to get over themselves and treat vendor members as partners in their success. You can help each other succeed if you get together and figure out how to deliver value to members in ways that help both of you.

The future requires rethinking value.

That one’s from me. Many associations are still struggling financially and would benefit from rethinking the whole non-dues revenue issue. Heck, rethink the whole value issue. If you’re struggling, it’s a sign you aren’t delivering value to your community. If you were, they would be joining, renewing, registering, sponsoring and buying.

The digitalNow conference is a great opportunity to get away for a few days to rethink everything in the company of curious association execs who don’t accept mere relevance. The speakers from outside and inside our industry poke at our assumptions and introduce us to new ideas. I can’t wait.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Rennett Stowe)][

From my keynote in Sao Paolo for the WorldSkills Global Competition …. how will the iOT impact skilled trades and other careers?

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Changing Face of Certification, by Liberty Munson – Microsoft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by the Membership Management Report about some of the trends and issues that association executives should be thinking about. This came about after their online search discovered the Associations category of my blog. I’ve written a tremendous number of articles about the trends and issues that associations should be addressing as the professions, industries or people they represent under very fast paced changes in terms of skills, knowledge requirements and change. Here’s the article….

MemberManagementReport2013

How Associations Can Keep Up with Change, Change … And More Change By Dawn Wolfe While even the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus knew the only thing that is ever constant is change, the fact is, in today’s world, the changes are coming faster and more radically than ever before. What can membership associations do to stay alive and thrive in the midst of these challenges? “If I’m in a career that’s being impacted by huge rates of change, whether through technology or learning how to work with the new generation, I want to know how my association can help me deal with that,” says futurist, author and consultant Jim Carroll. According to Carroll, there are three main things associations need to think about to help their memberships professionally — and thus, stay alive:

  1. “Associations frequently do annual meetings and focus major efforts on them, but what about helping members cope with the changes that occur between meetings? To borrow from the Pink Floyd song, we need ‘short, sharp, shock(s)’ of knowledge,” Carroll advises. He adds it’s a good idea to create smaller, issue- focused events throughout the year. “We still need to do the annual events — for a lot of associations, that’s their bread and butter — but you also have to fill a smaller, more strategic role.”
  2. “The second thing,” Carroll continues, “is the speed at which the knowledge in different industries is changing. If you’re in health care — or think of banking: people’s cell phones are becoming their credit cards. I should be able to look to my professional association or chamber of commerce to help me deal with this new technology. Increasingly, your job should be supporting the generation of knowledge.”
  3. Finally, Carroll says associations should be actively looking at their relevance. “I’ve spoken to conference attendees and asked if their profession will even exist 10 years from now. This is really important — are you evolving to meet what’s coming?”

To stay relevant, Carroll advises his clients to, “Challenge yourself to do something different. I go to a lot of association events, and they’re just doing the usual. Are you really thinking through the strategic purpose of your events?” It’s also necessary for associations to rethink everything from the length and frequency of blog posts to how to structure their newsletters. “Everyone is blogging, so associations are blogging. They generally are blogging weekly, but changes are coming on a daily basis. Everything is happening faster, so you have to do things faster,” he says. In addition, Carroll cites the example of his 20-year-old son who “gets his news from Twitter. If you’re thinking the next generation is going to have the attention span to read a 500 to 1,000 word New York Times piece, or even your two-page association newsletter, that just isn’t going to happen.”

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