Flavours now move from upscale kitchens to chain restaurants in just 12 months

Home > Archives

Tagged Articles



The folks at New Equipment Digest interviewed me a few weeks back for an article on manufacturing,  ahead of a major keynote I had earlier this month.

You’ll have a 50-year old guy or lady in the factory, and you bring these tools to help streamline processes and they say, “Oh my God! This is terrible that can take my job away. I’m done; I’m toast.” And somebody in their 20’s is going to say, “cool.” It’s a much more agile workforce, much more willing to try new things.

It’s but one talk I do in this sector; on Monday, I’ll headline the International Asset Management Council on future manufacturing trends. They’re the folks from Fortune 1000 organizations who make the decisions on where to locate future factories, logistics locations and supply chain investments.

INDUSTRY TRENDS
Futurist Says “Fast & Furious” Changes Coming to Manufacturing

Forget your Magic 8-Ball or fancy-schmancy predictive analytics. Futurist Jim Carroll knows what lies ahead for manufacturing and technology, and we have the scoop for you here. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
John Hitch | Sep 21, 2017

Jim Carroll, a former accountant and current author/corporate speaker, is confident he knows what’s going to happen in the world of manufacturing. And the world renowned Canadian futurist doesn’t need a flux capacitor or any other sci-fi MacGuffin to make bold claims in front of millions about what technologies they need to adopt now, and what the world will look like for our children after we’re rocketed to our Martian retirement homes — where our corpses will no doubt be used as fertilizer for space yams. (You’re welcome, Elon.)

Continue Reading

Anyone who tracks me know that I am passionate (if not slightly pathetic) golfer, and I’ve wrapped it into my business. I often golf before a keynote, and have actually been an opening keynote speaker for two major events for the PGA of America.

To that end, I need to tell you a great story! That of an 11 year old Canadian girl, Vanessa Borovilos, who just won her 2nd back to back tournament at the World Kids Golf Tournament in Pinehurst, N.C.

Only 11 years, and already 2 World championships in her win column. Meet Vanessa Borovilos!

Here’s why I think you need to know Vanessa’s story — because it is a story of how those who are passionate about the sport are doing everything they can to reach out to the next generation.

Some months back, I wrote a blog post on the 8 Best Things to Happen to Golf in 2017 — trends, innovations and technology that are growing the game. The post spoke about a PGA pro at my local club, Doug Laurie, and Michelle Holmes, a PGA Pro in the US. Both are relentlessly focused on coaching young kids and bringing them into the game.

With that in mind, I just had to give a shoutout to one of Doug’s student, Vanessa Borovilos, an 11 year old girl and Canadian — who just won her 2nd back to back world tournament, at the 2017 World Kids Golf Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina! Look at this!

Here’s the scorecard from her win in 2016.

Vanessa is 11.

She doesn’t have an agent, a representative, or a media rep. But she’s a world champion – twice! — and someone needs to tell her story, and that of her coach, Doug.

The excitement in the photo is palpable.

And maybe, just maybe, sharing Vanessa’s story will help to inspire other kids, and other coaches, and other parents, to get their kids involved in what is truly one of the greatest sports in the world!

SaveSave

Anyone who has worked with me knows that I do a tremendous amount of research as I customize for my keynotes, often reading several hundred articles on a particular issue or topic as I prepare.

A few months back I was going through a set of articles about the Jetsons, a new keynote topic for me that is getting a huge amount of attention! In doing so, I came across a fascinating story about a school in Seattle that just opened a time capsule that was put away in 1962. The article took a look at what was predicted in 1962, where we are today, and what the kids of 1962 now thought we would see in 2062! You can read it below.

This got me thinking — why not get involved in a project to do the same thing! And so I turned to my good buddy Ian Bates, a Grade 5 teacher. I’ve previously written about him in a post, Things I’ve Learned from Golfing with a Grade 5 Teacher, to see if this might be an idea worth pursuing. (I also went into his classroom last year for a fun little project – What’s the Future of Education? Let the Kids Have a Say — with his Grade 5 kids about careers in the future.)


It took him about 30 seconds before he responded, and so we’ve got a project underway. I went into the classroom and spoke to the kids about the project. They are now busy preparing their predictions and ideas; we’ll revisit in April and put away an actual time capsule to be opened in the year 2045.

This should be interesting! Stay tuned! But to really find out what they are thinking, you are going to have to wait a number of years…..


