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What does a global futurist do? Assist clients in understanding the key trends which are impacting their industry, and sharing insight on a pathway forward!

Companies that book speakers know that there are a lot of them out there that will deliver canned talks that, while they might be inspiring, don’t really offer much in the way of substance. I’ve developed a global reputation for being spectacularly different, with highly customized talks based on original research that go into the key issues of today and trends of tomorrow. You don’t get to have clients such as NASA, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Nikon and over a thousand more without offering depth of insight. Watch my video, “Why Jim Carroll“, to understand why these and hundreds of other clients have booked me.

I do much of my work on big fascinating stages at big events such as seen below – but I also share my insight at small meetings with Board of Directors meetings or in senior CEO led sessions, with as few as 20, 50 or 100 people in the room. Whatever the case may be, my job is to take people into the future, and guide them on how to best get there!

With that in mind, here are some of the highlights of my 2nd half of the year of 2017.

Nikon 100th Anniversary Celebration, Tokyo, Japan

This was certainly a treat – they invited me in to headline a dinner with my observations on the future! I opened with a story on when NASA invited me in (twice!) for a talk on the disruption of the space industry, transformative leadership and fast paced trends. My audience consisted of people from 37 countries, with simultaneous translation into Japanese and Chinese. You don’t get to be a company with a 100 year history without constant, relentless innovation and reinvention, and so it was an honour to be invited in to headline this prestigious event.

Disruption: Self-Driving Cars and the Sharing Economy, Mercedes Benz, Detroit, Michigan

Obviously, this is a HOT topic, and being invited in by one of the pre-eminent automative companies in the world to share my thoughts on these trends is certainly a career highlight! 2017 was characterized by an increased number of organizations looking for in depth insight to the massive disruption occurring in the industry – I spoke at automotive, trucking, hi-tech, finance and insurance conferences about the impact of self-driving, autonomous vehicles. Simply check out some of the posts in the automotive trends section of my blog – it’s over there on the right — for some insight into why companies like this are choosing to bring me in.

The Acceleration of Risk in the Era of Disruption, Baker McKenzie client conferences, Dallas and Chicago

It’s pretty cool when the top-ranked global legal firm — operating in 38 countries with 13,000+ legal staff — picks you to come in and speak to their most important clients about the future — and the unique legal issues that the future brings. That’s what Baker McKenzie did! The audience was pretty spectacular – key corporate legal counsel for a vast number of global Fortune 500 companies, individuals responsible for managing the accelerating complex legal issues of our time. My keynote took a look at fast new risks involving intellectual property, the Internet of Things, new careers, accelerated product innovation and so much more. I’m busy working on a blog post on my thoughts – stay tuned!

Manufacturing Trends and Disruption, Legrand, Connecticut

It was a busy year for keynotes in the manufacturing space! This talk was for Legrands North American leadership meeting, where the CEO and his team fine tune strategies and plans for the coming year. They’re big in the global tech industry, manufacturing a wide variety of component parts and cabling. My talk took a look at key trends providing opportunity in the manufacturing process, including the factory of the future, the Internet of Things, digitization, 3D printing, accelerated supply chains and much more.

Future of food, agriculture, retail and consumer behaviour, Simplot, Phoenix, Arizona

This agricultural company is the largest global supplier of French fries to McDonalds and other food companies, as well as being very active in other aspects of the industry. This was a team leadership meeting as well, with individuals from throughout the organization – marketing, product development, legal, finance and accounting, supply chain and more. They invited me in to speak to over 400 executives about key trends that will impact them in the future, including the accelerated pace of agricultural science, changing consumer behaviour, faster marketing and brand challenges, and other similar topics.


Future of energy – renewables, batteries and more, SAP Utilities conference, California

You have to love it when a client invites you back – and in this case, SAP was bringing me back in for about the 20th time since they first booked me in 2003! This conference had about 500 executives from the energy utility industry in the room, with a focus on future energy, water and wastewater trends. I delivered a barnburner of a speech in the morning for a small group of senior executives, and a repeat performance later in the afternoon for the entire group, with a focus on the massive, disruptive change occurring in the energy space, including issues around grid party, micro-grids and intelligent grids, the acceleration of renewable generation methodologies, battery storage technologies and more.

Future of customer interaction, SOMOS, Chicago, Illinois

This is a new group — 3 years old — that represents the 1-800 toll free service industry, and the invited me in for a keynote on trends and issues impacting consumer behaviour. I spoke to issues around mobile, increased and accelerated expectations for customer support, and how the Amazon effect is coming to affect the latter, to name just a few issues!

