“Don’t fall into the trap of being so focused on the future you want that you fail to create the future you could actually have!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
It takes some courage to go into a room full of people fully invested in an economy that is dependent on oil and tell them that oil is over, but I guess I’m a bit of a brave guy! That’s what I did a few years back when I was invited in to speak at the annual luncheon meeting of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
Going in, I knew that the audience would be fully financially and emotionally invested in the future they want – one based on carbon – rather than the future that is actually unfolding – one based on renewables, microgrids, batteries and other trends. I told that story in this post: “Visionaries define the future – long before the future defines them!”
There is a big issue here – this type of situation is extremely common. I’ve found that many people in many industries fail at the future because they become so focused on preparing for the future that they want to have that they fail to prepare for the future they will actually have! The result is that when that other future becomes real, they either miss out or fall behind. Evidence? Legacy automotive companies and their abject failure in being able to deliver on their promise of electric vehicles.
What goes wrong? People and companies miss out on the reality of the drivers of disruption – significant business model change, the faster emergence of new competitors, the acceleration of product or service innovation in their industry, more challenging customers with more fleeting short-term relationships, or the arrival of significantly and fundamentally new and different products in their industry. There are so many challenges underway, and yet, people and organizations become immune to observing the challenges because they are too focused on what they want – rather than what they might have.
I’ve caught this reality over the years in the description for one of my most popular keynote topics, and so I’ll share it verbatim here. The fact that so many organizations book me for this storyline helps to make my point – we should focus on what we could have rather than just on what we want!
Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Aligning Yourself for the Era of Acceleration
Most organizations are bound up in tradition, process, and certain defined ways of doing things — rules — that have helped them succeed in the past. Over time, they have developed a corporate culture that might have worked in the slower-paced world of the past — but now has them on the sick bed, suffering from organizational sclerosis that clogs up their ability to try to do anything new. Those very things which worked for them in the past might be the anchors that could now hold them back as the future rushes at them with ever-increasing speed. They are being challenged in a fundamental way by those who think big, and by some really big, transformative trends.
How do cope with accelerating change? In this keynote, Jim outlines his simple but transformative structure: Think big, start small, and scale fast! The new model for going forward in the era of accelerating change involves aligning yourself to the big opportunities of today through bold, transformative thinking; the small-scale steps that you can take today to align yourself to this future, and focusing on a culture of speed and agility that can help you to get there at the right time!
In this riveting keynote, Jim Carroll covers the major trends and opportunities that come from “thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast,” by addressing some of the fundamental changes that are underway in our world today!