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Pex2013

Read my Foreword for this report on the new era of customer interaction

Next week in Orlando, I’m set to be the opening speaker for the 14th Annual Process Excellence Week 2013 in Orlando – with folks from most global Fortune 1,000 organizations in the room.

The focus – aligning fast paced change to a customer centric world, and the need to align business process to market, customer, technology, business model change.

There’s a lot to cover
and a lot to talk about — and I’ve got 45 minutes to get these folks fired up about the fascinating opportunities unfolding in their future as we devolve to a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast!

The folks at PEX have just released their seminal 2013 white paper, “Transforming customer feedback into opportunity.”

And they were kind enough to ask me to consider writing a Foreword for the report — to which I responded with an unequivocal yes. I pride myself as a speaker on the obvious need to go above and beyond client expectations — it’s not just about the keynote, it’s about an opportunity for transformation of a profession! And turning customer feedback into opportunity!

You can read my Foreword from the report by hitting the image.

You can also request a full copy of the report here — you will need to register.

Three of my favorite comments from my Foreword:

Fix things fast
When things go wrong with a customer relationship fix them fast. Have a communications plan.Be prepared to reassure the customer quickly. In this new era of hyper-information feedback, don’t let the customer sit and stew for a moment — proactive information and proactive action is the only weapon you have, and you have to use it.

Admit that mistakes will happen

It’s ok. It’s the 21st century. Bad things go wrong all the time. Accept that, and use that as a go- forward strategy.

“Things will go wrong and we will work to fix them fast” is a better strategy than “we plan on rolling it out and holding our breath that things don’t get messed up.”

Empower people with niceness

Customer-centricity and the instant-age demands that the customer be made happy — quickly.

Give staff who have not previously had the authority, the authority to do things to the customer that are nice. That will help to ease the early part of the “pain process.”

Every company in every industry is in a situation in which the customer is more empowered than ever before. Accept that — work with it — learn from it — and use it as the base for innovation!

 

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?”  

 

I found myself in Sonoma County, California earlier this week; I was the opening speaker for a small corporate conference that featured what were probably the top 100 cattle, stockyard and feedlot operators in the US.

This was a pretty heavy duty event, so to speak, with some individuals representing ranches with upwards of 30,000 to 50,000 head of cattle. We’re talking billion-dollar operations here. A very exclusive group – as noted in the invitation, the sponsors ” have partnered to create an advanced leadership development curriculum entitled the 4C Summit – an experience that will be unlike any other ever offered in animal agriculture.”

My role? To encourage this group to think about future trends in the world of agriculture and food production; opportunities for innovation; and how to live out on the edge in terms of thinking about big ideas.

What the client DIDN’t want was what he found  from a lot of other innovation speakers he spoke to, who seemed to offer up the same refrain: “Plug into Twitter, get onto Facebook, get social, and you’ve mastered innovation!

Uggh. Yah, right! Real innovation comes from studying obvious future trends, and aligning yourself to those trends to seize opportunity and achieve growth.

So it was a thrill to speak to such an exclusive group — and I had a lot of ground to cover! First off, recognizing that this could be a dispirited crowd given past trends — they could be in a mindset that might not encourage innovative thinking.

After all, as I pointed out, they’ve suffered from:

  • stagnant growth (6.4% over 25 years) while imports have tripled
  • a continuing drop in the number of feedlots
  • consolidation of buyers (top 4 meatpackers control 80% of market from 36% in 1980), which give them fewer options
  • an overall decline in consumption in the US (94.3 lbs per capita to 59.1lbs from 1976 to today….)

What’s the result of these trends, and the impact of the recent recession? Aggressive indecision — a mindset that I’ve talked about on this blog for a long time.

“Many ranchers are wary of investing in expanding their herds, even with exports rising and prices climbing, because “they’re uncertain about the future,” said Gregg Doud, chief economist at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which represents ranchers and feedlots.” Where’s the Beef: Food Inflation Fears, Wall Street Journal, August 2010

Yet given this uncertainty, what are the trends that drive the opportunity for
innovation? I covered many; here’s a few.

