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

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

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

With 25 years of working with some of the leading organization in the world on issues related to creativity and innovation,  I’ve seen some of the best and worst approaches to the issue. The worst approach? An innovation suggestion box! That will doom your efforts from the start!

I will often sit back and analyze what I’ve seen in order to establish some powerful lessons for other people. Here’s just such a quick list of 10 more things that smart, innovative companies do to create an overall sense of innovation-purpose.

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

For close to 25 years, I have been relentlessly studying what makes organizations successful at dealing with the future and innovation. I know why some fail, while others succeed.

In those who fail, there are some common traits :

  • People laugh at new ideas
  • Someone who identifies a problem is shunned
  • Innovation is the privileged practice of a special group
  • The phrase, “you can’t do that because we’ve always done it this way” is used for every new idea
  • No one can remember the last time anyone did anything really cool
  • People think innovation is about R&D
  • People have convinced themselves that competing on price is normal
  • The organization is focused more on process than success
  • There are lots of baby boomers about, and few people younger than 25
  • After any type of surprise — product, market, industry or organizational change — everyone sits back and asks, “wow, where did that come from?”

Innovative companies act differently. In these organizations

  • Ideas flow freely throughout the organization
  • subversion is a virtue
  • success and failure are championed
  • there are many, many leaders who encourage innovative thinking, rather than managers who run a bureaucracy
  • there are creative champions throughout the organization — people who thrive on thinking about how to do things differently
  • ideas get approval and endorsement
  • rather than stating “it can’t be done,” people ask, “how could we do this?”
  • people know that in addition to R&D, innovation is also about ideas about to “run the business better, grow the business and transform the business
  • the word “innovation” is found in most job descriptions as a primary area of responsibility, and a percentage of annual renumeration is based upon achievement of explicitly defined innovation goals

The fact is, every organization should be able to develop innovation as a core virtue — if they aren’t, they certainly won’t survive the rapid rate of change that envelopes us today.

I was recently interviewed by the UK based Automotive Megatrends magazine, for a special report for subscribers. It offers up my thoughts on the challenges and opportunities faced in the auto industry out to 2020.

AutomotiveWorld

Click the image for the PDF of the article…..

The full PDF version of the article can be found in the image here. The text follows below.


Jim Carroll on the automotive world of 2030

What’s coming in the next 15 years could be mind-boggling, says futurist Jim Carroll. As told to Martin Kahl

To paraphrase Bill Gates, most people tend to overestimate the rate of change that will occur on a two-year basis, and underestimate how much change will occur on a ten-year basis. Let’s put that in perspective: Think about the change that has occurred in the last ten years and then consider what might come in the next ten to 15 years: it could be mind boggling. Ten years ago, we only just had YouTube and FaceBook, but we didn’t have Twitter, and we didn’t have the iPhone.

One of the biggest trends that is unfolding, and one that will have a huge impact on transportation, is what I call hyper connectivity, or what people are referring to as the Internet of Things. Everything that is a part of our daily lives will be connected to the Internet – and that has massive implications.

As for how cars and trucks fit into this, there are two paths. One is full vehicle autonomy, the Google self-driving car trend. The other is the development of intelligent highway and intelligent road infrastructure that interacts with everything else via a variety of methodologies that will help the car to drive in a safe manner with a human inside. I don’t think it’s a discussion of whether we will all be either in autonomous cars or human-driven cars – I think there’s going to be a mixture of both.

But is the automotive industry doing enough to prepare for future drivers’ needs? I think the problems are several-fold. The famous image is that of a two-year-old child who walks up to a 50 inch LCD TV and starts pressing it, but she doesn’t get the level of interaction that she expects. Companies like Google and Apple, companies which operate at the speed of Silicon Valley, will increasingly impact the speed of change of vehicle technology, and I don’t think automotive companies are ready for that.

The car companies run the risk of falling behind unless they form very unique and innovative partnerships with some of those tech companies.

In 2003, I made up this little story that maybe Google could decide to become a car company. It wouldn’t actually build the car, simply have it contract manufactured. It wouldn’t have dealerships, the cars would be sold online and delivered to you by FedEx. The car would come in a box, and it would have party in the box too, so that you could celebrate with your neighbours. I was laughed at back then… But maybe that is the business model for the future.

