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I spent the morning yesterday with the Board of Directors of a multi-billion dollar credit union, taking a good hard look at the trends sweeping the financial services space. They know that disruption is real, and that it is happening now.

And disruption is everywhere: every business, and every industry is  being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other challenges.


The speed with which these changes occur are now being increasingly driven by he arrival of a younger, more entrepreneurial generation; a group that seems determined to change the world to reflect their ideas and concept of opportunity. They’ve grown up networked, wired, and are collaborative in ways that no previous generation seems to be.

And therein lies the challenge.

Most organizations are bound up in traditions, process, certain defined ways of doing things — rules — that have helped them succeed in the past. Over time, they have developed a corporate culture which might have worked at the slower paced world of the past — but now has them on the sick-bed, suffering from an organizational sclerosis that clogs up their ability to try to do anything new.

Those very things which worked for them in the past might be the anchors that could now hold them back as the future rushes at them with ever increasing speed.

They are being challenged in a fundamental way by those who think big, and by some really big, transformative trends.

How to cope with accelerating change?  Think big, start small and scale fast!

I’m doing many keynotes in which I outline the major trends and opportunities that come from “thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast,” by addressing some of the fundamental changes that are underway.

1. Entire industries are going “upside down”

One thing you need to know is this: entire industries are being flipped on their back by some pretty big trends.

Consider the world of health care. Essentially, today, it’s a system in which we fix people after they become sick. You come down with some type of medical condition; your doctor does a diagnosis, and a form of treatment is put in place. That’s overly simplifying things, but essentially that is how it works.

Yet that is going to change in a pretty fundamental way with genomic, or DNA based medicine. It takes us into a world in which we can more easily understand what health conditions are you susceptible or at risk for throughout your life. It moves us from a world in which we fix you after you are sick — to one in which we know what you are likely to become sick with, and come up with a course of action before things go wrong. That’s a pretty BIG and pretty fundamental change. I like to say that the system is going “upside down.”

So it is with the automotive and transport industry. One day, most people drove their own cars. One day in the future, cars will do much of the driving on their own. That’s a pretty change — sort of the reverse, or upside-down, from how it use to be.

Or think about education: at one time, most people went to the place where education is delivered. But with the massive explosion of connectivity and new education delivery methods involving technology, an increasing number of people are in a situation where education is delivered to them. That’s upside down too!

You can go through any industry and see similar signs. That’s a lot of opportunity for big change.

2. Moore’s law – everywhere!

Another big trend that is driving a lot of change comes about as technology takes over the rate of change in the industry.

Going forward, every single industry, from health care to agriculture to insurance and banking, will find out that change will start to come at the speed of Moore’s law — a speed of change that is MUCH faster than they are used too. (Remember, Moore’s law explains that roughly, the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months while its cost cuts in half. It provides for the pretty extreme exponential growth curve we see with a lot of consumer and computer technology today.)

Back to health care. We know that genomic medicine is moving us from a world in which we fix people after they are sick – to one where we know what they will likely become sick with as a result of DNA testing. But now kick in the impact of Moore’s law, as Silicon Valley takes over the pace of development of the genomic sequencing machines. It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome, which by 2009 had dropped to $100,000. It’s said that by mid-summer, the cost had dropped to under $10,000, and by the end of the year, $1,000. In just a few years, you’ll be able to go to a local Source by Circuit City and buy a little $5 genomic sequencer – and one day, such a device will cost just a few pennies.

The collapsing cost and increasing sophistication of these machines portends a revolution in the world of health care. Similar trends are occurring elsewhere – in every single industry, we know one thing: that Moore’s law rules!

3. Loss of the control of the pace of innovation

What happens when Moore’s law appears in every industry? Accelerating change, and massive business model disruption as staid, slow moving organizations struggle to keep up with faster paced technology upstarts.

Consider the world of car insurance — we are witnessing a flood of GPS based driver monitoring technologies that measure your speed, acceleration and whether you are stopping at all the stop signs. Show good driving behaviour, and you’ll get a rebate on your insurance. It’s happening in banking, with the the imminent emergence of the digital wallet and the trend in which your cell phone becomes a credit card.

In both cases, large, stodgy, slow insurance companies and banks that move like molasses will have to struggle to fine tune their ability to innovate and keep up : they’re not used to working at the same fast pace as technology companies.

Not only that, while they work to get their innovation agenda on track, they’ll realize with horror that its really hard to compete with companies like Google, PayPal, Facebook, and Apple — all of whom compete at the speed of light.

It should make for lots of fun!

4.  “Follow the leader” business methodologies

We’re also witnessing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move by their competition – or risk falling behind.

For example, think about what is going on in retail, with one major trend defining the future: the Apple checkout process. Given what they’ve done, it seems to be all of a sudden, cash registers seemed to become obsolete. And if you take a look around, you’ll notice a trend in which a lot of other retailers are scrambling to duplicate the process, trying to link themselves to the cool Apple cachet.

That’s the new reality in the world of business — pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up.  Consider this scenario: Amazon announces a same day delivery in some major centres. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have be able to play the same game!

Fast format change, instant business model implementation, rapid fire strategic moves. That’s the new reality for business, and it’s the innovators who will adapt.

5. All interaction — all the time!

If there is one other major trend that is defining the world of retail and shopping, take a look at all the big television screens scattered all over the store! We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend towards constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by

Ron Boire, the new Chief Marketing Officer for Sears in the US (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): “My focus will really be on creating more and better theatre in the stores.”

We are going to see a linking of this ‘in-store theatre’ with our mobile devices and our social networking relationships. Our Facebook app for a store brand (or the fact we’ve ‘liked’ the brand) will know we’re in the store, causing a a customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promotion with a  hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think!

