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This is fun!

A post a few days ago of my Masters in Business Imagination Manifesto caught the attention of a client who knows they need to move fast — and who thought that would be a great topic for their event. They moved fast – and booked me because they know that they require some bold thing and big motivational insight.

And so this morning, I wrote up a keynote description for their internal promo copy — which you’ll find below.

I’ve done this topic a few times on stage over the years — including for Fairmont/Raffles Hotels International, as one example — but never thought of it as a core keynote topic. But now it is!



New Keynote Topic: “The Masters in Business Imagination: Motivational Guidance for the Era of Fast”

We will see more change in the next 5 years than we have seen in the last 100. People and organizations are scrambling to align themselves for a new, topsy-turvey world. Jim Carroll comes to the rescue with his keynote, The Masters in Business Imagination — and will inspire your team to adopt relentless creativity and innovation as core virtues. Once you ‘graduate’ from his MBI class, you’ll possess the skills common to this critical degree of the 21st century economy. MBI’s see things differently – they don’t look at things like most people. MBI’s spur creativity in other people – they inspire others to develop similar levels of imaginative hinking. They focus on opportunity – not threat: and realize that action, not inaction, is the driving force for the future. They refused to accept the status quo and are prepared to eliminate habit . MBI’s bring big ideas to life – and paint pictures of where the organization is going to go, rather than focusing on where it has been in the past. They learn and unlearn, forgoing the dangerous assumption that what they know today will carry them into tomorrow. Most important of all, they refuse to say the word CAN’T – they know that barriers, perceived or otherwise, are simply temporary roadblocks that they can get around with fresh insight, imaginative analysis, and creative thinking! Fire up your enthusiasm, energy and innovation spirt with a unique motivational keynote by Futurist Jim Carroll, as he inspires your team to align themselves to the only degree they will need for the future – The Masters in Business Imagination!

Want a sample? Here’s a clip!

I was a keynote speaker in San Diego last week for the PSCU Senior Leadership & Member Forum. I was honoured to be following Captain Mark Kelly, NASA astronaut, onto the stage.

Need to think a bit more about opportunities from innovation? Read my “Masters in Business Imagination Manifesto!”

The conference is attended by senior executives of credit unions from throughout the US.

My keynote, built in close consultation with the client, focused on key three points related to the overall theme of innovation:

  • it’s urgent that credit unions focus on innovation right now
  • it’s important that as they do so, they re-evaluate the concept of what they believe innovation to be
  • it’s critical that they take on a large number of experimental projects oriented towards innovative thinking, and that they do it now

Putting each of this issues into perspective explains my thinking:

Do it now: The world of financial services is faced with unprecedented change — the impact of mobile banking, the transfer of wealth to a new generation who thinks about financial management in entirely different ways, the emergence of new competitors. The list goes on and on. That’s why it important that credit unions establish a culture in which innovation is a priority, in order to keep up with and take advantage of the trends swirling around them

Reframe the concept:  Many organizations fail at innovation because they don’t really understand what it could be. For many people, they think innovation is for cool people who design cool products that change the world: call it the “Apple effect.” But for years, I’ve been reframing innovation from another perspective that helps to open up the minds of people as to its opportunity.

Innovation is a culture in which the leadership and the entire team continually challenges themselves with three questions: what can I do to run the business, grow the business, or transform the business?

There’s a good video clip that you can watch on that theme, “Rethinking Innovation”  

A few years back, I was interviewed at ProfitMagazine, and had this to say about the concept of innovation as I see it:

Profit: So Jim, one of the frustrating things that I find with the term innovation is that people often equate it with only product development.  So what’s your definition of innovation?

Jim Carroll: It’s absolutely true.  I Call it the Steve Jobs iphone innovation problem.  Everybody hears innovation, they think of the iphone, they think about iPod, they think about Apple and they think that’s all that innovation is, you know, coming up with cool products.  To me, it’s about much more.  It starts out with a fundamental presumption, it doesn’t matter what your business is or what industry you compete in, you’re going to be faced with more competition, more challenging customers, your business model is probably going to be subjected to greater changes.  You’ve got issues in terms of cost input, you probably finding your top line, your revenue line is being subject to the pressure.  You’ve got all kinds of challenges being thrown at you.  And from my perspective, innovation is coming up with a lot of unique ideas, whether it’s around your business model, whether it is around the manner by which you compete, whether it’s around your structure, whether it’s around, you know, the methods that you use to compete in your market place, whether, you know, nothing to do with your skills, I mean, it’s everything.  It’s simply, you know, taking the mindset that that my world is going to change on a continuous basis and I am going to make sure that I have a constant stream of ideas as to how I can keep up and how I can deal with those trends.

