Daily Inspiration: “When it comes to the future, it’s the structure, not just the strategy, that matters!”


“When it comes to the future, it’s the structure, not just the strategy, that matters!” – Futurist Jim Carroll

Or it can be put this way: “Those who structure for tomorrow will lead the opportunities of tomorrow!”

Observations from another senior leadership meeting for a global powerhouse …. in this case, from a dinner talk held for his team to challenge them to align to a faster future. Aside from a variety of fast-paced trends redefining their industry, I also spoke about some of the things I’ve seen from world-class innovators that let them build a structure that aligns with this faster future:

  • they permit self-organizing teams that abolish hierarchy
  • they establish an “enabling” culture that encourages open thinking, rather than a “stifling” culture that glues the status quo into place.
  • they focus on knowledge replenishment: they know the knowledge they have is going to go out of date quickly.
  • they have redefined innovation to make it inclusive, rather than making it the domain of a small, elite group
  • they are prepared for a big market and industry transformation and know that success in the future is not guaranteed – and ensure they can realign their skill set to that reality
  • they presume growth and opportunity, rather than stagnation and threat – and set that tone for their team
  • they revisit plans with regularity, knowing the future is not cast in stone – and put in place agility and flexible structure
  • they focus on collaborative innovation rather than narrow innovation – and form ‘fast teams’ to accomplish that
  • they’re aligned to scientific rapidity as a key strategy for future success – and find the unique niche skills to accomplish that
  • they invest in experiential capital, knowing that every mistake they make by trying something new is an asset to be treasured – and allow their people to fail
  • they focus on extreme skills specialization, aware that their ability to find extremely unique skills will be crucial to future success

I could go on.

The fact is, world-class innovators, do all these things and more.

For some more inspiration, check out the “What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t Do?” post. Here’s a concise summary of these attributes that I covered just after sound check for a major conference – all in one take!

And here’s a bit more to get you thinking!

What do world-class innovators do that others don’t do? They align to a reality that involves business model disruption. The rapid emergence of new competitors. The challenging impact of social media. Rapid prototyping and the global idea machine. The digitization of everything and the impact of hyper-connectivity. Rapid technological change. All of these trends — and more — require that organizations pick up the pace when it comes to their innovation efforts.

They can do so by learning what the world’s leaders are doing with their innovation efforts. For over 20 years, Jim Carroll has had the opportunity to study what makes some organizations excel at the concept of innovation while others do not. He has carefully cataloged their approaches, attitudes, leadership styles, and strategies into a concise overview that is the secret sauce of innovative thinking.

World-class innovators possess a relentless focus on growth, continually transitioning their revenue source, and solving customer problems before the customer knows it’s a problem. They focus on upside-down innovation by sourcing innovation ideas through their customers. They concentrate on ingesting fast ideas; checking their speed and focusing on corporate agility, and focusing on long-term wins through constant incremental improvements. They know that skills partnerships are a key success factor. Most importantly, world-class innovators aren’t afraid to back away from big ideas. They know that right now is a great time to make bold decisions and to take decisive advantage to forge aggressive new paths against their competitors.

While everyone else wallows in aggressive indecision and organizational sclerosis, world-class innovators know that it is a great time to do great things!


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.