6. Products reinvented

Smart entrepreneurs have long realized something that few others have clued into : the future of products is all about enhancement through intelligence and connectivity. Nail those two aspects, and you suddenly sell an old product at significantly higher new prices.

Consider the NEST Learning Thermostat. It’s design is uber-cutting edge, and was in fact dreamed up by one of the key designers of the iPad. It looks cool, it’s smart, connected, and there’s an App for that! Then there is a Phillips Hue Smart LED Lightbulb, a $69 light bulb that is uber-smart, connected, and can be controlled from your mobile device. Both are sold at the Apple store!

Or take a look at the Whitings Wi-Fi Body Scale. Splash a bit of design onto the concept of a home weigh scale, build it with connectivity, link it to some cool online graphs and you’ve got a device that will take your daily weight, BMI and body-fat-mass tracking into a real motivational tool.  Where is it sold? Why, at the Apple store too!

Do you notice a trend here?

7. Careers reinvented

For those who that the post-2008 North American recovery from the recession was slow, here’s an open secret: there was a significant economic recovery underway for quite some time, as companies in every sector ranging from manufacturing to agriculture worked hard to reinvent themselves. It just didn’t involve a lot of new jobs, because the knowledge required to do a new job in today’s economy is pretty complex. We’ve moved quickly from the economy of menial, brute force jobs to new careers that require a lot of high level skill. The trend has been underway for a long, long time.

Consider the North American manufacturing sector, a true renaissance industry if there ever was one! Smart engineers at a wide variety of manufacturing organizations have transformed process to such a degree, and involved the use of such sophisticated robotic technology, that the economic recovery in this sector involves workers who have to master a lot of new knowledge. One client observed of their manufacturing staff: “The education level of our workforce has increased so much….The machinists in this industry do trigonometry in their heads.”

Similar skills transitions are underway in a wide variety of other industries….

8. The Rise of the Small over Incumbents

We are living in the era that involves the end of incumbency. Companies aren’t assured that they will own the marketplace and industry they operate within because of past success ; they’ll have to continually re-prove themselves through innovation.

Consider Square, the small little device that lets your iPhone become a credit card. What a fascinating little concept that has such big potential for disruption. And it’s a case where once again, small little upstarts are causing turmoil, disruption and competitive challenge in larger industries — and often times, the incumbents are too slow to react.

Anyone who has ever tried to get a Merchant Account from Visa, MasterCard or American Express in order to accept credit cards knows that it is likely trying to pull teeth from a pen – many folks just give up in exasperation. Square, on the other hand, will send you this little device for free (or you can pick one up at the Apple Store.) Link it to your bank account, and you’re in business.

So while credit card companies have been trying to figure out the complexities of the future of their industry, a small little company comes along and just does something magical! No complexities, no challenges, no problems.

* * * *
There are people who are making big bold bets, big bold decisions, who are going to change the world and who are going to do things differently.” That phrase was from my opening keynote for the Accenture International Utilities and Energy Conference in San Francisco some years back.

It’s a good sentiment, and is a good way to think about the idea of ‘thinking big.’

I spend a huge amount of my time dealing with senior executives in global companies; just hit my client list for a sense of what I do. This usually involves a lot of conversations with CEO’s of Fortune 1000’s, startups, and other C-suite executives.

With that, I’m always fascinated by the public promise of a company, and the eventual reality of what is delivered.  With that, I give you the public promise of Sir Richard Branson of Virgin when it comes to his staff:


That’s a good message for a CEO to promise. Treat people as you would like to be treated.

Sir Richard, maybe you should make sure your staff treats potential business partners with the same degree of respect. Just a thought…..

As a global expert on trends and innovation, I often see the dichotomy between the promise of a brand and the reality. So here’s a story for you to ponder. Is the promise above real?

Maybe not, from a recent experience of mine. Listen in: it’s not much a story, but I  find it interesting and want to get this off my chest…. and you might find it to be so too.

It was a thrill for me back in February of this year when I was contacted by the office of Sir Richard Branson to see if I might contribute to a “book”  his office was putting together, specifically:

Virgin is embarking on a project to consider the future of UK work and business 20 years from now. We’re keen to bring together some of the best minds in the country – to form predictions on the most pertinent emerging trends and recommendations for how we best work towards a thriving 2037.”

Their ask  was to see if I could contribute to a section on the future of the workplace, as in:

The How you Work chapter will focus on working environments, communication with colleagues, access to the office, commuting, global vs local, access to support communities”

The idea was that they would deliver this sometime towards the end of this month, with a number of contributors participating. They indicated that given my background with speaking and writing about the future of the workplace, workforce and the organization that I would have some ‘powerful’ insight.

I don’t mind saying that being involved in such a project would certainly be a thrill and probably one of the highlights of my global career, next to such things as doing talks for Disney, NASA and the Swiss Innovation Forum!

With that, an exploratory call was arranged by the folks at Sir Richards office to discuss my potential contribution. I took the call while out on a ski hill, and we kicked ideas back and forth for about 1/2 hour. The call certainly seemed to go well, and they indicated they would get back to me within a week to talk about ‘next steps.’

And then, silence. Nothing. So I followed up with an email. Then another, and then another. And ….nothing. Complete and utter — and baffling — radio silence. Not a simple, single response to several emails asking if the project was moving on. Not even anything telling me, ‘thanks for the exploratory call, but we’ve moved in other directions…..”

To this day, I still don’t even know what happened with the project. Who knows — maybe we’ll see something in the next few weeks, and I will know that I didn’t make the cut.

