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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.’

Over the last 25 years as a speaker on future trends and innovation, I’ve seen many cases where companies have jumped onto a trend simply because everyone else. Or, they’ve suddenly decided that ‘innovation’ is important, without really defining a purpose or goal behind such a focus.

Rather than by just jumping on a bandwagon and doing what others are doing , try asking better questions as to why you should or should not be doing something!

Innovation that is based on “jumping on the bandwagon” is doomed to fail, for many, many reasons:

  • it’s lazy: true innovation takes hard work. It involves massive cultural, organizational, structural change. It involves an organization and leadership team that is willing to try all kinds of radical and new ideas to deal with rapid change. An innovative organization can’t innovate simply by jumping on a trend. Trying to do so is just trying to find an easy solution to deep, complex problems.
  • it involves little new creativity: by linking a new approach to doing things with a “hot topic” or trend means that people end up shutting their brains down. Creativity is immediately doomed through commonality.
  • it’s just a bandaid: bandwagon based innovation causes people to look for instant solutions and a quick fix, rather than trying to really figure out how to do something differently.
  • it’s misfocused: it involves putting in a solution is sought without identifying a problem. It’s backward in terms of approach.
  • it encourages mediocrity: it reduces innovation to an “idea of the week,” and does nothing to encourage people to really look at their world in a different way.
  • it reduces innovation to sloganeering: truly creative people within organizations are tried of slogan-based management. They’ve seen far too many ‘radical right turns’ and ‘new beginnings’ — and when they realize that their management team has jumped onto the latest hot trend, their faith and motivation goes out the window.
  • it destroys innovation: after the bandwagon effect ultimately fails (as they always do for the reasons above), people end up feeling burned out, cynical, demotivated — and they’ll be prepared to do little when the “next big thing” comes along.

 

It’s more important — and more difficult — than that.

Each morning since August, I’ve enjoyed my morning coffee while putting together a little future/motivational quote from some of my stage pictures. You can track this over on Instagram; I also tweet them. I’m hoping to put up a few slide shows on my blog as well in the future; some folks find them inspiring and useful.

Today’s thought? “To win in the race to the future, make sure you show up to the starting line!

Here’s the story behind the thought — and ask yourself, what’s your mindset? Are you in an organization that simply does not show up?

Every day, I get email messages and calls from folks seeking to bring me in for a leadership keynote on future trends and innovation. I do about 50 events a year; this week, I was in London, UK, speaking to a global group of Godiva Chocolates and two other global brands, newly combined in one company. (Yes, they gave me a gift basket!)

That’s what I do — I help global organizations discover and think about the disruptive trends which will provide opportunity and challenge in the future. Check my client list — Disney, NASA, Johnson and Johnson, Whirlpool …. I do many events where organizations are actively aligning themselves to fast paced trends.

And yet, in a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast, it’s clear that others would prefer to hide their heads in the sand. They would prefer not to have to think about what comes next. They don’t want to shake their world. They don’t show up to the starting line.

A few weeks ago, I had an exploratory call with a company in the food/consumer products business. They were holding a combined CEO/Board of Directors meeting. A senior VP reached out to me; we had a long conversation (which I actively encourage – call me!) around the issues I would cover; the trends I would delve into; the message I would bring to the table. She knew that the organization needed to some big, bold moves; take some dramatic initiatives; and actively challenge everyone to align their strategy to future trends.

As in many cases, she ran the idea up the flagpole, and got this response, which still floors me to this day:

“It was decided not to include a futurist in our leadership development program. They don’t think it is a good time to do this – it’s not a good time to rock the boat. “

Wow!

As in, “we don’t think its important right now for our board and senior executives to understand the trends that will challenge us …”

At the end of the day, losing one potential client doesn’t really matter. I’ll do my 50 events this year, and will sit back knowing that I’ve done wonderful working in shaping the direction of some of the most fascinating organizations in the world.

But I’ll also wonder, in the back of my mind, how some people can decide that they don’t want to understand what comes next — and decide to not show up at the starting line!

 

It’s a funny job, being a futurist.

Essentially, your job is to take people out of their comfort zone, by removing them from today, and taking them into tomorrow.

Tomorrow, of course, involves challenge and change; opportunity and threat; hope and fear. Some people are ready for it; many others are not.