Experiment – a lot: There is so much changing the world of banking and credit unions. Technology, social networks, new competitors, the emergence of the digital wallet — you name it, and there is an absolute flood of ‘new stuff.’ World class innovators continually establish a regular series of projects by which they can build up their experience with the stuff that comes from the idea-flood. The more experience they build up, the more “experiential capital” they create. I’ve argued that going into the high velocity 21st century economy, “experiential capital” will become as critical if not more important than financial capital.

I actually spoke about the concept of “experiential capital” when I was the opening keynote speaker for the annual general meeting of the PGA of America – it’s worth a watch.  

Suffice it to say, if you rethink innovation in terms of these three basic concepts, it will help you deal with a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast!

A clip from a recent keynote in San Antonio, Texas — shouldn’t you be thinking about getting a Masters in Business Imagination?

I first proposed the concept of the MBI back in 2003, when I wrote the Masters in Business Imagination Manifesto.

Here’s the intro:

Complacency in a time of rapid, disruptive change can be a death sentence – not only for organizations, but for the careers and skills of those who work there! It’s time to abandon the thinking that has had you anchored firmly to the past – and to shift your focus to the future, with enthusiasm, motivation and imagination.

You can do this by abandoning any pretence that the skills of yesterday will be important tomorrow. Figuratively and literally, it is time to move beyond the thinking that has led us to a world of MBA’s – Masters of Business Administration – and focus upon the critical skill that will take you into tomorrow.

The world doesn’t need more administrators. It needs more MBI’s – Masters of Business Imagination!

Given that the world today is even faster than in 2003, maybe the MBI is an even more important degree than ever before!

Here’s another week of unique insight from my blog tracking tool, ReInvigorate, that links the search phrases that people used to find a page on my site.

It’s a useful way to see what people are thinking about, and to also access some nuggets from the hundreds of blog posts that I’ve written through the years.

I started running this report weekly starting in early December. You can read these earlier posts with the “What’s Hot” tag on my site.

Below, you’ll find the search phrase that someone used on a search engine like Google or Bing, and second, a bit of commentary on the blog page that the search led them to.

  • “importance of innovation” led to the blog post, “The importance of innovation in the era of the new normal,” which outlines five key areas for focusing your innovation efforts as an economic recovery takes hold
  • “Consumers more demanding innovation in retail sector” led to “Innovation: Riding fast paced trends in the consumer / retail sector“, which is a pretty good overview of the key trends impacting those sectors today
  • “the best speakers in the world” led to my home page. Maybe they were looking for someone like me. Maybe they were looking for some stereo speakers!
  • “imagination and business” took someone straight to my “Masters in Business Imagination” manifesto — still a great read to stir up your creative thinking!
  • “an error occurred saving image location” takes you to the page “My digital life – bumps along the way.” This is from way back in 2003, when I had a problem with a particular HP scanner, which I wrote about in the early stages of my blog. It stuns me that 7 years later, some people are still getting this error message, and do what any computer user does – they search the Web for the phrase, which leads them to this old blog post. Has HP not fixed this bug yet? Astonishing!
  • “recreation trends 2010” led the searcher to the page, “Upcoming keynote: The Future of Recreation“, with details on my 2009 keynote for 4,000 parks and rec professionals in Salt Lake City. I’ve certainly been busy in this field, with keynotes for the PGA of America and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. More on that in a blog post to come tomorrow
  • “technology innovation and retail” provides the post “High Velocity Retail Innovation” about trends in the retail sector, including the impact of “zero-attention span customers”
  • “21st century characteristics” led the person to the page, “10 Unique Characteristics of 21st century skills“, a good read for anyone seeking to understand talent management and workforce trends
  • “Snowboarding technology trends” led the researcher to one of my favouritie blog posts (with a video clip), “The future of snowboarding and skiing.” I took up skiing with my family 10 years ago, and it is one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
  • “High velocity markets” provides a blog post, “High velocity globalization – Massive markets, major trends” written just before the market meltdown of 2008. What’s interesting is that if you read that post, post-crash, the same trends are still in play — they were just deferred a bit by global economic upheaval.

