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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just wondering.

Earlier this week, I spoke to several hundred executives from the trucking industry at a keynote for the Omnitracs customer conference in Phoenix. My keynote focused on the trends which are sweeping the industry, including prognostic diagnostics, the connectivity impact of the Internet of Things (#IoT), the rapid evolution of autonomous trucks and self-driving technologies, drones and the impact of bio-monitoring devices. I’ll have a full blog post on that in the next few days.

It’s a topic that I’ve been doing all over — Keynote: Accelerating the Auto & Trucking Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles

In the meantime, the trucking industry provides a good example of how the new workplace is being transformed by technology.

Here’s what you need to know: first, do you think of trucking as a kind of unsophisticated, low-tech industry, full of a bunch of guys and gals performing boring tasks while moving down the road? Forget that — here are some simple facts:

  • the typical truck today is putting off some 3 gigabytes of data per month, and that number is increasing at a furious pace
  • the typical truck cabin contains more technology than a typical small airplane
  • in the race to self-driving vehicles, trucks will be the first to cross the finish line

A few years ago, Volvo/Mack Trucks had me in for a series of leadership and dealer meetings, where I noted that “in the world of trucking, connectivity is the new horsepower.” Given those stats above, that much is true!

And here’s a key thing: with those trends, the process of innovating in the industry has gone hi-tech. The result is that the workspace in the world of trucking is less like a grimy, dirty garage, and more like an airline control tower, at the same time that the truck cabin has come to be more like an airline cockpit.

To emphasize that point, I spoke about the folks at Bison Transport, based in Winnipeg, Canada. I’ve used them in a few talks on the future of the workplace and on the future of trucking:

“It’s not how one might envision the head office of a trucking company. Youth abound in 20- and 30-somethings tracking payloads in the operations room — think of a flat airplane control tower — or working in the IT department (which in the last 15 years has grown to 15 from two). There’s the “quiet room” for breaks. The fully stocked fitness room, the laundry room, the cafeteria.” Taking Trucking into the Future, Winnipeg Free Press, June 2014

Well, freak me out with a fork! It turns out that unknown to me, the folks from Bison Trasnport were in the room, and came up to me after my keynote. I think they were a little freaked out too!

Trevor Fridfinnson, Chief Operating Officer, Bison Transport with Keynote Speaker Jim Carroll at Omintracs 2017

Their office is at the forefront of the connectivity and technology revolution accelerating the world of trucking and transportation into the future. The folks at Trucking News covered this trend from my keynote in an article, detailed below.

Clearly, in trucking, the office space, culture and fast innovation speeds of Silicon Valley are coming in, and they are coming fast!

 


Carroll on the future during opening of Omnitracs Outlook 2017
TruckingNews.com

Futurist, trends and innovations expert Jim Carroll advised attendees to ‘think big, start small, scale fast,’ when it came to embracing technology.

Carroll said automated trucks were one of the trends that were changing the face of trucking, and questioned what would happen to the traditional driver once that occurs.

Carroll’s overall theme was that the world changes fast, has been for some time, and the trucking industry cannot get left behind.

Several factors contribute to the ever-changing world, Carroll said, including what he called the ‘era of big transformation.’

Autonomous trucks is part of that ear, according to Carroll, who declared that trucking would be the first to move to fully autonomous vehicles because it made financial sense to do so since drivers account for one third of the operational costs pie.

Servicification, the intensifying of skills training, acceleration of innovation and the impact of future generations were also factors Carroll said would contribute to how quickly the world would continue to change.

As an example of this, Carroll pointed to statistics showing that the vast majority of children aged five to six would one day have a job that today does not even exist.

Carroll said today’s truck manufactures worry not only about putting out a quality product, but also about how to best maintain that product through diagnostics and other predictive technologies.