Pocket phones to flying cars: Third-graders predicted them in ’62
15 April 2012, The Seattle Times

How did Laurelhurst’s 1962 third-graders do at predicting the future?

For expert input, we turned to the Pacific Science Center, which tapped two of its “Science Communication Fellows” — Erika Harnett, a University of Washington professor in Earth and space sciences, and Alex Miller, a UW postdoctoral researcher in chemistry.

We also asked the former Laurelhurst students for predictions about life 50 years from now.

Bert Kolde, 57, Mercer Island, senior director of Vulcan
His 1962 prediction: In space “we will eat paste from tubes.”
The reality: Astronauts don’t eat paste from tubes, but they do eat ice cream from foil packets, and other things, too. The word I’ve heard from astronauts is that the food in space is much like what we eat on Earth, and quite good, too — much better than one would find in many a school cafeteria. — Harnett
Kolde’s prediction for 2062: Rosie the Robot, from “The Jetsons,” will be a mainstream household appliance.

Phoebe Russell, 59, West Seattle, soccer scheduler and registrar
Her 1962 prediction: “There will be a rocket for everyone.”
The reality: While we don’t each have a rocket yet, a commercial spaceport is being built in New Mexico and a firm, Virgin Galactic, is taking bookings for the public to fly into space, for a brief few minutes. — Harnett
Russell’s prediction for 2062: “Government-supplied, accident-proof, sustainable nano-tech-fueled vehicles for all.”

Chris Rich, 58, Seattle, forest-resource company executive
Her 1962 prediction: “You will be able to have a telephone in your pocket.”
The reality: Not only do we have pocket phones, but they have cameras, video cameras, music players and the Internet inside them. — Miller
Rich’s prediction for 2062: “We will have a cashless society and use digital money stored on an all-purpose device that fits in your pocket.”

Tom Greene, 58, Bainbridge Island, co-founded frozen-food company
His 1962 prediction: “The best change will be to go way past Pluto in a rocket so we can find more planets and find out if there is any more life way out in space.”
The reality: Four spacecraft have traveled past Pluto’s orbit, Pioneers 10 and 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2. We still receive signals from the Voyager spacecraft with useful science and hope to do so until 2025, when the power systems will fail. — Harnett

Tom Norwalk, 58, Bothell, heads Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau
His 1962 prediction: “If I went to Pluto. Then I could see the Earth as a star.”
The reality: ∫ A spacecraft, called New Horizons, will be flying past Pluto in 2015 … Scientists will likely try to take an image of the Earth but I don’t know how sensitive the optics are and what the Earth will look like. — Harnett
Norwalk’s prediction for 2062: Seattle will finally have an NBA team and our city will be in the top five destinations to visit in America.

David Shulman, 59, Seattle, film-institute founder
His 1962 prediction: “I want to go to Jupiter because it is the largest planet.”
The reality: Although people have not traveled to Jupiter, the U.S. has sent several spacecraft past Jupiter and one, Galileo, not only spent several years orbiting Jupiter, it launched a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere and then took a final, fatal plunge into Jupiter’s atmosphere. — Harnett
Shulman’s prediction for 2062: Communication occurs through touch, voice, and even thought. Global warming and rising sea levels; U.S. power concentrated by wealthy under a near-totalitarian government.

Bruce Williams, 58, Leavenworth, retired bank head
His 1962 prediction: Cars that will “float through the air … without stopping for gasoline.”
The reality: A startup company, Terrafugia, has a working prototype of a flying car, and it is taking pre-sales orders … So, flying cars do exist, but not for everyone yet, but soon. We don’t yet have cars that can travel without stopping for fuel, apart from prototypes. Some spacecraft don’t have to stop for fuel because they use solar panels to generate electricity to power the instruments. — Miller
Williams’ prediction for 2062: Zero communicable-disease deaths; 15 percent probability of a catastrophe, such as a nuclear attack, pandemic, mega-earthquake, volcanic eruption or environmental disaster.

Webb Nelson, 59, Seattle, co-founded toy company
Third-grade prediction: “We would have a new invention to get us somewhere under the Earth … something different. And faster.”
The reality: Subways and tunnels conduct below-ground traffic, but largely in transportation forms that have existed for decades. Nelson’s prediction for 2062: Concrete gets harder and stronger with age; the Space Needle will have a centennial anniversary. — Miller
Nelson’s prediction for 2062: Concrete gets harder and stronger with age; the Space Needle will have a centennial anniversary.