So what? Well, here’s the thing: what I see from Virgin in this case is complete disrespect from Sir Richards staff. The complete and simple lack of the courtesy of a response to several inquiries, following up on our original conversation. How do you square that with the promise of a CEO to treat his staff with respect? If that very staff can’t treat potential external business partners with similar respect….?

This isn’t sour grapes; it would have been a lot of fun to participate. Heavens knows I’ve got plenty of other things to do….

But what gets me is this: Sir Richard is known for establishing companies, and a culture, that thrives on the utmost of respect and service. Virgin Airlines, for example, can put many other companies to shame for its ability to be relentlessly customer centric. His promise in a quote such as above is to excel in establishing a staff culture based on respect…

Yet that respect doesn’t seem to trickle down from his office….

My question to Sir Richard is this — why can the staff in your office not carry the same attributes? It might be time for you to ask a few questions….

Just wondering.

LocationIntelligence

There are big opportunities with mapping technology in the field of wastewater and water management, deep insight into healthcare trends with real time analytical community healthcare dashboards, environmental insight, and much more!

Today my oldest son, who just finished his degree in Physical Geography with a minor in Geomatics, starts a job working in his field — that of location intelligence!

He’ll be busy working with mapping technology, particularly ArcGIS from ESRI, in areas involving new abilities for deep insight into big issues. Quite simply, once we analyze our world with location specific insight, everything changes.

Given that, I’m a super-proud dad today!

And I’m particularly excited that he is embarking on a career which I think shows potentially huge opportunities for growth, both from a professional and personal perspective.

Way back in 2007, I spoke at a conference in Houston within the insurance industry. Prior to going on stage, another speaker mentioned a newly emerging skill set involving “location intelligence.”

Bang – I saw a trend, and the rapid emergence of a new career – location intelligence professionals!

I’ve been speaking about that profession ever since on stage — and maybe my son was listening.

I think he is embarking on a wonderful new career with massive opportunities, and the potential for transformative insight that can help to reshape the world. There are big opportunities with mapping technology in the field of wastewater and water management, deep insight into healthcare trends with real time analytical community healthcare dashboards, environmental insight, and much more!

Congratulations Willie! It will be the adventure of a lifetime!

 

Back in February, I was the opening keynote speaker for 2014 Ameriquest National Symposium, speaking about trends related to transportation, infrastructure, fleet management, business model disruption — you name it!

“Many companies suffer from organizational sclerosis. They try to do things the way they’ve always done them, but we’re moving at such speed when it comes to innovation and invention that the old ways just don’t work.”

Bridget Fediuk is the Marketing Manager for NationaLease, and is responsible for overseeing the marketing of NationaLease meetings and events, the NationaLease NEWS, Webinars, and various other projects.

She was at the conference, and wrote about her views over in the NationalLease blog.


Business Mantra for the Future … Think Fast. Act Faster,
by Bridget Fediuk

Successful companies in the future will be agile, flexible, and willing to embrace change, says futurist Jim Carroll.

Many speakers at the 2014 Symposium spoke about connectivity; how we’re all connected by technology and how those connections seem to grow faster and faster. Renowned futurist Jim Carroll was one of those speakers. He made it clear to those attending the Symposium that a company’s success now and in the future will be decided by its agility, flexibility, and willingness to embrace change. We all know that technology has been expanding at an incredible pace.

If you want to know how fast things are changing or will change, here are a few factoids from Carroll:

  • 65% of pre-school children today will work in jobs or careers that do not yet exist
  • ½ of what a student learns in the first year of college is obsolete by graduation
  • Most digital cameras have a 3 – 6 month shelf life before they are obsolete
  • 60% of Apple’s revenue this past year came from products that didn’t exist just four years ago

Carroll kept repeating the phrase that is the title of this posting, “The future belongs to those who are fast.” Many companies suffer from organizational sclerosis. They try to do things the way they’ve always done them, but we’re moving at such speed when it comes to innovation and invention that the old ways just don’t work. Businesses need to understand that fully half of today’s global population is under the age of 25; that most of them are globally wired and connected. These are your customers and your employees, and they’re used to nearly immediate gratification and acknowledgement. So if your business can’t adapt to fulfill their expectations; if you can’t embrace and implement changing technology, you are going to find difficulty achieving and maintaining success.

Carroll illustrated the pace of change by talking about the Jetsons, a cartoon show popular in the ‘80’s. Although the show was supposed to take place in 2062, he talked about some of the technology in that show that actually exists today. We may not have flying cars; however, tanning beds, video chat (think Skype), robot vacuums (think Roomba), and TeleViewer (think iPads) are items we no longer think of as futuristic. For the transportation professionals attending the meeting, Carroll stated that the typical truck cabin today contains more technology and computing power than a Cessna and that, by 2017, SIRI will be available for most new trucks.

So what is the secret to adapting to change; how do people and companies become world-class innovators.

According to Carroll, there are five key ways:

  • Appreciate the unique time we live in and the rate of change that is occurring. Embrace it, don’t fear it.
  • Think now of how much change will occur and pursue that change. Innovators don’t follow the rules, they rewrite them.
  • Control the speed of innovation.
  • See change and search for opportunity to capitalize on it.
  • Ride the generational acceleration.

When it comes to your business and the future, Carroll suggests that you “think big, start small, and scale fast.”

The tortoise might have beaten the hare in the old fable, but in today’s world, slow and steady will not only lose the race; it will be lucky if it gets past the starting line.

SaveSave

Plastics Today, Chicago, September 9 —The competitor who could threaten your company’s livelihood or industry’s relevance 10 years from now might not even exist today.

2013MMAChicago

A keynote on the trade show floor at PLASTEC Midwest, Design & Manufacturing Midwest, ATX Midwest, Pack Zone, Quality Expo, and MD&M Chicago ….a pretty diverse group!

