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I’m delighted to be the opening keynote speaker for EdNet 2016 in Dallas — what is arguably the most important conference for education content providers.

My keynote will take a look at the future of education, and what these folks — textbook publishers and others — must do to align themselves to an era of acceleration!

Here’s my keynote description — I’ll be sure to tweet and blog more about the event.


ednet2016-1

Jim’s client list is a veritable who’s who of global leaders from various Fortune 1000 companies and organizations. Jim has shared the stage at events with President George W. Bush, Carrie Fisher, Terry Bradshaw, Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11, and Newt Gingrich, among many others. 

Sixty-five percent of the children who are in pre-school today will work in a job or career that doesn’t yet exist. Half of what students learn in their first year at college is obsolete or revised—by the time they graduate. Fifty percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge activities within the decade.

With all of these changes at hand, futurist, trends, and innovation expert Jim Carroll succinctly puts into perspective both the challenges and opportunities that exist in the future for education. He will provide concise insight that links a wide variety of global social, demographic, scientific, technological, business, and other trends to the impact on education. He provides a an understanding on the velocity of change impacting the industry and why we need to rethink the context of “how we educate” in light of the realities that has knowledge growing exponentially, the foundation of knowledge generation forever changed, and global social networks challenging traditional education delivery models.

Carroll challenges audiences to think about innovation in the education sector that takes on bold goals to deal with a reality that has rapid knowledge obsolescence and emergence, the disappearance of existing careers and the emergence of new careers, an ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment, and the migration of knowledge generation further away from academia. There’s a massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation, the fast emergence of new micro-careers, an economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment, and a fundamental transformation in the role of educational institutions-and an increasing focus on “just-in-time” knowledge.

ednet2016

"Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?"

“Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?”

I was recently interviewed about the future of knowledge and careers. It was timely; my oldest son has just completed a college degree but is immediately pursuing another educational path at a community college.

Does this make sense? Most certainly.

Here’s an extract from the article.


Want to future-proof your career?
The Globe and Mail, By LEAH EICHLER,
Saturday, 03 September 2016
Life-long education and training are increasingly becoming a key part of staying relevant in the employment world

For many, this week marks a new chapter in their lives: the first week of university. Like countless students before them, those first few weeks are a flurry of experiences and opportunities that sets out the road to independence. However, that expectation that in four short years their education will be complete is rapidly becoming a relic of the past. Rather, they will be entering a professional world where in order to compete, they must embrace the ethos of life-long student.

Jim Carroll, a futurist and speaker based in Mississauga, describes the work force that students can expect to graduate into as one of “rapid knowledge obsolescence.”

To adapt, professionals will need to possess “just-in-time knowledge” and continue learning in order to have the relevant information at the right time to suit a specific purpose.

“We are never going to have the right skills and knowledge to do what needs to be done. The only way we will is to continue to reinvent ourselves, by updating our skills in order to maintain our relevance. We need to accept that as our reality,” Mr. Carroll said.

That’s why it made perfect sense to him when his son, who graduated in June from Carleton University in Ottawa with a bachelor of arts in physical geography with a minor in geomatics, immediately enrolled in a certificate program in geographic information systems at Ottawa’s Algonquin College.

Yet, it’s not only employees that need to adapt; universities, colleges and employers need to change their approaches to in order to stay competitive.

“Everything is going to change,” Mr. Carroll said. “Universities and colleges aren’t really prepared to give us what we need. Employers aren’t really in the right frame of mind either since they rely on old outdated hiring models and recruitment. Also, if you are a graduate, and you don’t have the right frame of mind that you need to continually maintain your skills, then you are wrong as well,” he said.

The key, suggested Mr. Carroll, is to emphasize skill sets rather than degrees, but how? It’s a problem that New York-based Markle Foundation has been trying to solve.

The Unites States, they observed, has a critical need for a skill-based labour market. There are currently 5.5 million job openings, but 6.5 million people are unemployed. They attribute part of this disconnect to the outdated methods employers use to vet candidates and discern skills.

 

…. In other words, just-in-time knowledge, or as one of Mr. Carroll’s favourite quotes from a well-known educator named Lewis Perelman put it, “learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.”

