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“Inaction in the face of opportunity is but an excuse!” – #Futurist Jim Carroll

Part of the role of a futurist is to provide people insight into the trends that will be a part of their future, but also to put into perspective the opportunities these trends present. A lot of people get excited when they see what I can offer in that regard.

But people are funny – and here’s a good story you can think about to see if you are suffering from a culture of inaction.

I recently had a call from a senior VP of a major company in the retail industry. She thought that it would be extremely helpful to bring me in to their upcoming corporate leadership meeting – with so much change in retail they need to be challenged in their thinking. With clients like Disney, The GAP, Pepsi, Godiva, and more, I certainly have a track record for doing just that – I spend a lot of time speaking to the massive and fast trends sweeping the world of retail. I even have separate keynote topics on retail and the Amazon effect.

Fast forward. She wrote back last week, indicating that their CEO didn’t think it was a good time to be doing this. As in, stay the course. Stick with the status quo. They didn’t need to be challenged right now ; they had a strategy and needed to see it through. They might think about doing a deep-dive future session next year. Something like that.

What’s that phrase people use? I was gobsmacked, particularly after she had outlined in a conference call all the issues that they needed to be thinking about!

Here’s the thing – I get a lot of situations like this! Where someone on a corporate team knows that the organization needs to be challenged out of their complacency — but then it goes up the ladder, where senior management puts a stop to the idea. I’m never sure why, but I know what the result will be.

This particular organization will now go on my fail-radar. I’ll watch them over the next decade, along with dozens of others, and will see the stumbles and failures and missteps they will make as they fail to align to obvious future trends. Not because they didn’t bring me in — but because they clearly are driven by a culture of indecision!

Remember this likely reality – 50% of the companies that you see around you today likely won’t be around you in but 10 short years. Particularly in retail!

Inaction is in the soul of many organizations. This might be you!

Why does this occur? With 25 years of effort in advising on organizations on trends and the future, I’ve become quite adept at spotting the culture of slow that kills initiative:

  • actions are based on lifelong lessons that no longer apply
  • variation in routine is abhorred
  • the strategies they have in place are often outdated by faster trends
  • they are structured by command and control structures that don’t allow for agility
  • outdated HR practices reward mediocrity
  • individualism is punished
  • risk is something to be feared, not embraced
  • collaboration is absent
  • corporate culture breeds change-resistance anti-bodies
  • they discount the big thinkers who are changing their industry – they think they know better!
  • they have allowed a leadership style of deferring decisions to overtake all activities
  • a belief that their company and product are invincible, and that their continued success is inevitable
  • It’s an interesting time to be in business. Disruption, fast paced business model change, technology! It’s all real folks – you can’t avoid it.

The future belongs to those who are fast, and yet many are structured for slow.

Rant over.

Follow Me!
January 17th, 2018

Get inspired, every day! I start my weekday morning with my coffee, my laptop, and a stage photo. I’m hitting the ground typing, thinking of the thought that should drive your day forward.

It’s the very first thing I do! And I’ve been doing this since September 2016.

Each business day, you’ll discover a new motivational stage quote posted to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, Pinterest and Flickr, having to do with disruption, innovation, the future, trends, and your mindset. Over 50,000 people now get this little nugget of insight each and every day!

You can find me here!

  • Instagram : start here – it’s where I post the original photo early morning, usually between 530 and 7am EST
  • Facebook : they are autoposted here, but the page also includes blog posts and other insight
  • Flickr : a great option if you wan to search by phrase, concept, etc. (i.e. quickly search for my posts on ‘imagination’
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn: aka The Thinking Mans Facebook. I’ve been using LinkedIn more, and am posting a regular series of daily video clips there as well!

Ideas are the most powerful tool at your disposal.

Here’s something new – a variety of posts from my daily inspirational post on the value of ideas!

Click on any photo to get started – and get inspired!

Next month, I’ll keynote the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Technology conference. It’s an unprecedented 5th repeat booking by this organization.

The energy industry is in the midst of fast hyper-disruption.

