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Jim Harris

One of the foremost management consultants, public speakers, authors and thinkers on change and leadership

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Fee Range: 10000-19999, 20000-39999

Jim is a catalyst for conversation and change. He excels at leading people to new ways of thinking – making productive, profitable change possible. His sessions are highly informative, thought-provoking, interactive, and even lots of fun!

*Fee ranges are presented as a guideline only. Speaker fees are subject to change without notice. For an exact quote, please contact your Speaker Exchange Agency representative.

Jim Harris is a one of North America’s foremost thinkers on disruptive innovation. Disruption has been brought into sharp focus by the global pandemic which has definitely been disruptive driving a decade of change in many industries in just two years.

He is one of the world’s leading keynote speakers presenting internationally at more than 70 virtual and in-person conferences a year. Association magazine ranked him as one of North America’s top ten speakers. Jim also leads strategic planning sessions with executive teams.

Over the last 30 years he has worked with organizations in every industry. His clients include American Express, Barclays Bank, Canadian Construction Association, Canon, GM, IBM, SAP, Munich Re, the Top 200 CIOs of India, the UK Cabinet Office, Swiss Re, Walmart, Zurich Insurance.

Jim’s book, Blindside!, is published in 80 countries worldwide and is a #1 international bestseller. Soundview Executive Summaries selected Blindsided! as one of the best business books of the year sending a summary to 80,000 executives globally. The Miami Herald calls Blindsided! “Brilliant stuff!”

The Great Resignation: It’s Really the Great Rethinking; The Great Disconnect

A staggering 47.4 million Americans quit their job in 2021. In November 4.5 million quit, the highest number ever recorded since the government began tracking it 20 years ago.

“It’s not the great resignation,” says pollster Frank Luntz. “It’s the Great Rethink. We are reexamining who we are. What our priorities are. What we want for the future.”

“Telling workers that they have to go back to work, when they have decided that they don’t want to work at an office, is a mistake,” warns Luntz.

Abbey Eisenlauer of Conversate Labs and Luntz conducted focus groups with people who had quit their jobs. Their goal was to gain a deeper understanding of what’s driving this widespread phenomenon. They uncovered three key findings:

1) Senior leaders are not listening to employees’ anxieties and concerns. Leaders want to go back to a pre-pandemic normal. But it’s not normal for employees anymore.

2) It’s beyond compensation. Employees are focused on work-life balance and choices.

3) Workers are re-thinking their personal priorities. They’re thinking about their families.

“Corporate America doesn’t get it,” says Luntz. “The CEO, CIO, CFO don’t understand the hopes, dreams and, most importantly, the anxiety and fears of the average worker – and it’s going to come back to bite them.”

People are quitting when they don’t have a say in their work arrangements, or their values conflict with the company culture.

A survey of 3,000 employees at top tier companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan asked workers if they’d prefer to permanently work from home or get a $30,000-a-year raise. The results were surprising – 64% said they wanted to continue working from home.

In a Bankrate Job Seeker study, 56% of US workers said flexible working hours and remote work are a priority. And more than half of respondents believe their lifestyle and work-life balance needs to change.

Many companies now are ordering people to come back to the office but the majority of employees have become accustomed to working from home and are enjoying it. If a company orders this group to come back to the office, 50% will immediately get another job or begin looking for one, research shows.

Before the pandemic, the average American employee spent five work weeks a year commuting – a staggering 200 hours a year stuck in traffic or on transit. Is there nothing better that we can do with our time?

“There are people who want to work at home and there are people who want to work in the office,” notes Eisenlauer. “But most important is they want to have a say in what their work environment, schedule and location is going to be.” People want to be heard. To retain people, managers need to have a two-way discussion with employees.

Gaping Empathy Deficit

A friend won the top performer award at her bank which has more than 40,000 employees. Her husband was recovering from surgery so moved to their condo in Florida where he could recuperate in the heat and work remotely. She wanted to join him. The bank’s HR policy prohibited it. After a quarter century of service and recognized contribution and, with no previous desire to retire, she quit. The bank’s policy clearly communicated to her that the company had no understanding of her situation or empathy.

