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I’ll be busy studying some key innovation issues for the next week. I have assembled a crack project team with detailed skills to assist me with my research!

Way back in 2006, inspired by similar times, I wrote about how innovation thrives in the building of sandcastles!

It was a great post — and it made it into BusinessWeek. I thought it a fitting post to leave here while I’m busy immersed in my studies. With that, here’s my list of “10 Reasons Why Innovation Thrives in the Building of Sandcastles: and What We Can Learn From Such Creativity.”

  • Hierarchy has disappeared: In most cases, there isn’t a boss, a reporting structure, or anything else that can cause organizational sclerosis. People just pitch in and do what needs to be done. The lack of a hierarchy is implicit to most successful teams.
  • Creativity is implicit: Anyone can build a sandcastle. There are no rules or preconceived notions, other than some sand and water. The same thinking should drive corporate innovation efforts. Make do with what you’ve got and what you can find, and use creativity as your main asset.
  • If it doesn’t work the first time, do it again: It’s inevitable that a rogue wave will destroy your work. This only encourages you to fix the design, or rebuild it altogether. Setbacks are meaningless, and indeed, are part of the plan.
  • Experience doesn’t cloud insight: Parents listen to kids, kids get bored and move on to another rampart and do something awesome. The key to sandcastle building is the combined insight of several different generations: likely one of the most important foundations for success in corporate innovation today. (See my 10 Ideas post for more on this theme.)
  • Everyone picks up on the passion: People just join in and help to build. Eventually beach-neighbors join in, and the growing castle becomes a big collaborative effort. Organizations that can build similar levels of interest in the concept of innovation don’t simply succeed: they exceed!
  • Feedback is instant: You know right away how well your design works, particularly if it is at the waters edge, since everyone will make a comment on it as they walk by. That parallels’ the instantaneity of today’s markets: things are changing so fast, that you must have a constant ear tuned in to understand what your customers are telling you.
  • Competition is easily scoped: Need new ideas? Want to learn from the competition? Spend a few minutes walking up and down the beach and check out the other sandcastles. Study their design, their assumptions, and see how you can improve upon them. Do the same in the corporate world: develop a finely tuned radar that signals to you how and where your world is changing.
  • No idea is too dumb: There’s not a lot of criticism and bias in the building of sandcastles. Any idea is welcomed. People can contribute the skills they have. Everyone is a designer, a builder and an owner. Somehow the combination just works.
  • The reward is clear: At the end of the day, a great sandcastle provides a sense of accomplishment. Photos are taken, and the team talks about the experience. That’s why every innovation effort needs to be celebrated, highlighted, and championed into the corporate record.
  • It’s fun: Enough said. If an organization approaches a problem the same way, innovation and creativity can thrive.

It’s the ‘era of acceleration!’ Are you at the starting gate?

Based on my ’19 Trends for 2019′, this 15 minute video will provide you insight on some of the unique and diverse trends that will change your future, and provide both opportunity and challenge.

Are you ready? And fast?

Spinal Tap went to 11 – why can’t I go to 20?

Why not do one more trend and bend your mind a bit! With that, here’s trend #20 of my ‘19 Trends for 2019′ – ‘A Child Alive!’ 

Can you imagine what the world of 2062 – the year the Jetsons’ TV show was set in – might look like for a child alive today? 

I find it hard to do so, given that the pace of change is accelerating so quickly. We will probably see advances with science, technology, society and more that we can barely begin to comprehend. And yet, there are also warning signs. What we do right now has the good chance to destroy the world that they might find themselves in.

And yet there is no doubt these children will live in a fascinating, wonderful world if *we* do the right things.

A child alive today? Consider my buddy Chase! His dad had a brief visit with my son and I in the home office to ‘talk shop’, and he brought Chase along. I had to keep Chase busy while his dad worked on a technical issue with my son, and so I put him in front of my home studio green screen. In moments, he understood it, and Chase went travelling!

What types of travels might he have in the future? Will he actually go to space? Will he be able to time travel? Will he have virtual reality travels that are incomprehensible today?

Or consider Ivan! He’s a precocious 10 year old who I had the good fortune to discover just before I keynoted a global event for Godiva Chocolates in London, England. Watch this clip!  It’s a great, fun story – but consider this: we are in a world in which 10 year olds have food video blogs. What will happen when these kids – who show so much initiative at the age of 10 – grow up and are in the workforce?

They will probably be working in jobs and careers that do not yet exist, utilizing knowledge not yet generated, with scientific discoveries not yet discovered. A few years ago, I went into the Grade 5 class of my good friend Ian Bates – and we did a project to encourage the children to think about the careers that they might work in at some point in the future.