Retail and consumer behaviour, XCelerate 2017, Las Vegas

This event draws the CIO’s and strategy executives for a vast number of the largest grocery and consumer product retailers from across North America. There was one big word in the room – Amazon! My keynote examined the types of retail trends that the national media (such as Time Magazine) turns to me for, including faster supply chains, collapsing product lifecycles, the new consumer and brand influencers, intelligent and active packaging and more. This was one of many retail events this year — the highlight being when Godiva Chocolates brought me in (twice!) earlier this year for a similar talk.

Disruption and innovation, McKay CEO Forum, Vancouver, Canada

Imagine a room full of 300 CEO’s and senior executives, and you get the McKay CEO Forum, one of the pre-eminent senior level events in Western Canada. I did a wide ranging talk on the theme of disruption and industry transformation, putting into perspective the stark trends that are impacting and reshaping every industry at a furious pace.

Quintiq World Tour 2017, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This is a company that builds a software platform that helps companies to manage complex supply chains and workforces, and my keynote focused on why the need for ‘managing complexity’ is becoming critical in the context of faster trends. If the world gets faster, it gets more complex. The winners will be those who can manage that complexity!


CPAmerica, Washington, DC

An accounting and professional services firm! My keynote took a look at the disruptive trends which are and will continue to change their client base, and the unique financial, legal, risk and partnership issues that this might present them going forward. It was a talk that took a look at the future of professional services in the era of fast paced change!

Fin-tech and disruption, Finastra annual user group meeting, Orlando, Florida

This company is a software vendor to the community bank and credit union industry – and naturally, that’s what I zoned in on. With a little bit of the Jetsons to boot! (While all of my talks are highly customize to the audience and issues at hand, I also have 25 years of stage craft experience, and know how to have fun with a crowd!. In these days of mobile device obsessions, you need to know how to work an audience and engage them.)

Manufacturing Trends and Disruption, AssaBloy, Connecticut

Another CEO led leadership meeting, in this case for this company which is one of the world’s leading manufactures and suppliers of door and window locks — everything from simple deadbolt assembly to complex chip based hotel door locking devices. Globally, a wide variety of manufacturing organizations are finding that I’m THE guy to inspire them to think about Manufacturing 2.0, the Factory of the Future, and how to get there.

Future of food and consumer behaviour, Dallas, Texas

The National Automatic Merchandising Association CEO saw me at an event, and told me she immediately determined that I should come in and headline one of their events — in this case, their annual Coffee, Tea & Water conference. Fast changing consumer behaviour, the rapid evolution of taste trends and brands, the impact of social media, intelligent packaging, the Internet of Things and more!

Future of the global economy, Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma, OK

Over 700 local executives from throughout the city attended the event that I headlined, with a keynote that took a look at over 20 trends which are providing opportunity in the global economy. While much of the US is on the ropes with the never-ending political soap opera, senior executives are also eager to understand where the global economy is really head. OKC picked me to do this job, and the reports coming in are that they are thrilled with the job that I did!

Economic development trends and the future of manufacturing, International Asset Management Council, Richmond, Virginia

The International Asset Management Council is an organization relentlessly focused on economic trends, and represent two distinct groups – economic development representatives from government organizations, including states, provinces and cities, as well as individuals in many Fortune 1000 organizations responsible for future site locations for manufacturing plants, R&D facilities or other corporate locations.My talk took a look at the disruptive trends of today, and what that will mean for future economic development opportunities tomorrow.

Canadian Manufacturing and Technology Show, Toronto, Canada

This is the biggest manufacturing conference in Canada, organized by SME (previously, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers). This is the 4th time SME has had me headline an event – two other notable ones were the massive IMX show in Las Vegas, and the Big-M manufacturing conference in Detroit. 

Henry Schein, Long Island, New York

This company is one of the major players in the dental, medical and veterinary products industry, serving well over 100,000 medial professionals around the world. The senior leadership brought me in for a look at the rapid evolution of medical science, consumer and patient trends, healthcare issues — and the potential disruption that might come from Amazon and other organizations. Companies everywhere need to stay apprised of the accelerating rends which will shape and impact their industry, and this is a good example of the many internal leadership events I do for organizations. It doesn’t hurt that I’d previously done keynotes in each of these industry verticals.