 

For years, I’ve explained to my global client base that access to skills and talent will been to the key element for success going forward. Two good examples? Fast trends in the world of self-driving cars, and the acceleration of trends in retail.

I was thinking about this today as two articles floated through my news clipping service: an article in Fortune that outlined how “Walmart Is Launching a Tech Incubator in Silicon Valley.” The second involved quite a few articles that spoke about the new partnerships occurring in the world of self-driving car technology, such as one in Sci-Tech: “Intel’s Not the Only Big Company To Find a Self-Driving Partner.

There are two big issues that are in play here that can be summarized quite nicely, which I’ve explained for quite some time:

  •  every industry is becoming a tech industry, and every company is becoming a software company – with the result that companies such as Walmart have to set up in the heart of the tech world in order to get ahead
  • companies are quickly discovering that they don’t have the skills to do what needs to be done – hence, they need to partner up to get things done — which is the key trend occurring in the world of autonomous vehicles right now

This is echoed by some research I presented in several recent meetings with major private equity investors, based on a study by GE, which found that among senior executives:

  • 85% are concerned about the velocity introduced by digitization and are open to idea collaboration
  • 75% indicated they are open to share the revenue stream of an innovation collaboration
  • 85% indicated such initiatives were growing over the last year

Key trend? The race for tech skills is going to accelerate; new forms of partnership will be established faster; lots of money will be made by those who have the requisite skills; and this will be a defining issue for success going forward!

Need a bigger example? This headline: “Ford is putting $1 billion into an AI startup, Detroit’s biggest investment yet in self-driving car tech.” Think about that — essentially, it’s a billion dollar investment to get the right skills, at the right time, for the right purpose.

 

So … in an exploratory conference call with a client today, who is looking at me to keynote an upcoming professional services conference, the question was stated:

“We’ve spoken to quite a few futurists and speakers, and all of them say they customize. And you said that too. So how do we know you’re the right guy?”

I love this type of question, because it gives me a real opportunity to speak to the passion that I bring to my work.

And that is, when you bring me in for a keynote, leadership or customer event, you are getting real insight based on 25 years as a trend observer. As well, if you look at my client list, you’ll understand that I get to talk with a lot of CEO’s, senior executives, associations leaders and thought leaders. I’ve had the opportunity to study up close what real organizations are doing to deal with real challenges. That type of unique insight comes into the room….

But wait, there’s more! Let’s not to forget my secret sauce: detailed, specific, real, specific, concrete research, based on real information. That sort of matters!

fintech

Here’s my ‘secret sauce’ for your keynote, leadership meeting or customer/client event. It’s called research. Pretty intense research, actually!

Wait, you say, doesn’t every speaker or topic expert do that? No comment….

What’s the source of much of my material? It’s this : I use a pretty intensive information research service that allows me to hit the right articles, industry reports, scientific publications, research journals and other information sources that help me zoom in on important trends, issues, statistics and observations. With that, I’m bring =ing information  into the room. It’s a well-honed skill – I’ve been doing this for a long time — 30 years, in fact. (Indeed, for a time in the early 1990’s, before the Internet came along, I was already doing what was known as “competitive intelligence research” utilizing similar online research databases. I go back with that industry to about 1986…..)

When you engage me on a very customized topic area, I take delight in taking on the challenge of finding out what’s going on with the issues, trends and topic areas that you worry about.

Here are some examples: take some time to read through what I read. They are all in PDF format. A few hundred articles… which I carefully read, analyzed, and extracted the relevant bits, and boiled down into concise keynotes and trend reports for my keynotes. (Not all of the articles are represented in the subset below) Then tead the blog post which resulted after my keynote, some of which was covered in my talk.

Some speakers will give you a really cool future-oriented talk based on really cool future trends, but not much more.

And not to be rude, but they will probably deliver the same talk for your group that they did for an entirely different industry and audience the week before. Which, at the end of the day, leaves you with a really fun and exciting keynote. But no real depth of insight.

Interested in real insight? Give me a call. I pick up the phone!

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?

survivingtheinformationageBack in 1997, my wife and I worked on a book to which this day I am most proud of — Surviving the Information Age.

It’s a book that takes a look at the unique relationship that Baby Boomer have with computers and technology.

Although it’s a bit dated, I still think it’s a great read! That’s because of the unique stories it shares of a generation that was often terrorized — by COBOL, punch cards and computer mainframes.

