The role of a keynote speaker is to get a leadership team out of their innovation funk, away from organizational sclerosis, and aligned to the future with a creative and open mind.
One of the ways of doing this is to help them understand, in real-time, some of the barriers that are in the way.
That’s what I was doing in Laguna Beach, California last week with a financial services firm – taking them on a tour of their future, how business models will shift and change, and what they might do about it. In doing so, I’m busy providing them with a bit of a foundation to provide some clarity on what comes next. I also challenge them on their mindset, and some of the barriers they might face along the way.
I play into the fact that audiences have changed – attention spans have collapsed – by doing this with a series of text message polls in order to engage with them; often, this goes to the heart of the reinvention issue and challenge. Here’s a short clip from yesterday’s event with the text message polling happening live on screen. (Astute observers will note the wardrobe fail!)
The results of the polling are interesting – and paint a story of the challenge faced by most business leaders today. I will tell you that I’ve been doing these 4 polls within my presentations since 2009 – albeit with some modification – and the answers coming from audiences have been fairly consistent.
I first ask the audience if they are ready for a faster future – and most indicate they are only somewhat prepared. (Although this particular audience had a larger percentage showing confidence in their alignment to what’s next, compared to most others!)
Second, almost everyone knows that their line of business is going to see significant challenges and change within 10 years.
And yet, a majority are willing to admit that they aren’t very good at doing what is necessary to align to this faster, different future.
What gets in the way? Organizational sclerosis – the innovation killers! Attitudes and engrained actions prevent the pursuit of new ideas and concepts.
I work to weave this storyline into my talk with the industry examples and pathways for growth and opportunity that I cover in my talk, sharing with them insight on what they might do to deal with this challenge. I give them this summary based on real-time results – they have admitted they aren’t quite ready for a faster future, know that everything is going to change, aren’t quite prepared to deal with it, and know they have a bunch of barriers in the way!
That type of confrontation of their future gives them a powerful mindset for going forward, and a clear outline of the challenge they need to solve. Most go ways knowing what they need to do to deal with the reality that the fundamentals of their business will not look 10 years anything like they look today – and that reinvention is critical!
Because if you don’t know what your business is going to look like in ten years, know that it will change, and don’t know what to do about it – you might not have much of a business left to deal with!