“We are in a world in which we can determine when parts and components in a truck are going to break down,” Carroll said. “And we can bring it in for maintenance and thereby avoid the problem in advance of a truck breaking down on remote Arizona highway somewhere and thereby reduce downtime and costs.”

To further illustrate how the world and traditional workplace have experience a facelift over the years, and how the next generation will continue that trend, Carroll posted a quote from Manitoba’s Bison Transport on the screen that read: “It’s not how one might envision the head office of a trucking company. Youth abound in 20- and 30-something tracking payloads in the operations room – think of a flat airplane control tower – or working in the IT department (which in the last 15 years had grown to 15 from two). There’s the ‘quiet room’ for breaks. The fully stocked fitness room, the laundry room, the cafeteria.”

I have been providing my insight, and have been speaking to organizations about the future, for more than 25 years.

Over the years, I have come to realize that while the majority of my audience appreciates a whirlwind ride into the future, there are others who just wish the future would go away.

I used to worry and obsess over this challenge, often leaving a stage wondering why I wasn’t able to get through to everyone. Then years ago, I realized that no matter what I do, there will always be a core group who prefer the status quo. They fall prey to the sentiment of Ogden Nash: “progress is great, but its gone on way too long.”

This issue and challenge has become more pronounced and visible in the last year. And a recent event demonstrates to me that leaders today must work harder to deal with, manage and confront the internal conflict that exists over how to deal with the fast future.

Since I’m on a Jetsons’ theme this year with many of keynotes (Keynote: The Jetsons Have Arrived 50 Years Early: What are YOU Going to Do About it?) , I thought that the image below beset captures the nature of challenge!

Leaders today must steer their organization into a fast paced future — through the shoals of disruption, the emergence of new competitors, technology, automation and other challenges — while understanding that there is a core group that will do little to embrace that change. It’s the Flintstones and the Jetsons, in one workplace!

I’m having quite a bit of fun watching the movie in which the Jetsons meet the Flintstones. Consider what is happening with the acceleration of the automotive industry: self-driving cars, intelligent highways, prognostic self-diagnosing vehicles. The industry will be barely recognizable in 10 years! Cars tomorrow will be barely recognizable compared to what we drive today.

And yet, there remain folks who just refuse to participate in the inevitability of the future, and that can be a significant leadership, strategic challenge.

The issue became crystal clear to me with a recent keynote. Anyone familiar with my keynotes knows that I do a variety of text message polls while on stage, whether in front of a few thousand in Vegas or with a small executive group of 15 or 20. It’s a fun, interactive way to get insight from those I am working with.

I started out with my opening poll, after I spoke briefly about the fast trends that envelop our world. The response is typical : most people today feel that the world is moving way too fast for them! Fair enough — the pace of change is overwhelming.

My next question, before I dove into the issues of business model disruption and innovation? A question asking them if they thought their industry would see much change.

Not at all, indicated 40%! In 10 years, things would be the same as they would today. To be honest, this left me kind of stunned. It’s not the typical response.

 

In my wrap up, I asked the audience what barriers might exist in the way of dealing with change? And the answers here were untypical of the many hundreds of such polls I’ve done, with a majority indicating a belief that it isn’t necessary to do anything!

What are we left with? An organization that feels overwhelmed by change; in which almost half this change won’t impact them, and that they didn’t really need to do anhyting to deal with it.

In other words, the future can be safely ignored.

I started using the Jetsons-Meets-the-Flintstones cartoon as a joke; a bit of ill-conceived humour on some recent political events. But it’s not a joke, and this is a real and substantive leadership issue.

As a CEO or senior executive, how are you going to align a fast paced future — one full of challenge and opportunity — to an organization where a significant number of people don’t think that the future will impact them?

SaveSave

SaveSave

I was interviewed the other day by the National Association of Colleges and Employers; this group is heavily involved in supporting career opportunities for college graduates. The focus of the interview was on generational diferences, and what happens in the workforce in the future.

