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Organizations are faced with significant challenges, particularly with the continued impact of globalization, heightened market competition, rapid business model change and the impact of new technologies. They must continually challenge themselves to keep up with rapid change in the business environment in which they operate -- Jim Carroll



One of my key responsibilities as a futurist is to help my clients — some of the largest associations and companies in the world — align themselves to the fast paced trends of today. One key question that always comes up? “When do we get involved with any key trend?”

I walk them through that issue from a variety of perspectives and with observations I’ve seen from spending time with countless Fortune 1000 organizations. However, I stress that when it comes to the issue of timing, it is critical that they get involved in some way with any new trend or technology.

Some don’t. History has taught as that some when it comes to key trends, some organizations don’t bother showing up at all or don’t show up at the right time — and end up missing a lot of opportunities. Hence, the quote in the picture!

How do you determine when to invest? The best guidance comes from something called the “Gartner Hypecycle.” Years ago, the global research company suggested that any new technology goes along a curve – it appears, hits the time of excessive hype and expectations. That is followed by the inevitable collapse of enthusiasm as people realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to implement the technology and determine the opportunity that comes from it. But inevitably, both the expectations and technology itself matures, and it becomes a key component for innovation and so much more.

You can take any technology and place it on the curve.

Consider e-commerce: it appeared, and people got carried away with the potential during the dot.com era of the late 1990’s. However, that involved a period of rather excessive and ridiculous hype, and so we had the inevitable dot.com collapse. Plateau of productivity? Amazon is steamrolling retail in North America, and Alibaba dominates retail trends in China. Everywhere, stores are closing and online shopping is accelerating. Amazon buys Whole Foods. Do you get the point?

Now consider the explosion of new technologies around us today: 3D printing, the Internet of Things (#iot), virtual reality, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars. A key component to your strategy is figuring out where they are on the curve, and hence, what you should be doing with them in terms of an innovation strategy. There are some useful observations to be found online, such as this one which takes the hype-cycle and places a variety of technologies at their current point on the curve.

But here’s the thing: if a key technology shows an opportunity, don’t ignore it if it is still early days. Otherwise, there is a good chance that you won’t be ready when it becomes real – when it hits the plateau of productivity. 

This is where my “think big, start small, scale fast” mantra comes into play. Even if it is early days, you should make sure that you are working with, experimenting with, and gaining expertise in any new technology. Fail early and fail fast! That way, you will be better positioned when it hits the “plateau of productivity.”

One thing I’ve learned? Some organizations don’t take this step. They don’t show up to the starting line. They are too dismissive of new ideas and new technologies The result is that they don’t even appear in the race, and miss out on building up the early expertise and experience with a key technology.

With 25 years of working with some of the leading organization in the world on issues related to creativity and innovation,  I’ve seen some of the best and worst approaches to the issue. The worst approach? An innovation suggestion box! That will doom your efforts from the start!

I will often sit back and analyze what I’ve seen in order to establish some powerful lessons for other people. Here’s just such a quick list of 10 more things that smart, innovative companies do to create an overall sense of innovation-purpose.