With 25 years and more of helping people comprehend change and what comes next, I’ve come to learn a few things, best captured by an observation I often make on stage: “some people see a trend and see a threat. Innovators see the same trend, and see an opportunity!”

threatoropportunity

Think about that phrase, and then think about three situations that just unfolded in the last several days:

  • a large global financial services organization had been looking at me to come in and focus on what they needed to do to align themselves to faster consumer, technology, business model and other disruptive change — all the things I do. I had great interactions with one of the organizers who wanted to bring me in. What happened? The decision for a keynote went to a committee, who decided to do what they’ve always done: they chose an industry expert! As my contact admitted to me, “we should look outside the box and opt for something new, novel, insightful, controversial, not by default vote for the known names, where we will hear the stuff we already know, wrapped in different package.“. But they went with what was comfortable. After the decision, he noted that “it just shows how transformation consultants are not insightful in how to continuously improve and transform themselves, once they get into the comfort zone…”
  • an association that will be heavily impacted by the emergence of smart highways, autonomous, self-driving cars, and the acceleration of the automotive industry, had been looking at me for a keynote on what they needed to do to align to this rate of change. What did they decide? They booked a motivational speaker to come in and ‘energize their group!’ (their words). Can an industry simply motivate themselves out of disruptive change? Probably not…..
  • and in the most fascinating situation, a major agricultural organization that runs a series of events for farmers shortlisted me (for the 10th year in a row). And for the 10th year, I’ve learned, they’ve gone out and selected the same national news anchor they’ve selected for the last 10 years! Who I suppose will deliver the same message, interpreting current events, and basically repeating to them what he says on the national news each and every night. Simple fact? Agriculture in 10 years will look nothing like it does today: and so how can re-interpreting current affairs help them to deal with this fact?

It’s kind of funny, if you think about it.

But it’s also a pretty poor reflection on the ability of people to confront and deal with change.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not terribly bothered by this, other than by writing this post. The fact of the matter is that nature of my business is that I do some 50 keynotes or leadership meetings each year. The number really doesn’t vary; I’ve got a limited number of dates that I make myself available for, and a limited set of time to do the intense industry research for each talk that I am known for. I’ve encountered many situations like this over the past, and regardless of what these folks are doing, I’ll end up being booked by someone else for the dates that were on the table.

I just find it remarkable that so many people live in fear of the future, and yet really aren’t prepared to do anything about it.

My job IS to make people feel uncomfortable with the future, warts and all – and yet also inspire and challenge them to discover the opportunity that comes from the reality of change. This was perhaps best captured in the brochure copy when I did a keynote for 500 mayors and civic officials in Salt Lake City for the Utah League of Cities and Towns a few years ago:

confused-utah

What a great description!

Jim Carroll’s job is to make people feel uncomfortable …. maybe even a bit confused. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, Jim probably sees it differently. He has a knack for predicting trends and change, and helping business and government leaders see where things are going, and how they can not only adapt to change, but lead it.”

When I first saw the description in the brochure, it took me by surprise. In most cases, the client runs brochure copy past me before it goes to print, but in this case, for various logistics reasons, I didn’t see it in advance. Yet when I first read it, I thought to myself, “hmmm, does that sound right?” I thought perhaps it might put a bit of a negative spin on what I do.

Yet the more I thought about it, I realized it was a great outline of what I do!

That’s because when it comes to the future, far too many people can be complacent about the trends that are going to impact them, and avoid the type of creative ideas that they need to pursue in order to keep up with the pace of change.

If you are too comfortable right now with the future, then you probably aren’t thinking hard enough about the trends that are going to impact you. You need to be scared; nervous; prepared to accept that things are going to change, and ready for action. That’s why you should always remember the comments of Andy Grove of Intel: “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”

So maybe being a little uncomfortable, dazed and confused is a good state of mind to be in!

 

Motivational Futurist!
November 12th, 2016

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It’s been a brutal and challenging time what with politics and an election, and much of the country seems to be wishing that it is over. It soon will be!

One unforeseen impact of the constant stream of negativity has been a storyline that the economy is in disarray; that America has seen its better days go by; and that the future is glum, chum!
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Which doesn’t match the reality of the opportunities that already exist in the world’s largest economy – an era of acceleration, with ideas, business models, science, technology and more — trends that place people and organizations at the edge of an era of unprecedented opportunity.