The simple fact is – there is a child alive today who will do the amazing science fiction like things that we find unimaginable – and yet which they find routine!

Supply chains? They’ll start to disappear as we move the physical production of product closer to the consumer with 3D printing, end of runway manufacturing, and tremendous innovations in last mile delivery!

I covered this trend in Muscat, Oman, when I headlined the International Roads Union conference; in this case, speaking to the significance of the innovations occurring with last mile delivery.

Think about what I’m saying here: the innovations occurring with last mile delivery are going to lead to a LOT of new innovative ideas. Watch this!

This trend doesn’t impact not just how we manufacture, and last mile delivery innovations.

The reality is that it sees the birth of entirely new companies who are busy chasing the side opportunities and innovations that come from the trend.  Such as the development of battery technology, home design, and so much more. I was busy skiing the day before posting this trend, and headed over to the local Amazon warehouse to film this clip to put this into perspective what happens as we see last mile delivery innovations.

Warning – HELMET HAIR!

Do you ever stop and stare at streetlights and wondering how they are changing in the era of acceleration? I do!

Intelligent infrastructure is the Rodney Dangerfield of the age of autonomy, and doesn’t get any respect. But in this era in which everyone is paying attention to the self-driving vehicle trend, few are watching an equally significant development : the era of intelligent infrastructure.

The road you drive on and the bridge that you cross are also becoming intelligent, connected, aware and data-gathering. The impact everywhere is significant: everyone from construction companies to architectural design firms will be impacted. Here’s a bit of a hint of what I’ve covered on stage on this trend just in the last year.

Sometimes, it’s best to comprehend a trend, by observing it. So I went out and played by some traffic!

Have ever watched a 2 year old go from an iPad to a flat-screen TV in the living room? They try to get the TV to respond in the same way by touching the screen, and are kind of mystified. Another take – one executive that booked me told the story of their 3 year old wandering around the house talking to all kinds of devices – and wondering why didn’t respond back like the Amazon Echo devices in their home.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty certain that the 2 year old of today is living in a different world than I do – and that being immersed in the era of acceleration, their brain synapses are evolving very quickly, in an entirely different way. Add to that the acceleration of HCI – or Human-Computer Interface technology — and you’ve got trend #17 of ’19 Trends for 2019.’

In other words, storing a part of our minds, memory knowledge in some sort of computer hard drive!

Take this to the logical conclusion – we are seeing rapid advances in research that marries our minds to off brain storage.

How might we do it? I spoke about on stage at the World Government Summit in Dubai, we might end up combining the science of data storage with optical science – and take advantage of the fact that we have learned how to stop light in in tracks!

In doing so, maybe we can put our mind inside a yottabit ball!

A futurist must always be a relentless optimist, particularly on stage. We’ve been engaged to provide a tour of the future that provides our audience a sense of hope and opportunity. As I will often joke, I can’t go in front of a 1,000 people and start out by saying, “Guess what! Your  future sucks!”

Unless it does. Then you spin the message in a different way.So here’s the thing: in 2019, you’ll see lots of volatility rock your world. We’re in the tail end of one of the longest economic expansions of history, and it won’t last.

With that, you need to be in a mindset as to how you can innovate as this new era of uncertainty envelopes your life. Fortunately, history provides us a path and guidance.

March 2009 was the absolute bottom of the last downturn. Coincidentally, I found myself Las Vegas with my largest ever audiences from two global companies, speaking about the future and innovation. The CEO of both organizations wanted me to help people understand that they needed to focus on the future, not the present, NOW. Revisit this video through the year. You’ll need it.

The focus of these two talks became a key part of my stage focus over the next several years – I actually built a pretty successful business simply “talking people away from the edge.” It really became a motivational keynote on coping with the new era of volatility.

Keep this clip too. You’ll need it in 2019.

How surreal was it in the depths of the downturn? 10 years ago this month, I found myself speaking at a small, private event for a global consulting firm. In the room were the Chief Operating and Chief Information Officers for 15 global insurance companies. The biggest ones in the world. Theirs was a world of doom and gloom – big organizations were disappearing, financial structures were collapsing, layoffs were accelerating, initiative was dying.

There really was a sense within the room that the future was over; that the economic malaise was so bad that much of the future would be put on hold for an extended period of time.

I vividly remember taking them on a tour of the scientific, technological, disruptive and other trends that would continue to provide massive opportunity going forward. My message was laser like: “you can choose freeze and stop and let aggressive indecision rule your world, or you can choose innovate, change and adapt!” History has taught us that those who choose the latter were those who win.

It was my highest rated talk ever!