That hard truth about the pace and scale of change in technology came from Jim Carroll, author and futurist. Carroll delivered the opening address at the Tech Theater presentation forum presented as part of UBM Canon’s collocated advanced technologies shows at Chicago’s McCormick Place, including PLASTEC Midwest, Design & Manufacturing Midwest, ATX Midwest, Pack Zone, Quality Expo, and MD&M Chicago.

Carroll polled attendees, who filled the allotted seating and spilled over into a standing crowd, in real time, having them text answers to questions. He noted that at conferences with CEOs, the older generation might be unaware of how to text or Tweet an answer. When he conducted the same experiment at a high school, however, 297 of of the 300 teenagers in attendance replied within 30 seconds, laying bare the generational technology gap.

Jim Carroll, futurist and author, described the best practices of world-class innovators. That demographic difference in how technology is embraced was one of the key points Carroll described between world class innovators and everyone else. “That’s the next generation,” Carroll said of the high schooler’s who always have a mobile device at the ready. “That’s the generation that’s going to change the manufacturing industry,” Carroll said, adding that fully one half of the global population is under 25. “The next generation thrives on change,” Carroll said. “They’re wired, collaborative.”

Will it be survive, thrive, or die?
The fact that industry is dealing with upheaval is not new, Carroll said, pointing at past economic crises ranging from the oil embargo to the dot-com bust. Those times of challenge have a way of winnowing the competitive field. Carroll said studies of those periods show that 60% of companies survive, albeit barely; 30% die off; and 10% become breakthrough performers. The 90% that just endure but don’t accelerate growth have a syndrome that has become prevalent in recent years, as the economy haltingly climbs out of the great recession. It’s a condition Carroll has dubbed “aggressive indecision.”

The companies that can overcome indecision will still be faced with a much faster decision making process. “World class innovators have adapted to the speed of Silicon Valley,” Carrol said, using the medical market, and advent of gene-based preventative medicine as an example. “10 years out, 20 years out, the world of healthcare will be turned upside down,” Carroll said. “Today, we fix you after you’re sick; 20 years from now, we’ll treat you for what you will have based on your genes.”

As Silicon Valley has taken over the formerly laborious and prohibitively expensive process of DNA sequencing, the speed of development has gone up while costs have gone down. Carroll noted how it cost $3 billion to sequence the first human genome, but by the end of this year, the cost is forecast to be less than $1000.

Find opportunity
Carroll called on attendees to alter their competitive viewpoint. “When world class innovators look out and see a new trend,” Carroll said, “they don’t see a threat; they see an opportunity.”

Before finishing his presentation, Carroll called on those in attendance to take advantage of their time at the show. “Walk the show floor,” Carroll exhorted of his audience. “Find three ideas that you can implement to help get your company out of a rut.”

Two years ago, I was the keynote speaker for an annual conference of Consumer Goods and Technology Magazine, and from that a great relationship was born, with a few repeat bookings into other conferences and events that they run.

 pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up

“Pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up” – Grab the full CGT report with the image above!

And for the second year in a row, I’m featured in their 2013 Review & Outlook: The best and brightest minds in consumer goods share predictions and guidance for the coming year publication, with many other luminaries in the industry.

My contribution follows below. You can grab the entire PDF of the report by clicking on the image of the cover. Registration is required.


Jim Carroll, Futurist, Trends & Innovation Expert

The future belongs to those who are fast!

In the world of retail in 2013 and beyond, we will be seeing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move made by their competition — or  risk falling behind.

For example, think about what is going on in retail, with one major trend defining the future: the Apple Store checkout process, which involves the elimination of the cash register. Apple has such an impact on retail design and consumer behaviour today that many other retailers are now scrambling to duplicate the process, trying to link themselves to the cool Apple cachet.

That’s the new reality in the world of business — pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up.

Consider this scenario, which recently unfolded: Amazon. com announces a same day delivery in some major centers. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have to be able to play the same game!

Then there is in-store promotion. We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend toward constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by Ron Boire, the new chief marketing officer for Sears in the United States (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): ”My focus will really be on creating more and better theater in the stores.”

We are going to see a linking of this “in-store theater” with mobile devices and social networking relationships. Our Facebook app for a store brand (or the fact we’ve ‘”liked” the brand) will know we’re in the store, causing a customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promo- tion with a hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think!

Fast format change, instant business model implementation, rapid-fire strategic moves — that’s the new reality for retail busi- ness, and it’s the innovators who will adapt.

CGT2013-Jim Carroll

So I was on the phone today with the CEO of a major global organization headquartered in Canada. I’ll be opening a leadership meeting for the company in early 2013, and this was a call to begin planning for the structure of my talk.

During the call, comments by Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada about the US economic relationship came up. Clearly, this is a country that is seeing it’s share of challenge due to fast-paced challenges in it’s “special relationship” with the US.

I mentioned to the CEO that  as far back as 2009, I was already predicting that Canada would likely have challenges in selling it’s oil in the future into the US market. And many other challenges! And that it would have to re-orient its economy further away from the US and take on much more of a global view!

This was plainly evident to me back then — and look where things are today. What are serious people and politicians and everyday folk in Canada suddenly talking about that no one really took seriously just a year ago?“…a Pacific energy pipeline….”  “…. aligning more natural resources and commodities with long term Asian contracts….”    “…… a serious free trade relationship with Europe that goes beyond NAFTA.”

With that in mind, I just dug out an old post I wrote way back in 2009 that was written as a bit of a joke at the time — surmising that Canada would see many reasons to reorient it’s global economy in the future. It’s a press release written very much tongue-in-cheek. It was briefly posted to my blog. (I removed it after a short time, since I thought that many people might find it offensive. But back then, it was covered in Bourque.org and a few other breaking-Canadian-news blogs….)

