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The Canadian Society of Association Executives had me write a series of articles with some of the unique challenges presented to associations in the context of fast-trends. Over the new week, I’ll play out these articles in a series of blog posts. They provide good food for though!

Your future members will work in industries, businesses and organizations that evolve faster in terms of their focus, products, services and mandates - what are you doing to challenge your mandate to deal with that?

Your future members will work in industries, businesses and organizations that evolve faster in terms of their focus, products, services and mandates – what are you doing to challenge your mandate to deal with that?

Over 20 years, I’ve keynoted numerous association and meeting professional events. Check the Association section (under Trends) of my Web site for more!

Crowd Thinking

Crowd thinking has replaced most forms of peer research. Most long established medical and science journals have transitioned – big time – accepting a new form of instant crowd thinking as
the best way to evaluate the new world hyper-science. In an instant, a researcher can summon acrowd of vetted, quality specialists who have niche knowledge in a rapidly changing field.

The result? A further acceleration of knowledge and in the pace of the discovery of new ideas and concepts. The impact? Massive velocity in the development of new technologies,pharmaceuticals, medical devices and forms of treatment, agricultural concepts an methodologies — every industry and profession has seen a profound shift bigger than the once amazing macro-knowledge burst of the Manhattan project.

Questions for Association Leaders:

  • Are you capable of migrating the professional education component of our role, so that rapid advances with crowd thinking become part of the curriculum/training?
  •  How quickly will the acceleration of knowledge that comes from crowd thinking challenge our professional skill set?

Here’s a fun little video clip from a keynote this February, when I opened the annual conference for the Association of Test Publishers. These are the folks who manage the LSAT, GMAT’s and other professional skill tests.

We are in a time that has us witnessing the rapid emergence of all kinds of new careers. I’ve been talking about careers such as “robotic pharmaceutical therapy monitors,” “water footprint analysts,” “vertical farming infrastructure managers,” “drone helicopter insurance crop risk managers”, and, of course, manure managers! You’ll find a link for the latter at the bottom of this post.

People don’t realize how quickly every industry is changing; how quickly new careers are evolving; how rapidly business models are changing. This keynote challenged the audience to think about they would have to do in the future to provide testing and certification for rapidly emerging new professions and skills.

My blog back engine pointed out to me this morning that a few articles that I posted to the blog some years back had disappeared. So with that in mind, I’ll repost a few of them in the next few days.

Read Jim's other post - "What do you do after the world get's flat? Put a ripple in it!' Click on the image!

This one is from my June / July 2008 CAMagazine column. It’s still and even more relevant today. Have a good read!

Advice for a flat world

by Jim Carroll, CAMagazine, July 2008

A few years back, I posted an entry to my weblog titled, “What do you do after the world gets flat? Put a ripple in it!”My post came in response to the buzz surrounding the bestselling book The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman.

Executives everywhere were scrambling to understand the impact of a massive global economy; the impact of offshoring and outsourcing; and how business models would be forever changed with increased global competition.

To me, the answer was obvious — innovative organizations should avoid the product commoditization that comes with the flat world. CEOs have two choices: move forward into a world where you are competing on price, or innovate, change and adapt so you are playing in a different, higher-value market.

Of course, not only products have to innovate in a flat world, so do professional skills. There’s no doubt we will continue to see a number of organizations outsource their financial, legal and other backroom functions. Just witness the growth in business process outsourcing or recruitment process outsourcing. Accountants, human resource professionals, legal experts — almost anyone with a professional skill is impacted, unless they move into a higher-tier marketplace.

Given this reality, it might be a good time to assess your career, skills and future options and determine if you want to continue going forward in a commodity market or if you want to up the value of your brand. The obvious answer is to take the latter route. We’re seeing this trend within the profession to a massive degree today: those who develop unique knowledge niches and concentrate on the delivery of very specialized services find themselves in great demand, while those with commodity skills are likely worried about the potential impact of a recession upon their career prospects.

If you focus on career specialization, the flat world is not a threat but an opportunity. It’s become a cliché, but in the much-hyped knowledge economy, those who have special capabilities often truly do have a global marketplace. Today, it is easier than ever to market your skills to that worldwide audience.

With that perspective in mind, I have three pieces of advice. First, it pays to have a blog. I’ve been posting to mine for more than 6 years and discovered that by regularly placing relevant, useful observations online, my position in Google for various topics and phrases has consistently increased. I seem to be in a sellers’ market: I just turned down a request to go to Shanghai to speak on the topic of global trends after a global CFO found my flat-world article online.

Second, invest in online search engine advertising. I’m a big fan of Google AdWords, despite the fact that the media seems to have soured on Google lately. Third, relentlessly track how people are finding your unique skills. I regularly use Google Analytics to examine how other people manage to find me online. By drilling down and seeing what people are searching for, I can adapt and change my areas of focus and expertise.

The same experience could hold true for anyone with unique professional skills. If your focus has been the de- sign and implementation of sophisticated ERP systems, why not reach out to a global audience? If you have mastered certain forensic investigation skills, realize that your market isn’t restricted to a small, local geographic world. In the flat world, the opportunities are wide open.

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