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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.

When I spoke in Oman last November, I spent a little bit of my time on stage talking about artificial intelligence. It caught the attention of the folks from Gulf Construction, the most prestigious publication in the Middle East when it comes to the construction industry. They asked if I might put down my thoughts on the role, impact and timing of A.I. and robotics within the industry.

AI in construction? It’s simply the next step in the digitisation of the industry. As we go down the technology path, we follow its inevitable result.

 


AI In Construction – Massively Transformative
In an exclusive article for Gulf Construction, JIM CARROLL, futurist, trends and innovation expert, highlights the far-reaching impact of artificial intelligence on the construction industry.
Gulf Construction News, January 2019 (link)

Artificial intelligence (AI), the very phrase conjures up images of futuristic mechanical brains doing all kinds of intelligent work. Scare stories abound – AI and robots are going to take away all of our jobs! Science fiction scenarios paint a picture of enslaved humans being subjected to the evil whims of smart computer technology.

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What’s the essence of the trend? Simply put, you likely don’t have the skills that you need to get into our faster, more complicated future. You’ve got machine operators, but you need 3D printing experts; land surveyors when you require location intelligence professionals; or gas engine designers when you need experts in penguin behaviour.

The issue of having the right skills at the right time for the right purpose has long been one of  my key mantras from the stage.

The impact? Find your penguins! 

You never knew that you’d need to find the specialized skills who know the things that you never knew you needed to know! Here’s a few clips from the stage where I’m speaking to the issue of specialized skills.

Why penguins? Penguins hunt in groups & synchronize their dives to catch fish.  

Studying how they do so could provide invaluable insight into the evolution of self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are connected by telemetry, LIDAR and other technologies, and will operate in a pack mentality to coordinate their efforts. 

This permits the emergence of ‘pelotons’ — connected ‘trains’ of vehicles in communication with each other, and in communication with intelligent, connected smart highway technology. 

Penguins are great in travelling in packs, so why not learn how they do it, and engineer that into autonomous vehicle technology…. and so studying how nature does this will provide deep insight into what to do this with cars and trucks.

Do you know what penguin experts you’ll need?

#6 – The Gaming Generation Redefines the Future of Work

Farmville redefines farming. Fortnite leads to virtual welding. League of Legends leads to digital twin virtual surgery. These kids accelerate virtual tech, because the skills they have picked up within the gaming world come into the workplace, and redefine the world of work. Gaming and virtual reality collide with robotics and more.

In many of my events, I talk about the real significance of the gaming generation while on stage. You see them playing Fortnite – I see them developing skills for our virtual world and the virtualization of industries.

Just-in-time knowledge. The acceleration of knowledge. Faster emergence of new issues. Skills specialization.

Over 25 years, I have spoken to dozens of professional services firms, including the largest global law and accounting firms. I recently filmed a pre-event video for a global law firm for whom I’m speaking – and cut this generic version from what we did. It’s a good watch for insight on what comes next!

While I often speak to audiences of 500 to 7,000, including large scale Las Vegas events, I also spend a *lot* of time with CEO’s and other senior management teams in small, leadership oriented events, providing a key message on the necessity for innovation in the high velocity economy.

In fact, it’s long been one of the fastest growing areas of my business: my clients include events for companies seen in the list below!

These are highly customized events : by way of example, I’ve gone in and done a talk for Whirlpool/Maytag on the future of home appliances in the era of IoT (Internet of Things); Disney on the future of consumer behaviour; the BBC on the future of broadcasting; and New York Life on the future of insurance in the era of business model disruption.

There are well over 100’s more with very customized industry talks.

Recently I’ve been filming some videos in advance of these corporate offsite events; these are distributed to attendees in advance to get their creative juices flowing! Here are 3 recent ones.

Great companies establish a culture of high velocity leadership, so they are prepared for the rapid economic, market and industry change that surrounds them.  In that vein, I’m often retained by the CEO or other senior management representatives in order to provide a presentation that will help to shape the strategic direction of the organization.

In a nutshell, these talks cover very specific industry trends, challenges and opportunities, based on highly original research, and can often include an interactive discussion that addresses a variety of issues, including:

  • establishing forward-oriented leadership skills
  • shifting your culture from fearing threat to capitalizing on opportunity
  • promoting innovation, flexibility and adaptability
  • establishing an innovation culture based on creativity, curiosity, courage, collaboration and change-awareness
  • encouraging a certainty culture in the presence of rapid change.