I’ve noticed that my keynotes of the last few months have revolved around this them, and it has resonated in a big way.

So much so, that this now deserves its own new keynote topic!

It’s easy to be great again — in fact, you just need to link future trends to a mindset of innovation!

Here you go America — here’s a motivational keynote for your innovation soul!

The Lessons of Powerful Optimism: Rethinking the Future Right Now

We have seen more change in the last 5 years than we have seen in the last 100. With economic, political, career and business model volatility all around us, it’s all too easy to fall prey to a swirl of negative thinking — with the result that you lose sight of the fascinating opportunities from what comes next.

The best antidote? An uplifting, hopeful and motivational view into the future with futurist Jim Carroll. In this engaging, humorous and yet powerfully refreshing keynote, he takes you on a tour of the trends which are reshaping our world in a great way. A renaissance in manufacturing enabled by 3D printing, advanced robotics and massive digitization, self-driving cars, space tourism, asteroid mining, vertical farming, and other fascinating fast paced trends. Opportunities for the transformation of entire industries such as healthcare, sports and transportation through unprecedented levels of hyper-connectivity. The acceleration of ideas with science that are allowing us to solve some of the biggest challenges of our time in the world of education, healthcare, the environment and education. A generation of millennials who know that it is a great time to think big ideas and do great things with their boundless enthusiasm and global awareness.

It’s time to turn your mind to the future once again, restore a sense of hope and optimism, and link yourself to the fast paced trends which energize your outlook on opportunity!

This is fun!

A post a few days ago of my Masters in Business Imagination Manifesto caught the attention of a client who knows they need to move fast — and who thought that would be a great topic for their event. They moved fast – and booked me because they know that they require some bold thing and big motivational insight.

And so this morning, I wrote up a keynote description for their internal promo copy — which you’ll find below.

I’ve done this topic a few times on stage over the years — including for Fairmont/Raffles Hotels International, as one example — but never thought of it as a core keynote topic. But now it is!

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New Keynote Topic: “The Masters in Business Imagination: Motivational Guidance for the Era of Fast”

We will see more change in the next 5 years than we have seen in the last 100. People and organizations are scrambling to align themselves for a new, topsy-turvey world. Jim Carroll comes to the rescue with his keynote, The Masters in Business Imagination — and will inspire your team to adopt relentless creativity and innovation as core virtues. Once you ‘graduate’ from his MBI class, you’ll possess the skills common to this critical degree of the 21st century economy. MBI’s see things differently – they don’t look at things like most people. MBI’s spur creativity in other people – they inspire others to develop similar levels of imaginative hinking. They focus on opportunity – not threat: and realize that action, not inaction, is the driving force for the future. They refused to accept the status quo and are prepared to eliminate habit . MBI’s bring big ideas to life – and paint pictures of where the organization is going to go, rather than focusing on where it has been in the past. They learn and unlearn, forgoing the dangerous assumption that what they know today will carry them into tomorrow. Most important of all, they refuse to say the word CAN’T – they know that barriers, perceived or otherwise, are simply temporary roadblocks that they can get around with fresh insight, imaginative analysis, and creative thinking! Fire up your enthusiasm, energy and innovation spirt with a unique motivational keynote by Futurist Jim Carroll, as he inspires your team to align themselves to the only degree they will need for the future – The Masters in Business Imagination!

Want a sample? Here’s a clip!

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“A futurist at work….”

I came across the article below on Facebook one day, and don’t know where to attribute it to — but it’s a highly relevant article!

If you work in a creative place in your mind, enjoy!

If you must suffer through the relentless challenges of the creative person in your life, enjoy it too!!

—–

It has been proven that highly creative people’s brains work quite differently than other brains.

That special brain wiring that can create such wonderful art, music, and writing can often lead to strain in a relationship, because of those differences.

If you’ve ever loved a highly creative person, you know that it can seem like they live in their own little word at times, and that thought isn’t far from the truth.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are in love with a highly creative person:

1. THEIR MINDS DON’T SLOW DOWN

The highly creative mind is one that is running at full speed all the time. Although it can be a source of crazy, spontaneous fun – it can also be a burden. Highly creative people rarely keep normal sleep cycles, and are often prone to bouncing from one task to another throughout the day. It can be exhausting to try to keep up.