 

Sixty five percent of the children who are in pre-school today will work in a job or career that doesn’t yet exist. Half of what students learn in their first year at college is obsolete or revised—by the time they graduate. Fifty percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge activities within the decade.

With all of these changes at hand, futurist, trends & innovation expert Jim Carroll helps some of the world’s leading educational organizations and institutions make sense of this rapidly evolving future. His clients include the American Society of Private Colleges and Universities, the Institute for Credentialing Excellence Conference, the American Society of Testing Professionals, the Pearson CITE National Education Conference, Cengage Learning Corporation, the College Board Colloquium and the National Association of College Stores.

In his keynote presentations, Carroll provides concise insight that links a wide variety of global social, demographic, scientific, technological, business and other trends to the impact on education. He provides a an understanding on the velocity of change impacting the industry, and why we need to rethink the context of “how we teach” in light of the realities that has knowledge growing exponentially, the foundation of knowledge generation forever changed and global social networks challenging traditional education delivery models. The reality is that the exponential growth of knowledge leads to massive career specialization—we are in the midst of a fundamental structural organizational and career change, and by 2020 or sooner, it will be all about “just-in-time knowledge.”

Carroll challenges audiences to think about innovation in the education sector that takes on bold goals to deal with a reality that has rapid knowledge obsolescence and emergence, the disappearance of existing careers and the emergence of new careers, an ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment and the migration of knowledge generation further away from academia. There’s a massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation, the fast emergence of new micro-careers, an economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment and a fundamental transformation in the role of educational institutions

In other words: much of the education structure that we have in place today doesn’t match the reality of what we really need to do, given the rapid change occurring in the fundamentals of knowledge—which is why innovative thinking in the field of education today is more important than ever before.

JimCarrollOver on the CPA Success Blog at the Business Learning Institute, there’s a good article on the future of knowledge and careers.

It’s based on a keynote I did for the DigitalNow 2016 conference, in which I spoke to 300 association executives on future trends affecting their organizations.

Want to stay relevant? Learn for a living
April 23, 2016  /  by Bill Sheridan

Change and complexity? We’ve talked about this stuff to death, but nobody has illustrated for us how quickly things are changing quite like Jim Carroll.

The futurist — who also happens to be an accountant — keynoted the 2016 edition of the always-awesome DigitalNow conference in Orlando by scaring the crap out of the association professionals who paid good money to hear him speak.

Consider these nuggets from Carroll:

  • Sixty-five percent of children in preschool today will eventually work in jobs or industries that do not currently exist.
  • Half of what freshmen learn in their first year of college will be obsolete by the time they graduate.

“We live in a world of acceleration,” Carroll took the DigitalNow crowd. “The future is becoming the present faster than ever.”

“That future,” he added, “belongs to the fast.”

The culprit for much of this complexity? Technology. Moore’s Law marches on … much faster, in fact, than our ability to keep up.

That’s just the changing nature of the world today. And really, for the youngest generations, it’s not complexity at all. It’s just life, and they’ve been raised to roll with the punches.

For the rest of us, things are getting a little crazy.

Carroll says we’ve lost control of the pace of change within our respective industries. That control now lies with the tech geniuses in Silicon Valley.

What we can control is our ability to learn new skills — and to teach our clients what we’ve learned in the process. That might be our new competitive advantage going forward.

“We live in a world of rapid knowledge obsolescence,” Carroll said. “Our job is to deliver just-in-time knowledge to our clients and customers. We must help them confront their new reality and embrace the opportunities it presents.”

Put another way, Carroll quoted American writer Sidney Perelman: “Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.”

Put still another way: The most important skill any of us will have going forward is the ability to learn new skills — to outlearn the pace of change, and help our clients do the same.

As I said earlier, Carroll is an accountant, so he speaks a CPA’s language. In a brief interview after his DigitalNow keynote, he tied his thoughts directly to the CPA profession. Here’s what he had to say.

"Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?"

“Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?” Think about this kid – he’s going into a world of rapid knowledge obsolescence, the rapid emergence of new careers, and an era of hyper-knowledge. I’ll cover that and more when I keynote the Association of Private Colleges and Universities annual conference in June, 2015.

University Business Magazine has run an article, “Higher ed thought leaders forecast 2015 trends: Presidents and other thought leaders look ahead on cost, technology and learning.”

They called me for my thoughts which I offered up in a concise way:

Trend: When it comes to the future of education, it’s all about “just-in-time knowledge.” Increasingly specialized careers and skills, and accelerating technological change, mean more organizations will need people who can deliver the right skills, at the right time, for the right purpose. Knowledge development and deployment will accelerate to keep up with trend.

The article offers up a good variety of opinions on the future of education; it’s an industry that is ripe for and in the middle of some pretty significant disruption. I’ve done a lot of keynotes in this space, as seen on my Education Trends page.

As I noted in one of the posts there, “In essence, we’re living in a period of time that is witnessing these trends unfold at blinding speed, all related to the evolution of knowledge.

  1. Rapid knowledge obsolescence
  2. Rapid knowledge emergence
  3. Disappearance of existing careers due to 1)
  4. Rapid emergence of new careers due to 2)
  5. An ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment because of 1-4
  6. The migration of knowledge generation further away from academia (i.e. community colleges, high end manufacturing skills) because of the need for faster new knowledge deployment
  7. A massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation
  8. The fast emergence of new micro-careers because of specialized knowledge
  9. An economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment
  10. A fundamental transformation in knowledge delivery

I’m thrilled to announce that my efforts to help people understand the massive transformation that is occurring in what is known as “education” continues; I’ve been confirmed as the opening keynote speaker for the 2015 Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities annual conference in Denver in June.

There are more thoughts that can be found in my PDF, “21st Century Skills”, below. Read it here or by clicking on the image.

21stcenturyskills

“Skills are Experiential. Skills are Generational. One of the most important assets that a company can invest in is “experiential capital”—that is, the cumulative knowledge the company has generated through innovation, risk, failure and success. Boost that skills capability and you’ve done something that flows onto the bottom line.”

 

Rethinking Human Capital
March 7th, 2012

I was in New Orleans two weeks ago, where I was a keynote speaker for Talent Strategies 2012.

We live in an era of unprecedented, relentless change — a time of hyper-innovation, rapid skills obsolescence and the rapid emergence of new knowledge, constant career upheaval and evolution of existing careers and emergence of new careers - Jim Carroll

The working title of my keynote was “Talent Management 2020: What Comes Next?“, with this description being provided to program attendees.

We live in an era of unprecedented, relentless change — a time of hyper-innovation, rapid skills obsolescence and the rapid emergence of new knowledge, constant career upheaval and evolution of existing careers and emergence of new careers. In an era such as this, every organization is faced with a need for a new type of talent management flexibility. That’s why some leaders are focused on “human capital agility”: the ability to deploy the right skills at the right time for the right purpose — just in time skills deployment. Whether it is dealing with the impact of faster rates of business model change, the rapid emergence of new markets and products, or more challenging organizational complexities, they are orienting themselves toward skills management as a key organizations success factor.

Join futurist, trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll as he shares his insight into the methods by which organizations are preparing for the changing economy of the 21st century through skills management strategies that focus on agility, insight and execution.”

I do an extensive number of talks about the future of the workforce and human capital issues; indeed, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been selected to open the 2012 HR Southwest Conference in October in Fort Worth, Texas – it is the largest regional human resources Conference in the United States – and will focus on a similar theme.

The folks over at Talent Strategies 2012 ran a conference blog, and had this to say about my keynote:

In keeping with the topic of change, futurist and trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll began the day’s second keynote session with this conundrum for human capital leaders to ruminate on: Seven out of 10 preschoolers will work in jobs or careers that don’t even exist today, so how can talent leaders plan for this?

The way Carroll described the velocity of change that’s occurring in our society and our organizations today can be likened to this analogy: Digital camera makers have barely three to six months to sell their gadget before it becomes obsolete. “This is a defining trend that’ll challenge our assumptions and show that we need to keep up in [the] human capital [space],” he said.