Read the PDF! “Don’t mess with my powder, dude.” Such was the rather flippant response by an engineering graduate to a job offer from a leading architectural/engineering company. The CEO of the organization was explaining this story to me while we discussed the global trends that I should address during my upcoming presentation to staff of the organization. “What’s with these kids?” he asked.

Certainly there has been a lot of focus on how different the Millennial generation when it comes to the future of careers; I’ve been speaking about this issue for more than 20 years!

The article is below…… but read my article, ‘Don’t Mess with my Powder, Dude” for more insight on the work/life thoughts of the next generation. 

Also have a look at this video from an education conference, in which I speak about how video is the knowledge ingestion tool for the next generation.

Video: The Acceleration of Knowledge


Technology the Catalyst for Generational Differences
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
January 11, 2017

When we talk about generational differences, we no longer can just identify differences between generations, but we can identify differences within generations as well, according to Jim Carroll.

Carroll, a futurist and trends expert, says technology is the catalyst for the rapidity with which generations now evolve.

“It’s not politics or sociology, because they don’t move fast enough,” Carroll says. “The speed with which technology has come into their lives has made the differences within Generation Z that are amplified when compared to the Millennials.”

For example, Carroll says that there are definitely differences between a 30-year-old Millennial and a 25-year-old Millennial.

“There was a lot of technology coming at them as they grew up, but it wasn’t a huge amount,” he says. “But if you take an 18-year-old and a 23-year-old today—both members of Generation Z—it’s almost like they grew up in entirely different periods of time because they would have been exposed to different sets of technology.”

This carries over into the workplace. Carroll says Generation Z shares common traits with Millennials.

“They have very short attention spans,” he says. “They need multiple different things to do. These are all traits that were common with Millennials, but they are much more pronounced with the generation entering the work force.”

He says that a realization many organizations have not come to grips with yet is that this is the video generation.

“These young employees consume video like it’s oxygen,” Carroll says. “When it comes to training or any type of education or professional development, the use of video is paramount. These employees have never known a world without YouTube, so if you’re doing anything to engage them, it has to be video based. They are not going to sit and read policy and procedure manuals. Nor are they going to spend their time dealing with complex reports.”

They also have little time for what they consider unnecessary or unwieldy tasks or formats.

“They don’t subscribe to the idea of performance reviews or long, laborious processes in stages to move up the ladder,” Carroll says. “They don’t have a lot of patience for complexity and rules and structure. They get frustrated with antiquated practices. It has been a command and control workplace. Instead, they want to get in and get their work done without a lot of talking about it.”

Carroll explains that, with members of Generation Z, organizations also have a powerful source of collaborative powers that they need to harness.

“By growing up with mobile devices and social networks, the skills they bring into the workplace for collaborative capabilities is profound compared to what we saw with Millennials just 10 years prior,” he says. “Employers have to support that and take advantage of these collaborative capabilities.”

While technology allows employees of all generations to work remotely, Carroll believes Generation Z still will value connecting in person.

“The common prediction is that the new generation of employees is going to unplug, work remotely, and not congregate in offices,” Carroll notes. “I might be proven dead wrong on this, but I think that’s going to flip around so we’ll see a trend back to the workplace and increased human interaction.

“The employees entering the work force have untapped tools and skills for the workplace. We have to give them more credit than we do. They have surprised us in the past and I’m certain that they will continue to surprise us in the future.”

Office Products International Magazine contacted me for an article about the future of the workplace, for their 25 anniversary issue.

opi
Obviously this is an industry that has a keen interest in the issue — after all, if your target market is the office, and that office is changing, you need to know! Here’s what I wrote!


What’s the future of the office workplace? People love trying to figure out that question. Futurist Jim Carroll is one of them…

When trying to imagine the workplace of the future, a good start is to look back at the cartoon show The Jetsons, which was first aired in the US in 1962 and purported to show what the world would look like in 2062 – 100 years on.

