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This morning, I have a situation where a client is considering me to headline an event in the road building industry.

I’m encouraging them to get on the phone with me to help them understand I’m the right guy for a highly customized keynote on the future of roads and highways, but while waiting on that, I thought I would simply write them a keynote topic description! Why not – I’ve been doing numerous customized keynotes in this area. Here’s a video clip from a recent one in which I talk about the impact of hyper-connectivity and the Internet of things on the future of roads and bridges – and the fact that none other than Amazon has this business in their sights!

Keynote: The Future of Intelligent Roads and Intelligent Highway Infrastructure

The pace of change with future road and highway technology is going, if you pardon the pun, from fast to furious!

We are witnessing the arrival of intelligent highway monitoring technology, embedded into roads, bridges and other aspects of our transportation system, accelerating the business of road technology to the speed of Silicon Valley. The arrival of V2I (“vehicle to infrastructure”) technology, which allows cars and vehicles to communicate with this embedded, intelligent infrastructure, providing for more robust, intelligent traffic routing. The emergence of the Internet of Things, which promises a new era of hyper-connectivity in the design of vehicles and everything that they interact with. The arrival of new construction methodologies and ideas involving 3D printing, advanced robotics and virtual construction capabilities. An acceleration in the very nature of the materials used in bridge and road construction, such as developments in the science of concrete that leads to new opportunities for tensile strength. The fact that  Amazon is now a harbinger for business model disruption in the ‘business of traffic’ – the organization actually owns a patent involving big data and analytics related to traffic flow, which might provide for a pay-per-access to intelligent highway routing capabilities! The era of self-driving cars, which will take the industry from a slow and simple world of innovation to one that parallels the speed of smartphone innovation! Advancements in battery technology, the rapid evolution with the electrical grid as a result of renewable energy and other trends — and the sudden arrival of roads which charge vehicles as part of the business model of transportation! Intelligent street lights which become an overall part of the transportation system, providing for monitoring, analysis and traffic management! Then there is the skills issue – as the build a more complex road and highway infrastructure of the future, the current range of skills might not be up to the task. Not to mention the arrival of the next generation who will arrive on the job site with their iPad, mobile device, with full expectations of a hi-tech, advanced and sophisticated future of road construction.

Whoah! That’s a lot — and it’s all happening faster than any road and highway infrastructure executive realizes. What is today’s modern road and highway infrastructure executive to do? Align to the opportunities of tomorrow rather than just the challenges of today! Clearly we live in a time of massive challenge, and yet one of massive opportunity, with every industry and organization impacted by business model disruption, the emergence of new methodologies, the impact of technology, and an acceleration of all trends.  Those very things which might have worked for us in the past might be the very anchors that could now hold us back as the future rushes at us with ever increasing speed, particularly in the traditionally slow industry of road-construction

In the era of Uber, Tesla and Amazon, leaders must have the insight into unique opportunities for innovation and change. Everywhere we look, we can see acceleration, speed, and velocity: and in times like these, time isn’t a luxury.

In this keynote on the future of roads and highways, Futurist Jim Carroll takes you on a voyage into how the new rules of business and technology are providing for a reality in which the spirit of agility isn’t just an option – it’s the new normal!

 

 

Right after 9/11, everyone predicted that we would see the end of meetings, events and conferences: people would recoil in fear, stop travelling, and cocoon at home.

That was the dumbest thing I ever heard, and I said so in a column I wrote for Successful Meetings, the voice of the global meetings and events industry. Titled “Get Real,” it was bang on with my of my comments and predictions.

Fast forward – technology is changing the hotel, meeting and event industry at a furious pace, and Successful Meetings just ran an article on these trends. It’s a great read. But its kind of fun that they start the article with y comments on the cautious speed fo technology in the sector.

Read the intro below, and read the full article here.


7 Hotel Tech Trends to Watch
Whether it’s chatbot concierges or self-check-in kiosks, hotels are getting smarter
by Ron Donoho | April 02, 2018

Robots. Facial recognition technology. Virtual and augmented reality. There’s a seemingly unending stream of cool tech tools flowing out of research-and-development centers and into all corners of the meeting and hospitality industries. It’s influencing hotel and event check-in processes, adding bells and whistles to guest rooms, and innovating meeting spaces. To borrow from Thomas Dolby, they’re blinding us with science.

Before delving into the latest tech trends, it’s worthwhile to hear the consensus view from meeting planners, hoteliers, and futurists who focus on the hospitality industry: Technology will enhance but never replace the way hotels cater to guests.

Read the original 2002 Successful Meetings article here

As someone who helps people understand and cope with the implications of new technology and ways of working, Jim Carroll often finds himself thinking that many of the predictions made about tech products are way off base.

I shudder every time I hear one of the ‘experts’ suggest we are about to see a lot less human contact in the way we work, and the way we get together, particularly when it comes to meetings and conferences,” says Carroll, a speaker and author who focuses on global trends and innovations.

