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

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

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

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

As a futurist, I’m often called on by Fortune 1000 organizations to speak at their global leadership meetings, you get a sense as to what CEO’s and senior executives are concentrating on.

Key trend? 10 years ago, the concept of ‘collaboration’ was not. No more – now, it’s speed. And specifically, agility in the executive offices and leadership team. That’s why this is my 3rd trend for 2019 is “The Era of Agility.”

Organizations must now deal with the emergence of new issues, challenges and opportunities faster than ever before. Shortly after I spoke at a retail conference in Las Vegas, I was interviewed on the issue of leadership agility.

It’s a frequent topic on stage – here’s a clip in which I spin the story as to how the concept of ‘agile’ has transitioned from the world of software to the boardroom.

If you’re an IT person, you get it. CEO’s are getting it too.

Over a 25 year time span, I have built a remarkably successful career as a speaker, speaking to organizations worldwide about future trends, what comes next, and how best to get there. Take a look at my client list; many of the world’s biggest and most prestigious organizations have had me in for my insight. I must have some views and insight that are worthwhile.

Often, I am booked directly by those who find me online, but I am also regularly booked by some of the largest, most prestigious speakers bureaus in the world. Folks like the Washington Speakers Bureau and Canada’s National Speakers Bureau, among countless others – probably the top 30 agencies in the world actively work with me. I’ve spent a great deal of time over 20 years to build and nurture a relationship with these folks. It’s a pretty exclusive club — I am booked by the same people who book Barak and Michelle Obama, George W. Bush, various astronauts and business executives, sports figures, entertainers and more. It’s not a stretch to say that I operate at the elite level of the global speaking industry, with audiences of several thousand, in locations like Dubai, Oman, Tokyo, London and Washington.

In my spare time, my wife and business partner Christa volunteer our time to a local charity near our ski chalet north of Toronto. To that end, I would like you to watch this video clip about this group, known as Events for Life.

Events for Life provides daytime activities for young disabled adults; we have young people with autism and other disabilities, as well as those with Down Syndrome. Our goal is to give them a pathway and activities that helps them to live an enriching life. We are overjoyed with the results.

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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?

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Do you want to book the same old boring speaker who will show up and deliver a canned message – or do you want to book someone who truly cares, and goes the extra mile? If you are like most people, you’ll do what you’ve alway done, and will end up with the same old boring, predictable, uninspiring leadership event. That’s sad.

The Admiral Beverage Group in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has booked me to come in for an upcoming leadership meeting that will focus on the future of retail, consumer behaviour and more. They join good company – organizations like Disney, The GAP and Godiva Chocolates have had me in for similar events.

To get the leadership team thinking in advance about the event, I went and filmed this little video clip about the event, trends and more. Give it a watch!

Then ask yourself – are you going to go out and book the same old boring speakers like you always do – or do you want to kick up your event a notch?

“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.

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Beneath the surface of normalcy lies a hidden layer of complexity. And the fact is, we are building a big, global, complicated machine, and it’s obvious that people don’t know how to secure it, ignore the challenges, or take advantage of those who don’t understand what is going on.

What do South Park, Pineapple’s, the BBC and admin:admin have in common? Watch this!

If there was one word in the security industry in 2017, it was this: Equifax. I don’t even need to explain…..

Yet going forward, we will continue to see many more Equifax situations that will result in the destruction of billions of dollars of corporate value. Some CEO’s will be held accountable; others won’t. Yet the sad fact is that entire companies will disappear to avoidable negligence with respect to security and infrastructure issues. The trend will become accelerated as technology driven disruption comes to drive forward every industry. We might one day see a car company go bankrupt — not because of fraudulent diesel mileage manipulation, but because someone hacked into the internal IT engine of millions of cars through a known backdoor.

Add to that the fact that 2018 will probably be characterized by the emergence of cryptocurrency scams as one of the leading news computer related news stories of 2018. You simply can’t have an important trend go supernova without a lot of fraudulent activities coming to the forefront as people “rush in to share the riches.” Blockchain is a critically important and transformative trend, but as with any trend, the good will come with the bad. I suspect that we will see not only individuals make stupid mistakes as they work to cash in without knowing what they are doing — but corporations and government as well.