Want to learn more? Inquire into Jim’s Availability

Send some details, and he will get back to you in person as quickly as possible!

So, I had a potential client ask, “do you have any really futuristic video clips that don’t involve some of the trends of today?”

I’m not quite sure what the question actually means – interpreting what a client is looking for is sometimes a great mystery, which is why I always suggest that they jump on an exploratory conference call with me.

But if a client wants freaky futuristic stuff, I’ve got that too. Here’s a clip, where I’m on stage at the World Government Summit, talking about a future in which we might enhance the ability and capacity of our brains through Human-Computer Interface technology and off-brain storage, through what I would call a Yottabit ball. Sort of the type of stuff we might see in 2030 or further out.

The fact is, we will witness the next evolution of the size of the human brain with this type of thinking. Like, wires that go from our brain into a crystal ball that will help us to offload some of our thinking and brain processing. Current trends with HCI might lead us to this type of future.

But I don’t do a lot of this type of thing on stage. I really find that freaky doesn’t work in getting people to align themselves to the future.

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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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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=”Read more” less=”Read less”] 4. Science exponentiates. The volume of medical knowledge is doubling every six years, and the number is going down. The cost for genomic sequencing is following an exponential downward curve. Battery technology innovation is moving forward at a furious pace with new methodologies, ideas and more coming to market. One single new chemical substance allowed Apple to miniaturize the hard drive for the original iPod, which led to the birth of a billion dollar industry. Science is the heart of the future, and the future is happening faster!

5. Edge thinking dominates. Crowdfunding networks allow for a world in which small upstarts don’t need to follow long-established ‘rules’ for changing the future. To move faster, they source ideas and inspiration through crowd-thinking, raise their funds through new forms of financing, and prototype products through 3D printing and other fast-to-market methodologies. Global R&D has moved from massive labs to globally dispersed idea factories.

6. Small beats big. Legacy is death: agility and speed are the new metrics for success. Big organizations are often encumbered by history and are suffering from the disease of  organizational sclerosis. New, aggressive upstarts can move faster, with the result that they can make decisions that provide for big disruption and challenge.

7. Ideas accelerate. With the Internet, we have essentially built a big, global idea machine, and fast innovators know how to mine its riches. In every field, the pace of innovation and discovery is speeding up to an unprecedented level. What use to seem like science fiction just a few years ago is todays’ reality.

8. Revenue reinvents – regularly. With fast ideas comes faster innovation : 60% of Apple’s revenue comes from products that didn’t exist 4 years ago. That’s a blistering pace of innovation. Expect that to become the norm in most industries as the future accelerates, product lifecycles collapse, and disruption disrupts.

9. Attention spans collapse. All of this fast change is difficult to comprehend, and so we have become scattershot! We now scan some 12 feet of shelf space per second – a goldfish has a longer attention span than a human. We need to have constant, relentless innovation in terms of marketing, branding and consumer outreach, not to mention what we need to do to engage our workforce!

10. New interaction dominates. Mobile is everything; we live on our devices. It influences everything we do, all that we decide, and much of how we interact with each other. The next phase will involve smart, connected packaging talking to our devices, and a new era of hyper-connectivity that will make todays’ early attempts at mobile marketing seem like child’s play.

11. Business models realign. The Internet of Things (#IoT) doesn’t just result in cool new products – it redefines entire revenue models. The era of predictive diagnostics allows for a future in which appliance or automotive manufacturers can now design products that will tell you when they are about to break down. This changes the essence of the product from a physical device that is sold to the sale of a service with uptime guarantee revenue models.

12. Distributed technologies redefine. When everything connects, power disperses. Micro-grids will change the utility industry as backyard wind, solar and other renewables result in little, local neighbourhood micro-grids. Cars that talk to each other and to sensors in the highway result in a new concept of transportation. Everywhere you look, distributed connected technologies are redefining concepts and turning industries upside down.

13. Money disappears. Sometimes distributed technology have a bigger impact than you think – as is the case with blockchain, which essentially redefines money. Central banks are out, and distributed ledgers are in. Ethereum goes one step further than Bitcoin, by embedding the historical contract concept of an offer and acceptance into the very essence of money. It’s intelligent money, and we still don’t know how quickly this will change everything.