Christa and I spent *a lot* of time on research for the book, digging out articles from libraries with articles featured in Readers Digest, Time Magazine and other publications from 1960 to 1975. Unique stories on a period of time that no other generation in the history of mankind will every have to go through.

With that in mind, I just brought the book back into print, and it’s available today for the low cost of $15 – shipping included.

If you want a great read, you might consider grabbing a copy. You can order it below.

Here’s the back jacket copy:

Whether it’s HAL the murderous computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey or billing systems demanding payment for $0.00, baby boomers have grown up with a simple message — computers are not to be trusted! We are skeptics, but let’s face it, we know our discomfort with technology is leaving us behind as the world of work and leisure changes. It’s no longer something we can afford to ignore — quite simply, we must adapt to survive the dramatic economic change arising from an increasingly wired planet.

Originally published in 1997, Jim Carroll’s Surviving the Information Age is an engaging, humorous and non-technical account of the challenges that baby- boomers faced in the early days of the computer revolution. With today’s hyper-connected world of Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, it’s all too easy to forget just how strange the early days of the computer revolution happened to be. The book takes a fascinating look back at what happened when technology first began to invade our lives – and the challenges and opportunities that it presented along the way!

Order directly from Jim – shipping included!

Payment processing fully secured using SSL and Stripe.com. We never see your credit card details!

You will be charged $15.00 for the book, shipping is included.

 

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)][

Another one of my articles for GE Reports has been published.


FutureFastCover-201x300

The Future Belongs to Those Who are Fast features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.

In this era of hyperconnectivity, transformation is happening faster and impacting every industry. To thrive in this environment, you need to understand these five things.

Someday, we will look back and realize that we live in one of the most fascinating periods in history, with technology having entered a new era of what I call “hyperconnectivity” — where the rate of change is accelerating in nearly every industry.

What are the trends that are driving this faster future, and how are smart businesses adapting to not only survive — but thrive — in a faster world? Here are 5 things to know about the accelerating future and to stay ahead.

1. Speed — Today’s is the slowest day of technology change for the rest of your life

Bill Gates once observed that most people tend to overestimate the rate of change in a two-year basis, but underestimate the rate in a 10-year basis.

Take 3D printing. Just a few years ago, I would speak about 3D printing as if it was science fiction — far away and entirely theoretical. Now it’s becoming a part of day-to-day operations for many businesses.

Consider, for example, what is happening with dental medical implants, where the idea of printing dental bridges or other implants is becoming ever more real. Now, people are talking about 3D printing surgical knee replacements.

2. Hyperconnectivity — and endless possibilities

Every industry is set to be transformed as an era of hyperconnectivity — powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) — becomes the new norm. The result: a reinvention of manufacturing, logistics, retail, healthcare and other industries because of consumers that are empowered, connected and enabled with a new form of lifestyle management that we’ve never witnessed before. The capability of achieving deep analytical insights into emerging trends in industries also presents an opportunity for massive business model disruption.

By the year 2020, there will be more than 50 billion devices connected to the Internet — roughly six devices per person. The IoT is happening everywhere and unfolding at a blistering pace. We’re in the era of connected thermostats that link to an intelligent energy grid; a connected trucking fleet that is self-diagnostic, predictive and built for zero down-time; and scales that record our body mass index, transmit it to a password-protected website and create custom charts on our health.

Imagine a world in which that 3D-printed knee replacement reports that it is malfunctioning by sending a message to your iPhone. Seem far fetched? Hyperconnectivity is a staggering trend, which means the possibilities are endless for growth and innovation.

3. Momentum and the potential for big wins

Add these trends of acceleration and hyperconnectivity together, and you’ve got the opportunity for major industry transformation.

Consider the lighting industry, which is in the era of revolutionary new opportunities for significant efficiency and cost savings through deep analytical insight into usage patterns. In addition, since we can now build energy systems in which each individual light bulb is accessible via the Internet, very sophisticated energy management solutions are emerging.

LED usage is accelerating, with the global market expected to grow from $7 billion in 2010 to $40 billion in 2016, according to industry reports. At the same time, the ability to control those intelligent light bulbs is changing is enabling a reimagination of lighting. People can easily set up a smart home where they control their lighting and other energy systems via an iPad. They can become energy-conscious consumers, responsible for their own personal energy infrastructure management. If we empower millions of people, some fascinating opportunities for energy usage reduction result.

There is so much momentum behind these changes because the potential for big wins are huge.

