Richard Worzel - Futurist - Speaker - Consultant
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Keynote & Workshop Topics
Keynote & Workshop Topics
Management

Hunting Black Swans: How to Expect the Unexpected (and the Spanish Inquisition!)

If the last 20 years have taught us anything, it is that the future will catch us by surprise, from the Ebola epidemic, to the earthquake and tsunami that knocked out a third of Japan's electric generating capacity, to the financial panic and Great Recession of 2008, to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Such events are popularly called ‘Black Swans’, meaning an event that was not expected, but which carries dramatic consequences when it occurs. Yet, it is possible to expect the unexpected.

Richard Worzel is today's leading futurist, and in this workshop helps you anticipate the shape of tomorrow's world, identify the forces at work that are carving it out, and then focus specifically on identifying things that might happen that you're not currently thinking about. The futurist techniques he introduces can be used over and over, and constitute not just the subject matter for a day's exercises or a weekend retreat, but a new way of thinking and preparing for tomorrow's world, with all of its surprises.



The Fifth Principle of Leadership: Embedding Foresight Into Your Organization

In addition to presenting his Four Principles of Leadership, futurist and business visionary Richard Worzel reveals a new Fifth Principle: Foresight. In a world where change is not only accelerating, but the rate of acceleration is increasing, the ability to anticipate what might happen, and be prepared for it, has become vital to survival and success. Moreover, it’s necessary for a leader to be out in front, and foresight enahnces this aspect of leadership.

In this presentation, Richard outlines how an organizational leader can entrench foresight thinking into his or her organization or group. Richard outlines the principles of foresight, and provides tools for its practice, including:

• Environmental scanning – What to look for, where to look for it, and who should do the looking;

• Scenario planning – Considering what might happen, assessing the probabilities involved, and developing contingency plans to prepare for the most likely possible futures;

• Risk management – Defining risk in general, defining the specific risks your organization is facing, and deciding on how to prepare for them;

• The Desired Future & Backcasting – Defining the future you want to have happen, and then working backwards to the present to make it happen, developing robust plans that are likely to survive no matter what the future throws at you.

• Who leads? – Deciding who should engage in foresight, and how to make sure it’s not just a sometimes thing.

Your people will walk away with a changed view of the future and how to make use of it with toolsets designed for this purpose. Your leadership will be enhanced, and your people will be both better followers and better leaders, enhancing the prospects for your entire organization.



The Corporate CIO: Curator or Researcher?

Corporate IT has undergone many changes since its inception. It started as the management of accounting machines, then became data processing, then Management Information Systems, and then finally (so far) Information Technology. At every stage, there’s a temptation to take a static view of the status quo, and act as if you are defending something. But as the history of IBM makes clear, that way lies disaster. In the late 1980s and into the early 1990s, IBM lost track of the speed with which computers, communications, and technology moves. If it hadn’t been for Louis Gerstner and the vibrant internal culture of the company, it could well have become just another corporate casualty. Instead, they reinvented themselves and the company, and are today once again an internationally known leader in the field. That difference in attitude about IT is crucial: As a CIO, are you going to be a curator, attempting to preserve the past, or a researcher, inventing the future?

Richard Worzel is a Chartered Financial Analyst with a degree in computer science, makes his living as a strategic planner, and is one of today’s leading futurists. He will use the Boston Museum of Science as a metaphor for the challenges of facing CIOs in a world where the pace of technological change is not only accelerating, but the rate of acceleration is increasing. Among the topics he will discuss are:

• Why quantity has a quality all its own – and how it’s going to change society, business, and our lives all over again;

• Why the technology revolution has only just begun;

• Where science is taking technology, where technology is taking IT, and where IT is taking the corporation;

• Phase change: Why technology is going to be different, not just faster;

• Push-back: What society’s reaction to technological change will likely be, and how you should prepare.