  • Heighten the importance of innovation. One major client with several billons in revenue has 8 senior VP’s who are responsible for innovation. And the fact is, they don’t just walk the talk — they do it. The message to the rest of the company? Innovation is critical — get involved.
  • Create a compelling sense of urgency. With product lifecycles compressing and markets witnessing fierce competition, now is not the time for studies, committee meetings and reports. It’s time for action. Simply do things. Now. Get it done. Analyze it later to figure out how to do it better next time.
  • Ignite each spark. Innovative leaders know that everyone in the organization has some type of unique creativity and talent. They know how to find it, harness it, and use it to advantage.
  • Re-evaluate the mission. You might have been selling widgets five years ago, but the market doesn’t want widgets anymore. If the world has moved on, and you haven’t, it is time to re-evaluate your purpose, goals and strategies. Rethink the fundamentals in light of changing circumstances.
  • Build up experiential capital. Innovation comes from risk, and risk comes from experience. The most important asset today isn’t found on your balance sheet — it is found in the accumulated wisdom from the many risks that you’ve taken. The more experiential capital you have, the more you’ll succeed.
  • Shift from threat to opportunity. Innovative organizations don’t have management and staff who quiver from the fear at what might be coming next. Instead, they’re alive from breathing the oxygen of opportunity.
  • Banish complacency and skepticism. It’s all too easy for an organization, bound by a history of inaction, to develop a defeatist culture. Innovative leaders turn this around by motivating everyone to realize that in an era of rapid change, anything is possible..
  • Innovation osmosis. If you don’t have it, get it — that’s a good rule of thumb for innovation culture. One client lit a fuse in their innovation culture by buying up small, aggressive, young innovative companies in their industry. They then spent the time to carefully nurture their ideas and harness their creativity.
  • Stop selling product, and sell results. The word solution is overused and overdone, but let’s face it — in a world in which everything is becoming a commodity and everyone is focused on price, change the rules of the game. Refuse to play — by thinking about how to play in a completely new game.
  • Create excitement. I don’t know how many surveys I saw this year which indicated that the majority of most people in most jobs are bored, unhappy, and ready to bolt. Not at innovative companies! The opportunity for creativity, initiative and purpose results in a different attitude. Where might your organization be on a “corporate happiness index?” If it’s low, then you don’t have the right environment. Fix that problem — and fix it quick.

Let’s face it: the trends impacting life and property/casualty and groups benefits insurance companies are real.

The industries will be disrupted by tech companies. Existing brokerage and distribution networks will be obliterated as more people buy insurance direct. Predictive analytics will shift the industry away from actuarial based historical assessment to real-time coverage. Policy niches, micro-insurance and just-in-time insurance will drive an increasing number of revenue models. The Internet of Things (IoT) and massive connectivity will provide for massive market and business model disruption. Fast paced trends involving self-driving cars, the sharing economy, blockchains, personal drones, swarmbots, smart dust, artificial intelligence and augmented reality will either mitigate, accelerate or challenge the very notion of risk assessment and underwriting! What happens when Amazon, Google or some kid in a garage decide to really change the insurance business model?

What seemed to be science fiction just a few short years ago has become a reality today, as time compresses and the future accelerates. Whichever way you look, all sectors of the insurance industry are set for an era of disruption, challenge and change! Is the industry ready for transformative change? Not really! A recent survey indicated that while 94% of Chief Strategy Officers at insurance companies agree that tech will “rapidly change their industry in 5 years,” fewer than 1 in 5 CSOs believe their companies are prepared.

Does the insurance industry have the innovation culture necessary to deal with the potential for what comes next? Maybe not.

Jim has been the keynote speaker for dozens of conferences, corporate events and association annual meetings in the insurance sector, including • Certified Professional Chartered Underwriter Association • LIMRA International • Assurant Insurance • Chubb Commercial • Lincoln Financial • GAMA International • Cigna  • Blue Cross Blue Shield  •Equitable Life Insurance Company  •RBC Life Insurance •MetLife •SwissRe •American Institute of Actuaries • American Automobile Association • FM Global and SunLife. Jim led a discussion on the future of insurance at a private meeting that included CxO’s from most major insurers, including Allianz, XL Insurance, Travelers, AIG,  Zurich Financial Services, Allstate, AXA, MetLife Auto & Home, Farmers,  CNA,  Nationwide, American Famity, Chubb, Ping An, Lloyd’s of London, Liberty Mutual, The Hartford, Generali, GEICO, State Farm, Progressive, and RSA.

Jim Carroll has been helping insurance organizations in the world understand the tsunami of change that is FinTech, the impact of mobile technology, social networks, rapid business emergence, accelerated risk, the emergence of new global competitors and heightened customer expectations.

In his keynotes he puts into perspective the real trends impacting the future of insurance, offering critical insight into the key innovation and leadership strategies in a time of disruptive change.