2. THEY ARE CYCLICAL

The flow of creativity is a cycle, full of highs and lows. Some people may consider this “manic” behavior, but in reality, it is just how the creative process works. Keep this in mind as your partner goes through these natural ebbs and flows. The low periods aren’t permanent.

3. THEY NEED TIME ALONE

Creative minds need air to breathe. Whether it is their own little work space or an escape to somewhere quiet, they need a time and place to be alone with their thoughts. Some people are inclined to think that if nothing is being said that there is something wrong, but with creative people that is not the case. They are just working within their own head.

4. THEY ARE INTENSELY FOCUSED

When a creative person is on task, they are fiercely intense. The change from being scatter-brained to hyper-focused can be difficult to deal with, so just understand that it is how their brains work. Don’t get frustrated.

5. EMOTIONS RUN DEEPER

Creative people feel everything on a deeper level. What doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, can be crushing to them. It’s that same passion that goes into whatever they create that drives them to love you, so understand that with the good – comes the bad.

6. THEY SPEAK IN STORIES

Creative people often express themselves in experiences, instead of just saying what they want to say. It is a way of sharing themselves that personifies who they are. At times, it can be difficult to figure out what a creative person is saying, so don’t be afraid to read between the lines.

7. THEY BATTLE WITH THEMSELVES

Being creative can be a serious internal struggle. Motivation, enthusiasm, direction, and drive can all be issues for creative people. Some days it is hard for them just to get out of bed, and other days you can’t get them to slow down. Be patient in the lulls, because there is usually a burst of activity right around the corner.

8. INTUITION IS IMPORTANT

Creative people, because of their intense emotional tendencies, tend to rely on intuition over logic. They go with their gut. Some people consider this to be more on the “impulsive” end of the spectrum. The creative mind doesn’t rely on logic to make a decision, it relies on experience and passion.

9. THEY STRUGGLE WITH CONFIDENCE

When people create, especially for a living, they are always struggling with acceptance. That is art. They have to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and so they always question whether or not what they are producing is good enough. Being supportive is the key to loving a creative person.

10. GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO

Creative people are almost always children at heart. That care-free nature can seem immature and impetuous – but it is all part of the deal. Understand that the aspects of their creative brains that you love are the same ones that make them somewhat irresponsible when it comes to being an adult.

2014.02.20.08.49-1024x683In May, I’ll open the Professional Records & Information Services Management annual conference in Bonita Springs, Florida, and will focus on some of the key issues in terms of corporate records management.

They recently interviewed me, and have run this article on my keynote.

Futurist Jim Carroll to Urge Faster, More Strategic Innovation During PRISM Keynote Address
By Carolyn Schierhorn

World-renowned futurist and innovation champion Jim Carroll intends to spark conversation, creativity, and commitment to strategically lead change when he delivers the opening keynote address on May 17 at the 2016 PRISM International Annual Conference in Bonita Springs, FL.

My role will be to challenge PRISM members to accelerate their ability to deal with the faster rate of change that their businesses are going through and come up with solutions, opportunities, and ideas faster,” said Carroll, whose upcoming motivational talk is titled “What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t?

During the past 20 years, Carroll has led or keynoted all manner of corporate events and association conferences, serving clients as diverse as Walt Disney Co., NASA, and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. “I speak in virtually every industry on every kind of topic,” said Carroll, who is based out of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. This gives him a broad, interdisciplinary perspective that allows him to see patterns, identify nascent trends, and gauge whether innovative ideas from one realm will work as well in another.

But Carroll’s knowledge of records and information management (RIM) dates back decades. He made his first foray online in the early 1980s while working as a CPA for a major accounting firm. “I was on the precursors to the Internet before a lot of other folks,” he said. “I had been building a global e-mail system—a global collaboration machine—for the firm when I undertook a new project: the development of a document capture, storage, retrieval, and access system.”

Carroll points out that information management expertise is typically viewed by companies as tactical knowledge. “It’s viewed as a practical role by senior management—simply a necessary evil,” he said. “But records retention, access, security, and privacy are really strategic issues. Look at all the things that can go wrong.” During his address, Carroll will urge the RIM industry to transition to a more strategic role.