Not Good Enough: The Future of Business Analytics

It’s tempting to face a screen-full of real-time business statistics, complete with graphs, dials, and summaries, and believe that you’ve got a handle on what’s happening with your data stream. And it’s true that without good analytics, contemporary businesses, most notably those that work in cyberspace, retail sales, and credit risk, couldn’t function effectively against sophisticated competition without analytics. Yet, as Richard Worzel, today’s leading futurist, points out, all of this reflects today’s marketplace, not tomorrow's. In this overview of the future of business analytics, he discusses:

• Why statistical analysis will be relegated to a poor relation among analytical tools;

• How astonishing advances in technology are changing both what can be done, and how it can be done most effectively;

• How new tools are emerging that will produce a fundamental change in the interaction between the human looking at a screen, and the analysis going on behind it;

• The Achilles’ heel of analytics, and suggestions on how to deal with it effectively; and

• The critical element that does now, and probably always will, determine how business analytics can be used most effectively.

The field is changing with astonishing rapidity, yet knowing how it will change is not clear. To help participants deal with these unknowns, Richard will leave conferees with a toolkit designed to capture the uncertainties ahead, and turn them to your advantage.

Setting the Stage for High Performance: How Can Organizations Manage the Fast-Forward World of Tomorrow?

Every major organization proclaims that ‘people are our greatest resource,’ but the good ones actually mean it. With that in mind, what will the world, particularly the working world, look like in the future? Richard Worzel is a Chartered Financial Analyst, strategic planner, and one of today’s leading futurists. In this peek into tomorrow’s world, he provides an overview of what that world will be like, and how it will affect the high-performance individuals that top organizations depend on for performance. Among the topics Richard will explore will be:

• How the global economy will unfold in future, how it will be different from the past 20 years of rising competition from developing countries, and what it will mean to corporations and their people;

• Why technology will be an even bigger factor over the next 10 years than it has over the last 20, and what it will mean to the employment markets, corporate productivity, how it will affect the employment markets, and why it will emphasize the need for the so-called ‘soft skills’ of leadership, teamwork, and empathy;

• How America’s demographics are shifting, why it will change market demand and consumer needs, how it will place a surprisingly overlooked group into new prominence, and what kinds of pressures it will place on workers and the environment within which they perform;

• Why innovation is a motherhood issue that corporations love to talk about but hate to do, and how that can be changed into a tool that enhances leadership and builds cohesion; and

• What will be the social dimensions of this fast-forward world? What kinds of pressures will people experience, and what should nurturing corporations do to help their people cope?

Richard’s overview will provide a broad perspective on the future of the corporate world, and a road map of where we’re going as a society. As well, Richard will provide planning tools aimed at fostering innovation and leadership as an included take-away electronic handbook.



Leadership and Risk Management: The Future of Risk Management in an Uncertain Market

The events of the past few years have tested the abilities of corporate leaders to exercise strategic foresight, and adequately prepare for a world where greater uncertainties will be the norm. How, then, can leaders prepare for what’s to come, especially in a fast-changing field like agricultural products and services? Richard Worzel is a Chartered Financial Analyst, a strategic planner, and one of today’s leading futurists in the field of agriculture. In this presentation, he will explore some of the critical challenges ahead, and offer suggestions on how to cope. In particular, he will deal with:

• A futurist’s view of risk management is much broader than that of the traditional risk management literature, because it includes a broader range of potential risks. Accordingly, what are the three principal kinds of risks, and how do organizations classically respond to them? (Hint: not as well as they should.)

• How do you assess risk, and how do you respond to it? Here again a futurist’s toolkit is different from that used by classic risk managers.

• Perhaps the greatest risk to an organization is to lose the key people, especially at critical junctures. Yet, today’s society and culture encourages flitting from job to job, even as many talented people can’t find jobs. Why has this strange anomaly emerged, and what can corporate leaders do to increase the likelihood of recruiting, retraining, and retaining the right people in their organizations?

• What’s ahead for the American and global economies, and how will they affect the demand and supply of agricultural products? What are the outlooks for inflation and renewed recession? And what nasty surprises could yet be lurking, buried in the urgent, but less important events that dominate the headlines?