Watch The Jetsons today and it would seem most of its predictions have actually come true: autonomous, self-driving cars (although their vehicles could fly); video calling apps such as Skype or FaceTime (George Jetson used to communicate with his boss at Spacely Sprockets like this). He also views his news and other information on a flat screen TV – let’s say, using a version of our internet. In addition, Rosie the robot maid scurries about doing all kinds of things for the people that are a part of her ‘life’.

jetsons

Taking note of science fiction, back-to-the-future scenarios, and even cartoons such as The Jetsons can provide glimpses into what the workplace might look like in the coming decades.

But let’s think in more practical terms, by aligning the office of the future to the careers and workforce that will be our reality.

In 1997, I coined the phrase ‘nomadic workers’ while writing Surviving the Information Age, and made the following predictions:

  • The number of full-time jobs will begin to dramatically shrink. Yet, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in the change of the relationship between employer and employee as the nomadic worker becomes the dominant form of corporate resource.
  • Companies will hire the best talent, regardless of where that person might be. A new form of career competitiveness will emerge with extreme rivalry for this group of nomadic workers – highly skilled individuals who call the shots.
  • Where people work from won’t matter – a trend that has implications for the future of both rural and urban economies.
  • Lifestyle choice will come to dominate career decisions. Nomadic workers have different attitudes towards life and work, and reject many of the currently accepted ‘norms’ of the corporate environment. Their attitudes will revolutionise the world of work.
  • Office walls won’t determine the shape of tomorrow’s company – the reach of its computerised knowledge network, and its ability to tap into the skills and capabilities of nomadic workers, wherever they might be, will define it.

I was pretty much bang on with those trends – certainly much of it has already become true. More people work from home than ever before (in my case, I’ve had a home office for 25 years; my kids grew up in a world in which their parents have always worked at home).

A global war for the best talent means that there is an entire economy of highly-skilled nomadic workers. And in my own case, I joke that I work really hard to not have to go and get a job – instead, I hire out my future-forecasting skills to organisations worldwide.

Those trends will continue to play out in the future. But what else will happen? In my view, there are three key trends that will define the future of the office and the workplace: the rapid emergence of new careers, the continued rapid evolution of technology, and the impact of the next generation.

1. Future vocations

First, consider what is happening with skills, jobs and careers. Last year, I was the opening keynote speaker for the global WorldSkills challenge in São Paolo, Brazil, and spoke about the fact that we are now witnessing the rapid emergence of all kinds of new careers.

I’m talking about vocations such as robotic pharmaceutical therapy monitors, water footprint analysts, vertical farming infrastructure managers, drone helicopter insurance crop risk managers, and – not forgetting – manure managers!

The key point here is that many of these new careers involve the processing of information which can be done from anywhere. An insurance risk manager that relies on drone technology doesn’t have to be on location, they can simply do their work from wherever they are.

The result of this is an even greater dispersion of highly skilled jobs around the world.

Organisations in the future will continue to hollow out, hiring skills and talent on an as-needed, short-term contract rather than permanent basis. Centralised offices will become smaller, with a core group focused on strategic goals that simply link to needed talent as and when required.

2. Connecting the workplace

The second trend is the Internet of Things (IoT) which will provide some of the most fascinating changes in the workplace and office of the future. What is it really all about? Simply put, every device that is a part of our daily lives is going to become connected and we will be aware of its status and its location.

I often joke on stage that this could get a bit out of hand: I might get on my weighing scales one day, and it will send an email to my fridge, blocking access for the day because I’m not living up to the terms of my wellness contract.

The IoT will lead to some of the The Jetsons-type forecasts of the past. It’s quite likely that self-driving cars will result in mobile offices on wheels – the car does the navigation, so we’ll have more time to get some work done on the way to the office.

Massive hyperconnectivity will keep employees aware of where fellow workers are, when office supplies are running low, or will link them to a specific location on a manufacturing assembly line that requires instant maintenance.

