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I’ve been doing a tremendous number of small, intimate CEO level leadership meetings; I’ll work with the CEO or other senior management team member to pull together a talk that will highlight the key opportunities for growth through innovation within an industry.

I often point out that there are significant innovation and revenue growth opportunities when an organization concentrates on mastering the rapid emergence of new knowledge within a specific sector.

Take the world of construction; I’ve recently spoken at quite a few building management, construction and real estate conferences, and have focused on the fact that we are now witnessing very fast knowledge exponentiation with “green” design concepts.

What’s happening is that we are seeing:

  • the rapid emergence of new building methodologies, design concepts, materials, eco-design principles, all of which have the goal of reducing the overall energy footprint of the building, or reducing its environmental impact
  • the result is that green building methodology is continuing to evolve at a furious pace
  • there is so much new knowledge emerging that a new profession of “energy engineers” is beginning to emerge
  • their skill and role is simply to keep on top of furious rates of change in terms of new energy management solutions within the building and construction sector
  • developments are occurring so quickly that these individuals possess three key skills: how to rapidly ingest new knowledge and new ideas; awareness of where this new knowledge is emerging; and the ability to tap into other specialized skill sets and form rapid skills partnerships in order to tackle growth opportunities

The result is the emergence of a new career of “green engineers” who simply know where to find all the new knowledge and expertise that is appearing out there!

This is pretty significant stuff: after all, some 40% of total US energy consumption can be attributed to operating buildings: the heat, light, cooling, hot water and other systems. Another 8% of energy use is related to the materials used. All the SUV’s in North America? Three percent!

Clearly, there are BIG opportunities for growth through innovation, through the mastery of fast knowledge.

That’s why I always challenge a CEO and senior management team to challenge themselves with workforce innovation.

That involves innovation with different workplace policies, career paths, workforce structure, experiential oriented job descriptions, skills banks for specialized skills, and a rapid focus on growth through the rapid emergence of new knowledge within that workforce.

How do you master innovation? Through the powerful story in this video clip, I point out the challenges that organizations face with the different generations in the workplace — and introduce the concept of “generational collaborative capability” as being a key component of succcesful innovation.

2010Nomadic.jpgEarly in December, I was contacted by an AP reporter who was doing a story on the key trends that would impact the economy into the future.

A brief part of my comments appeared in an article, “Crystal ball for 2010 sees changes in work, home“, that appears to have run in several hundred newspapers and Web sites over the last few weeks.

The key trend they used in this article was this:

Further adding to a nomadic work force: Many companies will look to hire employees on a contract basis, avoiding the risks and costs of full-time staff, said Jim Carroll, futurist, trends and innovations expert and author of “Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast “.

I’m a big believer that one of the key trends going forward is that we are entering the era of the permamently contracted employee. Let’s expand on that thinking a bit: here’s what the AP was originally going to run:

THE TREND: A nomadic workforce. Many people will discover that the “new economy” is going to require them to think differently about their careers, said Carroll, who predicts that people will have four or five different careers throughout their lifetime.

A lot of companies won’t be willing to hire new full-time staff, given that the cost of future severance packages and benefits can be high. But they will hire someone on a contract basis.

“So the secret to success for many people in the year to come will be shifting their mindset from ‘how do I find a job’ to ‘how do I remake myself so I can find a few good contracts,'” he said.


THE IMPACT: More people will position themselves as consultants, he said. They will abandon dead careers and pursue new ones, heading to community colleges for fast hits of knowledge, skills and career training.

This is a trend that I’ve been speaking about over the last fifteen years. This particular recession has caused it to pick up more steam than ever before — even though the recession of 2001-2002 gave it some pretty good momentum.

As more people establish careers based on a constant stream of new contracts, they’ll realize that they’ve become a personal brand. And as they get into the contract game, they’ll learn that they don’t need a resume; they need a Web site that positions their personal brand.

But wait! Personal Brand Web sites are already passe; with the explosion in mobile usage, more and more of the fast-paced organizations that are looking to hire short, sharp shocks of creative staff are likely to be searching for them on their mobile device.

How do you get a leg up in this game?

You develop an App. If you think about it, an App is a simple recognition of the fact that the iPhone Safari browser simply doesn’t work well. Make it easy for the client to find you, and you’re ahead of the game.