Here’s a quick little video that I put together for them to outline some of what I’ll cover.

 

 

The folks at Farm and Dairy Magazine interviewed me on trends to watch in 2018 in the world of agriculture. It’s a good read – you’ll find it below!

On stage in New Orleans, I spoke about the idea of Spock having a medical tri-corder on the farm. It’s not as crazy an idea as you thinK!

As I write this post, I’m down in San Antonio, where I’ve got two events where I’ll speak about the future of agriculture to several hundred dealers for a farm and ag supplier about future trends.

I love talking to farming groups – it’s one of the most innovative industries that I know. Watch this video for the reasons why!

5 agricultural trends to watch in 2018
Farm and Dairy, January 2018

SALEM, Ohio — The top five trends to watch for in 2018 are sure to keep farmers on top of their game.

With an increased number of events causing hysteria, with the rise of “fake news,” an overload of news in general — thanks to the world being at our fingertips — farmers have to work harder to tell their story, said Jim Carroll, futurist.

“All producers need to be honest in explaining the humane treatment of animals, to explain what they do. We need real ag folks to tell our story, we’ve got to increase real news,” he said.

Social media is the key, and farmers haven’t been in the conversation enough, Carroll said.

This year, we need to keep our eye on emerging issues, agritourism and marketing, adds Brad Bergefurd, Ohio State Extension horticulture specialist and educator in Scioto County.

In addition to the continuous need to tell our story, experts believe these five issues will be trending in 2018:

1. Increased speed of change

We’ve been talking about it for years, and now it’s happening: Young people are returning to the family farm — the iPod generation is gaining the reins, said Jim Carroll.

“The speed of change will pick up; those returning to the farm are open to all these new ideas,” said Carroll, who travels the country talking about the future. “People are scared of the future, but want to understand it.”

The average age of farmers is 58. Their average age has been inching upward for approximately 30 years, according to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture.

The census shows that during the past 30 years, the average age of U.S. farmers has grown by nearly eight years, from 50.5 years to 58.3 years, but that is about to change, warns Carroll, and that change brings rapid innovation adoption.

2. Fitbits for cows

A world with animal and crop health sensors will continue to flourish this year.

“Fitbits for cows, chickens, pigs — we see it happening now, but it will expand,” said Carroll.

Using drones to fly over herds to check on the health is happening. Farmers are monitoring the gestation of an animal, getting notifications from their iPhone, he said.

“We’ll see connectivity as a management practice,” Carroll said. “Being connected can save time and money on animal health.”

“Data analysis in the year ahead will supplement what farmers know intuitively,” he said, “and, in some cases, challenge those assumptions.”

New products rely on aerial satellite imagery, greenness sensors, soil maps and millions of weather data points — this innovation meshed with a group of early adopters is sure to keep technology pushed to the limits.

3. Global trade advocates

Global trade matters, it always has and it always will, agree Carroll and Tanner Ehmke, a former wheat farmer who is now the Knowledge Exchange manger at CoBank.

“Of course farmers in the Midwest are saying ‘don’t take apart NAFTA.’ NAFTA does matter,” said Carroll.

“Without a global perspective, the cost of food will double or worse. Without NAFTA, markets will be lost, trading partners and labor forces will be lost,” Ehmke said.

“There is room to be optimistic in trade in 2018,” he said. “But, we can’t lose NAFTA. No bilateral trade deals can replace the benefits of NAFTA.”

4. Labor shortages

Labor shortages will continue for highly skilled stoop labor, which tend to Ohio fruit, orchard, nursery, hops and vegetable crops, said Bergefurd, who focuses on specialty crops across Ohio.

“There were major labor shortages on Ohio farms in 2017, resulting in many acres of vegetables and some fruit not being harvested due to shortage of hand harvest labor,” he said.

He foresees a shortage of high quality, locally grown fruit and vegetables. Several large farms don’t have the needed labor, and, as a result, they are changing operations and not producing as many — or any — specialty crops, and are growing more grain crops instead, Bergefurd said.

