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At the end of the month, I’ll be the opening keynote speaker for the Camstar Global Conference 2014, in Orlando, Florida.

I will be focused on the theme of the acceleration of product life cycles, the need for new, fast paced manufacturing methodologies, and the issue of what happens as every industry is aligned to the velocity of Moore’s Law.

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Camstar Systems, Inc. announced today that future trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll will deliver the keynote address at Camstar Global Conference, April 27-30, 2014 …… Carroll will lay the framework for the conference theme and kick off a packed agenda consisting of multiple tracks, manufacturing industry trends, case studies, invaluable learning and networking opportunities, a Partner pavilion and an Expert Lab.

I’ve been speaking in the manufacturing sector for ages. And it’s been kind of fascinating to watch, what with the prognostications in 2009 and 2010 that North American manufacturing was ‘dead.’

Take a look around now, and it’s obvious a significant and profound renaissance is underway. Just like I was saying on stage way back then….

What’s the key to the renaissance? Smart technologies that realign the manufacturing process. Rapid prototyping and rapid development. Mass customization to a market of one. Agility, flexibility, and redesign of manufacturing methodology. You name it — there’s a lot of opportunity for organizations to re-invent themselves.

This is what people lose sight of when an industry sector turns down, as it did in late 2008 and 2009. People instantly focus on the negative, and assume the worst is yet to come.

I never do that — I’m always looking into every industry for the bright side; the innovators; the people who are thinking and dreaming big on how to re-invent and renew a sector — and most important, the significant intelligent opportunities that are providing an opportunity for an industry to do things in a way that haven’t been done before.

And this touches people — at one manufacturing event during the downturn, one manufacturing CEO was so inspired  that during the Q&A section, he asked if I might consider running for President! I’d love to, but….

To learn more about my thoughts on the world of manufacturing, hit the Manufacturing Trends section of my Web site over on the right.


International Futurist Jim Carroll to Keynote at Camstar Global Conference 2014

Global authority to link future trends to innovation, creativity, and rapid business transformation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (November 14, 2013) – Camstar Systems, Inc. announced today that future trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll will deliver the keynote address at next year’s Camstar Global Conference, April 27-30, 2014 at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida.

A leading international futurist, Carroll is widely recognized as a thought leader and authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business transformation during economic uncertainty and the necessity for fast-paced innovation. He is an author, columnist, media commentator and consultant with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity. His previous speaking engagements include events for Lockheed Martin, Stryker Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among others.

The Camstar Global Conference is an opportunity for Camstar customers to join other global leaders in manufacturing including thought leaders, analysts, and partners. Carroll will lay the framework for the conference theme and kick off a packed agenda consisting of multiple tracks, manufacturing industry trends, case studies, invaluable learning and networking opportunities, a Partner pavilion and an Expert Lab.

“This signature event engages manufacturers of all sizes in all locations with industry leading discussions on Camstar products, future direction and best practices to meet today’s manufacturing challenges head on,” said Scott Toney, CEO of Camstar.

Toney said he is very pleased to announce Jim Carroll as the keynote speaker. “Carroll will challenge our audience to broaden their perspective on the issues rapid change, hyper innovation and future growth opportunities’. He is renowned as a ‘thought leader’ and authority on global trends; some of the world’s leading organizations turn to Mr. Carroll for insight into the future trends and innovation.”

“World-class innovators possess a relentless focus on growth,” said Jim Carroll. “They continually transition their revenue source through relentless product and service reinvention and solve customer problems before the customer knows there’s a problem. They focus on upside down innovation by sourcing innovation ideas through their customers and focus on long-term wins through constant incremental improvements. Carroll will also share his perspective on why right now is a great time to make bold decisions and do great things.”

To learn more and register visit the Camstar Global Conference 2014 website.

I recently discovered that I was quoted in one of the Phillipines major business journals, BusinessWorld, n an article, “Biggest Business Innovations Engines of Innovation” published back in February.