His speech was rife with forward-thinking — almost eerily futuristic — technological innovations that are or will become reality in the not-so-distant future. A connected thermostat that can be controlled from any location; a smartphone that’s also a credit card; and a therapeutic robotic animal were just a handful of examples he cited.

“We have to completely rethink what we’re doing with human capital because the same rules will not apply in the future,” he said. Yet, many or most HR leaders default to the mode of deferring decisions about future because of the uncertainty that exists in today’s economic environment. It’s what Carroll calls “aggressive indecision” when it comes to implementing talent strategies – “I’m not going to make decisions [regarding HR] because I don’t know when the economic recovery will occur. In the meantime, our competitors are making decisions that are going to position them for the future,” he said. Keeping up with the rapid pace of change, then, is good business sense because it helps organizations maintain a competitive advantage.

And with that mostly optimistic outlook, it’s in the hands of human capital leaders to become more proactive in creating the conditions for which the workforce of the future can thrive.

Read the summary of "10 Unique Characteristics of 21st century skills" to get a concise issue of the HR issues that are now critical.

In my keynote, I focused on the theme of 10 Unique Characteristics of 21st CenturySkills – which provides a concise overview of just how differently we have to treat the issue of human capital and talent going forward. There’s a nice PDF summary that you can grab through the image.

What are the key issues? In essence, there are a variety of human capital issues that you should be thinking about:

  • Experiential Capital. In a world in which Apple generates 60% of its revenue from products that didn’t exist four years ago, it’s critically important that an organization constantly enhance the skill, capabilities and insight of their people. They do this by constantly working on projects that might have an uncertain return and payback – but which will provide in-depth experience and insight into change. It’s by understanding change that opportunity is defined, and that’s what experiential capital happens to be. In the future, it will be one of the most important assets you can possess.
  • Skills Accessibility Capital. Talent, not money, will be the new corporate battlefront. Simply put, there is so much happening that no one person or organization can know everything there is to know. With ongoing rapid knowledge growth, instant market change, fast-paced scientific discovery and constant skills evolution, getting the right people at the right time for the right purpose will be the key to successful change.
  • Creativity Capital. It is the ability to see the world differently, and the skill to imagine how to do things differently, that will be more important than any other skill. This will bring the needed forward oriented depth that organizations require. When product lifecycles are disappearing, and market longevity is measured in weeks and months, the ability to think, adapt, and imagine will be the foundation to provide for necessary change.
  • Generational Capital. We are set to see the emergence of the most unique workforce in history, with the widest age-span ever. Boomers won’t retire, and kids won’t want to get hired. The result will be a workforce that is transient, temporary, shifting and flexible. It will be those organizations who can match up the experience and wisdom of the aging baby boomers with the insight, enthusiasm and change-adept younger generation who will find the most powerful force to be found in business – an organization that is fuelled by the pure energy of change-oxygen.
  • Collaborative Capital. Forget the idea of having a strategic planning department, and think collaborative culture instead. Take a look around you, and ask yourself, who is succeeding today? It is those organizations who are plugged into the infinite idea loop that surrounds us. They’ve dropped any pretense that they can create the future, and instead realize that the future is being devel-oped by everyone all around them. They have come to learn that their role isn’t to plan for that future, but simply to listen to it, plug into it, and plug their growth-engine into it.
  • Complexity Partnership Capital. In the 20th century, organizations focused on hiring the skills that they needed to get the job done. You simply can’t do that today – skills are too fragmented and too specialized. That’s why successful organizations have mastered the art of complexity supply and demand. They provide their own unique complex skills to those of their partners who need such skills. And when they are short on other skills, they tap into the skills bank of their partners. By selling and buying skills with a broad partnership base, they’ve managed to become complexity partners – organizations that spend most of their time focusing on their core mission, and spend less time worrying about how they are going to do what they need to do.
  • Innovation Capital. Companies that understand that all future innovation comes from the ability to tap into the global innovation loop will thrive; those that follow traditional innovation models, self-centered and insular, will find that their creativity and uniqueness has been smothered.