“All your base are being to us!” That’s what happens with the transfer of control of the future from idea-tired, change-resistant, policy-weak and narrow-thinking baby boomers to the first adult generation weaned on the Internet.

We’re witnessing the impact right now in US politics. I don’t know about you, but I’m with the 28 year old politician.

In 2019 the generational transition will take on far more significance than ever before. It’s important to understand why: we are a technological world, and many baby boomers grew up in a time that simply has not equipped them with the tools to cope. All you need to do is watch folks in the US Senate quiz tech-industry executives at a hearing to understand how far out of depth they are. I always have a lot of fun with this generation (of which I am a member) on stage.

The next generation? They are unlike any that we have ever seen before. Take a look at how I frame this reality on stage!

All Your Base Are Belong to Us“? The generation who understands the significance of the phrase are the ones who will reshape our world with the oxygen of the connectivity that they have inhaled since birth. In 2019 and beyond, they own the future. The old folks don’t.

We are in the midst of a vast, sweeping and profound generational transition, and it is one of the defining trends of our time.

All your base are belong to us”? It originated as a bad translation in a Japanese video game in 1991 but the phrase went viral in 2001, years before the arrival of viral social networks.

It’s a statement of power; it’s a comment that indicates someone knows more than you know; it’s a phrase of the next generation. Study the zeitgeist, and you would have seen it emerge at the time, and understand its’ significance. I remember seeing it emerge and go viral; I get the context whenever it has been used since.

Boomers struggle with tech – they grew up with Basic, COBOL and punch cards. My kids are 23 and 25, and they laugh at the fact I actually sold close to a million books in the ’90’s that explained the Internet to people.

I’ve been online since 1982 – I started with a 300 baud acoustic coupler. (Look it up). Even back then, I understood that connectivity would change the world. And it has, both good and bad.

But what happens when the politician who can’t manage their iPhone retires and leaves power – and the Nintendo generation takes over?  It’s happening right now. The first generation in power is mostly white, old, technologically incompetent. The next generation is diverse, connected, entrepreneurial, fast, collaborative and global.

I don’t know about you, but my hopes are with the latter.

Some of my 19 trends for 2019 aren’t profound, in that people are already aware of them. What is important is acknowledging the speed and reality of the trend, and in 2019, the acceleration is real.  So here’s the thing: despite the current moment of political idiocy around us involving 19th coal, there is one undeniable fact going into the future : oil and carbon is over.

As the CEO of one global energy company said on stage before my keynote for a global energy conference, “we have one last oil boom left. Then that’s it.” Oil will always be with us, but it is now on the decline and alternatives are clearly on the ascendant.

The acceleration of the science that leads to the end of oil is undeniable. Batteries EV’s, solar, wind, biomass – you name it, and in the long run, science wins.

I was in Oman last November, keynoting a global transportation conference. The Middle East region, the world’s largest oil producer, has known for a while that the industry is inevitably in decline. There will always be sunshine. Ride the trends!

Over the last few years, 3 of the world’s largest global legal firms have asked me in for a talk on the new risks and challenges they are faced with in the era of acceleration.  In addition, another one invited me for a similar talk in Dallas and Chicago for their major clients – a vast collection of chief legal officers from global Fortune 500 companies.

The challenge? Our new world of hyper connectivity, driven by technology, the Internet of Things, accelerating science and other issues is leading us quickly into a new world of unforeseen legal challenges. Somehow, we need to minimize our risk from legal issues which we do not yet know exist. That’s a pretty tall order.

Here’s a quick little video I filmed which puts a concise perspective on these new challenges..

The acceleration of legal and other forms of new risk has been a component of my keynotes for several years – not just for legal firms, but for the many corporations and association events I speak at.

The acceleration of legal and other forms of new risk has been a component of my keynotes for several years – not just for legal firms, but for the many corporations and association events I speak at.

The challenge? Our new world of hyperchange, driven by technology, the Internet of Things, accelerating science and other issues is leading us quickly into a new world of unforeseen legal challenges. Somehow, we need to minimize our risk from legal issues which we do not yet know exist. That’s a pretty tall order.

How do you mitigate against risk when you don’t know what that risk might be? How do you guard against legal issues that don’t even yet exist? How do you guard intellectual property for products you don’t even yet know you will invent? That’s the challenging reality of our new world of risk today.

Want some fun? At one of these events, I put up a list of 40 new areas of legal risk management that did not exist 10 years ago. Protecting shared 3D printing models of your new products that could be easily counterfeited. Drone technology and surveillance law. Genetic counselling laws, LGBTQ issues, fantasy sports league management, organic certification, and laws involving cannabis use in the workplace and place of business.

That’s a short list. There’s lots more!

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