Global Economic Growth Trends, Nevada Economic Development Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada

Sadly, one week before the horrific Las Vegas shootings, I spoke at the University of Nevada Las Vegas for economic development officials from across the state, on key economic opportunist beyond the tourism and gaming sector. It covered issues related to renewables and energy, self driving cars and accelerating industries, workforce and skills issues and much more


That’s a few of the events from the fall! Stay tuned for 2018 – it begins with some excitement, when I headline the World Government Summit in Dubai, this February. Previous speakers have included Barak Obama, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, Elon Musk and others. It should be fun! And I am thrilled to have the opportunity to make an impact.


A question came in from a potential client last night, and after writing a long answer, I thought it was probably a good idea to blog it and place the answer on my site!

The question was for a potential European event, and really had to do with whether I could work with an a European / international audience, be respectful in my timing, work with the translation team, work with simultaneous transition, and provide enough regional or localized content.

The answer is yes, yes, yes and yes….!

On stage in Sao Paolo for the Worldskills global conference. My audience featured individuals from 85 countries.

My mother tongue is English, and sadly, while I don’t speak any other languages (despite some 10 years of French lessons in elementary and high school!), I regularly speak on an international basis. This involves working with translators. focusing on international content, and working to keep my pace slow enough for the audience to be respectful of their needs.

Here’s the critical background on the international work that I do:

  • global audiences. I do a LOT of international work; I’ve presented in Sao Paolo, Budapest, Munich, Athens, Stuttgart, Prague, London, Paris, Brussels, Ghent, Stockholm, Zurich, Tokyo, Mexico …. and in all of these situations, have ensured that I have slowed my pace to be respectful of the audience.
  • simultaneous translation. Many of these events have featured onsite translation through headsets; the fact is, I regularly do sessions that feature simultaneous translation, and know the criticality of sharing the deck in advance with the translation team
  • advance translation planning. In some cases, I have done a Skype or Google Hangout walkthrough with the translation team of my slide deck, so that they are comfortable with the content and direction
  • a long track record with stage translation. I’m based in Canada and have been on stage for 25 years. Given that, my earlier years featured several hundred (!) events that have involved simultaneous translation (English/French) with headsets/translations. It’s just a thing in Canada!
  • sequential translation experience! My Budapest event actually featured sequential translation into Hungarian as opposed to simultaneous translation. Tthat was kind of fun, since my translator was actually on stage with me, followed me around, and even mimicked my stage actions!

There are many relevant examples of the international work I have done.

  • I just keynoted Nikon’s 100th anniversary dinner in Tokyo, with an audience from 37 countries. I provided my slide deck in advance to the translation team; I was simultaneously translated into Chinese and Japanese.
  • in January, I keynoted the first leadership meeting for Ulker; the parent company is Turkish, and the meeting represented the entities of the corporate group with the leadership team for Godiva Chocolates (Belgium), Ulker Biscuits (Turkey) and McVitie’s Biscuits (UK),  but with individuals from each of those 3 groups from around the world; a secondary booking had me with Godiva’s global supply chain team from 25 countries. Both massively global audiences.
  • Accenture had me speak at their annual energy conference in San Francisco; we had utility executives from China, Japan, Russia, Philippines, India, and 26 other countries. In that case, I was simultaneously translated into Russian, Chinese, Spanish and Japanese!
  • my keynote for the Worldskills conference in Sao Paolo featured simultaneous translation into Portuguese and Spanish.

In addition to speaking internationally, I often do Fortune 500 events that feature a leadership team from around the world. Some recent examples are global leadership meetings for Dow Chemical in Wilmington (2 events) with individuals from 57 countries; Disney (27 countries); and dozens, dozens more. So can I work with an international/European audience? Definitely yes. (Plus, when I mentioned for the Ulker group that I was Canadian, I got cheers. I think that the Canadian brand image is kind of fun right now!)

The other question that often comes up has to do with regional content, as in European specific examples/storylines. Can I customize my content so that it doesn’t include just American examples. (Well, did I mention I’m Canadian?)

It’s not the cover of the Rolling Stone, but I was once featured on the cover of CEO Magazine Hungary. The only speech where I had armed guards in the room with Uzis! But that’s another story for another time!

The answer is yes – I can easily and often do that do that. Many of the client bookings above have involved a necessity where my examples include global, not North American centric examples.I am regularly booked and work with content that is specific to the folks in the room. And so my Godiva Chocolate supply chain event included retail trends from Asia, India, the Middle East. My Dow Chemical talk took a look at global trends with examples for many of the different groups in the room.

The fact is, I do *extensive* research as a part of my talk, and regionalization is part of what I bring to the table if we need to do that with the content.