4. The connected generation

Meanwhile, the next generation of youth are starting to embrace every opportunity for hyperconnectivity and acceleration — whether in their homes or businesses.

Today’s younger generation — those under age 25 — have never known a world without a mobile device that puts incredible amounts of information at their fingertips. They are globally wired, entrepreneurial, collaborative — and they thrive on change. As a result, this generation is starting to drive rapid business model change and industry transformation as they move into executive positions.

About two-thirds of today’s children today will work in a career that has doesn’t yet exist, according to author Cathy Davidson, Think about titles like “water usage audit analysts,” “energy usage audit architects” and “location intelligence professionals.”

We are at the forefront of a remarkable time in history, as the next generation uses connectivity to advance some of the biggest energy successes.

5. The future belongs to those who are fast

So how should you deal with fast-paced technological change? As new technology and connected infrastructure emerge, keep in mind a phrase I often use when I’m on stage: “Think Big, Start Small and Scale Fast.” Take on a small-scale, experimental project in you municipality, industrial location or retail store. Test out a new technology with a target group of customers.

By starting small and learning to scale fast, you can adopt an innovation mantra and build a business plan that leads to success.

 

"Agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner"

“Agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner”

Farm & Dairy Magazine interviewed me a few months back, and have since published an article with some of my thoughts about the future of agriculture. It’s a good read!

Can’t ignore the trends in agriculture
Farm & Dairy, by Susan Crowell
January 2016

I must’ve read at least 10 “top trends for 2016” articles at the beginning of the year. Most of them were related to food or farming, but there was an interesting twist proffered by one of the grand dames of futuring, Faith Popcorn. Popcorn talked about “fear,” her word for 2016.

Fear — think Ebola, ISIS, terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino — escalated during 2015. We’re all just a little bit more worried that something bad could happen. Witness the entire stock market shaking on tremors emanating from China. Will the giant’s economic house of cards collapse this year, we wonder in the wake. It’s not just paranoia; bad things are happening all around us.

I think Popcorn gets a little extreme and says people are also looking for ways to “cocoon” and forget the outside world. They’ll look for an escape through virtual reality or seek protection programs, like armored school buses. But she says people are also looking for things to create memories of happiness and peace.

To me, that screams agritourism or bringing people together around the farm table. After all, you can’t have comfort food without farmers.

Here’s the thing about futurists and trend spotters: We don’t live in their world and often think their projections are wacky and “out there.” While they might not be spot on, however, there are kernels of truth in their outlooks, and that’s why we need to pay attention to them.

Another futurist, Jim Carroll, says there are three types of people: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who say, “Whoa, dude, what happened?”

You don’t want to be blind to a trend that could bring massive changes to your farm or ag business. You also don’t want to ignore changes that are already happening.

What’s already happening?

  • Consumers care more about how their foods are produced and sourced — and that’s impacting the entire food chain from your farm to the store or restaurant. Transparency, transparency, transparency. Information, information, information.
  • Local food is no longer a fad. Consumers want to support local farms, local businesses. Some are willing to pay, some are not.
  • Environmental responsibility and conservation.
  • The smartphone. It can purchase; it can find deals; it can suggest recipes; it can share nutrition information; it can pay; it can connect farmers with retailers, farmers with restaurants, farmers with their input suppliers, farmers with consumers.
  • Stronger links between health and food (and also convenience); stronger emphasis on “clean eating” — think back to basics, or products that are minimally processed. People want “real food.”
  • Food safety and traceability.
  • Minimizing food waste — which speaks to the processing chain, as well as finding new uses for previously undesirable meat cuts or products.
  • Water everything. (Ever hear of water footprint analysts? They’re already in demand.)
  • Longer life spans. The typical baby born in the U.S. today will live to be 100. What does that mean for family farm structures and transitions and retirement planning and real estate and housing?
  • New faces in farming. Carroll cites U.N. statistics that say there are 800 million practicing urban agriculture. More colleges beyond the traditional land grant universities are offering agriculture degrees. Embrace them all.

Yes, the current climate for traditional agriculture is challenging, so it’s hard to look at these trends and see how they play a role in your farm’s future, when you’re just trying to scrape by in 2016. (Ask yourself what each input costs relative to its contribution to yield. If you don’t what it contributes, get busy.)

Carroll, who does numerous, high-profile keynotes within agriculture, writes, “agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner.”

And that’s one futurist’s prediction we can’t ignore.
By Susan Crowell

Send this to a friend