A Memo to the CEO
November 1st, 2016

 

 

To:           CEO’s Worldwide

From:     Futurist Jim Carroll

Date:       November 1, 2016


 

I know things are extremely busy, particularly given the current climate of economic uncertainty. Yet, there is a key issue that you need to make sure is on your agenda.

Innovation.

The most important thing that you can do right now, as you work to navigate your way through the challenging economic shoals that surround you, is to make sure that you don’t kill it in its tracks. My observations are that you risk doing so. That’s worrisome.

Read more – click for a higher resolution — or access the PDF

 

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We have seen more change in the last 5 years than we have seen in the last 100 – and yet there is much more yet to come.

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2017 will prove to be a watershed year as trends continue to accelerate. Self-driving cars, the Internet of Things, business model disruption, hyper-competition and hyper-connectivity, collaborative innovation, scientific acceleration, exponential technology, rapid product innovation, faster market change, empowered consumers — are you ready and focused on the trends that will continue to provide opportunity and challenge going forward?

Every year, organizations kick off a new year by bringing me in for a senior executive leadership meeting or corporate offsite strategic planning session, to get a clear and concise overview of what comes next, and what they should do about it.

2017 is almost here — are you prepared, and ready to kick off the year with the powerful insight that you need to know to move forward?

I’ll take you on a tour of the trends which are reshaping our world in a great way. Big transformative trends involving a renaissance in manufacturing enabled by 3D printing, advanced robotics and massive digitization, self-driving cars and the impact of intelligent highway infrastructure, space tourism, asteroid mining, vertical farming, and other fascinating fast paced trends!. Opportunities for the transformation of entire industries such as healthcare, sports and transportation through unprecedented levels of hyper-connectivity. The acceleration of ideas with science that are allowing us to solve some of the biggest challenges of our time in the world of education, healthcare, the environment and education. A generation of millennials who know that it is a great time to think big ideas and do great things with their boundless enthusiasm and global awareness.

It’s time to turn your mind to the future once again, restore a sense of hope and optimism, and link yourself to the fast paced trends which energize your outlook on opportunity! After all, 2017 is almost here! My clients include Disney, the PGA of America, NASA, Johnson & Johnson, the Swiss Innovation Forum and more — join this elite company and re-energize your view into the future.

Interested? Call me!

The NEST Learning Thermostat is a great example of the type of typical business model disruption that we are going to witness in every industry through the next decade!

Give it a few years.

You won’t even recognize the industry you are operating in.

That’s because the rate of business model change is accelerating in every single industry. Here’s why:

  1. Right now, there are probably a bunch of really smart people figuring out to disrupt your business model
  2. If you aren’t busy thinking about to disrupt your business model, they most certainly will.
  3. They’ll probably do this sooner than you think they will.
  4. The result is that 10 years out (or less), your business model will look nothing like it does today.
  5. Those that do mess up your business model are quite likely to be younger than you; for many folks, age provides for complacency.
  6. The fundamental change to your business model driven by this younger generation will be the result of digital, smart, intelligent, location-oriented technology.
  7. They’ll use this technology in such a way they’ll come out of left field with a business model idea that you’ve never even thought of before.
  8. Their business model will carry an undeniable ‘coolness factor’ that you can’t simply match.
  9. Most likely, you’ll discount the importance of their innovation, until it is much too late.
  10. The result will be dramatic change :its likely that your current business model will not even survive: and your company might not as well!

Examples of this type of disruption are occurring all around us right now.

It’s going to happen to you too. So — what are you going to do about it?

 

Do you?

It can be difficult to try to be innovative in many organizations. Many people with an innovation-oriented mindset often find their enthusiasm destroyed when they approach senior management with an initiative. And when their effort is turned back, it can extremely frustrating!