• How is the rising demand for food playing off against the rising levels of competition from ag powerhouses like Brazil? And what will wild cards, like the availability of water and the effects of climate change do to ag and the world markets for ag products?

• Technology offers risks both positive and negative, yet risk managers often overlook the importance of positive risks. And technology will wreak twice as many changes on organizations and society over the next 10 years than over the past 10, especially in ag industries, where applications of technology have repeatedly been game changers.

Leadership in a rapidly mutating marketplace is critical to organization success, yet risk management is often an after-thought in corporate planning, and often approached in a linear and simplistic fashion, when a more textured and broader approach is both more revealing, and produces more options and uncovers more opportunities. To enable participants to further explore these aspects of risk management, Richard also supplies conferees, free of charge, an electronic copy of the handbook he has developed for his consulting clients, Risk Management and Scenario Planning: How to Avoid Problems and Spot Opportunities. Corporate leaders will walk away both with a better understanding of what they are facing, and with new tools for improving the bottom line in the face of greater uncertainty.

Unboxed Thinking: Concepts for Innovation

Target audience: Senior executives, organizational planners, managers, sales & marketing executives and professionals

Changes are happening so fast, and the consequences of being left behind are so extreme, that companies believe - correctly - that thinking outside the box is the only way to thrive. Yet most people believe that creativity is only open to the creative few, an artistic elite. The reality is that everyone is creative to a greater or lesser extent, but few ever learn how to exercise their creativity, and fewer practice it on a regular basis, so that they get flabby results when they try.

There are specific techniques, just as there are in art, that can help those who are not practiced in innovating, and can help the already creative individual become even more so. In this workshop, futurist and strategic planner Richard Worzel will introduce you to creative techniques tailored to the needs of organizations and businesses today, and show you how you can create new ideas, new products, and new results. These techniques will include scenario planning focused on product development, and developing an opportunity matrix to identify new needs and ideas. You will leave this workshop not only with new ideas you can use immediately in your business, but with a toolbox of techniques that you can use over and over again. Included in the takeaways for both the full-day and the half-day sessions will be electronic versions of two handbooks on two completely different sets of innovation techniques for each participant.

How Lean Is Lean? The Future of Purchasing and Supply Chain Management

The past 15 years have seen unprecedented changes in both procurement and supply chain management, with technology and global competition applying immense pressure on companies to lean out their operations. So, what’s left? How lean is lean? In this presentation, Richard Worzel, who is a strategic planner, Chartered Financial Analyst, and Canada’s leading futurist, survey’s what’s ahead for the economy, for purchasing as a discipline, and for supply chains, including:

• How tomorrow’s technological revolution is going to make the changes of the last 15 years seem insignificant;

• What’s ahead for the global economy, the RDC’s (Rapidly Developing Countries), and the developed countries;

• The prospects for inflation, energy supplies, and economic ‘nasty surprises’ that could derail economic growth; plus

• Planning tools for capturing uncertainty, and putting it to work for you.

You will leave with a roadmap of what’s to come, and how it will affect your operations.

Risk Management and Strategic Foresight: Avoiding Problems and Spotting Opportunities

The events of the last several years, up to and including the financial panic of 2008, have demonstrated the consequences of not preparing for potential risks. Richard Worzel is a Chartered Financial Analyst, a strategic planner, and one of today's leading futurists. In this presentation, he:

• Surveys some of the potential risks ahead, including additional potential shocks to the financial system;

• Outlines the essentials of strategic foresight as they relate to risk management;

• Describes how to break the future into discrete pieces in order to deal with future possibilities in a more focused, more effective manner;

• Shows how to “reverse engineer” the future to uncover potential unexpected risks; and

• Identifies how to walk through a contingency plan in order to spot potential weaknesses.

You’ll walk away with a set of tools that will help you prepare for risks, both good and bad, and a much better appreciation of how to cope with the uncertainties that are ahead.