I work hard to alleviate the concerns of any clients who book me, and this includes translation and internationalization.

So – pick up the phone and call me. Let’s chat!

Disruption is real, it’s big, and it’s happening faster than you think. My job as a futurist has me doing an increasing number of CEO level events for Fortune 500 companies around the world, participating in leadership meetings which are focused on the massive transformations and disruption occurring in every single industry. Clients such as NASA, Disney, Godiva, Nikon, Mercedes Benz, Johnson & Johnson, and many more.

There is so much coming together all at once, and it accelerates everything. You might not understand the multiple trends that are coming together, so let me take you there.

Here’s what you need to think about today, as the pace of change picks up:

1. Multiple trends merge. There’s a lot going on! Individually, any trend is disruptive. Combine them together, and it’s transformative. 3D printing, exponentiating bandwidth, hyper-connectivity, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, neural networks, deep analytics, autonomous vehicles, Bitcoin and blockchain, self-learning systems. All of these trends and more are merging together,  leading to a massively new, connected, intelligent machine that will transform, change, challenge and disrupt every industry.

2 Every company becomes a software company. From healthcare to insurance, home appliances to automotive, manufacturing to packaging, retail to sports & fitness, energy to agriculture: every industry is seeing massive change as it becomes enabled, challenged and transformed by technology and connectivity. From precision agriculture to self-driving cars, smart clothing to connected microwaves, remote medical monitoring devices to active packaging  — every company in every industry is becoming a computer company, with software and technology at its heart and soul.

3. Moore’s law innovation speed defines every industry. It’s the rule that defines that the processing power of a computer chip constantly increases while the cost collapses at an exponential rate — and that speed of change is coming to drive the speed of innovation in every single industry as we all become tech companies. Companies are having to innovate and transform at a pace never seen before.

Read more

Another article on a recent keynote I did on the future of manufacturing; in this case, from The Fabricator, the publication for the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association.

A chat with futurist Jim Carroll indicates that fabricators should be open to embracing technological possibilities or risk being left behind.

At one time you needed a room of skilled craftsmen just to make even a simple prototype. Tomorrow it might all be done by the design engineers themselves in hours instead of days because of advanced 3-D modeling software and virtual reality technology.

In helping out with some editorial preparation for The FABRICATOR’s sister magazine, Canadian Metalworking, I had the opportunity to chat with futurist Jim Carroll. (He gave the opening keynote address for the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show on Sept. 25.) Conversations with such industry and societal observers are always interesting because they take the time to consider what may be possible in the years to come while others have their heads buried in the drudgery of everyday life. My talk with Carroll was no different, and the following three conversation highlights only promise to make those that are technology-averse even more nervous about the future.

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The folks at New Equipment Digest interviewed me a few weeks back for an article on manufacturing,  ahead of a major keynote I had earlier this month.

You’ll have a 50-year old guy or lady in the factory, and you bring these tools to help streamline processes and they say, “Oh my God! This is terrible that can take my job away. I’m done; I’m toast.” And somebody in their 20’s is going to say, “cool.” It’s a much more agile workforce, much more willing to try new things.

It’s but one talk I do in this sector; on Monday, I’ll headline the International Asset Management Council on future manufacturing trends. They’re the folks from Fortune 1000 organizations who make the decisions on where to locate future factories, logistics locations and supply chain investments.

Futurist Says “Fast & Furious” Changes Coming to Manufacturing

Forget your Magic 8-Ball or fancy-schmancy predictive analytics. Futurist Jim Carroll knows what lies ahead for manufacturing and technology, and we have the scoop for you here. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
John Hitch | Sep 21, 2017

Jim Carroll, a former accountant and current author/corporate speaker, is confident he knows what’s going to happen in the world of manufacturing. And the world renowned Canadian futurist doesn’t need a flux capacitor or any other sci-fi MacGuffin to make bold claims in front of millions about what technologies they need to adopt now, and what the world will look like for our children after we’re rocketed to our Martian retirement homes — where our corpses will no doubt be used as fertilizer for space yams. (You’re welcome, Elon.)

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On stage, I have a little bit of fun pointing out that the cartoon below seems to summarize  the state of the political situation in the US today. I used it a few weeks ago when I keynoted the Nevada Economic Development Conference, with a talk that look a look at the opportunities for growth in the state through trends other than gaming and tourism.

“We’re going to get to the 22nd century,” Carroll said. “We’re not going back to the 1950s. There are those who say, let’s focus on coal and wave a magic wand and bring back these manufacturing jobs, which are dead gone and not going to happen. If we look at the world of manufacturing, it’s all about robotics and 3-D printing. It’s all about mass customization and about the ability to design products faster and get them to market faster and highly intelligent connected products.”