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What happens is that a series of excuses are made as to why we don’t need to focus on the future right now:

  • we don’t understand it, so we don’t think we need to do it!
  • maybe we shouldn’t confront the tough issues right now
  • we are too busy fighting fires – there’s no time for anything else!
  • we don’t have the skill sets to deal with this!
  • we haven’t thought about this in our strategic planning process
  • we don’t have time to think about it…
  • we don’t have a budget f
  • what we’ve been doing all along is perfectly ok, isn’t it?
  • there’s so much going on, and we don’t know where it might fit in terms of priorities!
  • and the worst? it’s too far ahead of its time!

Of course, it’s easy to take this wall of negativity and step back from the project and curb your enthusiasm — and give up! Here’s a clip from my keynote in Zurich in which I talk about the challenges you might face.

But real innovators don’t give up! They work to address the organizational sclerosis that might be in place. What you should do  is confront these excuses head on: there are a variety of different reactions depending on the different excuses that are used:

  • if they don’t understand it, educate them! This might involve building a better business case for the initiative; bringing them up to date on the key business drviers and trends that require some bold steps and dramatic change.
  • help them that those who tackle the tough issues usually win. This is a good time to put into perspective the concept of accelerating change. You need to make sure that the leadership team understands that everything around us today is changing faster than ever before, and will continue to do so: business models, methods of customer interaction, new forms of competition. Business today is all about continually confronting a flood of tough issues; we should be bulking up our capabilities to deal with a world of incessant change.
  • if the organization is always in fire-fighting mode, change the agenda. Maybe they won’t be fighting as as many fires over the long term if they have a clear view of the future, and have a strategy that aligns to that future. So rather than asking, “whoah, where’d that come from,” they’re asking “ok, what comes next, and what do we need to do about it?
  • skill sets don’t give us the capability: That’s a weak excuse: if there are shortfalls in certain key skills to deal with current business realities, deal with it and fix it fast.
  • if it’s not part of the strategic planning process, make it part of it. Every organizations has multiple processes in which issues and activities rise to the top because they’ve been idenitified as fitting within the overall strategic plan. If yours isn’t part of the plan, work to get it there.
  • get people thinking about what comes next: Does the organization have a regular series of forward looking leadership meetings? Does it take the time to assess the trends which might impact it on a 1, 2, 5 and 10 year basis? Is it busy looking at we have really spent a lot of time thinking about what comes next
  • we don’t have a budget for that! Following the process of getting the initiative into the strategic plan will help to lead to the next step: getting the project properly approved and funded within the overall budget process for the organization.
  • make it clear that it isn’t ok to keep doing the same thing that has been done in the past. You’ve got to clearly articulate the new threats the organizations faces and the opportunities that it can pursue as a result of ongoing change.
  • there’s so much going on, and we don’t know where it might fit in terms of priorities! This is a tricky one, because in this type of situation, its pretty well certain that there is some weak management in place who doesn’t know how to set a clear action plan that the team must follow. Best bet is to address the other issues on the list, and work to put in place a clear business and strategic plan for your initiative, with sound business reasoning as to why it needs to be done.
  • it’s too far ahead of its time! Frame the future to the organization this way: do we want to always be fast followers, or do we truly want to be market leaders?

In Zurich,I noted on stage that “we develop corporate cultures that stifle — that kill our ability to try to do anything new…..” That’s what you’ve got to work to avoid — it’s not easy to do — but absolutely necessary!

Keynotes: A Note on Customization
September 15th, 2016

I’m about to head out the door to Amelia Island, Florida, where tomorrow morning I will do a talk for a small group of senior executives from the insurance industry — both property & casualty as well as life insurance companies.

I’m thinking its going to be a great talk — built around the theme, “10 Realities and Opportunities with Fintech Disruption.”

As with most talks, there’s been an extensive amount of research — conference calls with the client, not to forget 479 highly-specific articles on trends impacting the insurance industry.

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What’s involved in building a great keynote? Detailed research, such as these articles on the future I’ve insurance that I’m reading through. If you want real insight on future trends and opportunities for innovation that are specific to your industry, give me a call.

On the flight down, I’ll fine tune my presentation, and wade through these articles once again.