Getting Greedy When Others Are Fearful: Linking Innovation, Sustainability, and Profits

Dark times are when the best players make the biggest gains. Everyone else is lying low, resources are hard to come by, and consumers are an endangered species. Richard Worzel, one of today's leading futurists, sees real opportunities in today's situation, and this presentation offers retailers insights on:
  • Why today's 'new' marketing tools – such as Facebook and Twitter – are only the beginning of personal marketing on a mass basis;

  • Why getting into your customer's head is now more necessary and more possible than ever before;

  • Why sustainability – today's environmental issue – will not disappear the way scarcity of resources – the issue of the 70s – did following the previous oil price break in 1980-81, and therefore why working on sustainability now, even in hard times, is critical to future survival and success; and finally

  • Why innovation is not popular, and why you need to create a new culture of innovation, starting from the bottom.
In addressing these issues, especially the issues of sustainability and innovation, Richard will provide two sets of tools. The first, called the Opportunity Matrix, offers a means of producing a steady stream of new ideas for incremental innovation. The second, the handbook on Risk Management and Scenario Planning that Richard developed for his consulting clients, is a take-away toolbox that can help you put yourself in your customers' future mindspace in order to be there, waiting, when she arrives.

Inventing Our Way Around the Coming Staff Shortages

Every organization in the country that relies on skilled people is experiencing a shortage of workers in almost every discipline, and every group is trying to deal with this shortage in more or less the same ways. Obviously, most of them will fail. What, then, can a forward-thinking organization do that is different?

Richard Worzel, one of North America’s leading futurists, a strategic planner, and experienced at working with HR groups. Instead of just reviewing why this shortage is happening, in this workshop he will help organizations devise ways of dealing with it. To start, he’ll lay out the challenges ahead from demographics, technology, economics, and geopolitics, and then work with participants in inventing new approaches in an area where demand will exceed supply for some years to come. Along the way, he’ll give participants a toolbox of future-oriented planning tools that will help them repeat and continue the work on their own.

The Hard Edge of Fuzzy Subjects: The True Responsibilities of Corporations in the Future

Everywhere a CEO looks these days, there are people demanding non-traditional responses in areas like social responsibility, reducing carbon emissions, or the needs of community stakeholders. To whom is a CEO responsible, and how do you juggle these fuzzy demands on time and treasure? Richard Worzel is a strategic planner, a Chartered Financial Analyst, best-selling author, and one of North America’s leading futurist. In this hard look at these fuzzy subjects, he deals with:
  • The importance of Primary Purpose, and how to identify it;
  • What is the justice of the claims of social responsibility, and how do you satisafy them?
  • What is a corporation’s responsibility for dealing with climate change and related environmental issues? and
  • The future of privacy, and its implications for corporate management.
Whether in America, or anywhere else in the world, the role of CEO, and the responsibilities of the corporation are changing. In order to do your job successfully, you need to know the hard edge of fuzzy subjects.

The Transformation Century: Understanding and
Managing the Forces of Change in the 21st Century

An unprecedented convergence of scientific knowledge and development is going to radically change life on Earth in the decades ahead. Life for all of the world's citizens will get better, but also more challenging, so that it is fair to call the 21st Century the 'Transformation Century.' Join Richard Worzel as he explores the changes that will forever alter our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren:
Biotechnology: how developments in genetic engineering, pharmaceuticals, and medical technology will alter the nature of human and animal life, and the way we diagnose and manage disease, illness, and aging.

Environmental technology: how we are beginning to apply important scientific advances to environmental problems.

Information technology: how the next wave of the technological revolution will transform our homes and our workplaces.
As managers, investors, and citizens, we need to understand what these changes mean, and how we can respond to them effectively. In this fast-paced and memorable presentation Richard Worzel will give you the tools you need to navigate the exciting, but challenging times ahead.

Hidden Tomorrows: Managing the Unforeseen Future

The future often seems clear or even obvious. However, there are always unexpected, downstream effects of any future development that are not obvious, and are ultimately more important than the changes that cause them. For example, better technology means cheaper communications, better medical treatments, and higher living standards. But it also means an escalating battle over personal privacy, rising costs for health care, and a widening divide between the haves and have-nots in our society. Moreover, even people who have come to embrace change are going to be caught off-guard, because change is going to happen faster than they expect. That means that we're going to be constantly behind the curve.