14. Flexibility emerges. Given all this change, companies are focused on agility in order to get ahead. At a manufacturing plant in Graz, Austria, Magna has built the ultimate in flexible assembly lines, with the ability to build different cars from different companies on one assembly line. Elsewhere, companies are busy moving the software concept of agile development into the boardroom, adopting it as a key leadership trait. The ability to change fast is now the oxygen that fuels success.

15. Gamers Game. 25,000 people showed up to watch 4 gamers play a video game tournament in the Los Angeles Staples Centre – and 43 million tuned in worldwide via Twitch, the hottest new social platform on the planet. They’re coming into the workplace, and live in a world that involves a constant need to ‘level-up.’ Nothing will ever be the same as new forms of motivation and reward come to drive everything – and in this world, Xbox-type rooms are the new office!

16. Virtualization arrives. AR and VR are here, and the era of virtual welding is not too far off – and any other skill can be undertaken anywhere, at any time. An example is the forthcoming disruption of trucking, which will happen when a driver in India can navigate a truck through the streets of New York through a virtual headset! Outsourcing of skills is one thing – outsourcing of physical work is a whole new level altogether!

17. Infrastructure risk exponentiates. One word – Equifax. We are busy building a big, elaborate machine in the form of massive connectivity and accelerated information, but don’t quite know how to secure it. The TV show South Park had a character do a shoutout to in-home Amazon Echo and Google Home devices — and exposed a new security risk that no one ever thought about. Expect things to get better much worse before it gets better!

18. Insight influences. Big data and analytics might be overused buzzwords, but not to everyone. We live in a new world of Amazonian insight, where those who have the tools and knowledge to understand what is is really going on are the ones to get ahead. Depth of insight drives disruption – actuaries are moving from a world of looking back to one fo looking forward based on real time medical device connectivity. Car insurance is no longer based on past driving performance, but real time behaviour based on GPS. Even the world of health care is moving from a a world in which we fix you after you are sick – to knowing what you will be sick with based upon your genetic profile, and acting accordingly.

19. Expectations accelerate. If your Web site sucks, so do you. In our new world, people want the simplicity of a Google query via a touch screen device. Gone are the days of complex online forms — in are applications that are instantly aware of who you are and what you want. The bar of expectations is increasing at a furious pace, and if you can’t keep up, you can’t compete!

20. Industries virtualize. No one company can do everything that needs to be done in an era of fast change. In retail, all kinds of new partners are emerging to support last mile shipping, drop shipping capability, drone delivery and more. In finance, there are more types fo Fintech startups than there are world currencies, helping banks to navigate the complex new world of cryptocurrencies and more.

21. Knowledge accelerates. Skills access is the new gold. Did you notice Ford paid $1 billion to get access to some experts in self-driving car technology? Enough said. Those who can access the skills in trend #1 above win. We’re in a global war for niche talent, and that pretty much defines a critical strategy for the future. If it is all about skills, then success involves a strategy in which grabbing them fast is the only path forward.

22. Experience is the new capital. Innovation is the new oxygen. There’s no time to learn, to study, to plan. It’s time to figure out what you don’t know, and do the things that are necessary to begin to know about it. Experiential capital is the new capital for the 21st century.

23. Generations transform. 1 out of 2 people on the planet are under the age of 25. They’re globally wired, entrepreneurial, collaborative, change oriented — and they are now now driving rapid business model change, and industry transformation, as they move into executive positions

24. Big, bold thinking predominates. There are people who grab all of these trends and do “big things.” We are seeing the emergence of an entire world of big dreamers and doers, individuals who dare to challenge the orthodox, and abandon routines. The concept of the ‘moonshot’ is no longer restricted to those with deep pockets — but is oxygen for those with big ideas.

25. Action is the best reaction. Put it all together, and what odes it mean? If you don’t disrupt, you will be disrupted. It’s your ability to quickly act, react and do that will allow for future success. There’s not a lot of time for debate, studying; inertia is abhorred. Simply DO. That should be you.

Remember that song by the Who? “I hope I die before I get old!”

You better change before you can’t.

You might be obsolete before you know it.

Quit talking about disruption.

Do something about it.


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