I now find it remarkably prescient, though some of it is still very clearly written for fun. For example, the border wall!


Canada announces end of economic relationship with US, & a bold new strategy to 2020

Ottawa, May 14, 2009

The country of Canada today announced the end of its centuries long relationship with the United States, and a bold new seven-point “Canada Transformed!” strategy that will re-orient its economic, cultural, societal values and innovation engine towards the world economy of 2020.

“It has come to the point that we can no longer rely on the United States as a reliable economic partner,” stated Canada at a news conference. “It is time that we adopt a bold new strategy that will align our economy away from the US, and towards the growth economies of the 21st century in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. As well, we will immediately begin working to enhance our long standing relationships with reliable partner nations in Europe.”

The massive scope of the plan was not lost on Canada in the emotional conference. “We aim to reduce our role of being the largest trading partner with the United States, to becoming a marginal partner at best. We believe that this is the only right way forward.”

Bold new thinking is required Canada spoke bluntly at the news conference of the need for bold new thinking. “Our relationship with the US is one that has become, through no fault of our own, increasingly abusive. We’re honest, faithful, and do our part to provide to the relationship. We have been the largest trading partner to the United States for over a century. And yet, in return, we find ourselves taking on an increasing amount of abuse, neglect, and ever more hostile actions. We’re sad that it must come to an end, but we believe that it is time.”

Canada cited a long list of complaints and grievances, ranging from ongoing trade disputes, “downright hostile treatment” of Canadian citizens by US border guards, and increasingly aggressive use of a “Buy America” policy by state and local governments in the US — despite a promise in Ottawa by President Barak Obama that he did not believe protectionism was the right way forward.

Canada Transformed!

At the press conference, Canada announced a significant 10 year, 7 point plan, branded “Canada Transformed!”, that will re-orient it’s economy away from the United States to the AEA (Asia, Europe and Africa) markets, by the 2020, with a number of key goals:

  •  Energy & oil: Canada will invest in a massive infrastructure project that will allow it to deliver the bulk of it’s significant energy/oil resources to Asia, Europe and Africa within 5-7 years. The infrastructure project will consist of a number of significant pipeline projects that will direct Canadian oil, natural gas and other energy sources to east and west coast ports, as well as shipping and marine infrastructure, that will provide for a “ocean railway of energy” destined to the AEA countries.”Today, Canada is the largest supplier of energy to the United States. By 2020, Canada aims to provide almost no energy to the US,” noted Canada at the news conference. “We wish them well in their efforts to solve their energy crisis. We do not intend to help them any further.”
  • Food & agriculture: Global food production must double to meet world population growth, and Canadian grain, beef, pork and other producers will work to achieve an AEA target market of 90% by 2020. “Quite simply, the rest of the world beyond the US needs a stable, reliable food supplier, and Canada intends to become the leading global brand in that regard.”
  • Resources: Canada will seek investment from major Asian and mid-East sovereign wealth funds in an ambitious effort to re-orient the target markets for at least 80% of Canadian mineral commodities to AEA nations by 2015.”Quite simply, Canada has the natural resources — iron, nickel, copper, uranium and just every other type of metal — that the newly industrialized world in Asia needs. As we witness a continued declined in US economic power, particularly in the manufacturing sector, we must ensure that we pursue growth opportunities elsewhere in the world. As China re-industrializes with the economic recovery, we intend to be their partner of choice.
  • Manufacturing: Since the advent of the US-Canada free-trade agreement in 1994, Canada has shared in one of the modern world’s greatest economic successes — the highly integrated Canadian-US manufacturing network supply chain. However, the collapse of the US manufacturing sector, as well as continuous suffocation of the border flow of goods, it is clear that Canada must re-orient itself to the new realities of the 21st century.”A nation does not move forward suffering from the ongoing implementation of economic choke points,” noted Canada. “We will re-align ourselves to economies that believe the way forward is through intelligent, smart-border policies that encourage the free flow of goods and people; not a nation that has a border policy that is driven by  politics. We will immediately provide strong incentives for Canadian manufacturers to re-focus on Canadian markets, as well as the establishment of significant new markets in AEA countries. There are over 2 billion people in these markets, and but 280 million in the US.””Clearly, our future lies outside of North America, and we will align our manufacturing sector to this reality.
  • Immigration-based knowledge factories: Canada is the envy of other nations throughout the world for its’ open, welcoming culture towards new immigrants. It plans to build on this reputation by establishing itself as the world’s dominant source for high-level, specialized knowledge expertise in almost every single professional field.”We believe that we are entering the second era of off-shoring,” noted Canada, “with the next wave going far beyond customer support call centers. Nations around the world will need access to high level talent in the fields of medicine and health care, scientific research, agricultural and architectural skills, legal and professional services — and will seek to access that knowledge through the global communications networks that will dominate the economy of the 21st century” said Canada. “We will welcome global knowledge experts in every field of human endeavor to relocate to Canada, enjoy all the attributes that our nation has to offer, and provide their skills to a massive offshore groups of clients in AEA nations. In doing so, we will establish Canada as the global hub for the knowledge economy of the 21st century. Quite simply, Brand Canada will become the most widely recognized phase when it comes to the need for access to knowledge.”
  • Immediate border construction: Finally, Canada announced that it would immediately begin construction of border that would prevent unauthorized entry into Canada by US citizens. “We will immediately begin planning construction of a 4,500 mile physical border along our common frontier with the US,” noted Canada. “We increasingly view the US health care system to be in peril — within a decade, some US states will be devoting more than 60% of their GDP to health care. Clearly, many US citizens will plan to flee to Canada to take advantage of our world-class universal health care system. We must prevent this mass migration of Americans into Canada, and believe that significantly enhanced border structures are the only means of doing so.”