Bergefurd predicts the acreage devoted to mechanically harvested pickling cucumbers will increase in northwest Ohio and few acres of the 80-year-old traditional, hand-harvested pickling cucumbers of Ohio will be planted due to labor shortages.

“Farmers who will plant hand-harvest pickles will adopt the use of harvest aids and will continue to move away from the crop share method that has historically been used,” he said.

5. Hitting bottom

“2018 looks like we will hit bottom, with grain and dairy prices bottoming out,” said Ehmke, who works to provide strategic insights about trends, structural change, and policy directives within the key rural industries served by CoBank.

“In 2018, we will see farm stress get worse before it gets better. We need to be proficient thinkers and use our relationships to get by.”

The world supply of crops will get tighter this year as usage picks up — starting to match with production, he said.

“We see the world demand, especially in Southeast Asia going up, and that is a good thing.”

Politically, trade uncertainty looks to continue this year, which won’t help the markets. Dairy prices continue to be under stress, as we see expansion globally, he said.

As prices hit bottom, Ehmke is optimistic that they will start to go the other way in 2019.

“I hope to see the dollar soften a bit. It won’t be a game changer this year, but it will start to help,” he said.

Are you ready for 2018?

You need to be. Change is fast and furious, and it’s everywhere. Watch this to understand what comes next — and what you need to do!

 

Production note: ‘green screened’ in my basement with my new iPhone X. The video quality of this phone is staggering! Awesome video edit done by my partner in Moscow, Armine Simonyan, aka Alexandra. Her work is wonderful!

What are the drivers of disruption in your industry? Where is all the fast change coming from?  Edge thinking, iterative design, small beats big, rapid prototyping, devices change and more.

Watch my 2nd 2018 Outlook video – “The Seeds of Disruption: The Impact of Edge Thinking and More!”

Beneath the surface of normalcy lies a hidden layer of complexity. And the fact is, we are building a big, global, complicated machine, and it’s obvious that people don’t know how to secure it, ignore the challenges, or take advantage of those who don’t understand what is going on.

What do South Park, Pineapple’s, the BBC and admin:admin have in common? Watch this!

 

If there was one word in the security industry in 2017, it was this: Equifax. I don’t even need to explain…..

Yet going forward, we will continue to see many more Equifax situations that will result in the destruction of billions of dollars of corporate value. Some CEO’s will be held accountable; others won’t. Yet the sad fact is that entire companies will disappear to avoidable negligence with respect to security and infrastructure issues. The trend will become accelerated as technology driven disruption comes to drive forward every industry. We might one day see a car company go bankrupt — not because of fraudulent diesel mileage manipulation, but because someone hacked into the internal IT engine of millions of cars through a known backdoor.

Add to that the fact that 2018 will probably be characterized by the emergence of cryptocurrency scams as one of the leading news computer related news stories of 2018. You simply can’t have an important trend go supernova without a lot of fraudulent activities coming to the forefront as people “rush in to share the riches.” Blockchain is a critically important and transformative trend, but as with any trend, the good will come with the bad. I suspect that we will see not only individuals make stupid mistakes as they work to cash in without knowing what they are doing — but corporations and government as well.

Add to this increasing hyper-connectivity. The Internet of Things (#Iot) is only going to make the voyage more challenging, as we continue to link billions of devices to this big global connectivity machine. As we do so, many aren’t paying proper attention to the issues that come with #IOT either — read my 2 posts on #IOt that cover some of these security issues here and here.

It’s not like we haven’t known about the risks. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, I regularly read Peter G. Neuman’s Risk Digest, and even contributed a few emerging risks to the regular newsletter. Looking back, most of was predicted back then has come to pass, including the hacking and hijacking of election systems and technologies. It’s only going to get worse; I covered these challenges when I did 2 talks for the chief legal officers for a vast number of Fortune 500 companies last month, as covered in my post, Understanding, Managing and Minimizing Accelerated Risk.