I think my talk was effective, with one Tweet noting: “Talent Strategies: @jimcarroll is killing it. Great discussion on change, innovation, the future of work, & the evolution of jobs. #strat12”.

 

If knowledge is doubling every eight years, no single person can keep up with it. That fosters greater fragmentation of skills, and thus greater competition in the marketplace for niche-oriented skills.

I’m working away at preparing for a keynote for an ice-cream and dairy company today. Not that this has anything to do with the topic of the “future of knowledge.”

But going through some old slide decks while preparing, I came across a list I used a year ago for a keynote that summarized my thoughts about the “future of knowledge.”

I’ve written extensively about all of these topics online or speak to them at various keynotes, particularly in the education sector. In essence, we’re living in a period of time that is witnessing these trends unfold at blinding speed, all related to the evolution of knowledge.

  1. Rapid knowledge obsolescence
  2. Rapid knowledge emergence
  3. Disappearance of existing careers due to 1)
  4. Rapid emergence of new careers due to 2)
  5. An ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment because of 1-4
  6. The migration of knowledge generation further away from academia (i.e. community colleges, high end manufacturing skills) because of the need for faster new knowledge deployment
  7. A massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation
  8. The fast emergence of new micro-careers because of specialized knowledge
  9. An economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment
  10. A fundamental transformation in knowledge delivery

Putting a little more detail on these trends? A few years ago I addressed a prestigious groups of educators on this theme. Here’s what I covered. All the quotes are verbatim from my keynote.

1. Knowledge is growing exponentially. For example, the rate of discovery based on research into gene variants for common diseases is increasing rapidly: One or two were discovered each year beginning in 2000; thousands were discovered in 2007. “This knowledge reorients the entire medical system, from one where patients are treated once they are sick to one where patients are treated for what they are likely to develop as a result of their genetic makeup.
The volume of medical knowledge is doubling every eight years, and similar changes are occurring in other trades and professions.”

How is the fundamental business model of education challenged by exponential growth? Should it continue to focus on providing a fundamental body of knowledge over four years of higher education and then send graduates out into the world? Or should it be doing more?

2. The foundation of knowledge generation has changed. Academia was once the home of most of the fundamental research that occurred in the world; a majority of new discoveries took place in the world of higher education. “Higher education is no longer the central force in the generation of knowledge There are different terms for what has replaced it: peer-based knowledge, community knowledge or the infinite global idea cycle. For example, in terms of renewable energy and green technologies, some of the research and development is occurring in the world of academia, but it is also occurring in the global idea machine. Ten years ago, knowledge generation was based on peer-review journals (a slow, careful and deliberative process) — but today, backyard tinkerers are plugged into a global network of peers. The impact of this trend is that the rate of scientific discovery speeds up; the new way leads to much faster innovation.”

What is the role of traditional academia in the era of community knowledge? How should the business model change to respond to this new reality?

3. The velocity of knowledge is accelerating. The typical video game makes 60 to 70 percent of its money in the first four or five days after it is released. Everything is focused on maximizing revenue at the beginning. The next generation of televisions, LED televisions, is expected to have only 18 to 24 months to maximize revenue before they are obsolete and replaced by the next generation of televisions. “Ideas can go from concepts to an industry literally overnight. Anyone can put an idea out into the global idea machine where someone else can grab it and build on it. Knowledge is being impacted by velocity.”

All areas are affected; for example, in construction, new methods, new materials and new priorities, such as eco-design, are changing the way buildings are built. In every profession and career, the ability to keep up with new knowledge and to act upon it defines success. College graduates will encounter constant change in their work lives. Can education challenge itself to deploy knowledge faster? Or do we have a fundamental business model that is slow to react in a world that is quickly catching up?

4. Exponential growth of knowledge leads to massive career specialization. It increases the volume of knowledge workers are expected to have, and it speeds up the pace of developments that can impact careers. “If knowledge is doubling every eight years, no single person can keep up with it. That fosters greater fragmentation of skills, and thus greater competition in the marketplace for niche-oriented skills.”