We will live and work in a world that is hyper-aware of the status of everything around us and that will lead to some fascinating workplace changes that I don’t think we can even yet comprehend.

3. The virtual workforce

It is perhaps the third trend that will have the most profound impact. Consider this fact: 10-15 years from now, most baby boomers will have retired or will be set to soon retire. This technology-adverse generation grew up with mainframes, COBOL and MS-DOS, and as a result, never really adapted to a workplace of videoconferencing, video whiteboards and other methods of collaboration.

Conversely, my sons, aged 21 and 23, grew up with the Xbox and PlayStation, Skype and text messages. This generation will soon take over the workforce, and most certainly take advantage of every opportunity to continue to virtualise the world of work. They will use Google Glass-type devices to embed live video into their everyday work routine. Virtual reality will become common enabling them to live and work in a world of massive augmented reality. They will be able to teleport their minds to far-flung locations where their virtual avatar will participate, interact and collaborate with others.

They are going to live in a world of technology acceleration unlike anything we have known, and rather than battling it as older generations have so often done, they will embrace it with open arms and open minds.

Does this all mean that the traditional office of today – a meeting place where individuals gather to share efforts on projects, ideas and opportunities – will disappear? I don’t think so. I believe that we are social creatures, and we crave opportunities for interaction. It will just be a very different form of interaction.

Brace yourself. The future will be here faster than you think.

Jim Carroll is one of the world’s leading futurists, trends and innovation experts, with a client list that includes NASA, The Walt Disney Company, Johnson & Johnson and the Swiss Innovation Forum. Follow him on Twitter @jimcarroll or visit www.jimcarroll.com

Innovation is a mindset. Do you have what it takes?

Are you suffering from what I call ‘aggressive indecision’, unwilling to do the things you need to do to move forward? Set an action plan for innovation!

Here’s a few simple thoughts on how to get out of your innovation rut!

Reward failure, and tone down the “I told-you-so’s”

Too many people think when times are volatile, that it’s not a good time to focus on big ideas. Not true! Consider history: many people stuck their neck out in the 1990’s and tried out new ways of doing business, new technologies, and innovative methods of dealing with markets and customers. Yet many of those efforts collapsed in spectacular fashion due to the dot.com/technology meltdown, and a dangerous sense of complacency set in. Back then, innovators had to hang their head in shame, and the nervous nellies who dared not innovate reigned supreme! Yet those who took risk excelled — they invented Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram…. When times are volatile and fear reigns, that’s the best time to make big bold moves.

Listen up!

We live in a time of unprecedented feedback and communication – and yet few organizations are prepared to listen! Customers are telling you, loudly, what they want. Young people are defining a future that is different from anything we’ve dealt with before. Competitive intelligence capabilities abound. And yet most or- ganizations ignore these signals, or don’t know how to listen – or even where to look. Organizations should reconsider the many effective ways of building effective digital feedback systems, in order that they can stay on top of fast-changing events, rediscover markets, and define opportunity – which will help them understand how and where they need to innovate.

Let your customers in the building

Don’t just listen to your customers – lead them in through the front door! The vir-tual building, that is. Global connectivity now provides an unprecedented opportunity for interactive design and innovation. Customer-oriented innovation should be your guiding phrase — les customers become intimately involved in the overall design and evolution of your products and services.

Encourage frivolous education

Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century” – that’s a phrase that neatly captures the reality of the fast pace of change that envelopes us. Yet, how can employees innovate if they are restricted to formal education programs? Why not establish some “playtime” where staff can try out a multitude of new technologies, go shopping in a mall, or surf social networks – and then share what they’ve learned? Set them out onto frivolous activities with a goal in mind – to measure customer service, examine competitive activities, take a look at new products, or simply come up with some cool new ideas. Maybe you’ll get some unique insight that doesn’t come from traditional, boring, staid educational programs!