Appropriately enough, my keynote featured the title: “The Jetsons Arrive 50 Years Early: What Are the Economic Development Implications?” (I love my job!). My talk examined the rapid evolution of science, business models, hyper connectivity, intelligent highways and autonomous vehicles, the future of agriculture and many other accelerating trends.

I guess it went well: the feedback just came in from the individual who booked me: “You were amazing.  Your presentation exceeded our expectations.  Your knowledge and insights were intriguing and inspirational!

After my talk, I had a chance to chat with a reporter for the Las Vegas Business Press, who ran an article about the conference. An excerpt from the article appears below. Obviously, the decision by Amazon to locate a 2nd headquarters somewhere had the attention of everyone in Las Vegas, as in every other jurisdiction in North America.

But the future isn’t just about Amazon! It involves a region aligning itself to the trends of the Jetsons in the 21st century, rather than trying to find hope in the era of the Flintstones of the past!

New Amazon headquarters buzz of Nevada Economic Development Conference
Las Vegas Business Press, September 2017

One of the speakers was Jim Carroll, a futurist and expert on trends and innovation and author of “The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast.” He said there’s a massive number of global trends and Amazon and online shopping is one that’s providing jobs and future economic growth. Robotics and artificial intelligence are part of the story line of the future as well.

Carroll said Northern Nevada landing the Tesla electric car gigabattery factory shows there are no limits of what the state can attract.

There’s an opportunity here, and Nevada is waking up to the fact that it’s not about agriculture, gaming and tourism,” Carroll said. “There’s a lot of other big trends going on in the world of which Amazon is just one. Why not get into the mindset that we can pursue all of these things?

Carroll said he speaks at conferences across the country, and there’s going to be a lot of competition to land Amazon and it seems that every state and metropolitan area is going after the headquarters.

“When it comes to Amazon, every jurisdiction in North America wants it,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be a massive competition. It got the attention of every single development group in North America.”

Nobody knows what’s Amazon’s preference is for locating the second headquarters, Carroll said. The company will be looking for skills, incentives and locations. It’s possible executives want a location closer to the center of the country, he said.

I think first and foremost any region shouldn’t get into defeatist mindset,” Carroll said. “We’re never going to get ahead if that’s the way we think. That’s why I encourage people to start with a positive mindset.

Carroll repeated that Amazon is only one of what will be many “big new initiatives” and companies that regions can pursue. He said the future will be about batteries, and it’s not just about Tesla’s electric cars but batteries in drones and for utilities and energy.

Amazon is but one thing of many things happening out there,” Carroll said. “What Nevada needs to do is get the mindset of how do we position ourselves for one of these many things beginning to unfold?

Carroll said the trends are heading toward “the world of “The Jetsons,” citing the 1960s futuristic cartoon. But instead of looking at the 22nd century, many want to stay in the world of “The Flintstones,” Carroll said of the 1960s cartoon depicting the dinosaur age.

We’re going to get to the 22nd century,” Carroll said. “We’re not going back to the 1950s. There are those who say, let’s focus on coal and wave a magic wand and bring back these manufacturing jobs, which are dead gone and not going to happen. If we look at the world of manufacturing, it’s all about robotics and 3-D printing. It’s all about mass customization and about the ability to design products faster and get them to market faster and highly intelligent connected products.”

Nevada is making the right bet focusing on solar and wind energy and microgrids, Carroll said. It’s about the acceleration of energy science rather than coal, he said.
Nevada shouldn’t worry about trying and failing like it did in landing a Faraday Future electric car plant in North Las Vegas, only to have the project stopped before it began, he said.

There’s a lot of angst about the car plant that didn’t go ahead, and my take is you have to try that,” Carroll said. “Some of that stuff works and some of it doesn’t, but you got to make sure you are out there and hitch yourself to a horse. Sometimes you fall off and have to get up again.


Companies that don’t yet exist, will build products that are not yet conceived, based on ideas not yet invented, with manufacturing methodologies that have not yet been conceived. Are you ready for the new world of disruption?

That’s the reality of manufacturing today, and that will be the focus on my keynote next week when I open the Canadian Manufacturing Technology show in Toronto, Canada.

The reality of our future is found in the quote above, and in this video clip here:

The folks at Canadian MetalWorking/Canadian Fabricating and Welding, reached out to me for an advance look at some of the topics and issues I’ll cover in my talk.