At the close of the news conference, Canada stated that it was taking these actions with reluctance, but with conviction that it was the right thing to do.

Nations have always achieved continued economic success by making bold leaps. We believe, given the continuing deterioration in our relationship with the US, and the ongoing and continued lack of respect that they provide to us, that it is time to move on.

Canada is the most resource rich, tolerant, energy abundant, agriculturally advanced, second largest country in the world, with a massive base of skills, energy, commodities, food, and capabilities. We intend to assert our place in the economy of the 21st century with a sense of pride, purpose, and clear direction,” said Canada at the conclusion of the press conference.

Besides that, we’re just plain nice,” said Canada, blushing, in a closing comment.

We are excited about our future, and believe that we have made the right decision at the right time for the right purpose. Canada Transformed! will see our nation emerge as one of the leading economies on the world stage by 2020, and we embark on this voyage with a sense of courage, enthusiasm, and certainty as to its’ impact.”

The United States was not immediately available for comment.

I keep advising my personal trainer that she needs to get an iPhone. She shrugs, noting that there is a queue in the family for the next mobile upgrade, and her 14 year old daughter might have more of a claim in the line than she does.

Hogwash! There is an absolute revolution going on involving the “consumerization of fitness and wellness” — and this super long blog post will put into perspective why. And maybe this will help to sort out some of her family politics over the ‘next phone.’ The fact is, the very nature of the future fitness opportunity is changing ….

Update: After I wrote this blog post, Adweek ran the article, “Nike+ Officially Turns Your Workout Into a Video Game” – you want to read it.

Here’s the main gist of this post — In May and June, I spoke at a tremendous number of corporate, association and private events; it was a busy couple of months, and hence the lack of regular postings to the blog.

Three of these were events related to the issue of corporate wellness programs.

It was the perfect timing for such a keynote; through the last year and I half, I’ve been following what I believe to be a fairly aggressive personal fitness regime, with the help of my personal trainer, as well as personally exploring the wealth of new fitness and wellness mobile applications that are flooding the market.

The entire premise of my keynote? At this moment in time, we are witnessing the perfect confluence of several major trends:

  • the first signs of the reality of the massive scope of the health care crisis (both disease, lifestyle and funding related) as baby boomers begin to flood the health care system with requirements for extra care
  • a renewed and significant focus on “preventative” health care concepts” ;
  • structural change aimed at wellness programs so that people work harder to avoid or reduce the impact of lifestyle disease;
  • and the rapid emergence of new technologies — many involving the smartphones that have become a ubiquitous part of our lifestyle – that can motivate consumers to do so much more with their personal fitness and wellness.

Why a keynote on wellness? Because companies are recognizing there is a big opportunity to be innovative with managing healthcare costs through a proactive approach that involves wellness. It’s a good example of the deep, transformative thinking that is occurring with many organizations in the healthcare system worldwide . Organizations are moving beyond the endless political debate, and are instead, putting in place practical, innovative programs that can help organizations manage healthcare costs, and employees can actively work at improving their overall health and fitness.

Let’s consider the trends which are all coming together.

1. It’s crisis time!

Throughout the western worldwide, the obesity, diabetes and lifestyle health care crisis is really making itself felt with massive demands being placed on the system. The future is stark ; if something is not done, we will continue to see:

  • a continued rapid increase in lifestyle disease, resulting in even more massive future demands on the system
  • a bigger demographic challenge – more boomers placing demand on the system, with fewer workers to support the massive uptick in spending that results
  • a resultant massive supply / demand imbalance
  • and an expectation gap likely to increase scope of challenge : a trend I wrote about in my “Trending in 2011: 10 Major Trends to Start Thinking About Now.” It’s worth a read — check the first big trend in the list.

Clearly, something needs to be done. Hence, a lot of innovative thinking!

2. A massive shift to preventative medical concepts

Given that the Western world has such a big problem, it’s also fascinating to note that there is a huge amount of innovation occurring in the health care system now – and it has absolutely nothing to do with the raging (and now seemingly pointless) political debate occurring in the US.

What is happening is this: we are in the midst of a long term trend in which “preventative medical care” will come to exceed what we spend on “reactive medical care.” Preventative care takes many forms, from genetic testing (to determine what conditions people are likely to develop in their lifetime) to wellness and other preventative programs. Simply put, let’s fix people before they are sick, rather than treating them after they’ve developed a condition.

We’ve got a heck of a long way to go with this trend: according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report, “a mere 3% of spending goes towards prevention of chronic disease among industrialized countries.”

But what is happening is an acceleration of the trends that take us to a world of preventative healthcare. Consider the trend line with genomic medicine:

  • it took $3 billion to sequence the first human genome
  • by 2009, that was down to $100,000
  • it’s now under $10,000
  • and it is estimated by the end of 2012, $1,000

Give it a few years, and you’ll be able to go out and buy a $5 genomic sequencing machine at Radio Shack! That might seem like a joke, and it is. But the significance of a cost curve such as this is that it accelerates a significant shift in spending.