Everybody wants to understand the future. Every organisation has people that plan for what comes next. I think the challenge for the automotive industry could be hubris, in terms of thinking the industry is too big for others to enter: “We’re the big car companies, we’re always going to be the big car companies. The competitors we have today will be the competitors we’ll have ten years from now.”

A car brought out in 2015 was probably modelled in 2009, tested in 2011, put into production in 2013, and sold in 2015. That car, by 2020, is going to look like it’s from the olden days. It’ll be like having an old-generation smartphone. That will have a huge impact on the resale value of that car. Because of how quickly technology becomes obsolete, automotive companies need to build in an increasing degree of modularity, so that the car can easily receive the latest technology updates.

I think that in 2030 we’re going to see a host of new business models. Rather than being based on runs of several hundred thousand vehicles that go into inventory, I see growth in business models that are based on build-to-demand. The sharing economy will shape business models in 2030. The automotive industry is already recognising, in some of its new initiatives, that an entire generation is rejecting the concept of buying a vehicle for a full time purpose.

In addition to the rise of hyperconnectivity and new business models, there are tremendous advances occurring with solar and alternative forms of power generation that will affect the automotive world of 2030. Innovative companies focus on innovation during periods of economic uncertainty so that they are well positioned to come out strong on the other side. It will be fascinating to see what emerges.

 

Franchise

I found this recently from a keynote two years back….

Future Trends: Futurist, Trends, and Innovation Expert to Keynote Multi-Unit Conference

Jim Carroll loves to predict where the world is going. As such, he has become one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends, and innovation experts. His analysis digs deep into topics such as technology, business model change, fast paced innovation, and global challenges and growth. He’s been in demand with such clients as Northrop Grumman, Visa, Rockwell Collins, Lincoln Financial, and the Walt Disney organization. He was featured as an innovation expert on the global CNBC show, the Business of Innovation, and was named one of four leading sources for insight into innovation by Business Week magazine.

Jim Carroll loves to predict where the world is going. As such, he has become one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends, and innovation experts. His analysis digs deep into topics such as technology, business model change, fast paced innovation, and global challenges and growth. He’s been in demand with such clients as Northrop Grumman, Visa, Rockwell Collins, Lincoln Financial, and the Walt Disney organization. He was featured as an innovation expert on the global CNBC show, the Business of Innovation, and was named one of four leading sources for insight into innovation by Business Week magazine.

He’ll be bringing his latest insight to the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference this April at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas where he’ll be a keynote speaker.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Carroll and posed some franchise-specific questions. Here’s what he shared with us.

In terms of the future, what do multi-unit franchisees have to fear?

Well, there’s nothing to fear really, if you view future trends as being full of opportunities rather than as a threat. I find that many of my clients think about future trends and think, “oh, this can’t be good, it’s going to be pretty difficult to deal with.” The first step with getting into an innovative frame of mind is to think of every trend as an opportunity, not a threat.

So let’s think about a few of them. Consider social networks, there are huge impacts on how consumers perceive, interact, and provide feedback on brands. Obviously, if you don’t pay attention to the trend, it can turn into a big negative for you.

But if you get involved, engage the new consumer, and continually experiment with new ways of taking advantage of this new form of interaction, then you are doing the right thing.

What kinds of things do multi-unit franchisees have to look forward to?

Oh, there are just so many opportunities to grow the business. We’ve got all kind of new location-intelligence oriented opportunities – people walking around with mobile devices that have GPS capabilities built in. Think about instant couponing apps that might encourage customers to drop in and purchase something. There are new methods of getting the brand image out there – we’ve seen so many franchise groups with successful viral videos. For restaurant franchisees, there’s the rapid emergence of the new health-conscious consumer and opportunities to reshape the menu to take advantage of that. I look around and I just see a countless number of methods by which a franchisee can run the business better, grow, and transform their business. And that’s what innovation is all about!

What kinds of things do multi-unit franchisees need to be doing in their businesses right now?

