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A report from T. Rowe Price on my recent keynote for the 2011 Investment Symposium follows, where I was one of three keynote speakers (the other two being Colin Powell and Charlie Cook). You can find some blog links to each of the three key themes in the article at the end of the article below.

""We thought Jim was amazing - just the positive message we wanted to leave folks with"

It was a fabulous event, and a great opportunity to get a pretty impressive audience — investment managers for a broad range of investment managers for a broad range of Fortune 1000 organizations, pension funds and government agencies.


Futurist Jim Carroll, one of the world’s leading experts in global trends and innovation, described how advances in technology and human innovation will combine to create positive change in the future. He explained how businesses can be held back by what he calls “aggressive indecision”— postponing action because they are constantly waiting for economic conditions to improve. Carroll noted that as the pace of change accelerates, the companies that prosper will be those that can adapt and innovate most quickly.

Key Points

  • Long-term trends that will lead us into the future. Silicon Valley is redefining everything—industries that get involved with Silicon Valley will be brought up to their speed. One powerful trend is pervasive interconnectivity—the fact that electronic devices are connected and can communicate with each other—as a driving force. For example, a staid industry such as air conditioning and heating benefits when people can control their entire home environment remotely through a cell phone. On the health care front, sensors can monitor the activities of seniors and report any changes in behavior, allowing people to live independently longer. On a more dramatic note, he believes advances in exploring the human genome will change medicine’s focus from reactively treating disease to proactively searching for potential health problems before they occur.
  • The paradox of pessimism and reality. While many business people are pessimistic about the future and believe economic recovery is at least two years away, technological advances are creating the potential for greater productivity and efficiency. For example, the auto industry now has the flexibility to produce in response to demand instead of building huge inventories that may go unsold. Products can also be brought to market much faster to take advantage of changes in consumer tastes.
  • The next generation. The next generation has grown up with rapid advances in technology, so they are at home with change. This familiarity means young people will greatly increase the rate of innovation as they enter the workforce. This group is not afraid to take independent action—50% believe self employment offers more job security than working for a company. The next generation will receive $12 billion to $18 billion in intergenerational wealth transfers in the next 12 years alone, which could help fund their ambition.

  • Major 10 year trend: The future of every industry to be controlled by Silicon Valley Innovation  
  • The new face of manufacturing: agility, insight and execution 
  • Creativity and the new workforce 


2010Faster.jpgWhat should innovative organizations do? When everything is faster still, focus on these things:

  • build up experiential capital – think big, start small, scale fast. The experiential projects are the “start small” part of the equation. Know what you don’t know, and set out to learn those things
  • master collaboration and share: the world is changing too fast, and things are too complex, to do it all on your own. Innovators have mastered the skill of learning from others
  • focus on tactical to strategic transitions: innovators don’t have staff who perform a lot of routine tasks. Each and every single person helps to achieve the core strategic goals of the organization, even if just in a small way
  • monitor global idea cycles: your future is being invented all around you, and you success comes from your ability to plug in, tune in, and turn on
  • fuse generational insight: we’ve got really disparate viewpoints, capabilities and levels of patience amongst generations. Innovators bring these differences together in order to get the best from each generation.
  • take on anticipatory projects: one thing is certain: tomorrow won’t be like today. Innovators look at what might happen tomorrow, and try those things out, in order to be better prepared for when the future arrives.
  • be a farmer: it’s all about growth, and learning how to relentless focus on that mission
  • displace indecision: it’s simply unacceptable to waver, wait, and pause. Innovators get things done.
  • implement quicker: there’s not a lot of time to get things done when markets, customers, expectations, competitors and business models all change at a furious pace. Innovators are religious on agility and speed.
  • think bold: this isn’t a time for small visions and small ideas. We’re witnessing the birth of transformative new industries, companies, careers and ideas. Jump on board and go for the big win, not just the small stuff.

If five years, your business, markets, products, customers, industry and structure will look nothing like they do today. What are you going to do about it?

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