Indeed, Program Planning Chair Christopher Powell Jones hopes Carroll will galvanize conference attendees into pressing for a strategic voice in their clients’ decision-making. “We have a window in which we can help our existing clients solve problems related to the way they deal with information,” said Jones, a consulting team leader for Secure Records Solutions in Tallahassee, FL. “We already have our clients’ trust. If we don’t take advantage of that, they’re going to decide to solve their problems elsewhere, perhaps using technologies that aren’t the best fit for them.”

Seizing Opportunities to Lead

Given the explosion of data in many fields, the RIM industry needs to be at the vanguard, proactively seeking and promoting solutions, said Carroll, the author of several books on innovation. For example, he points to the ever-growing amount and complexity of information that could potentially reside in electronic health records. “What happens if you have a patient who is linked to a hospital by a remote blood pressure device or a remote glucose monitoring device?” he asked. “Is that a hospital record, or does that data belong to the patient?” The RIM industry should be at the forefront of defining what is a record and establishing the policies and procedures for storing and retrieving such information, Carroll said.

Similarly, with the advent of the Internet of things—a world of such hyperconnectivity that most household appliances and industrial machines will be monitored and
controlled online—RIM professionals must become thought leaders on how all of this generated data will be organized, protected, and accessed, he emphasized.

In his book The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast, Carroll reveals why so many organizations are “innovation laggards,” as he puts it:

  • They fear the unknown.
  • They have a culture that is risk-averse.
  • They are unwilling to confront the truth.
  • They have a short-term focus.
  • Inertia is easy.
  • It’s easy to avoid tough decisions.
  • They fail to adapt to fast markets.
  • They refuse or are unwilling to adapt to new methodologies and ideas.
  • Like most other fields, the RIM industry needs to become more nimble and forward-thinking, according to Carroll.

A lot of research and development today is occurring through Kickstarter,” Carroll observed. “It’s occurring in what we call the maker or tinkerer community. A lot of organizations are flat-footed while kids are reinventing their industry.”

We know this is a world with massively increasing volumes of information. And the ability to sift through it, sort it, find it, and turn it into something relevant is becoming more complex,” said Carroll, noting how important it is for RIM executives to understand what is happening in Silicon Valley. “Clearly, research institutions, universities, and companies like Google and Amazon are developing new algorithms for how to deal with all of this data.” RIM firms will need to reposition themselves to stay relevant, he said.

Carroll’s keynote speech should jump-start discussions and brainstorming among meeting participants. “My objective,” said Jones, “is for Jim to begin a conversation that will inspire the rest of conference, which has the theme ‘Navigating the Oceans of Opportunity.’ Jim will get us thinking about all of the opportunity that is available to us, given our existing resources, and about the opportunities that lie ahead. There is a lot of room for our profession to grow. I expect Jim to paint a picture of the different areas we have to explore.

“My objective is for Jim to begin a conversation that will inspire the rest of conference.”—Christopher Powell Jones

On his website, www.jimcarroll.com, Carroll provides 10 tips on how to become more innovative. During his address, Carroll will elaborate on a number of these insights, explaining how they apply to the RIM profession:

  • Hire people you don’t like. “The reason you don’t like them is because they are different, and that is probably the exact reason why their ideas are important,” he writes.
  • Forget everything you know. “Knowledge is momentary,” he states. “Learn to grab it when you need it. And don’t assume that what you know right now will have any relevance tomorrow.”
  • Get young. “Take the time to listen to young people—anyone 10 years younger than yourself,” he advises. “They’re building the future right now, and you’ll do well to understand it. Their future is hyperactive, interactive, and multi-tasking.” Millennials get bored more easily and are more entrepreneurial than previous generations, Carroll notes.
  • Appreciate wisdom. “At the same time you listen to young people, be patient with anyone 10 years older than yourself,” he writes. “The fact is, they possess something that you might not have yet—experience and the wisdom that comes from having been there. Your impatience for change might delude you into thinking that things are far easier than they really are.”
  • Forget permanence. “Get with the program—everything is temporary and change is constant,” he says. “Accept that, and the rest comes easy since it will help you
    focus on what needs to be done rather than looking back at what was done.”
  • Make decisions. “Don’t be someone who asks ‘What happened?'” Carroll urges. “Make things happen. Far too many people have forgotten how to analyze information and move forward based on what they see.”
  • Change your focus. “Old glories and corporate nostalgia won’t define future success,” he stresses. “Aggressiveness and adaptability will. Stop thinking about the past, and focus firmly on the future.”
  • Trap creativity. “It’s a precious resource,” he says. “The ideas, thoughts, and initiatives of those who surround you can be your most potent weapon.”
  • Think clear and present opportunities. “Don’t focus on the negativity of change,” he warns. “Instead think about what can be done.”
  • Get excited, and be happy. “Studies show that most people don’t like what they do,” he writes. “That’s sad. Change your attitude, and you’ll find that things really can improve. The next year is full of opportunity, and it’s yours if you want it.”