For example, in terms of the trades, there is a huge volume of new technical knowledge to master. There is a niche for manufacturing engineers who understand all the new manufacturing methodologies and thus can help companies compete with offshore manufacturers. There is a need for manufacturing engineers who are “process transformation specialists,” focused on how to streamline an existing manufacturing process. “We are reaching a world in which everything around us is getting plugged into everything else. And as everything is getting plugged in, manufacturing is fundamentally changing.”

Is our future narrow in terms of what we deliver? Is our future wide? Do we focus on narrow niches, wide areas of knowledge, or both?

5. Fundamental structural organizational change is occurring. How we think about careers and jobs is undergoing a substantial change. There are unique ideas as to what constitutes a career. “Evidence of this shift is that baby boomers tend to ask, ‘What do you do for a living?’ while those under age 25 ask, ‘What do you like to do?’ Watch for this. The new generation prefers to get work done in odd hours, using BlackBerrys; they care less about structure. They define their lives not by what they do for a living, but what they like to do. It is a fundamental, significant transformation — and I don’t think we appreciate the depths of what it means in terms of the future of knowledge.

But it’s not just happening with them. There is a prediction that in the U.S., 60 percent of consulting engineers will be freelancers — nomadic workers for hire — making their specialized skills available to organizations on a just-in-time basis. Do you think a lot of Fortune 1000 companies will hire full-time employees after the current economic situation is resolved? No, because they will recognize the cost of employees in terms of health care and other long-term investment. Increasingly, American workers will become nomadic workers for hire. We are witnessing the end of the concept of the organization as we know it. As far back as 1987, an op-ed in the New York Times referenced a ‘world without walls,’ where corporations would hire people with specialized skills on a demand basis. What’s fascinating here is that we are seeing the development of the extreme specialist at the same time that we see the emergence of the extreme knowledge generalist. For example, “hospitalists”: People who understand all the medical specialists and understand how hospitals work; their role is to guide patients through the increasing complexities of the system. This career is expected to grow from the current 12,000 hospitalists to 130,000 by 2010. We have to acknowledge these two key trends — the fast emergence of niche skills deployment and the emergence of masters of generalization — to determine how to educate people to simply understand the high-velocity knowledge niching that is occurring in the world today.

6. By 2020 or sooner, it will be all about “just-in-time knowledge.”In a world of fast knowledge development, none of us will have the capability to know much of anything at all. The most important skill we will have will be the ability to go out to get the right knowledge for the right purpose at the right time.”

In light of some recent criticism of criticism I’ve made of media companies, I thought it best to roll this posting from last December forward.

In the 20th century, financial resources were the primary capital of choice, allowing organizations to enter, dominate and evolve in their marketplace over time.

Today, financial depth doesn’t cut it — it’s the abiliy to respond to rapid change that is the primary asset. And sadly, there are many organizations who don’t have a good balance sheet.

Simply look at Sony with the recent “root-kit” debacle, and you realize that while a company can have all the money it needs, it won’t survive if it doesn’t evolve at the fast pace the world demands today. If Sony is guilty of anything, it is the fact that it has seized up with an organizatlonal sclerosis that has clogged it’s ability to respond to change. The customers have moved on to a different world — and Sony just doesn’t seem to understand that.

Sony has been spending money trying to protect old markets, rather than inventing new ones. It’s been busy trying to build on past glories rather than fighting new battles. It has spent its energy in fighting a war with its customers, rather than building them great things. It has sought to grow by buying, rather than expanding through creativity. It has done just about anything wrong that you could ever do.

It is dying.

Will it recover? Can other organizations suffering from similar degrees of corporate clotting survive?

Perhaps — if they refocus their energy by using the only form of capital that is important. Capital that isn’t monetary by nature, but which provides an organization with the resources to focus on change as the key success factor.