Promote offbeat time

Don’t stop at sending them to the mall – send them to the beach! Don’t restrict innovation into the organizational structure. Some years back, a mobile device company developed rainbow-colored cell phones, popular with young people, after some executives decided to hang out at the beach one day. It’s by promoting “whacky time” that organizations can come up with great ideas.

Destroy organizational sclerosis

It’s been said before, but needs to be said again – hierarchy is the enemy of inno-vation. Everyone knows that the big challenge in many organizations are silos, uncommunicative departments, and a culture that doesn‘t promote openness. To improve the ability of an organization to innovate, communication barriers need to be broken down.Today, there are countless methods to  destroy “organizational sclerosis,” particularly through frivolous employee communications. Establish informal innovation idea channels, and magic will flow!

Get young.

Throughout the next year, take the time to listen to young people — anyone 10 years younger than yourself, or even more. They’re building the future right now, and you’d do well to understand it. Their future is hyper-active, interactive and multi-tasking – this generation gets bored quickly, and they are beginning to dominate your workplace. They are also becoming your new competitors. Don’t expect them to subscribe to the same old beliefs as to structure and rules, working hours, and corporate culture, or business models. You won’t survive in their future if you don’t take the time to understand what they are doing, talking about, and thinking.

Dude-550

Ask yourself this question: do you work in an organization that just simply doesn’t get it? Who is oblivious, blind, completely unaware of just how much business model change is occurring out there?

Here’s the thing — there are three types of people in the world:

  • those who make things happen
  • those who watch things happen
  • and those who say, “what happened?”

I’ve often pointed this out on stage, and have emphasized the point, by suggesting that the folks who find themselves last on the list sit back and say, “whoah, dude, what happened? Where’d that come from?”

In other words, they’ve been completely blind to the trend which would cause massive upheaval within their industry, or refuse to accept the significant business model disruptions which are already occurring.

Guess what — it’s happening right now as a lot of financial institutions don’t realize just how quickly mobile technology is going to change everything in the consumer financial services industry! Or in countless other industries where the blindness of current market leaders is leading them to their own “whoah, dude” moment.

So let’s make it simple: when it comes to innovation, make sure that you are in the first camp!

What should you do if you make that conscious decision, and are trying to steer your organization into the future?

  • turn forward! establish an overall organizational culture in which everyone is firmly focused on the future while managing the present.
  • change the focus: make sure that you link the corporate mission of today to the major trends and developments that will influence the organization through the coming years;
  • pursue speed: use a leadership style that encourages a culture of agility and allows for a rapid response to sudden change in products, markets, competitive challenges and other business, technological and workplace trends;
  • watch more stuff: establish and encourage an organization-wide “trends radar” in which all staff keep a keen eye on the developments that will affect the organization in the future;
  • share more: make sure that you’ve got a culture of collaboration in which everyone is prepared to share their insight, observations and recommendations with respect to future trends, threats and opportunities;
  • change responsibilities: ensure that staff are regularly encouraged to not only deal with the unique and ongoing challenges of today, but are open and responsive to the new challenges yet to come;
  • take risks: you won’t get anywhere if you don’t make sure that are encouraged to turn future challenges into opportunities, rather than viewing change as a threat to be feared.

I continue to be stunned by how many organizations today continue to be caught flat-footed by the pace of rapid trends that impact them. It seems like it should be so simple to avoid this. Yet there likely still lots of “whoah, dude” dudes out there.

Whoah! Dude! What Happened?
June 18th, 2014

Ask yourself this question: do you work in an organization that just simply doesn’t get it?

Stressed businessman

In almost every industry, there are situations where the blindness of current market leaders will eventually lead them to their own own “whoah, dude” moment.

Who is oblivious, blind, completely unaware of just how much business model change is occurring out there?

Who you know that one day, wake up and discover that the business model it operated under is forever gone; that new competitors have emerged where there was no competition before; that the pace of change and the speed of innovation has been forever changed as a massive acceleration of new ideas took hold?