Investing in experiential capital. Look, there’s so much new stuff happening out there, and markets are changing so quickly, that the only way to get ahead is to try out a lot of new ideas. In a world in which Apple generates 60 percent of its revenue from products that didn’t exist four years ago, it’s critically important that an organization constantly enhance the skill, capabilities, and insight of their people. They do this by constantly working on projects that might have an uncertain return and payback – but which will provide in-depth experience and insight into change. It’s by understanding change that opportunity is defined, and that’s what experiential capital happens to be. In the future, it will be one of the most important assets you can possess.

What kinds of things should multi-unit franchisees stop doing?

Making excuses. Look, it’s all too easy to avoid the future and not do the tough things. Stop using what I call the “innovation killers,” phrases like:

  • “We’ve always done it this way”
  • “It won’t work”
  • “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard”
  • “That’s not my problem”
  • “You can’t do that”
  • “I don’t know how”
  • “I don’t think I can”
  • “I didn’t know that”
  • “The boss won’t go for it”
  • “Why should I care?”

What can multi-unit franchisees do better right now and how?

Change their attitude to try new things. Innovation is critical. Innovative companies act differently.

In these organizations ideas flow freely throughout, subversion is a virtue and success and failure are championed. There are many, many leaders who encourage innovative thinking, rather than managers who run a bureaucracy. There are creative champions throughout the organization – people who thrive on thinking about how to do things differently. Ideas get approval and endorsement rather than stating “it can’t be done,” people ask, “how could we do this?”

People know that in addition to R&D, innovation is also about ideas to “run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.” The word “innovation” is found in most job descriptions as a primary area of responsibility, and a percentage of annual remuneration is based upon achievement of explicitly defined innovation goals The fact is, every organization should be able to develop innovation as a core virtue — if they aren’t, they certainly won’t survive the rapid rate of change that envelopes us today.

Ok, observations from another senior leadership meeting for a global powerhouse …. in this case, a dinner talk held last month. I had a room full of senior VP’s, regional representatives from around the world — over 200 high performance individuals.

Truly innovative companies do many things, including redefining innovation to make it inclusive, rather than making it the domain of a small, elite group

So what did I focus on? Aside from a variety of fast-paced trends redefining their industry, I also spoke about some of the things I’ve seen from world class innovators.

  • they permit self-organizing teams that abolish hierarchy
  • they establish an “enabling” culture that encourages open thinking, rather than a “stifling” culture that glues the status quo into place.
  • they focus on knowledge replenishment: they know the knowledge they have is going to go out of date quickly.
  • they have redefined innovation to make it inclusive, rather than making it the domain of a small, elite group
  • they are prepared for big market and industry transformation, and know that success in the future is not guaranteed
  • they presume growth and opportunity, rather than stagnation and threat
  • they revisit plans wtih regularity, knowing the future is not cast in stone
  • they focus on collaborative innovation rather that narrow innovation
  • they’re aligned to scientific rapidity as a key strategy for future success
  • they invest in experiential capital, knowing that every mistake they make by trying something new is an asset to be treasured
  • they focus on extreme skills specialization, aware that their ability to find extremely unique skills will be crucial to future success

I could go on.

The fact is, world class innovators do all these things and more.

For some more inspiration, check out the “What Do World Class Innovators Do That Other’s Don’t Do?” post found below.

A quick little video from a keynote in which I outline what organizations often do — with good intentions that go horribly wrong.


Think about what happens — suddenly, a message is established that only ‘special people’ on the ‘special team’ are responsible for innovation.

Here’s what I wrote in What I Learned From Frogs in Texas — which, by the way, you can now buy for your Kindle from Amazon or for your iPhone/IPad on iTunes.

Three Simple Ideas

The essence of innovation is really quite simple. It is all about coming up with new ideas that help you to run the business better, grow the business and transform the business. But it isn’t just about idea generation—innovative companies excel at implementing these ideas and making them work.

Let’s examine each of these areas.

Run the Business Better

There is plenty of opportunity in every organization for operational innovation; that is, doing what you can to “run the business better.” This type of innovation involves a continuous effort to change, improve and redefine business processes, whether they involve customer service, HR practices, logistics and shipping methodologies, purchasing processes or just about anything else.