What are those attributes? There are ten of them:

  • experiential capital: In a world in which Apple can toss out a $1/2 billion market overnight in order to enter a new one (with the move from the iPod Mini to the iPod Nano) — it’s critically important that an organization constantly enhance the skill, capabilities and insight of their people. They do this by constantly working on projects that might have an uncertain return and payback — but which will provide in-depth experience and insight into change. It’s by understanding change that opportunity is defined, and that’s what experiential capital happens to be. In the future, it is one of the most important assets that you can possess.
  • a strong agility index: Slow paced organizations simply won’t survive. Those organizations that have a high-agility index — that is, the ability to suddenly and dramatically shift course — will be those who will thrive in the years to come.
  • strong skills accessibility capability: Talent, not money, will be the new corporate battlefront. Simply put, there is so much happening that no one person or organization can know everything there is to know. With ongoing rapid knowledge growth, instant market change, fast-paced scientific discovery and constant skills evolution, getting the right people at the right time for the right purpose will be the key to succesful change.
  • massive creativity capability: in my Masters of Business Imagination Manifesto, I suggest that it is the ability to see the world differently, and the skill to imagine how to do things differently, that will be more important than any other career skill. When product lifecycles are disappearing, and market longevity is mattered in weeks, not years, the ability to think, adapt, and imagine will be the foundation to provide for necessary change.
  • generational insight: We are set to see the emergence of the most unique workforce in history, with the longest age-span to have ever occurred. Boomers won’t retire, and kids won’t want to get hired. The result will be a workforce that is transient, temporary, shifting and flexible. And it will be those organizations who can match up the experience and wisdom of the aging baby boomers with the insight, enthusiasm and change-adept younger generation who will find the most powerful force to be found in business — an organization that is fuelled by the pure energy of change-oxygen.
  • collaborative intelligence: Forget the idea of having a strategic planning department, and think collaborative culture instead. Take a look around you, and ask yourself, who is succeeding today? It is those organizations who are plugged in to the global mind that surrounds us. They’ve dropped any pretense that they can create the future, and instead realize that it the future is being developed by everyone all around them. They have come to learn that their role isn’t to plan for that future, but simply to listen to it, plug into it, and plug their growth-engine into it.
  • complexity partnerships: in the 20th century, organizations focused on hiring the skills that they needed to get the job done. You simply can’t do that today — skills are too fragmented and too specialized. That’s why successful organizations have mastered the art of complexity supply and demand. They provide their own unique complex skills to those of their partners who need such skills. And when they are short other skills, they tap into the skills bank of their partners. By selling and buying skills with a broad partnership base, they’ve managed to become complexity partners — organizations that spend most of their time focusing on their core mission, and spend less time worrying about how they are going to do what they need to do.
  • global innovation traps: a recent blog post featured a clip from a keynote where I spoke about the “infinite idea loop.” Companies that understand that all future innovation comes from the ability to tap into the loop will thrive; those that follow traditional innovation models, self-centered and insular, will find that their creativity and uniqueness has been smothered
  • forward oriented intelligence: The key premise of my book, What I Learned from Frogs in Texas, is that too many organizatons have lost their orientation to the future. They are too busy complying, restructuring, administering and reorganizing to realize that their world is dropping out from underneath them. The frogs learned out the hard way that if you don’t have good insight into what comes next, there is going to be a big problem and it’s going to be ugly.
  • depth of mission: We’ve all known for years what has been wrong with Sony — too much inter-company squabbling, turf-wars, and inward focused turmoil. Along the way, Sony lost sight of its mission to build great stuff for people who wanted great stuff. If you can have a company that has a simple mission, a clearly stated goal, and a passion and purpose to achieve it, you’ll be able to put in place the most critically needed asset — a team that is oriented towards success.

It’s clear that Sony does not possess many of these assets. It doesn’t realize that it no longer controls its future — its’customers do. It isn’t plugged into the global innovation loop — instead, its’ efforts are spent on trying to define the future that it would like to have. It’s got a bunch of middle-aged baby boomers in charge who don’t have a clue as to how the world is unfolding. (And I’m a middle-aged baby boomer). And I can only imagine that the recent experience has destroyed any sense of mission among its staff — its people are dispirited, disenthused, angry and full of recrimination for a future that they think has gone wrong. (Well, it has, because it has done all the wrong things.)

I find it really depressing that a company as big and creative as Sony could have lost its way. On the other hand, I continue to encounter too many people and companies who are busy sleepwalking into the future, just like Sony.

Remember — it ain’t the money, it’s the ability to change that is most imporatnt asset for the future.

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