I tweeted about this a week ago:

479 articles on the future of #fintech #insurance that I’m reading today – for my keynote in Florida next week for major insurance CEO’s/CxO’s. Some speakers offer pap. Others *customize*. ”Creating a great keynote” -> http://45.32.212.159/keynotes-workshops/creating-a-great-keynote/

This type of research helps me build a keynote that has detailed, industry specific information, such as these nuggets:

  • 2/3 of insurance CEOs see tech as both opportunity & threat” -from a PWC study. (Of course, it makes me wonder — are the rest asleep?
  • nearly 70% of insurance CEOs see the speed of technological change as a threat to growth and more than 60% are concerned about shifts in consumer spending and behaviour

This ties in with other specific, detailed research I’ve undertaken, not to forget the fact that in the last few years, my keynotes have involved audiences that have included the CEO’s of most major North American and global insurance companies.

My keynote includes observations from a  session I did in Philadelphia that included a private one-on-one with the CEO’s of the top 10 P&C companies in North America. 10 years ago, I had the CIO’s for the top 15 P&C/life companies in for a private meeting that went on for two hours.

People book me because they want real insight .

And that’s the reputation I’ve built in the industry — specific, detailed, information and statistic rich presentations that don’t offer motivational pap — but real concrete guidance on strategies, opportunities, challenges and innovation.

If you want real insight on future trends and opportunities for innovation that are specific to your industry, give me a call.

We can talk about the specific ways in which I can help.

 

Here’s a keynote that will leave your audience members shaking in their boots at the same time they are ready to jump out of the gate and achieve great things!

Two powerful, inspirational keynotes back to back — my message around “The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast,” and that of Larisa Yurkiw, global ski racer, Olympian and World Cup Racer, on a “Daring Need for Speed

Every industry, business and profession now realizes that acting fast is one of the key metrics for success in the future. These two keynotes — at the start and conclusion of your event – provide the perfect bookends to what will be amazingly energized event!

To that end, you’ll want to understand Larisa’s story! Then, contact me for details on how to book us!


As an optimistic futurist, I’m always looking for the upside — I believe that the only way to move forward is to have an upbeat attitude on what you can do to shape the future in a positive way, rather than the easy way out of denigrating the potential of what comes next. It goes to one of my main points on stage: “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Real innovators see the same trend — and see an opportunity!”

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Larisa Yurkiw is one of the top 3 downhill ski racers in the world, an accomplished entrepreneur — and the first global athlete to combine these two skills in what has become known around the world as “Team Larisa.”

Which brings me to skiing!

At the age of  age of 39, some years ago, I somehow thought it could be an important cornerstone in my life and that of my family — that of becoming active, healthy and involved. If I was to live through my 40’s and beyond in good health — well, we should embrace winter!

So we took up skiing and my family became a family of skiers and snowboarders. I am so proud! (I could barely get down the baby hill the first few days – but in five short years, found myself skiing the Swiss Alps after I was the closing keynote speaker for the Swiss Innovation Forum.)

Little did I know that just about the same time, at my home ski club — a little bump of a hill in eastern North America known as Georgian Peaks — a young girl who was about 12 years old, was setting her own goals, determined to reach the podiums in her own life.

And did she ever succeed. Earlier this year, Larisa Yurkiw finished her career as one of the top-3 downhill racers in the world, racing with and sharing the podium with the likes of Lindsay Vonn, Julie Mancuso and others, on some of the most challenging courses in Switzerland, Italy and Austria, not to mention the Sochi Olympics. She challenged herself, dreamed big dreams, and established big goals — starting out a small little ski hill in Southern Ontario. During her racing career, she would hit speed of up to 140 miles per hour — and have to turn and balance on an instant.