That’s it for this week – stay tuned next week for more unique insight from what people find in the thousands of posts in my blog!

In light of some recent criticism of criticism I’ve made of media companies, I thought it best to roll this posting from last December forward.

In the 20th century, financial resources were the primary capital of choice, allowing organizations to enter, dominate and evolve in their marketplace over time.

Today, financial depth doesn’t cut it — it’s the abiliy to respond to rapid change that is the primary asset. And sadly, there are many organizations who don’t have a good balance sheet.

Simply look at Sony with the recent “root-kit” debacle, and you realize that while a company can have all the money it needs, it won’t survive if it doesn’t evolve at the fast pace the world demands today. If Sony is guilty of anything, it is the fact that it has seized up with an organizatlonal sclerosis that has clogged it’s ability to respond to change. The customers have moved on to a different world — and Sony just doesn’t seem to understand that.

Sony has been spending money trying to protect old markets, rather than inventing new ones. It’s been busy trying to build on past glories rather than fighting new battles. It has spent its energy in fighting a war with its customers, rather than building them great things. It has sought to grow by buying, rather than expanding through creativity. It has done just about anything wrong that you could ever do.

It is dying.

Will it recover? Can other organizations suffering from similar degrees of corporate clotting survive?

Perhaps — if they refocus their energy by using the only form of capital that is important. Capital that isn’t monetary by nature, but which provides an organization with the resources to focus on change as the key success factor.

What are those attributes? There are ten of them:

  • experiential capital: In a world in which Apple can toss out a $1/2 billion market overnight in order to enter a new one (with the move from the iPod Mini to the iPod Nano) — it’s critically important that an organization constantly enhance the skill, capabilities and insight of their people. They do this by constantly working on projects that might have an uncertain return and payback — but which will provide in-depth experience and insight into change. It’s by understanding change that opportunity is defined, and that’s what experiential capital happens to be. In the future, it is one of the most important assets that you can possess.
  • a strong agility index: Slow paced organizations simply won’t survive. Those organizations that have a high-agility index — that is, the ability to suddenly and dramatically shift course — will be those who will thrive in the years to come.
  • strong skills accessibility capability: Talent, not money, will be the new corporate battlefront. Simply put, there is so much happening that no one person or organization can know everything there is to know. With ongoing rapid knowledge growth, instant market change, fast-paced scientific discovery and constant skills evolution, getting the right people at the right time for the right purpose will be the key to succesful change.
  • massive creativity capability: in my Masters of Business Imagination Manifesto, I suggest that it is the ability to see the world differently, and the skill to imagine how to do things differently, that will be more important than any other career skill. When product lifecycles are disappearing, and market longevity is mattered in weeks, not years, the ability to think, adapt, and imagine will be the foundation to provide for necessary change.
  • generational insight: We are set to see the emergence of the most unique workforce in history, with the longest age-span to have ever occurred. Boomers won’t retire, and kids won’t want to get hired. The result will be a workforce that is transient, temporary, shifting and flexible. And it will be those organizations who can match up the experience and wisdom of the aging baby boomers with the insight, enthusiasm and change-adept younger generation who will find the most powerful force to be found in business — an organization that is fuelled by the pure energy of change-oxygen.
  • collaborative intelligence: Forget the idea of having a strategic planning department, and think collaborative culture instead. Take a look around you, and ask yourself, who is succeeding today? It is those organizations who are plugged in to the global mind that surrounds us. They’ve dropped any pretense that they can create the future, and instead realize that it the future is being developed by everyone all around them. They have come to learn that their role isn’t to plan for that future, but simply to listen to it, plug into it, and plug their growth-engine into it.
  • complexity partnerships: in the 20th century, organizations focused on hiring the skills that they needed to get the job done. You simply can’t do that today — skills are too fragmented and too specialized. That’s why successful organizations have mastered the art of complexity supply and demand. They provide their own unique complex skills to those of their partners who need such skills. And when they are short other skills, they tap into the skills bank of their partners. By selling and buying skills with a broad partnership base, they’ve managed to become complexity partners — organizations that spend most of their time focusing on their core mission, and spend less time worrying about how they are going to do what they need to do.
  • global innovation traps: a recent blog post featured a clip from a keynote where I spoke about the “infinite idea loop.” Companies that understand that all future innovation comes from the ability to tap into the loop will thrive; those that follow traditional innovation models, self-centered and insular, will find that their creativity and uniqueness has been smothered
  • forward oriented intelligence: The key premise of my book, What I Learned from Frogs in Texas, is that too many organizatons have lost their orientation to the future. They are too busy complying, restructuring, administering and reorganizing to realize that their world is dropping out from underneath them. The frogs learned out the hard way that if you don’t have good insight into what comes next, there is going to be a big problem and it’s going to be ugly.
  • depth of mission: We’ve all known for years what has been wrong with Sony — too much inter-company squabbling, turf-wars, and inward focused turmoil. Along the way, Sony lost sight of its mission to build great stuff for people who wanted great stuff. If you can have a company that has a simple mission, a clearly stated goal, and a passion and purpose to achieve it, you’ll be able to put in place the most critically needed asset — a team that is oriented towards success.