It isn’t occurring with genomic medicine — its happening everywhere throughout the world of healthcare. Last year, when I keynoted one of the largest seniors care conferences in the US, I noted the same type of focus on preventative thinking was becoming routine:

  • “Identifying dementia early can cut the cost of care by nearly 30 percent … routine screening that identified patients with early signs of dementia helped cut average healthcare costs by nearly $2,000 per patient in the first year, often by eliminating money spent on unnecessary tests and treatments. Early diagnosis can cut Alzheimer’s costs, Reuters Health E-Line, July 2010

The health and wellness theme fits into this agenda as well, which have undergone very much a sea-change in the last, in terms of perception, importance and approach:

  • “In businesses across the nation, workplace wellness has morphed from a “nice-to-have” fringe benefit to a “must-have” cost-containment strategy.” 23 April 2012, GlobeNewswire
  • Employers determined to contain medical costs must focus on creating a culture that supports healthy behaviors. If they can do that, they can enhance not only their bottom lines but also transform the lives of their workers. 28 April 2012, Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week
  • “In businesses across the nation, workplace wellness has morphed from a “nice-to-have” fringe benefit to a “must-have” cost-containment strategy.” 23 April 2012, GlobeNewswire
  • “64 percent of employers surveyed indicated that wellness initiatives are among the top three most effective tactics for controlling health care costs” 2012 Annual Plan Design Survey, National Business Group on Health

Studies show that for every $1 spent on a wellness program, medical expenses fall by at least $3.

Part 3: Time for some more aggressive action!

What is interesting is that in corporate organizations throughout the Western world, wellness programs are rapidly shifting : they’re going from a “nice-to-have” type of program, to a “we really need to see some results!” approach. Consider the trends; certainly many more organizations are putting such programs in place:

  • A recent study by Willis North America’s Human Capital Practice found about 60 percent of the companies surveyed have wellness programs, an increase of 13 percent from 2010. Companies encourage wellness, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 22 April 2012

But not only are more organizations adopting wellness programs: they are working to put in place structures, methodologies and measurement technologies that can help to ensure that employees are benefitting from such programs:

  • One of the fastest-growing categories of new insurance includes significant penalties for those who don’t participate or backslide on targets – penalties that may include deductible spikes or loss of health-savings accounts. Workers’ wellness can turn a profit Insurers offer incentives for health and penalize workers who can’t meet goals, The Denver Post , 25 December 2011
  • A national survey of large employers by the National Business Group on Health found that 80 percent plan to offer financial rewards for health in 2012, up from 54 percent this year. Workers’ wellness can turn a profit Insurers offer incentives for health and penalize workers who can’t meet goals, The Denver Post , 25 December 2011

And this is where tech comes along at the perfect time!

4. In comes technology – and the new consumerization of health care!

Technology is going to provide for more creative disruption in the world of healthcare than we’ve ever seen. Simply put, it changes everything.

  • “Imagine a far more extreme transformation, in which advances in IT, biology and engineering allow us to move much of health care out of hospitals, clinics and doctors offices, and into our everyday lives.” Our high-tech health care future, New York Times, 10 Nov 2011

The Withings Wi-FI Body Scale measures weight, BMI and fat mass, and transmits the info to a password protected site. I’ve got one and love it. They sell them at the Apple Store!

Cast your mind out 5 years or more, and we will see significant change in everything we do in the world of health care:

  • “…. you’ll be sitting in front of a big multitouch screen actually watching what’s going on in your body in a very intuitive, fun kind of animation. When you leave, the doctor will download prescriptions and treatments onto your cellphone – which not only remind you, but encourage you to follow the medicine’s or other lifestyle procedures. [You’ll see] a periodic video message from the doctor to encourage you if you’re doing well or maybe to encourage you if you’re not. It’ll be continuous care rather than the episodic, periodic care that occurs today.” Better living with technology, The Boston Globe, 21 November 2011

Extend that type of thinking, and we are headed to a future in which we literally have a dashboard for the human body…..

And it is starting to happen now — with a flood of new mobile and other healthcare technologies that help consumers to take more of an active role in their level of wellness and fitness. Consider the current trends:

  • 78% of consumers are interested in mobile health wellness fitness solutions
  • medical fitness health care apps are 3rd fast growing category for iPhone and Android phones
  • the Apple App store now has 17,000 health care related apps, 60% of which are aimed at the consumer
  • sports, fitness and wellness apps will grow from 154 million downloads in 2010 to 908 million by 2016
  • the number of wearable wireless “gadgets” will grow from 8 million to 72 million over the same period

I’m using a number of mobile wellness and fitness apps — for example, MapMyWalk, which I use to track the pace and timing of the five mile — or more — walk that I do while at home or travelling. I’ve also got a Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale — which tracks weight, BMI and body-fat mass, transmitting those details to a personally-password protected Web site. Utilize such technology, and all of a sudden you’ve got the opportunity to be more involved in your own well being.

Or, as I commented in New York at the keynote the impact of consumer fitness, wellness and healthcare technologies is that  “...they increase how often individuals think about their health…”

And clearly, it’s a pretty big trend:

  •  “500 million mobile users, or about 30% of an estimated 1.4 billion smartphone subscribers worldwide, will be using health/fitness apps by 2015. Healthcare in your hands
International Herald Tribune, March 2011

The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor works with your iPhone. It’s an example of the start of the trend I call “bio-connectivity.”

It isn’t just consumers who are rapidly adopting such technology — so are doctors and other professionals throughout the healthcare system.

  • By the end of the year 90 percent of physicians will have smart phones. Health apps soon will get an incubator, The San Francisco Chronicle, 11 April 2011

We are only beginning to scratch the surface of the innovations that will occur here. I’ve been suggesting that one of the biggest trends to sweep the world of healthcare and medicine will be that of ‘bio-connectivity,’ a phrase I coined well over a decade ago. Consider this post which I wrote before keynoting the World Healthcare Innovation & Technology Congress in Washington.

Bio-connectivity provides huge opportunity for innovation in the space of healthcare. The same company – Withings — has brought out the Withings iPhone Blood Pressure Monitor — seen on the right. All of a sudden, someone working to manage their blood pressure doesn’t need to rely on pencils and paper to track their progress — it’s automatically captured through the smartphone which is becoming an integral, everyday part of their life.