 

Carolyn Schierhorn is a freelance writer based in Wheaton, Ill.

I have a very odd job.

OnStage

Officially, my title is that I’m a ‘futurist, trends & innovation expert.” I must be pretty good at it, judging by my client list.

And it’s always difficult to describe to some people what it is I do for a living.

Sometimes, for the fun of it, I explain, “well, I go out and talk to large groups of hungover people.” To a degree, that’s what I’m doing quite often when I’m keynoting events in Las Vegas, Palm Springs or New Orleans. You earn your pay with audiences like that — and can still change their world for the better!

Officially, my title is that I’m a ‘futurist, trends & innovation expert.” I must be pretty good at it, judging by my client list. I spend a lot doing extensive original research for my clients, and pull together presentations and workshops that helps align them to fast paced future trends.

But its’ fascinating that when I meet many people for the very first time who have a bit of an idea of what I do (“he’s a speaker”), they always ask “are you a motivational speaker?” This is happening quite a bit with the local golf club I just joined, where every round has me golfing with someone new.

The question quite possibly could drive me nuts, because  I think “motivational speakers” like Tony Robbins and others who encourage people to walk across fire to discover their ‘internal strength’ are just a bunch of crackpots!

That said, I finally give up, and will admit that I am a motivational speaker, and I’m pretty darn good at it.

Here’s why:

  • when I tie those trends into opportunities for innovation, I’m implicitly encouraging people to position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that exist, rather than coiling away in fear from the potential threats
  • every talk about innovation and future trends includes powerful challenges to people to align themselves to the future with a sense of optimism — I usually close every talk with my 10 Great Words, which many people have said provides them with a powerful motivation to adapt quickly to the future — a future that is unfolding around them faster than ever before.
  • as of late, many of my talks have involved a specific motivational theme – such as The Lessons of Powerful Optimism – Rethinking the Future Right Now

So, sure, I’m a motivational speaker.

Through the years, I’ve had thousands of folks contact me, Tweet, post to Facebook, or in the best possible compliment — book me for their own event. Some of these folks tell me I’ve changed their view of the world in a very major way : such as this comment which came after I spoke to over 3,000 people in Salt Lake City at the National Recreation and Parks Association annual conference:

Dear Jim,

I just wanted to let you know that in my 20 years of attending the NRPA Congress, no one has captivated me more than your keynote address. And, all during the week, when we talked about the Keynote, everyone agreed!

In fact, I presented a seminar “Creating the Wow—New Marketing Trends for Everyone”, and mentioned a few of your insightful comments. It was amazing to see how everyone was captivated with your session. In fact, it is the only time I can remember, that people were upset that we were running late and you had to wrap up your talk rather quickly.

In addition, Vendors raved about you pressing attendees to visit the trade show, talk to peers, and see how technology is changing our profession. It was quite a Home Run!

We have a saying in our department, the 2008 NRPA Gold Medal Winner (Class II—100,001 to 250,000), which is, “Engage. Inspire. Change a Life Today!” I wanted to leave you with this… YOU Engaged. YOU Inspired. YOU changed lives that day! Thanks again for sharing your keen insight and talents with all of us!

Respectfully,
Rick Herold, Director of Parks and Recreation
City of Grand Prairie, Texas
www.GrandFunGP.com

So hell, yes, I’m motivational.

There’s a quote I use to close many of my keynotes. “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Real innovators see the same trend, and see an opportunity.”

You want to be the latter type of person. And if somehow through the years I’ve inspired you to think that way, then I’m doing my job as a motivator!

Here’s a great clip to get you started.

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