1. There is massive, significant opportunity for global growth.

The statistics are simple and clear:

  • the world’s population will increase 47%, to 8.9 billion, by 2050
  • a simple fact: global agriculture production must double to sustain growth
  • a stark reality: little new arable land will come to play a role in that production

In other words, existing producers will have to double production to keep up with global demand.

Clearly, a substantial number of people are entering the global middle class through the next decade; as noted by McKinsey: “Almost a billion new consumers will enter the global marketplace in the next decade …. with an income level that allows spending on discretionary goods.

As this transition to middle class occurs, entire societies will transition to a diet that involves more consumption of meat. In India, the #1 “aspirational purchase” is a television. What do you think is #2? If you said a car, you are wrong — it’s a refrigerator! And right now, refrigerators have only a 13% market penetration! Talk about opportunities for growth.

The opportunity is clear – per capita meat consumption growth from 2000 to 2030 will be 49% in China, 79% in India, and 22% in Brazil.

2. There are significant long term trends that will drive global agricultural innovation and opportunity, if approached from the right perspective

I also covered four key trends that will have a huge impact on agriculture from every single perspective:

  • food security becomes a foremost “national interest” agenda
  • significant international agricultural investments
  • sustainability practices moves to the forefront of customer agenda
  • food quality and safety ratings become commonplace

On the first issue — we are going to witness many nation states work fast to ensure the security of their food supply. We are seeing it happen now with China, in order that it can ensure a sustainable reliable supply of food for its population in the future. How big an issue this is this?

“Food security will be the greatest challenge to civilization this century, with shortages leading to higher prices, political instability and mass migration, warn scientists, farmers and academics.” Looming food crisis showing on our shelves Sunday Age, April 2011

The issue of food security leads to the second big trend, and that is significant international agricultural investments. Quite simply, there’s a lot of investment money sloshing around involving agriculture.

“The World Bank reported this month that the number of large-scale farmland deals in 2009 amounted to about 45 million hectares, compared with an average of less than 4 million hectares each year from 1998 through 2008.” Investors bet the farm, Los Angeles Times, September 2010

Even Harvard University is getting into the act,  with a significant investment into one of the biggest ranches in New Zealand — the Big Sky Dairy Farm in Central Otago. (New Zealand Herald, June 2010)
These two trends are unfolding at the same time that sustainability practices moves to the forefront of customer agenda. Consider a very unique partnership between some “unlikely allies” that involve sustainable business practices in agriculture. This is going to affect EVERYONE in the industry:

“Food manufacturers, retailers and WWF are joining forces to address how to feed the world’s population, writes Paul Myers. When the World Wildlife Fund engages the ideologically distant interests of the cattle industry, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s to discuss global food production, it’s clear something is cooking…..Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011

What is cooking is an effort by these organizations to move to sustainability practices to the forefront, in order to respond to consumer demand. And what the sustainability trend leads to is a world in which food quality and safety ratings become commonplace.

Wal-Mart, which sells more than 20 per cent of all US groceries, is developing an eco-labelling program that will give a green rating to all items sold in its 7500 stores worldwide…. Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011

This will trickle right down to the farm and the ranch: agriculture is going to have to demonstrate sustainability at a micro-level:

“A group of cattle producers in Gippsland, Victoria, is marketing beef sourced from properties with independently audited environmental management systems that comply with the international ISO 14001 standard. Their “enviromeat beef”, sourced from 15 suppliers, is thought to be the first labelled food product backed by an environmental management system in Australia.” Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011

Many farmers and ranchers might view these issues as a challenge, and a threat. But as I emphasized in my keynote, “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Others see opportunity!” The key innovation opportunity is now to work within these new realities in order to stay ahead of what the customer demands!

3. Ranchers need to think big! There are huge transformative opportunities!

In my keynotes, I always try and challenge the team to adapt to the mindset of Bill Gates, who observed that “we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

I always pull out a number of examples of some of the big, bold, whacky innovative thinking that is occurring in any particular industry.