That’s what I’ve done with the new Jim Carroll App. I’ve been a nomadic worker for almost twenty years. I like to joke that I work really hard to not have to go and get a job. I seem to have some unique insight, and the ability to deliver that insight in a compelling fashion, such that world class organizations like the Washington Speakers Bureau and Harry Walker Agency introduce me to their clients. I’m a unique brand, and I’m continually working to evolve my brand so that it keeps up with the fast paced future. That includes making my insight and knowledge — the essence of my personal brand — easily accessible to potential clients.

The big question for you as you find yourself living an increasingly nomadic career existence is this: how do you keep your personal brand up to date, relevant, and accessible to your audience?

Welcome to the era that involves the End of the Resume, and the Rise of the Personal Brand App!

For those who have asked, my App was designed by the fine folks at iEveryWare.com. They’ve got an interesting product. Check it out!

Related posts:

  • Article: Crystal ball for 2010 sees changes in work, home
  • Video: The new workforce
  • Blog entry Today’s jobless recovery was predicted in 1987
  • Blog entry Advice for a flat world: take your skills to a global audience
  • Blog entry 10 Unique Characteristics of 21st Century Skills by Jim Carroll
  • Book: The Rise of the Project Workforce
  • iEveryWare
The New Workforce!
December 14th, 2009

A brief video clip on just how different our workforce is set to become ; from a keynote in Salt Lake City in the autumn.

I’ve been speaking about the new challenges of the new workforce for some time; some previous blog posts and articles are below.

  • Blog post: Here We are Now, Entertain Us
  • Related article: Don’t Mess with My Powder, Dude!
  • Keynote topic: What’s Happening with Our Workforce: Achieving Competitive Advantage Through Skills Agility
  • Critical Trends Analysis: 10 Unique Characteristics of 21st Century Skills

2009BoardingNRPA.jpgThe feedback on my Salt Lake City keynote for the National Recreation and Parks Association continues; earlier in this story, I had a blog entry from a message from someone at the event thanking me for “changing lives.”

The Past President of the NRPA has weighed in with an editorial in Perspectives, the NRPA’s national magazine. Headlined “Anticipating the Future,” Jodie Adams has this to say (excerpted).

Last month I saw the future, and it was exciting. Granted, it was one person’s version of what parks and recreation may look like a decade from now, but the view is compelling. At NRPA’s Congress last month in Salt Lake City, renowned futurist Jim Carroll outlined key areas where professionals and citizen advocates can expect to see major changes in the field. We chose Carroll as keynote speaker for our opening session as a way to crystallize the conference theme, “Prepare for the Future Today.” Virtually each of his points held importance for our field. Even the best speakers quote others, and Carroll’s quote by media magnate Rupert Murdoch spoke volumes about how we pursue our mission.

“The future will not be about big beating small, but fast beating slow.”

And nowhere is this message more applicable than to the young people entering our field. Considering that they are in large part a product of the Internet Age- infinite choices at lightning speed in interconnected ways- it’s no wonder they view work differently today. Carroll’s statistics point this out- 65 percent of preschoolers today will pursue careers that do not exist today. For those entering the held today, two to five years is a long-term career. When you’re interviewing them today, realize that they are looking right through you. two thirds of them say they are actually thinking about their next job and not the one for which you are interviewing them.

Because young professionals are increasingly more demanding in terms of flexibility, recognition, and loyalty, senior administrators must also think in these terms. It’s a sure bet they reflect the views and values of the citizens they will eventually be serving. As Carroll pointed out, we can expect entirely new sports and activities to come at us faster and faster, while “old” sports will evolve in similar ways. Characteristic of a generation fully wired with itself, Carroll only half kiddingly pictured snowboards with embedded chips and webcams that communicate a good run down a mountain to the friends and family of its user.

As Carroll explained, if you are not preparing for the “next economy,” you’re way too late.


  • Video: Location intelligence and the future of recreation
  • Blog entry “Thanks for changing lives! A note from the NRPA Congress…” by Jim Carroll
  • Blog entry The future of snowboarding and skiing by Jim Carroll

CareersEnd.jpgWay back in 1987, I was immersed in many of the early networking technologies which would one day form the Internet. I was convinced that we were at the edge of a transformative time, and that the emerging global network would have a profound impact on our world — politics, the structure of organizations and jobs.

I remember being stunned when I read an editorial in the New York Times that October, which forever shaped my view of the future.

The article essentially predicted a future in which organizations would become smaller, grow and contract as needs arise, and become something fundamentally different.