Sadly, I see it happen all the time. And here’s what I have learned when it comes to trends and the future: — there are three types of people in the world — and indeed, three types of leaders.

  • those who make things happen
  • those who watch things happen
  • and those who say, “what happened?”

I’ve often pointed this out on stage, and have emphasized the point, by suggesting that the folks who find themselves last on the list sit back and say, “whoah, dude, what happened? Where’d that come from?”

In other words, they’ve been completely blind to the trends which would cause massive upheaval within their industry, or refuse to accept the significant business model disruptions which are already occurring.

Guess what — it’s happening right now in countless industries as technology comes to drive the pace of innovation. In banking, the speed of innovation is shifting from banks to companies like Apple, PayPal and Facebook. In the auto industry, as technology takes over the dashboard, it is companies like Tesla Motors and Google that are defining the future — not auto companies. In the retail sector, the speed of innovation is being set by Amazon and others with their emphasis on massive logistics systems that provide for same day delivery.

I could go on — and the fact is, in almost every industry, there are situations where the blindness of current market leaders will eventually lead them to their own own “whoah, dude” moment.

So let’s make it simple: when it comes to innovation, make sure that you are in the first camp! Make things happen!

What should you do if you make that conscious decision, and are trying to steer your organization into the future?

  • turn forward! establish an overall organizational culture in which everyone is firmly focused on the future while managing the present.
  • change the focus: make sure that you link the corporate mission of today to the major trends and developments that will influence the organization through the coming years;
  • pursue speed: use a leadership style that encourages a culture of agility and allows for a rapid response to sudden change in products, markets, competitive challenges and other business, technological and workplace trends;
  • watch more stuff: establish and encourage an organization-wide “trends radar” in which all staff keep a keen eye on the developments that will affect the organization in the future;
  • share more: make sure that you’ve got a culture of collaboration in which everyone is prepared to share their insight, observations and recommendations with respect to future trends, threats and opportunities;
  • change responsibilities: ensure that staff are regularly encouraged to not only deal with the unique and ongoing challenges of today, but are open and responsive to the new challenges yet to come;
  • take risks: you won’t get anywhere if you don’t make sure that are encouraged to turn future challenges into opportunities, rather than viewing change as a threat to be feared.

I continue to be stunned by how many organizations today continue to be caught flat-footed by the pace of rapid trends that impact them.

It seems like it should be so simple to avoid this.

Yet there likely still lots of “whoah, dude” dudes out there.
Here’s a quick little video hit that fits the theme.

Observations on a keynote!
March 10th, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was the opening keynote speaker for the annual  Ameriquest Symposium. It’s always fun to look and see how people have reacted.

technology-world-moves-fast

Carroll’s breathless delivery focused on what world-class innovators will be doing that others won’t to keep pace with this runaway train known as “the future.”

In this case, I came across a blog post by Anita Alvaré  of Alvaré Associates.

I thought it was a great and fun little post, and I hope she doesn’t mind, so I’ve reposted it here in entirety. You can read the original post on her blog here.


The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast
by Anita Alvaré

I’m pretty fast on my feet. I think fast, walk fast, talk fast, and sometimes even eat fast. I have a (bad) reputation for finishing people’s sentences for them, and 20 minutes into a movie, I have the plot line pretty much wrapped up. But after listening to the machine-gun delivery and predictions about the workplace-of-the-future by Jim Carroll – Author, Global Futurist, Trends and Innovation Expert – I’m afraid I may need to pick up the tempo a bit.

When someone starts their presentation by saying, “No one understands what’s going on anymore,” you know you’re in for a wild ride.

At the AmeriQuest Symposium in Florida, Carroll told the invited audience what all of us already know and feel: change is happening faster than ever before.