Carroll made that very same observation in print way back in February 2002. He wrote an essay that appeared in the pages of Successful Meetings, in the wake of America’s 9/11 tragedy. “What I wrote back then, the same thing is true today,” he says.

It bears repeating: Technology will enhance, not replace.

While acknowledging that the rate of new technology is speeding up, Carroll points to a telling correlation on how the public views change. “People tend to overestimate how much change will occur over the next two years, and underestimate change that will actually occur over 10 years,” he says.

Carroll points to the Gartner Hype Cycle, a theory that attempts to differentiate a technology’s bold promises from its commercial viability. That cycle typically includes: an innovation trigger, a peak of inflated expectations, and a trough of disillusionment. That’s sometimes followed by a slope of enlightenment involving the product and, hopefully, a plateau of productivity.

Take, for example, something as basic as Wi-Fi in hotels. Remember when it was a novelty?

 

 

While I often speak to audiences of 500 to 7,000, including large scale Las Vegas events, I also spend a *lot* of time with CEO’s and other senior management teams in small, leadership oriented events, providing a key message on the necessity for innovation in the high velocity economy.

In fact, it’s long been one of the fastest growing areas of my business: my clients include events for companies seen in the list below!

These are highly customized events : by way of example, I’ve gone in and done a talk for Whirlpool/Maytag on the future of home appliances in the era of IoT (Internet of Things); Disney on the future of consumer behaviour; the BBC on the future of broadcasting; and New York Life on the future of insurance in the era of business model disruption.

There are well over 100’s more with very customized industry talks.

Recently I’ve been filming some videos in advance of these corporate offsite events; these are distributed to attendees in advance to get their creative juices flowing! Here are 3 recent ones.

Great companies establish a culture of high velocity leadership, so they are prepared for the rapid economic, market and industry change that surrounds them.  In that vein, I’m often retained by the CEO or other senior management representatives in order to provide a presentation that will help to shape the strategic direction of the organization.

In a nutshell, these talks cover very specific industry trends, challenges and opportunities, based on highly original research, and can often include an interactive discussion that addresses a variety of issues, including:

  • establishing forward-oriented leadership skills
  • shifting your culture from fearing threat to capitalizing on opportunity
  • promoting innovation, flexibility and adaptability
  • establishing an innovation culture based on creativity, curiosity, courage, collaboration and change-awareness
  • encouraging a certainty culture in the presence of rapid change.


Want to learn more? Inquire into Jim’s Availability

Send some details, and he will get back to you in person as quickly as possible!

Siemens has booked me to headline a major energy conference in Houston in May.

So I did a little video about what to expect. Give it a watch. We are going to see more change to the global utility/energy industry in the next 5 years, than we have seen in the next 100!

Despite the fact that I’m a futurist with a relentless focus on innovative thinking, I’m probably as guilty as the next person in making quick  judgement on people and companies – particularly with respect to the scope of what they do today compared to yesterday.

So it was when I saw that a company named Lewis Tree Services wrote a blog post about my recent keynote for the annual National Rural Electrical Cooperative Technology Show in Nashville. Read their post here; you’ll also find it below.

Hmm, I thought – what is a tree company doing at an energy conference, and why would they blog about my keynote with an observation on the future of that industry? After all, what do these people do – trim and cut trees?

Continue Reading

Back in the fall, I was the opening keynote speaker for the Annual Coffee, Tea & Water show in Dallas, put on by the National Automatic Merchandising Association. Great feedback – one fellow wrote “Jim, it was just simply astounding. I go to a lot of events and see a lot of speakers, but you hammered home the point that change is inevitable with solid insight, indisputable facts and powerful motivation. Well done!

That’s my job – to take you in the future. It’s why organizations like NASA, Disney, BASF and hundreds of others have engaged me to come in for a talk to rattle their cages.

“Talk about disruption, in just 90 minutes, Jim Carroll, futurist, and trends and innovation expert, managed to terrify me, Miss geeky nerd!” Is this the right approach to the future? Read on!

And sometimes, fear is a great motivator!

Read this article which just ran in CoffeeTalk, the magazine for the industry association, which just ran. In the context of the quote above, at least I know I am getting through!

Transition and Relentless Disruption as the New Reality
by Kerri Goodman, CoffeeTalk, January 2018

While attending the recent NAMA Coffee, Tea & Water conference, I was impressed/terrified by the keynote speaker whose topic was Innovation, Disruption, and Our Industry. Now, I have always prided myself at being not at just the ‘leading edge’ of technology, but at the ‘bleeding edge’ blazing trails through trial and error, rather fearlessly. In fact, CoffeeTalk launched our website in 1994, quite some time before even Coca Cola!

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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.

Click to continue reading

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.

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:

Click to continue reading

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!”

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