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Being on stage in front of some of some of the world’s leading organizations and senior executives, you get the opportunity to address a lot of unique topics.

And with 25 years of doing this, I believe that I’ve highlighted trends from just about every perspective possible! Including, for example, issues involving understanding, managing and minimizing a world of accelerated risk.

So it was that I found myself on stage in front of senior corporate legal counsel for a good portion of the global Fortune 500 at two events in Chicago and Dallas last month, as the opening keynote speaker for the annual Baker McKenzie client conference.

Baker McKenzie is big – it is one of the top global legal firms, with 13,000 employees, of who 4,700 are lawyers, in 77 offices across 47 countries. The client list is simply unparalleled: I had folks from AT&T, Intel, 7-11, Citi, Bell Helicopter, BP, Ericsson, JCPenney, Allstate, JPMorgan Chase, McDonalds, GM, Hyatt, Oracle, Pizza Hut, Southwest Airlines and a few hundred more others in the rooms. (Fun fact: many of the companies at the events are included in my own client base.)

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We will see more change in every industry in the next 10 years than we have seen in the last 100 as transformation and disruption sweeps the world.

Every company is faced with the rapid emergence of new competitors, significant new business models, more challenging consumers, the acceleration of science a race to the pricing bottom, and a transition to the speed of innovation that will define their future. How do you get ahead? By turning on your innovation engine, firing your creativity thrusters, and strapping in for a rocket ride into your faster future.

In this keynote, futurist and innovation expert Jim Carroll shares the insight that he has gained by spending the last 25 years with a relentless focus on what turns organizations into high-velocity innovation heroes. None other than NASA has invited Jim in – twice – to share his insight on innovation strategies.

Innovative organization accelerate their creativity by turning their innovation engines upside down, focusing on customer oriented innovation and other unique models. They excel at sourcing ideas from the outside, turning that unique insight into fuel for their internal innovation factories. They challenge themselves on speed by getting into an iterative process of constantly rethinking, adjusting and redoing in order to discover the next best thing. They challenge themselves on business cycles, time to market and more.

In accelerated organizations, partnership is a key focus, collaboration is critical, agility is oxygen and imagination is relentlesss.

Launch yourself into the faster future with this unique, high energy keynote for global futurist, trends & innovation expert Jim Carroll!

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For just over a year, I’ve started every workday morning with a cup of coffee, my laptop, and a photo from one of the stages on which I’ve appeared.

I’m thrilled to say that magically, this little bit of morning mediation has now turned into my next book!

Here’s the backstory – each morning, I find a photo from one of the countless stages on which I’ve appeared, where I’ve been busy talking about the future and trends. I spend some time, while sipping my coffee, thinking about the story that I was telling on stage for that particular photo. I wrap that story into an inspirational quote, work it into the photo, and release it into the world.

The reaction has been pretty remarkable – it seems to be touching people! When released, the quote goes up on Instagram, and is automatically blasted out to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. I figure that about now, the daily photo reaches about 50,000 people each day.

Those quotes have now morphed into my next book – an active work in progress – #38! I anticipate a release in the 2nd quarter of 2018. The working title? “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Stories from the Stage on Innovation, Disruption and the Accelerating Future.”

The books goes behind the scenes on many of these photos — which really are my observations that people have on hope, fear, the future and change. As a futurist and a speaker, you are in a really unique situation to observe how people choose to cope with what comes next. Some do – many don’t. There are powerful lessons to be learned from how people react to the future, and how they deal with change.

It’s been almost 5 years since I’ve released a book, and I am tremendously exited to be working on this one. What seems to be coming together is 25 years of insight from having the ability to share my thoughts on the future, trends, disruption and acceleration with over 2 million people from the stage.

Stay tuned!

Oh, if you want to see the quotes behind the book, take a look. And hit the links over on the right to follow me on various social networks and to see each new quote early every workday morning. Get inspired!

 

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