I’ve long observed that one of the key global economic drivers is that a lot of people are spending a lot of time solving the big problems faced by the industrialized world. In my “Where’s the Growth” trends document, I make the observation:  “What’s likely to lead us out of this recession? A combination of bold goals on energy and the environment, significant investment in health care to fix a system that is set for absolutely massive challenges, combined with high-velocity innovation in all three sectors.”

In the spirit of that observation, think about this report!

America’s dairy farmers could soon find themselves in the computer business, with the manure from their cows possibly powering the vast data centers of companies like Google and Microsoft…..With the right skills, a dairy farmer could rent out land and power to technology companies and recoup an investment in the waste-to-fuel systems within two years, Hewlett-Packard engineers say in a research paper to be made public on Wednesday…According to H.P.’s calculations, 10,000 cows could fuel a one-megawatt data center, which would be the equivalent of a small computing center used by a bank.

”The cows will never replace the hydroelectric power used by a lot of these data centers,” Mr. Kanellos said. ”But there is interest in biogas, and this presents another way to make manure pay.”“One Moos and One Hums, But the Could Help Power Google”, New York Times, May 2010

Whacky? Crazy? Who is to say! I actually wrote about this opportunity back in 2004 when I penned my “I found the future in manure” article!

4. Innovators concentrate on all kinds of innovation opportunities

I’ve always stressed that people can challenge themselves to innovate by focusing on 3 key questions; what can we do to run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.

In that context, for these ranchers, there’s plenty of innovation opportunity. When it comes to running the business better, there is a massive opportunity for the continued deployment of technology to better manage the herrd, deal with food safety and tracability issues, manage the health of the herd; the list is endless! Growth of the business? Consider the opportunities that come about with direct-to-consumer relationships as our world of connectivity continues to expand. Transform the business?  Change the business model! One Australian group was faced with the challenge of getting fresh meat to Indonesia — and so they built the MC Becrux — basically a floating stockyard for thousands of head of cattle! (I admit, to go forward this will have to be done to fit into the sustainability model….)

5. Innovators ride accelarating rates of change

Quite simply, there’s a lot of scientific driven innovation in the agricultural sector. One conference I spoke at noted that we are seeing a lot of “advances in genomics, combinatorial chemistry, high throughput screening, advanced formulation, environmental science and toxicology, precision breeding, crop transformation, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and bio-informatics are tools that will transform the industry.”

It couldn’t be said better. Even the field of animal genomics is evolving at a furious pace — the same trend in which Moore’s law is driving down the cost of sequencing the human gene, so too it is with animal genetics, which has a big potential impact on the quality of future production.

6. Innovators adapt to accelerating generational change

Perhaps the biggest trend occurring in agriculture today is that we are seeing a generational turnover. As the family farm and industrial ranch transition from the baby boomer to today’s 25-30 year, there will be more rapid ingestion of new technologies. Quite simply, we are going to witness more change on the farm and ranch in the next ten years than we have seen in the last 50! That’s providing even yet more opportunity for innovation.

—-

As always, I had a lot of interaction with the audience through Q&A, and live text message polling. I walked through the innovation killer attitudes that I often talk about, and asked the audience what they thought they were most guilty of. Here’s what they had to say!

Overall, it was a great day, a great keynote, with a lot of the unique research and background that I take on for this type of assignment!

 

Well, the headline caught your attention, didn’t it?

So what gives? How could “golf” possibly be the most important word in a year which promises ongoing economic volatility, potential signs of a recovery, restless consumers, potential challenges with the housing market, extremely fast paced business model change driven by technology — and countless other opportunities and worries?

Because the game of golf is probably one of the best barometers for the pace of the economic recovery. And in and of itself, the fact that the game is examining its future is probably the best sign that innovation and change has risen to the top of the leadership agenda.