It’s always great to see the media pick up on a few of the key themes that I am always trying to hammer home to people — there’a s lot of very simple and basic guidance, that often seems so obvious, that can help organizations get on the right path with their innovation efforts.

So it is with the two points that are referred to in this article.

They picked up on two key themes that I often focus on, and it’s worth pointing them out:

Stagnation will also buy a company a quick ticket out of business. According to futurist and innovation speaker Jim Carroll, the most original firms and industries are those that experience very high velocity, or a lot of fundamental change at a fast pace. For them, this is a necessity in the face of various trends and challenges – whether it’s to address shorter product life cycles, to keep up with ever-changing customer expectations, or to collaborate with a partner organization and leverage their skills.

Taking notes from firms that evolve at such a pace is one way to rekindle that creative spark. Curiously, Mr. Carroll has noted that these sources of inspiration are often found in completely different sectors from one’s own.”

I’ve often suggested that companies try to deepen their creative pool, either by studying innovation in completely dissimilar industries, and event o the point of hiring people you don’t like. Otherwise, you can simply get stifled with the sameness that comes with unoriginal thinking. I’ve even suggested to people that rather than going to the same old conferences every year, they should pick one or two events from entirely different industries in order to site their creative juices.

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I also find that too many organizations get caught up in fads when trying to innovate. Certainly that is true right now with social networking; while it is certainly important, I think too many are jumping in without a clear idea of what they are trying to do. This was referred to in the article:

On the other hand, Mr. Carroll has warned against blindly pursuing the latest innovation trend, a common trap he has called “bandwagon innovation.” If taking the hip approach ends in failure, it can derail any creative progress the company has made so far.

By then, employees may become too disillusioned and burned out to try out the next “in” strategy. A company’s real free-thinking workers are not compelled by the “slogan-based management” that comes with bandwagon innovation, and will hardly be enthused when they see their execs following the crowd.”

 I’m also referring to situations in which I’ve seen a company or organization form a special innovation team. They start up their project, go into a special room — and everyone wonders, ‘what’s up?” This fails because it makes innovation special; it makes it seem like it is something you do once as a project; it is just wrong on so many different levels. Innovation is a corporate culture — an attitude driven from the leadership that continually challenges everyone to ask themselves, “what can I do to run this better, grow the business, and transform the business.”

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Trends Expert Jim Carroll to Keynote CGT’s Leadership Event

Trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll will deliver the keynote address at this year’s premiereConsumer Goods Business & Technology Leadership Conference, October 23-25, 2011 at the Ritz Carleton Grand Lakes in Orlando, Fla.

CGT is the leading magazine and information source on the technology and other trends impacting the CPG industry.

A leading international futurist, Carroll (www.jimcarroll.com) is widely recognized as a thought leader and authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business transformation during economic uncertainty and the necessity for fast-paced innovation. He is an author, columnist, media commentator and consultant with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity. He has previously spoken at events for the Professional Golf Association (PGA), HJ Heinz, Johnson & Johnson, the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among others.

Hosted by the Consumer Goods Technology (CGT) magazine, a publication of Edgell Communications, the Consumer Goods Business & Technology Leadership Conference remains one of the most significant consumer goods industry events and is now in its 13th consecutive year. In attendance will be senior-level marketing, supply chain and IT executives from leading CG companies. Carroll joins an agenda jam-packed with presentations from leading consumer goods companies, like Kimberly-Clark, Dean Foods, PepsiCo, Del Monte and many more.

“We are the only event that covers all aspects of the consumer goods industry, with an extremely broad range of attendees by managerial function,” noted Albert Guffanti, publisher, CGT.

Guffanti continued: “We are very pleased to announce Jim Carroll as our keynote speaker, who will challenge our audience to ‘think big’ about their future by focusing on the theme, ‘What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t Do’. He has a track record that is recognized worldwide as a ‘thought leader’ and authority on global trends; rapid business model change; business transformation in a period of economic uncertainty; and the necessity for fast paced innovation.”