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Looking for a unique keynote that focuses on the issue of growth, speed, and innovation? Larisa and I have talked about the idea of combining our story on stage into two powerful, back to back keynote presentations. My focus with organizations has always been that “the future belongs to those who are fast!” Larisa has demonstrated, through her racing career and her determination, that a “relentless focus on speed” is a powerful motivator for success! And on her own, she provides a powerful and compelling keynote: learn more at her site, www.larisaspeaks.com

Yet here’s the thing: Larisa’s story is not only personally motivating, but it also offers everyone fabulous unique business insight, and what happens when one if totally focused on a goal. For her, the racing career was a gruelling but ultimately rewarding trek. One that involved stunning disappointments, injuries and crashes that would  condemn most mere mortals to a life of stagnation — not to mention a national ski association that turned its back on her at a critical time.

With that, she persevered, and won on her own terms. Consider these simple facts, which Larisa now uses on stage in her own keynote presentations:

  • the average downhill racer hits forces of  3-5 G’s in a turn. Bode Miller  has been clocked at 12 G’s in a turn!! That’s more than the 3.5 G’s that astronauts experience in a rocket launch.
  • during her racing career, Larisa had 5 knee surgeries and 5000 hours of rehab — and yet still made it to the Sochi Olympics, and ranked in the top 3 in the world in subsequent World Cup racing season events
  • she raised $750,000 over the last 3 years in her ‘free time’ in order to ski for Canada – because the Canadian ski team felt like distributing the financial support elsewhere, and chose not to support her after a crash just before the 2010 Whistler Olympics. No funding? No problem. She set out to build her own racing team, and raised the funds through crowdfunding and constant, relentless and innovative approaches to potential sponsors

The rest of us would do very well to learn from her example, because it it a story of stunning courage, determination, focus, and passion!

In my own case, I’m honoured to have witnessed this singularly spectacular journey from the sidelines, and am in awe of the opportunity to call her a friend. These days, I’m providing her guidance as she takes on the new and challenging role of sharing her motivational story on stage. Learn more at her Web site, www.larisaspeaks.com

Which brings me to the movie Streiff: One Hell of a Ride.

If you want to discover a great movie, watch this one. It documents the gruelling training, preparation and mastery of the mind that is downhill skiing. If you crave for a movie with depth, this is the one that you want to watch. Do it now!

What struck me about the movie, when I watched it for the first time, was that the training for this most demanding of athletic competitions was beyond intense. The start of the movie focuses on 3 different downhill racing athletes and their approach to preparing for “one hell of a ride”.

To me, it seemed that each had an essentially different approach, that involved a focus on

  • agility: a racer that focused on a lot of exercise that involved the ability to quickly turn, change angles, and shift weight from one foot to another
  • balance : another racer seemed to build his training around the idea of balance and gymnastics
  • strength: one fellow training for the downhill is doing lunges UPHILL with heavy weights. Now that’s strong!

And while watching this, that jumped out to me as a powerful business mindset.

Given fast paced change with markets, customers, technology, business models and competitors, organizations today need to focus more on what they must do to respond. And that implies:

  • they need to have the agility to change quickly — before its too late
  • they must have the ability to balance their action against the reality of current demands — it’s a careful juggling act to keep one foot firmly focused on the future while the other provides a solid foundation for today
  • and they require a lot of core strength — whether it is skills and talent, determination to get ahead, or a leadership team that puts in place a solid foundation for growth

As you take your organization forward into the future, do you have the agility, balance and strength that is required? It’s a good question to ask.

Do you really want to challenge yourself in this regard? Larisa and I have talked about the idea that it would be great to combine our story on stage into two powerful, back to back keynote presentations. My focus with organizations has always been that “the future belongs to those who are fast!” Larisa has demonstrated, through her racing career and her determination, that a “relentless focus on speed” works out at the end of the day — in a pretty powerful way!

What do you need to be thinking about now when it comes to skills issues? Read my PDF  here or by clicking on the image.

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“Skills are Experiential. Skills are Generational. One of the most important assets that a company can invest in is “experiential capital”—that is, the cumulative knowledge the company has generated through innovation, risk, failure and success. Boost that skills capability and you’ve done something that flows onto the bottom line.”

 

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