Consider the first issue: golf and the economy. When the economy is hot, and companies are secure in their belief in economic growth, there are a lot of leadership events in which strategies are discussed, customers are engaged, and new business ideas are launched.

Corporate off-sites. Leadership meetings. Customer events. CEO-led strategy sessions. All the things that organizations do to ensure that they can focus on opportunity and growth. When the economy is in a good way, we see a lot of these events, and inevitably, they’re held at a resort, conference center or hotel that includes some great opportunities for golf, because that’s where a lot of the real business gets done.

Two years ago, many of these events disappeared or were scaled back in a significant way, as many organizations were focused on survival rather than growth. In the darkest days of the economic downturn and the subsequent era of gloom, customer and leadership events were small, low key, local, and didn’t have an element of golf.

But these events are back in a big way, and they’re being done in such a way that “golf” is most definitely back on the agenda. Only it’s not labelled “golf” on the agenda anymore – instead, you’ll see something like : “1:00PM – Private meetings”. In the last while, I’ve been doing or having been booked for a significant number of leadership, CEO and customer-oriented events at golf-oriented conference centers and locations all over North America.

Smart Meetings Magazine, a US publication, covered my thoughts in the January 2011 issue this way:

“Jim Carroll, a futurist, trend and innovation expert who has written and spoken about the economic horizon, often quotes the American Chamber of Commerce when discussing what lies ahead: “We’re going from a really bad economy to a new economy.” Here’s a rundown of what that will look like. … While Carroll says he’s seen a dip in association bookings, “corporate leadership events are way up.” In this sector of the industry, 2011 bodes well for the amount of meetings held and the funds devoted to them. …. With the economy in ascent, planners should see more hefty budgets allocated for meetings (or, as Carroll puts it, “There will be more golf this year.”)

Here’s the second reason why the world “golf” is so important — because the game itself know that innovation and change has become absolutely critical to provide opportunities for growth.

Read about the PGA of America’s reaction to Jim Carroll’s keynote

Last November, I was invited to be the opening speaker for the 94th Annual General Meeting of the PGA of America.

It’s the first time they have EVER had an external speaker open their event.

When I first got the call, I was a little bit stunned. This was THE PGA.

But then I began to think about my conversation with their senior management. Everyone knows that growth of the game is challenged by a variety of issues, including demographics, the collapse of attention spans, time availability, and a host of other issues. The PGA knows this, and they know that focusing on innovation and change — and confronting these trends — has become one of the most important things they needed to do.

And so they found me — and invited me in to challenge their members to begin just such a dialogue.

I’m seeing many such events. Heck, just over a month ago, NASA — yes, that NASA — had me down to Texas to speak to a senior leadership team on the issue of “Transformational Leadership”. I had in the room with me a very fascinating audience — astronauts, program directors, launch controllers. What was the real issue on the table? NASA’s world is changing fast, and the need for innovative thinking has become critical.

If organizations like the PGA and NASA are putting innovation at the top of their agenda, and innovation is the driver of economic growth — then clearly, golf has to be most important word in indicating where we are going with the economy in 2011.

Product lifecyclesThis graph represents the model of product life cycles as taught in business schools for the last, oh, I don’t know, 100 years?

Companies would innovate, and introduce a new product. If it succeeded, they would experience growth. At some point, sales would peak. The product would then tend to become obsolete or overtaken by competitors,  and sales would decline.

What a quaint model. Too bad it bears no resemblance to todays’ reality. Many industries are now finding that product obsolescence now occurs during the growth stage; in the hi-tech industry, the “decline” phase caused by instant obsolescence can even occur during the introduction,

Back in June, I was the opening speaker for the Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit in Ojai, California, and spoke to this trend. At the time, Lenovo had just pulled the plug on a pad-like product, even before it was released, because it was obvious that its’ limited feature set had already made it irrelevant and obsolete in a very fast paced market.

The reality of today’s market is that of instant obsolescence, and if you want to master innovation, you need to think about how your own product life cycle is changing.

Here’s a video take that is worth watching on the trend:

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