Why does IT risk continue to be an issue? Because the fact remains : companies simply do not pay attention to what must be done to protect themselves against KNOWN RISK, because it is not at the level of the Board. Most major companies do not have IT or security as a Board level skills matrix responsibility; they are still focused on legal, finance, executive compensation and the other same old stuff they’ve always been focused on as Boards. Yet I’ve long said that IT and risk management needs to be something dealt with at the Board – until then, things will not change!

Gosh, back in 2003 – 14 years ago — I wrote in a post: “There is a common theme here — companies continue to ignore security issues, and the result is significant business damage. And to be frank, this isn’t just a small issue anymore — we are witnessing the actual destruction of corporate value due to negligence! THIS IS A CEO LEVEL ISSUE NOW, FOLKS!” —> https://www.jimcarroll.com/2003/02/security-has-to-start-at-the-top/

I used CAPS!

Then I wrote in that same post: “Until senior management wakes up and realizes that without action, they can see their corporate value destroyed over night, we’ll see more of this.”

Sadly, I nailed that trend….

Sadly, for many organizations, nothing will change into 2018 and going forward.

If you do anything, pay attention to security. The future of your organization depends on it.

Your business model and  your industry won’t look the same in 5 or 10 years. In fact, you might not even recognize it.

That’s a reality, and you are likely not able to cope! Here’s why:

  1. It’s the era of acceleration
  2. In that context, the future belongs to those who are fast
  3. There are few exceptions to the reality that small = speed, big = slow.
  4. The fact is, most legacy companies are not structured for speed
  5. Yet they need to be – disruption is everywhere, and it is happening quickly
  6. And as tech comes to drive every industry, the speed of change will only increase
  7. Making the big-small dichotomy even worse
  8. This faster future requires innovation risk, but big companies aren’t built for risk
  9. Not only that, but big companies have inherent health issues – they are clogged up with organizational sclerosis that clogs up their abilities
  10. The only way to challenge yourself and deal with these issues is to challenge yourself on speed/

Yet, too many organizations spend their time making the excuses that lead them to failure, rather than focusing on the ideas that will define success.

They are structured for failure. It will only get worse in the era of acceleration. Here’s why – watch an organization vote in real time for the attitude failure embedded in the organization.

Get around your innovation killers. Be agile! Focus on speed!

Being on stage in front of some of some of the world’s leading organizations and senior executives, you get the opportunity to address a lot of unique topics.

And with 25 years of doing this, I believe that I’ve highlighted trends from just about every perspective possible! Including, for example, issues involving understanding, managing and minimizing a world of accelerated risk.

So it was that I found myself on stage in front of senior corporate legal counsel for a good portion of the global Fortune 500 at two events in Chicago and Dallas last month, as the opening keynote speaker for the annual Baker McKenzie client conference.

Baker McKenzie is big – it is one of the top global legal firms, with 13,000 employees, of who 4,700 are lawyers, in 77 offices across 47 countries. The client list is simply unparalleled: I had folks from AT&T, Intel, 7-11, Citi, Bell Helicopter, BP, Ericsson, JCPenney, Allstate, JPMorgan Chase, McDonalds, GM, Hyatt, Oracle, Pizza Hut, Southwest Airlines and a few hundred more others in the rooms. (Fun fact: many of the companies at the events are included in my own client base.)

If you are going to speak to a few hundred corporate legal counsel, you’ve got to bring your “A-game.'” With that, my talk focused on 2 key issues: what comes next, and what risks come with that?

To start out, my keynote took a look at ‘25 disruptive trends,’ (a topic which has quickly became one of my most in demand speaking topics through the last year.) I took a look at the core issues leading to a faster world and massive business model disruption and change – everything from the acceleration of science, to what happens when every company becomes a software company; the impact of an increase in the number of business partnerships due to skills fragmentation, and the issues that come from the acceleration of knowledge; not to forget the hyper-connectivity that comes from the Internet of Things and the new business models that emerges a result.