In this intriguing presentation, tailored to your organization, futurist and strategic planner Richard Worzel helps you see through the obvious trends into the subtler, more important changes coming to your industry, your organization, and your life. Unlocking the hidden meanings of tomorrow and preparing for the unexpected consequences of change can mean the difference between an enjoyable future, and a terrifying one. This entertaining, fast-paced, and provocative presentation will be the highlight of your conference!

Mastering What Happens Next (Workshop)

Should you be pushing for innovation, or managing core competencies? Retrenching for an economic slow-down, or preparing for the next expansion? Cutting payroll, or stock-piling talent? The future has never seemed more uncertain, and the outlook for tomorrow seems to offer both black clouds and hope. How, then, should you manage for the future? Strategic planner and professional futurist Richard Worzel assesses the outlook, and gives you concepts and techniques that will help you capture the uncertainties of today, and prepare for the problems and opportunities of tomorrow. Commencing with a wide-ranging view of the global economy and economic cycle, technology, and consumer behaviour, Richard then gives you a toolbox that you can use to break the uncertainties down into manageable parts, and come up with specific strategies to deal with each one. At the end, you will have concrete planning tools that you can manage rather than wrestling with vague uncertainties. Entertaining as it is immediately useful, this workshop will help you master what comes next.

Managing Change as a Strategic Weapon

Many of us feel that the pace of change is accelerating. This isn't quite true: the pace of change is accelerating, but the rate of acceleration is also rising, which means we keep being caught off guard by change. This creates a quandary for many organizations, because they already feel that they are working as fast as they can, and as hard as they can, and the prospect of needing to do more fills them with dread. Yet, forcing the rate of change, if properly managed, can be a competitive weapon of immense value. In this far-ranging and upbeat presentation, futurist and strategic planner Richard Worzel talks about the nature of change and where change is coming from. Building on this, he will present you with a range of strategies, both for coping with change on your own behalf, and how you can turn change into an ally rather than a threat. Among the topics covered are the crucial dimensions of HR; emerging technologies and their effects; the changing nature, composition, and behavior of consumers; how globalization is shifting gears and altering playbooks; and the sometimes paranoid and irrational behavior of governments.

Unboxed Thinking (Workshop)

Changes are happening so fast, and the consequences of being left behind are so extreme, that companies believe - correctly - that thinking outside the box is the only way to thrive. Yet most people believe that creativity is only open to the creative few, an artistic elite. Yet, like art, everyone is creative to a greater or lesser extent, but few ever learn how to exercise their creativity, and fewer practice it on a regular basis, so that they get flabby results when they try.

There are specific techniques, just as there are in art, that can help those who are not practiced in innovating, and can help the already creative individual become even more so. In this workshop, futurist and strategic planner Richard Worzel will walk you through creative techniques tailored to the needs of organizations and business today, and show you how you can create new ideas, new products, and new results. These techniques will include scenario planning focused on product development, backcasting to invent detailed business plans leading towards hoped-for goals, and developing an opportunity matrix to identify new needs and ideas. You will leave this workshop not only with new ideas you can use immediately in your business, but with a toolbox of techniques that you can use over and over again.

The Threat from Communications

In the late 1990's the evidence showed that telecommunications companies were being threatened by new technology breakthroughs. Unfortunately for such companies and their investors, few people accepted the implications of such facts, and billions of dollars invested in telecom companies has evaporated. Today there is clear evidence that companies outside the communications industry are being threatened by the one-two punch of dramatically cheaper and expanded communications, and dramatically faster and cheaper computer-related technologies, yet, once again planners and investors alike are unwilling to believe the clear and present danger that looms ahead of them. Futurist and strategic planner Richard Worzel outlines what dangers await organizations because of the communications revolution, and how they can surf the changes coming, and not be swamped by them. This keynote presentation offers an overview of the changes coming, along with specific tactics and techniques companies can use to turn change into a competitive advantage in a world that won't wait.

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