That one article forever shaped my view of the future, and has formed the basis of much of what I focus upon today in terms of the transformative trends that surround us.

Fast forward to today’s economy. With this recovery, as with all others before, organizations are increasingly reluctant to hire staff as they continue to shed even more staff. Organizations are going to go forward with a smaller employee footprint. They’re expanding and contracting as necessary. It’s all about contract work, part time relationships, and external partnerships.

This is not a new trend; indeed, back in the mid-90’s, I wrote a variety of articles and chapters in various of my books that touched on this theme in a variety of ways. I’ve put online a chapter from my 1997 book, Surviving the Information Age, which took a look at this trend. Read it now, and it was stunningly accurate. (The link is below).

For now, this editorial from 1987 makes for a great read.

“Tomorrow’s Company Won’t Have Walls”, New York Times, October 1987

The hub of the network organization will be small, centralized and
local. At the same time, it will be connected to an extended network
that is big, decentralized and global. People from the network and
from outside the company will join the group at the hub for periods
of time and then leave it.

But the network organization will also present its own set of
paradoxes. For instance, how will these new organizations be able to
manage the often conflicting interests of the centralized hub and the
decentralized network? And how can a system that is both centralized
and decentralized be unified and coordinated and quick to respond to
changes in the market place?

For the global organization of the future, the ability to acquire new
products, services, technologies and capital will not be the problem.
The marketplace is crowded with each of these as never before.

But for exactly this reason, the challenge for each company will be
to nurture its own unique culture and develop the quality of its
human resources. That is because competitive advantage will rest
increasingly in the way each network organization gathers and
assesses information, makes its decisions and then carries out those

The 21st-century will be full of organizational surprises. The
challenge of arranging cooperative efforts between companies to
achieve strategic gains is beginning to emerge. Changes in the
marketplace have given companies from around the world the
opportunity to develop these new linkages. Advances in
telecommunications technology also enable companies to bring people
together for competitive advantage. The time has now come to form
new global collections of companies, and to fully utilize human

12 years ago, in Surviving the Information Age, I wrote about what this 1987 New York Times article really meant. The predictions were pretty bang on.

Today? We’re in the midst of the jobless recovery – exactly what was predicted. Companies aren’t hiring back staff but they will be hiring back lots of people through contracts and partnerships!

I was the opening keynote speaker yesterday for Opportunities 2009, a conference in Ontario, Canada, that was focused on workplace trends to 2015.


The keynote description went like this:

What Comes Next: And What Should We Do About It?

Is there a future out there? Definitely yes, but a constant drumbeat of negative news can cause people and organizations to lose sight of what will happen with careers and jobs in the future. That’s where Jim Carroll comes in — this noted international futurist, trends & innovation expert spends his time with globally innovative leaders. He’s gained keen insight into some of the key trends which will impact industries, organizations and careers in the next few years to come, in a wide variety of industries from health care, to technology and manufacturing, to the skilled trades. Jim is a passionate believer in the reality that every career and profession is in the midst of a transition, and that additional, new careers are being born before our very eyes.

Jim Carroll will challenge you to focus on the opportunities of today and tomorrow, rather than the challenges of the past. Jim will provide an outline of how the economy will evolve from this point out — and how we should be planning and acting in order to innovate in career development ahead of fast-paced events. He’ll provide us a look at “what comes next, and what we should do about it.

In the coming weeks and days, I’ve got a lot to blog about this keynote: I took a good hard look at emerging careers, transitioning careers, and how existing careers are changing as a result of ever-increasing velocity.

The talk was extremely well received — probably because I focused the 700+ people in the room on the opportunities of the future rather than the current economic muck of today.


GoodJobsBadTimes.pngWKSU, the PBS affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio, has been running a series this week titled “Good Jobs in Bad Times.” It’s a serious look at current and future job and career trends. Topics include “high-paying tech jobs, careers that don’t need a four-year degree, the re-growth of agriculture as industry, working part-time full-time, career makeovers, the truth about healthcare, bridge jobs after graduation and the future of the NE Ohio employment outlook.”

I’m interviewed in the final segment, “What’s next:Jobs of the future will likely refine the jobs of today.”

Here’s an extract: you can visit the site and listen to the series at the links below. I’m on at 2:58 on the timeline.