Seek Out Opportunities for Innovation
Canadian MetalWorking, September 2017

When reinventing manufacturing, the reality is that manufacturers need to focus on new business models with agility and flexibility while quickly raising up production. If the manufacturing sector in a particular nation wants to be the leader in the industry, it must start to think like a tinkerer economy by accelerating change.

This is the view of futurist Jim Carroll, who espouses the concept that prototyping and concept development will continue to mature in the near future, all while becoming more and more important to the manufacturing sector.

He says by building flexibility into the process, manufacturing companies can bring new technologies and new generations to the market faster than ever before and seeing their profits skyrocket.

Canadian Metalworking caught up with Carroll before his opening keynote speech at CMTS 2017. Here’s what he had to say.

CM: For a small and mid-sized Canadian manufacturing companies, where should they be in terms of technology adoption during this period of Industry 4.0?

Carroll: No. 1 they need to appreciate what is happening out there and be willing to accept that things are changing at a relatively significant speed. Some high-level trends such as robotics, digital factory, and 3-D printing may not be applicable for small industries, but this does not mean that they should not be aware that these trends can affect the future of their industry. Understand what is happening out there and start small.

There are a lot of opportunities out there, for instance, if you take 3-D printing, there are a lot of contract 3-D printing facilities. Last week I was talking about a company that is positioning themselves like the Uber for 3-D printing. If you can conceive a product using your CAM software and ship them the files, they will find a 3-D printer with the [needed] capability and match you up with them so that you can do your prototype. Where 3-D printing is accelerating fairly quickly is in rapid prototyping design.

You might be a 100 person or smaller company, but you can certainly experiment with this technology to figure out what is going on, rather than thinking 3-D printing is something farfetched from science fiction, because it is not. The best thing is to think big, start small, and scale fast.

CM: Some companies are dragging their feet and are not integrating advanced technology into their operations. What sort of warning would you offer up to these manufacturing companies?

Carroll: No matter who you are or what you do, fascinating things are emerging out there regarding these significant trends. So, spend time figuring out what you can utilize today and tomorrow to turn it into an opportunity.

Will the world of manufacturing be fundamentally different in the next five or 10 years? Of course, yes, pushed by the whole issue with jobs skills.

There is no shortage of employment in manufacturing. It’s just that some people don’t have the right skills. For instance, robotics company Genesis Systems, one of the largest robotics manufacturing businesses in Iowa, said to me that it is almost like the typical robotics machine operator in a factory today has to be able to do trigonometry in their heads because it has become so sophisticated.

Brute force, manual routine skills are from the older days. All jobs now require higher level skills. If you are a manufacturer, you have to appreciate what is going on and what it is going to mean regarding the skills you have and the skills you are going to need.

CM: How does the changing pace of technology in a manufacturing environment change the way that these companies maintain and improve their employees’ skills levels?

Carroll: It is generational. There are a lot of baby boomers out there that struggle with technology. Growing up with a punch card, we grew up with a unique relationship with technology. My kids that are 28 and 24 are different, having never seen the world without the Internet. These new generations that are coming to the work force think differently and act differently.

Skills Canada and Skills USA have the initiative to help young people find a career path in skilled trades. Last year I opened their global competition in Saõ Paolo, and they have [hundreds of] kids competing in 75 categories in 400,000 sq. m of space. Advanced welding was among one of the competitions. They have folks who demonstrate virtual welding, how with technology in one room and can theoretically weld from a facility 1,000 miles away. So, get involved with Skills USA or Skills Canada. In the end, it all goes back to understanding what is going on out there and appreciating the acceleration of technology to make a conscious decision to get on board.

CM: Can you provide an example of an organization that is embracing Industry 4.0 and is a good example of manufacturing’s future in North America?

Carroll: I saw this when I was at Amsted Rail in St. Louis, which offers engineered system solutions that combine castings, bearings, wheels, axles, and energy management devices. They always think about what they can do in terms upgrading their technology.

Amsted Rail is frequently bringing new employees from younger generations and set up what they call an “Xboxer,” which means that they let these mid-20s engineers play with all this new technology and figure out how to bring in this new technology into the operation.

CM: Do you feel optimistic about this state of manufacturing in North America given the examples you provided with this mid-sized companies looking at their business at a different way?

Carroll: Things like collaborative robotics, digital factory, and additive are going provide a significant transformation of what manufacturing is. The rest of the world is going to go there, and you are not going to slow down the acceleration of science and the technology. There is a choice, either you get on board, or you don’t.