Carroll will concentrate on several key trends in his engaging keynote address: how world-class innovators possess a relentless focus on growth. They continually transition their revenue source through relentless product and service reinvention and solve customer problems before the customer knows there’s a problem. They focus on upside down innovation by sourcing innovation ideas through their customers and focus on long-term wins through constant incremental improvements. Carroll will also share his perspective on why right now is a great time to make bold decisions and do great things.

“I’m thrilled to participate in this annual conference,” noted Carroll. “While we might be in a period of economic volatility, history has taught us that it is those organizations who focused on innovation thinking during a period of uncertainty are those who are best positioned as economic growth returns. There is plenty of opportunity in the CG industry in all area of product development, operations, partnership structures, retail activities, taking advantage of the rapid evolution of mobile technologies, and branding and marketing opportunities. The future belongs to those who are fast — today, it’s all about scalability, rapidity and the ability to deal with extremely fast rates of change from every perspective. I’ll challenge attendees to concentrate on the core activities that will help them focus on the opportunities of the future, rather than the challenges of the past.”

Click here to access the event’s web page, view the outstanding agenda and/or to register.

One day I'm with senior officers of the US Air Force speaking about innovation. The next day, I'm speaking at a cosmetics/beauty industry conference! What do these two groups have in common?

Here’s an adaptation of my May CAMagazine article, which was titled “From Bombs to Beauty” in the print edition.

——-

March was an interesting month for me. One day I was in Dayton, Ohio, opening the annual leadership meeting for the US Air Force Research Laboratory.

In the room were senior military officers, scientists and researchers who control virtually all the research spending for the entire air force.

The next day I was in West Palm Beach, Fla., as the closing speaker for the Personal Care Products Council, with senior executives from the cosmetics, toiletries and other personal-care products industry.

Talk about going from one extreme to another. But it certainly provides insight into one of the key trends sweeping the corporate and scientific world today. There’s a belief that if we think broader — observe what is occurring in other industries, for example — we might see more opportunities to change what we do and how we do it, rather than continue to think in narrow terms.

So what’s my role? As someone who sees the world in extremely broad terms rather than through a narrow industry lens, I can provide many organizations with different points on view. This is a critical and important skill  – I often find myself immersed in a wide variety of complex circumstances in a vast range of industries, and have learned to quickly develop the capability to observe key issues within those industries, assess different strategies and come up with solutions to complex problems.

So it is with the corporate and government world today. People find themselves in a place where change is occurring at a blinding pace. New ideas, business models, industries and products are launched faster than ever. And it’s by learning how to observe and understand change from a variety of perspectives that organizations can get ahead.

Consider the world of defence spending, where there is a great deal of budgetary pressure to continue to move forward but to do so with new spending restraints. Organizations ask themselves questions such as, what can we learn from other organizations outside the defence industry that have scientists and engineers? How are they generating innovation ideas? How are they responding to similar pressures? Sometimes the concept of customer-oriented innovation plays a role. Maybe, goes the thinking, we’ll find one customer using a product in a unique way that no one else is thinking about, and we could take that idea to the rest of our customer base.

Then there is the issue of innovation within the consumer products sector — such as cosmetics and beauty products. Today, customers are more vocal with opinions; fashion tends to evolve faster; new ideas go from the runway to the shelf much faster. In this case, we’ve got an industry looking around to see where the next marketing, branding, product or customer-support ideas might come from. And they’re influenced by other industries — there’s a marriage of technology, healthcare and beauty for example. Imagine a new piece of jewellery in the not-too-distant future that doubles as a medical monitoring device.

In both cases, we’ve got groups of people who, five years earlier, might have based their progress on how things looked inside their organization or industry. Today, they’ve realized they’ve got to look wider; not narrowly, but from a very broad perspective. That’s why concepts such as customer innovation, open innovation and other new models for idea generation are becoming so important.

And that’s why, in the space of just two days, I can find myself delivering two keynotes on very much the same innovation theme to two very, very different groups.