Want some of this insight? Read this post on disruption – it started out as a list of ’10 Drivers of Disruption’ but has grown from there. Or book me and bring me into your organization!

I then spun these trends into the question of : what new risk is emerging in this fast paced world? The thing is, as all this change comes about, we are in an era in which organizations are faced with new risk, unforeseen risk, faster risk, more complex risk, extended risk, and the acceleration of risk!

With that, my keynote on disruption spun into these future issues of risk, such as:

  • accelerated risk: simply put, as everything speeds up, risk happens faster, which leads to:
  • the rapid emergence of new risk: we are in an era in which organizations are now subjected to the sudden arrival of new forms of risk which did not exist before. How do you develop a legal culture to cope with that?
  • hyper-connectivity risk: the connectivity of the Internet of Things (IOT) leads to new forms of shared and hyperconnected risk.
  • partnership risk: organizations are struggling with skills issues, and need to partner faster. This leads to more complex – and faster – partnerships, which leads to new forms of partnership risk
  • IP risk everywhere: because everyone is becoming a software company, intellectual property (IP) issues go through the roof!
  • speed risk: organizations are focused on speed – agile is the new leadership focus. But moving faster requires that they take on more risk that must be managed in new and different ways.
  • role risk: the issue of speed and agility is quite contrary to the risk minimization role that most corporate counsel must manage, so there is a significant change in their role.
  • regulatory risk: and then there is a regulatory mismatch – organizations are innovating in such a way that is becoming more difficult for regulatory organizations (such as the FDA and others) to understand, manage, or provide a structure for that future risk.

There was much more than I spun into the talk, but it leads to one simple conclusion – we are headed for a world of what I could call “fast legal!” Simply put, both legal firms and corporate legal counsel need to work harder to get faster. (Are they good at this? Not often. Small example: I’m frequently booked by many of the Fortune 500 companies that were in the room. Fun fact – many of them have turned my simple little 3 page speaking contract into epic legal documents that are, I suppose, legal works of art. The record is 42 pages! I refuse to sign such contracts, and they eventually come around and sign mine. Also, most can’t cut a check quick enough for my contract terms, and end up paying me by credit card!)

It was a wonderful event, and met with a great response – there was a lot of this:

But here’s a key point: this is but one example of where I’ve looked at the future of risk.

Over the years, I’ve done numerous talks that have examined the concept of the “future of risk from a variety of different perspectives:

  • I led a session for a major global construction/infrastructure company that took a look at new risk issues with such things as smart highways, self-driving cars and other issue, and the risks that unfold in this new era
  • I did a talk for Towers Perrin way on accelerating insurance risk, and a similar talk for the Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America
  • I took a look at emerging healthcare risks as the headliner for the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management
  • I was the opening keynote for a customer event for FMGlobal, a leading underwriter of insurance risk in the commercial real estate space. My talk took a look at a broad range of trends that will impact the future structure of buildings, architecture, manufacturing facilities and more – and of course, the new risk unfolding!
  • I even opened the National Firefighter Apparatus Manufacturing Association annual event, which took a look at the rapid emergence of new fire risk, and how we need to plan for that in the design process of future firetrucks. Read more here!

There have been a lot more, too numerous to mention. Gosh, I even wrote an article in 2004 entitled “The Future of Risk”!

One more thing: I love Baker McKenzie, because they are an organization that walks the talk.

As a legal firm, their entire essence and core of being is to a degree, around the issue of risk. How to manage it, guard against it, follow up on it, mitigate it, and litigate it when it goes wrong. With that, what a pleasant surprise to discover that they had a fairly significant social media team — at both events. They blog, tweet, and share insight about the firm, what it is doing and what it is seeing. They obviously have to this very carefully in the context of managing the risk of the message — you live in a unique world in a professional services firm.

The fact that Baker McKenzie does this in such a substantial way blows me away. I’ve never met a professional services firm – and I’ve been booked by virtually all fo the major global ones over the last 25 years — that has such an open mindset to aligning to this fast new world.

Bottom line! Think now about the context of risk — in a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast!

 

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