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.
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.