Not only that, but they can transmit their blood pressure readings and charts to their doctor or other health care provider via email. This provides for the virtualization of healthcare ; no longer are hospital or doctor visits restricted to actual physical locations known as hospitals or doctors offices — instead, it becomes a part of the global Internet. If you think about what is happening here: there is a change in the centuries old relationship between doctor and patient!

Did you know that researchers have already figured out how to make an ultra-thin heart monitor that goes on like a tattoo? Talk about a trend that is going to drive a lot of change!

Link all of these trends together, and the simple fact is this: we are going to witness more change in the world of healthcare, wellness and fitness in the next five years, than we have seen in the previous one hundred years.

And if you follow that path down the road of wellness and fitness — the very nature of fitness is changing. Ten years out, most folks going to the gym will have a smartphone attached to their hip, and will be working with their trainer on a regimen that includes this type of personal fitness tracking.

Sure, it sounds odd, but ten years ago, we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or many other of today’s life changing technologies.

My personal trainer really needs to get an iPhone!

This kid is soon be the next lawyer in your legal practice – or the lawyer you hire to support your legal issues. Are you ready to deal with him? He’s wired, uber-connected, collaborative, fast, and is unlike any lawyer you have ever known!

I’ve been remiss in blogging – 20+ keynotes since January, so I’ve been on the road. I’ve got lots to report on what I’ve been focused on in a huge range of different industries.

Back at the start of this travel odyssey, I found myself in Palm Springs, California, as the opening speaker for the 2012 California Community Associations Institute annual conference. In the room were several hundred lawyers and legal professionals supporting condominium and other community developments.

My focus? The key trends that would impact their role, both as lawyers and as individuals involved with complex real estate, construction and building design issues. So I did my homework, and put together what I thought was a great keynote. Certainly the instant Twitter feedback emphasized that I likely hit a home run.

I addressed numerous issues — including what will happen to the legal profession when the next generation of kids — who have grown up never knowing a world without an iPhone — enter the legal profession. Everything changes….

And here’s the fun part of my job — its’ always fascinating to find, after the keynote, the impact that I might have made on some people in the room. Which leads me to a post I found at the blog for Goodman, Shapiro and Lombardi LLC, a firm specializing in this industry, but based in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

After a brief intro, the post, headlined “Embracing Technology: Insights from the CAI’s Law Seminar,” gets right to the point:

I was somewhat skeptical about what I’d glean from the keynote speaker, Jim Carroll, a corporate consultant who describes himself as a “futurist.”

 I’m often greeted by such a reaction. But that’s my job — I spend a huge amount of time thinking about future trends, undertaking research in dozens of industries, meet hundreds of executives at the events that I speak at and prepare for — and synthesize all of this into a concise 45 minute to 1 hour overview of what the folks in the room should be thinking about. In this case, my keynote focused on two big issues: the future of the legal profession, and the key trends that would impact the construction/condominium industry and communities going forward into the future.

After that introduction, the blog post goes on:

“Turns out he is recognized worldwide as a “thought leader” on global trends and has helped many companies, including NASA and the PGA, transform their businesses through creativity and innovation.”

This is true — you can read about my keynote for NASA in this post, and a simple search for PGA on my Web site reveals all kinds of posts on my keynote for the “largest working sports organization in the world.” You don’t get to to do my type of job if you aren’t on your “A-Game” all the time!

So what did he think? This makes for a good read:

Part of my keynote in Palm Springs focused on my “10 Big Trends for the Legal Profession” – read the PDF by clicking on the image.

Among the intriguing facts he imparted was a study citing that 65% of today’s preschoolers will work in jobs and careers that do not even exist yet.  He piqued our interest with other obvious-yet-provocative statements… our kids have never known TV without a remote and have never heard the phrase, “Please get up and change the channel.

It bears emphasizing that he was talking to a roomful of lawyers – people who, by definition, practice in a conservative profession averse to change or novelty. Indeed, much of the law is based on precedent and the notion that if it hasn’t been done before, it probably can’t be done now.

Yet our challenge, at this particular moment in history, is to get ahead of the curve, to dare to be groundbreaking.  This may seem threatening, but it’s a message that should resonate within our industry as we think about what this means in concrete terms. On the horizon, I see more green buildings; eco-design; solar panels; and electric cars, among other innovations.  There will certainly be legal implications for all this, and we need to be ready.  In short, we need to think creatively and to embrace change.

And there’s my home run from the keynote – right there: “In short, we need to think creatively and to embrace change” and “Dare to be groundbreaking.” My job is to get people thinking about the future, and challenging them to think and act differently to deal with an ever faster rate of complex change.

It’s always a thrill to look back to see that I’ve pulled it off!

Read more in another post I wrote: “What Goes Into Building a Great Keynote?”  

 

A clip from a recent keynote in San Antonio, Texas — shouldn’t you be thinking about getting a Masters in Business Imagination?

I first proposed the concept of the MBI back in 2003, when I wrote the Masters in Business Imagination Manifesto.

Here’s the intro:

Complacency in a time of rapid, disruptive change can be a death sentence – not only for organizations, but for the careers and skills of those who work there! It’s time to abandon the thinking that has had you anchored firmly to the past – and to shift your focus to the future, with enthusiasm, motivation and imagination.

You can do this by abandoning any pretence that the skills of yesterday will be important tomorrow. Figuratively and literally, it is time to move beyond the thinking that has led us to a world of MBA’s – Masters of Business Administration – and focus upon the critical skill that will take you into tomorrow.

The world doesn’t need more administrators. It needs more MBI’s – Masters of Business Imagination!

Given that the world today is even faster than in 2003, maybe the MBI is an even more important degree than ever before!

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