For example:

  • Sixty-five percent of today’s pre-school age children will work in jobs and careers that don’t yet exist.
  • Your social standing with your peers will depend upon the cell technology you are carrying around (let’s talk shallow).
  • Half of what students are learning in college is obsolete before they graduate (time to write that worthless tuition check).
  • Digital camera manufacturers have 3-6 months to sell their “new” products before they become obsolete (click!).
  • And by the way, success for your business will have nothing to do with legacy, history or size but will be defined by your ability to change. Fast.

The future belongs to those who are fast.

Carroll predicted that smart phones are about to become credit cards in our wallets.

Many science fiction movie and TV scenarios that we’ve seen or are watching now will become reality.

To illustrate this point, Carroll showed a cartoon of George Jetson video conferencing (Skyping) with Mr. Spacely, his boss at Spacely Sprockets.

The animated sitcom, The Jetson’s, was set in the year 2062 “in a futuristic utopia.” It premiered back in “the olden days” (1962) of television. And believe it or not, it was the first program ever broadcast in color by ABC-TV.

Carroll’s breathless delivery focused on what world-class innovators will be doing that others won’t to keep pace with this runaway train known as “the future.”

1) They will put speed of change in perspective.

If your cell phone is older than three months, you’d better run (not walk) to the nearest phone store for an upgrade.

2) They won’t be afraid of thinking boldly.

The rules of automotive design, manufacturing and distribution will be re-written, new forms of business partnerships will be created.

3) They will align their businesses to Silicon Valley velocity.

Say “hello” to a world where facial recognition technology will anticipate your every need, where everything, everywhere is connected.

4) They will check their speed.

In the next five years there will be more changes in the retail sector than in the last 100 years.

5) They will ride generational acceleration.

Half of the global generation is under 25 (!). They are coming into industry “wired, connected, change oriented.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but while Carroll was talking, the thought bubble coming out of my head was of a shack on a beach in Cuba. I’m not sure if I am (1) able and (2) willing to race through what’s left of my life at the pace he describes.

And after years of listening to futurists’ predictions at professional conferences, I’ve come to find that they are usually right.

So with that in mind, here’s Carroll’s advice for getting warmed up for the inevitable:

  • Think BIG.
  • Start SMALL.
  • Scale FAST.

‘Gotta go…

A quick article from a quick interview over at Property Biz Canada, about a keynote that I did last week for the Building Owners and Managers Association.
future-of-retail1

Jim Carroll has seen the future of retail – and it will be vastly different from today’s environment.

The Mississauga-based futurist has just returned from a trip to the United States, where he spends much of his time consulting with clients and on speaking engagements. While south of the border, Carroll said he found out that retail giant Amazon.com is in the midst of setting up infrastructure that will allow the company to provide same-day delivery to 50 per cent of the U.S. population.

Walmart, Google and, closer to home, Canada Post are planning to provide the same kind of service. “That has pretty big and profound implications on the retail space,” Carroll said in a phone interview.

It’s these types of insights that Carroll will share in Halifax as part of BOMEX 2013, the annual conference and trade show of the Building Owners & Managers Association. Some 300 delegates from across Canada are expected to attend the Oct 1-3 conference.

Carroll is one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. Business Week magazine cites him as a top source for creative insight, while Fortune frequently covers his observations.

The author, columnist and media commentator focuses on linking trends to innovation and creativity. He has a 20-year track record in providing direct, independence guidance to a diverse, global client base.

Keynote to cover retail and workplace trends

Carroll said he was recently with one client, a global retailer, who told him they believe fashion retail stores will evolve into showrooms where they don’t necessarily stock all the inventory. Instead, clothes will be ordered through sophisticated band-end logistics systems supporting their online shopping technology with consumers receiving same-day delivery.

“I’m going to get into stuff like that,” Carroll said of the upcoming conference, where he will discuss where the workforce is headed and how it might contract and expand, what happens when intelligent technology comes to the building space and other trends on what it means to the building managers and owners of the future.

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