Often, one of the best ways to discover ideas for doing things differently — of fuelling your innovation engine — can come from studying other organizations or industries that are excelling at dealing with fast market, business model, competitive and technological change. There are many organizations out there who aren’t innovative and are stuck in a rut; there are others who are extremely innovative, at the same time that there are a lot of laggards.

Seek ideas for innovation by studying those who excel at dealing with fast-paced change

One of the best ways to discover new and creative innovation ideas is by studying those who are moving forward at a really fast pace. They might be within your own industry; quite often, they will be in a completely different industry.

Organizations or industries that are subject to extremely high velocity are often the most innovative. They are busy working with the challenges that exist, and are being as creative as possible to deal with those challenges in order to turn them into opportunity.

Regardless of who and where they are, they share several things in common: they’re busy experimenting, adapting, evolving and changing. They’re working hard to make sure that the essential concepts of high-velocity innovation – run the business better, grow the business, transform the business – have become an essential part of their lifeblood.

If you can spot these organizations, you can learn from them, and become inspired by them. They can be a wonderful source of creative ideas!

So how do you find them? By looking for the telltale signs of companies or industries who are faced with all the challenges that the high-velocity economy can throw at them. Given the challenges, the organization or industry will tend to have people who are more innovative, realistic, practical, and open to new ways of thinking. They are likely to be more forward oriented and creative. They will be working to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances, and will be collectively seeking complex solutions to unique problems.

Several signs can provide you with insight as to whether the company is dealing with extreme velocity and is therefore a real innovator. Look for these characteristics:

  • They are significantly impacted by faster science. The fundamentals of the science within the industry are evolving at a furious pace as a result of the infinite idea loop. It is evident that the discovery of new knowledge within the industry is occurring at a faster pace than within other industries. Hint: look to genomics companies. Furious rates of scientific change here!
  • More competition. Business models are changing quickly, with a lot of new competition appearing on the scene as the industry begins to blur and change.
  • A faster degree of product/service innovation. The industry is widely known for being innovative, with a constant stream of new products or services coming to market.
  • More operational innovation. There is a lot of fundamental change within the industry in terms of business models, marketing methodologies, customer relationships and other unique changes. Organizations or industries that are subject to extremely high velocity – that is, significant amounts of fundamental change occurring at a rapid pace – are often the most innovative.
  • Shorter product lifecycles. Products are coming to market faster than previously, or faster than within other industries, due to the previous four trends.
  • Rising tides require fast change. Customer expectations are changing quickly in terms of the products or services being offered, because of the furious rates of innovation that are occurring. In addition, there’s heightened customer service due to hyper-competition; people know that they must absolutely excel in service levels.
  • A significant creativity capability. The organization or industry is dominated by creative thinkers; a workforce and management team that is fully focused on doing things differently, in order to respond to the reality of change that engulfs them. Those who kill ideas aren’t the dominant force; those who suggest how things could be done differently are at the forefront of action within the organization.
  • A partnership orientation. The organization or industry is constantly seeking outside expertise in order to help it go forward; it is willing to make use of complexity partners, nomadic workers, skills banks and other partners in order to grab on to ever more important change capabilities. They know they can’t do it all, and so they are willing to do what it takes to get access to what they need to get it done.
  • They’re plugged in. The organization or industry is linked into and is feeding off of the ideas from within the infinite idea loop. They are constantly scanning and sifting through the constantly evolving collective insight of the global discussion that is taking place; they are always eager to spot how innovation is occurring outside of their organization, and are busy interpreting what is being said in order that they can use this insight for their own purposes.

Organizations or industries that are subject to extremely high velocity – that is, significant amounts of fundamental change occurring at a rapid pace – are often the most innovative. They are busy working with the challenges that exist, and are being as creative as possible to deal with those challenges in order to turn them into opportunity.

You want to find these organizations, study them, and learn from them – since that will be one of the best ways to create your own innovation oxygen.

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