CM: What technologies do you think manufacturers should be keeping a close eye on?

Carroll: Two things. 3-D printing and accelerated material science will have the most impact in manufacturing for at least the next five years.

3-D printing is moving forward at a furious pace. For instance, there is one coming along called CLIP [continuous liquid interface production], which is almost out of the Transformers movie. Seeing that type of acceleration, what took something like 14 hours before now takes about 6.5 minutes with CLIP technology. Additive is real. It has a huge role now in rapid prototyping and iterative design.

Look at aerospace. Airbus and Boeing have figured out that they can 3-D print and develop parts of planes with a structure that are 40 per cent lighter. From that perspective, companies are starting to see what they can achieve with these fascinating new materials driven by science.


The folks at the Precision Metalforming Association were putting together their 75th anniversary issue of Metalforming magazine, and wanted to share with their readers that it’s better to align yourself to the trends of the future rather than the opportunities of the past.

And they found me! We had a long interview, which appeared in their July publication. Parts are reprinted below.

I do A LOT of manufacturing keynotes. The reality is, tomorrows’ manufacturing is unlike that of today.

You can choose to adopt to the future, or wish you were in the past. So — are you George, or Fred?

2017 and Beyond by Brad Kuvin
A futurist and expert in trends and innovation examines what he refers to as the “modern-day leadership dilemma”–heading toward the Jetsons when you have a bunch of Flintstones around!

Futurist Jim Carroll noted in a blog post earlier this year that “while the majority of my audience appreciates a whirlwind ride into the future, there are others who just wish the future would go away… Leaders today must steer their organizations into a fast-paced future—through the shoals of disruption, the emergence of new competitors, technology, automation and other challenges—while understanding that there is a core group that will do little to embrace that change. It’s the Flintstones and the Jetsons, in one workplace!

Carroll has been providing his insights and speaking to organizations about the future for more than 25 years.MetalForming asked him to help us commemorate PMA’s 75 anniversary by sharing his manufacturing outlook over the next 5 to 10 years, and explaining why it’s critical that we embrace and address the change that’s coming.

At the crux is the increasing need, he says, to react more quickly than ever to changing/evolving customer preferences, and the shortening of product lifecycles. Manufacturers must be driven to react quickly to new demands and requirements. In the shop this plays out as more tooling adjustments and changeovers, more flexible scheduling and the ability to react to a slew of design changes.

Upside-Down Innovation

This represents a complete turnaround from how manufacturers currently think about doing things, Carroll says. And, the impact ripples through the supply chain. Suppliers must, for example, become rapid prototypers, and master the iterative design process.

We used to be able to design a product, build a model, test it and then launch production,” Carroll says. “Now it’s design, test, redesign, test, redesign, etc…an iterative process that, thanks to disruptive technologies such as additive manufacturing, allow suppliers to efficiently optimize product designs and, ultimately, provide better-performing products.”

For suppliers living in this world of upside-down innovation, “it’s critical, looking toward the future, to become unstuck from the reactive mode,” Carroll notes. “Instead, suppliers must become active partners with their customers in this iterative design and rapid-prototyping cycle. Be more active and less reactive, and look for opportunities to innovate.”

Carroll’s above-referenced blog postnotes that “there remain folks who just refuse to participate in the inevitability of the future, and that can be a significant leadership, strategic challenge…Many people today feel that the world is moving way too fast for them, and that the pace of change is overwhelming.

In a recent poll of seminar attendees, Carroll found that many organizations do in fact feel overwhelmed by change, and that many executives believe that they don’t really need to do anything to deal with it.

“In other words,” Carroll says, “they believe that the future can be safely ignored. I use the ‘Jetsons-meets-the-Flintstones’ concept as a joke, but it’s not—this is a real and substantive leadership issue. As a CEO or senior executive, how are you going to align a fast-paced future—one full of challenge and opportunity—to an organization where a significant number of people don’t think that the future will impact them?



Over the years, I’ve done many talks within the manufacturing industry, putting into perspective the real trends and opportunities for innovation that will allow for reinvention of this sector. Lots of CEOs are bringing me in for a leadership meeting, knowing that their future will come from aligning to fast paced trends (as opposed to wishful thinking as found in the current political environment). Much of the opportunity for innovation in the  sector involves advanced technologies, digitization, new manufacturing methodologies and process — and of course, 3D printing or additive manufacturing.