Never think there isn’t huge room for improvement—most organizations are inherently inefficient, with outdated or illogical processes in place. There is countless potential for improving the way organizations work, and plenty of opportunities for innovative thinking with respect to the way things are done.

Add it up and look at the benefits from doing things smarter or more effectively and there can be a huge return.

Grow the Business

Second, make sure you understand the opportunities from “growing the business,” or what might also be called “revenue-focused innovation.”

Most often, new revenue comes from new products and the ability to enter a new marketplace. Yet that isn’t the only way to enhance revenue. Think about business model innovation, for example: new business ideas involving expansion in existing markets or new ways of reaching the customer that weren’t previously possible (or that no one had thought of before).

Revenue enhancement can also come from changing the nature of existing products, such as adding a service component to a product that can bring in additional revenue. It might involve enhancing the perceived image of a product so it is more valuable to the customer, resulting in the customer being willing to pay more for it.

The key is, don’t think about “growing the business” and revenue enhancement as simply coming from new products or new markets; there are plenty of other methods for innovative thinking that can lead to revenue enhancement.

Transform the Business

Last but not least, always keep in mind the concept of “transformational innovation.”

Transformational innovation involves taking a look at the way the organization is structured, and thinking how it might be able to work smarter, more efficiently and with better results by changing the skills makeup of the organization. It involves constant, probing questions that continually assess the organization and its skills, such as:

Do we have the people we need in the right places/positions?

Do we have the right people with the right skills available at the right time?

If we are suddenly faced with rapid market change, do we know how to access specialized skills and talent we might need?

With the global connectivity that has emerged over the last few decades, there is plenty of opportunity to do today what couldn’t have been done even five years ago, in terms of how an organization accesses the skills, resources, talents and capabilities that it needs to get the job done..

Organizational transformation also recognizes the concept of “partnership” as a key corporate structure for the future. In a world of mammoth complexity and constant change, organizations must focus on their core competencies and partner with others to accomplish the things they cannot or should not do. In essence, they must recognize that the path to the future is to concentrate on what they do well and on what is critical to their central mission, and to seek partners to help out with everything else.

innovativecompanies.jpgInnovative organizations focus upon the concept of agility: they can manage fast change, new risk, business market turmoil, staffing challenges, and market commoditization. They can do this because they are relentless focused on the future and the trends that will impact them.

They ensure that they innovate and adapt based on rapidly changing circumstances, on a continuous basis. Innovation isn’t just about new product; it’s an inclusive mindset, in which everyone knows that they must stay relentlessly focused on the religion of innovation: how do we do things differently to run the business better, grow the business and transform the business.

How do they do this? By adopting several key guiding principles that form the basis for all corporate strategy and activities going forward:

  • plan for short term longevity: No one can presume that markets, products, customers and assumptions will remain static: everything is changing instantly. Business strategies and activities must increasingly become short term oriented while fulfilling a long term mission.
  • presume lack of rigidity: Many organizations undertake plans based on key assumptions. Agile organizations do so by presuming that those key assumptions are going to change regularly over time, and so build into their plans a degree of ongoing flexibility.
  • design for flexibility : In a world of constant change, products or services must be designed in such a way that they can be quickly redesigned without massive cost and effort. Think like Google: every product and service should be a beta, with the inherent foundation being one of flexibility for future change.
  • build with extensibility: Apple understood the potential for rapid change by building into the iPod architecture the fundamental capability for other companies to develop add-on products. Think the same way : tap into the world. Let the customer, supplier, partners and others innovate on your behalf!
  • harness external creativity: In a world in which knowledge is evolving at a furious pace, no one organization can do everything. Recogize your limits, and tap into the skills, insight and capabilities of those who can do things better.
  • plan for supportability: Customers today measure you by a bar that is raised extremely high — they expect you to deliver the same degree of high-quality that they get from the best companies on the planet. They expect instant support, rapid service, and constant innovation. If you don’t provide this, they’ll simply move on to an alternative.
  • revisit with regularity: Banish complacency. Focus on change. Continually revisit your plans, assumptions, models and strategies, because the world next week is going to be different than that of today.

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