It’s clear that Sony does not possess many of these assets. It doesn’t realize that it no longer controls its future — its’customers do. It isn’t plugged into the global innovation loop — instead, its’ efforts are spent on trying to define the future that it would like to have. It’s got a bunch of middle-aged baby boomers in charge who don’t have a clue as to how the world is unfolding. (And I’m a middle-aged baby boomer). And I can only imagine that the recent experience has destroyed any sense of mission among its staff — its people are dispirited, disenthused, angry and full of recrimination for a future that they think has gone wrong. (Well, it has, because it has done all the wrong things.)

I find it really depressing that a company as big and creative as Sony could have lost its way. On the other hand, I continue to encounter too many people and companies who are busy sleepwalking into the future, just like Sony.

Remember — it ain’t the money, it’s the ability to change that is most imporatnt asset for the future.

My own top 10 blog posts
December 23rd, 2005

top_10.jpgHere’s a quickl list of what I think were some of the best posts to this often sporadic blog through the year.

  1. Change: Deal with it: this little fellow still cracks me up.

  2. The infinite idea loop: the future is faster. Even Fortune covered this posting. A compelling 3 minute watch, if you really want to understand how the future is evolving.

  3. The Masters of Business Imagination Manifesto: FastCompany picked up on my MBI Manifesto found in this post. It got so much attention, it has become the focus of my next book, due out in 2006.

  4. It’s in to be out!”: Too much fun earlier this year when I met with the editors of O (Oprah Magazine), Elle, Family Circle, Parenting, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Working Mother, American Baby, Soap Opera Weekly, Woman’s Day, Glamor, Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Good Housekeeing, Family Circle and about 40 other national trade magazines, in New York City! Covering off my list of outdoor trends…..on behalf of a major client.

  5. Frogs in Texas reviews: After all that work in bringing out a new book, it gets some great reviews and momentum throughout 2005.

  6. The Tiniest Warrior of All: My wife and I published, through out publishing company Oblio Press, a very important, powerful and emotional book.

  7. 10 Signs You’ve Got an Innovation Dysfunction: How can you tell if you’ve got problems? Read the list …. Fortune covered this one.

  8. Creativity, trends and innovation in retail, packaging and consumer goods: I’ve done a huge number of talks in almost every industry and profession in the last decade, talking as a futurist about future trends. I’ve got a huge number of trends floating around in my head and in my materials, and I’m trying to use the blog to capture alot of them after a major keynote. This post is a good example.

  9. The concept of going to school for knowledge is kind of quaint…”: A quick article that stirred up a fair bit of controversy. I don’t believe anything I said here to be untrue.

  10. 10 More Ways to Instill Innovation: A followup to the innovation dysfunction post above.

Enough already!

Complacency in a time of rapid, disruptive change can be a death sentence – not only for organizations, but for the careers and skills of those who work there! It’s time to abandon the thinking that has had you anchored firmly to the past – and to shift your focus to the future, with enthusiasm, motivation and imagination.

You can do this by abandoning any pretence that the skills of yesterday will be important tomorrow. Figuratively and literally, it is time to move beyond the thinking that has led us to a world of MBA’s – Masters of Business Administration – and focus upon the critical skill that will take you into tomorrow.

The world doesn’t need more administrators. It needs more MBI’s – Masters of Business magination.

Read more in my MBI Manifesto.

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