I’ve been speaking on stage about 3D printing for well over ten years. The concept of having a printer that can ‘print’ physical things is a fascinating one, and is evolving at a furious pace. Earlier this week, I did a talk for a manufacturing organization in New Haven, CT, that included a detailed overview of who is doing innovative work in this area. I’ll blog about that later.

For now, though, a lot of the opportunity from 3D printing comes from the ability for rapid prototyping and design. It unshackles organizations from having to commit to a full production run upon finalizing a product design; instead, it leads to an iterative process in which the product design can be continually changed. In addition, there is quite a bit of ‘grassroots’, tinkering innovation around 3D printing, with folks fooling around in their garage or home workshop to developing fascinating new products. They can then use contract 3D printing manufacturers to turn their ideas into a physical product.

To that end, here’s a great story! Last year, when I was the opening keynote speaker for the annual PGA Merchandise show, I spoke to the Professional Golfers Association as to how quickly 3D printed golf clubs will become an opportunity for innovation within the game. Watch the clip.

Imagine my surprise the other day when I’m out for a round at my home golf club, Credit Valley Golf and Country Club, and meet a fellow member named Gary Woolgar. He’s actually 3D printing his own custom wedges, using his first prototype on that day. (I’m not quite sure I understand the design concept, but then again, my golf game is a bit of a shambles right now).

It’s such a fascinating story that I told it on stage last week when I headlined a session on manufacturing innovation for a global, $2 billion company. Watch this clip too!

This is one of the most exciting aspects of 3DPrinting — the world around is changing at a furious pace, and sometimes, its driven by engineers who have an idea, the tools to test the idea, and the initiative to make it work. Organizations need to embrace the same type of thinking: grassroots innovation, tinkering, and trying out new ideas, methodologies and technologies.

If you are in the manufacturing sector, you need to empower your team to do the types of things that Gary is doing. It’s only be experimenting with the tools of the fast pace future that you can discover the opportunities they will present. In other words, you need more guys like Gary around!


This fall, I’m headling a major retail event in Las Vegas – Xcelerate 2017! Details are here.


There’s a lot of change underway – and certainly, the Amazon/Whole Foods situation is a wake up call for everyone. I’ve been speaking about the decline and transformation of traditional retail for over 20 years. In the 1990’s, I even wrote a book about e-commerce that was translated into German and Russian, as well as being picked up and distributed by Visa USA to it merchants.

Retailers must scramble to keep up with fast paced change. Maybe that’s why Godiva Chocolates has had me to Europe twice this year for insight on what’s going on.

Here’s the description for my September keynote.

The Disruption and Reinvention of Retail: Aligning to the World of Speed  

It’s hard to discount the speed of change occurring in the world of retail and consumer products. Consider this: E-commerce could be 25% of the retail – grocery and convenience — experience by 2021. Shopper marketing,” which combines location intelligence, mobile technology and in-store display technology for a new form of in-store promotion, continues to move forward. Mobile payment involving Apple Pay and disappearance of the cash-register, providing opportunity and challenge with loyalty, infrastructure and disruption. Then there is Amazon Alexa, AI and shopping bots! Simply talk and products are added to your shopping cart, and delivered within an hour! Let’s not stop — there’s also the rapid installation of “click and collect” infrastructure (i.e. an online purchase, with same day pickup at a retail location). And last but not least, the arrival of active, intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products, collapsing product life-cycles, rapid product obsolescence and the implications on inventory and supply chain!

We are going to see more change in the world of retail in the next 5 year than we have seen in the last 100. Savvy brands, retailers, shopping mall and retail infrastructure companies are working to understand these trends, and what they need to do from an innovation perspective to turn them from challenge to opportunity.  Futurist Jim Carroll will help us to understand the tsunami of change sweeping retail.

When the GAP went looking for a trends and innovation expert to speak to a small, intimate group of senior executives, they chose Jim Carroll. He has been the keynote speaker for some of the largest retail conferences in the world, with audiences of up to 7,000 people in Las Vegas, including Consumer Goods Technology Business & Technology Leadership Conference • Subway • Multi-Unit Franchise Conference Las Vegas • Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit • Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit • Retail Value Chain Federation • Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) Global Leadership Conference • Burger King Global Franchise Meeting • VIBE (Very Important Beverage Executives) Summit • Manufacturing Jewelers Suppliers of America • National Home Furnishings Association • Do It Best Corporation • US Department of Defence Commissary Agency • Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Group Branding/Retail Summit • Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association • National Association of Truck Stop Operators • Convenience U annual conference • Point of Purchase Advertising International Association • Chain Drug Store Association of Canada • Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors • Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers


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