Jim Carroll of Toronto is a futurist who studies trends and tries to predict what lies ahead. He believes the growing interest in alternative energy and “green” products will generate new jobs in coming years, but not just in obvious ways such as building wind turbines and solar panels.

For example, “there’s a lot of very unique research and development occurring out there having to do with packaging,” Carroll said. “And what that leads to is new products coming to market. It involves new companies, it involves new growth industries. …So, what you’re going to have is the emergence of new companies with a new mind set developing these new products to meet new societal demands. And when you look at that, that’s where some of the job growth is going to occur.”

Carroll said companies must closely watch for trends that can be turned into new jobs. But, not everyone has the resources of a big company to find and capitalize on the next big thing. For individuals planning to train for new careers, Carroll advises they pursue jobs that are evolving in areas like health care. “Patient navigators,” for example, are increasing in demand.

“It’s a doctor or a nurse or a medical professional or someone with specific training who simply steers the patient through the complexity of the increasingly complex health care system,” Carroll said. “It’s estimated there’s about 18,000 of these people in the US health care system today. It’s estimated that number will grow to about 180,000 by the year 2015. That’s the emergence of a new career.

“And if you’re thinking, ‘Where are the jobs going to be in the future?’ It’s in things like that.”

It’s a timely series and interview, because on Monday I do a keynote for a group of HR professionals, community leaders, social innovators, career development and employment preparation practitioners, labour market experts and employers, on the theme of “Careers 2015.” It will be a real, practical look at what we can expect in terms of career transitions, new careers and job opportunities a half decade out.

Think growth!

  • Go to the Good Jobs in Bad Times site
  • Go to the What’s next:Jobs of the future will likely refine the jobs of today section

CEO-08.jpgIf you want to understand what you should be doing right now, you keep your ears close to the ground, and listen to what others are talking about.

I’ve had a huge number of events in the last two months, since the economic contraction began. All of my keynotes and leadership sessions have focused on strategies to “stay out in front of this thing.”
I’m also quite often working with senior management, and get direct insight into what the CEO’s are thinking. Here’s what one CEO stated as the most important priorities through the next year, given the economic challenges:

  • staff development and retention: keep the key staff engaged, innovative, and focused on the business.
  • change leadership: many of my keynotes use a phrase from Rupert Murdoch: “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.” That’s particularly true now: organizations must “check their speed” and be able to evolve strategy, ideas, product and service very fast to keep up.
  • back of the house is critical. In other words, IT is going to help to see us through. We need deep insight into the business; we need to focus on the cost efficiencies it can bring. We have a plan of investment, and we’re not backing off now — it’s critical
  • client retention: absolutely critical. Obsess over the quality of client relationships. This is so important, I’ve got a separate blog entry on it.
  • make plan” — we have a budget — we need to meet it. We need to relentlessly focus on closing deals. We’ve got to be a partner to our customers; they are looking for comfort, and we can provide that to them. If it means we share the risk with them, we do that too.
  • have fun: wellness, mental and otherwise, is going to be critical to everyone in the organization in getting through these times. Let’s focus as a team, have fun, and move forward!

That is a good concise overview of what one CEO is telling his leadership team to concentrate on. There are some powerful lessons here. And it’s insight like this that I’m sharing to inspire and encourage others to innovate at the pace required to stay ahead of fast paced economic change.

benchstrength.jpgI’m in Vancouver, about to deliver a keynote to a global professional services firm, with the working title, “Extreme Skills Specialization: What Comes Next with Global Talent, Global Organizations?

The working description goes like this: “The future of every career is either extremely specialized, or
massively general. Most professions are fragmenting into dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of specialities. Someone needs to understand all this, and help organizations tap into narrow bands of knowledge.

This is a major trend, and perhaps one of the defining trends of the next 10 years. Here’s how I’m presenting the challenges to my audience today:

  • the ability to assist your clients with high-velocity change will be a key success factor
  • because of this, the ability to find, attract utilize and retain ever more narrow niche skills will be critical, for both your clients, and yourself.
  • the ability to scale up and scale down your resource base will define your clients success, and your own.
  • our ability to access and deploy unique skills at high velocity, globally, forming project oriented teams that last but a short time, will be key.

Think about these challenges in the context of your own organization. Ask your this questions: “what’s the depth of your bench strength?”

Then ask this question: “what do you need to do, from a unique structural perspective, to increase and improve your bench strength, particularly as skills become more specialized, scarce and hard to access.” There’s probable room for lots of innovative thinking there!

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