Companies need to focus on communication according to Eisenlauer: What are your corporate listening strategies? And training: How are managers trained in communication and empathy? I would add: What mechanism can managers use to override outdated, inappropriate, one-size-fits-all corporate policies?

Reject One Size Fits All: Many employees are desperate to return to work. But for those who are immune system compromised, for example, or need the flexibility to look after a family member or moved 200 miles out of the city to buy an affordable home during the pandemic, they want to work remotely.

Recognize Demographic Differences: Baby Boomers dominate the C-Suite. By contrast, 50% of the US workforce is now made up of millennials and GenZs. These demographics have profoundly different outlooks on work, life, and work-life balance.

We’re living in a new, fundamentally transformed work world. Many corporate leaders are stuck using an old pre-pandemic play book. They need to adopt a new philosophy – one that’s a flexible and agile as the workforce leaders say they want.

Jim has been delivering keynotes and workshops for 30+ years and deeply committed to helping participants and organizations accelerate the pace of innovation. He’s one of the top-ten speakers in North America according to Association magazine. After a recent workshop, a CEO said: “I can’t believe that was 3 hours! The time just flew by.”

Disruption Turbo Charging Innovation: A Decade of Change in Just Two and a Half Years

We have seen a decade of change for many industries in the last two and a half years:

  • In November of 2022, Tesla was worth more than the top 18 traditional car companies combined! If you don’t think that electrification and autonomous vehicles are going to change the $10 trillion a year transportation market, think again.
  • In June 2022, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said only 20% of the US based workers are back in the office 3 days or more. The long-term impacts for commercial real estate?
  • The Great Resignation, Work from Home, and Hybrid work are challenging traditional ways of working. Strategies for thriving in this new employment environment.
  • In China, 50% of all medical visits in 2021 were by telehealth. In the US, McKinsey estimated that in 2021, there were more than a billion telemedicine visits a year.
  • In the first 90 days of the pandemic eCommerce experienced a decade of growth!
  • In 2019, Zoom had 10 million daily users. In the first 90 days of the pandemic (Mar-May 2022), it had 300 million downloads – shattering all records for business apps.
  • Uber is worth more than every cab company in America combined! While the industry owns billions of dollars of assets (taxis & limos), Uber doesn’t own one vehicle.

In this highly interactive, fun, and engaging session, Jim will explore what tech and societal trends are driving permanent change in customer behavior. More than 30% of the total time will be members talking in pairs and large group discussion. After a recent session a CEO said: “I can’t believe that was three hours! The time just flew by.”

Exponential Organizations Why Some Firms are 10 Times Better, Faster & Cheaper Than Traditional Companies

Why Some Firms are 10 Times Better, Faster & Cheaper Than Traditional Companies

The book Exponential Organizations has sold 500,000 copies since 2014. The second edition is about to be released in early 2023. Exponential organizations (ExOs) experience 10X faster growth than their peers. The book examines what are the attributes of an ExO that result in this profound difference. Jim is an ExO speaker.

ExO ranked all US Fortune 100 companies for ExO attributes and found a significant difference in the performance of the top 10 ranked companies most aligned with fast growth principles compared to the bottom 10. The top ten experienced:


  • 3X better revenue growth
  • 6.4X more profitable
  • 10.9X higher asset utilization
  • 40X higher total shareholder returns

ExO’s approach is to run a three-day Awake session followed by a six-month ExO Sprint. In the Awake session the company’s executive team and a select group of young leaders learn about the eye-opening exponential trends that are driving relentless change, the threat of complacency for traditional organization and industries, and the strategies to thrive going forward. One exec said, “my mind was literally blown by the Awake session.”

Over the next six months the young leaders, working with ExO coaches, develop pilot projects to present to the senior leadership in a Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den type event. Projects have to project a 10X benefit in order to be funded – 10X higher customer satisfaction, 10X lower cost; 10X better supply chain, 10X faster growth than the core products and services; etc. It’s like a venture capitalist approach to growth.

Tony Saldanha was the VP of Global Business Services at Proctor and Gamble. He ran the first ever Sprint in 2014. The 25 approved initiatives created close to a billion dollars of benefit in 4 years. From 2018-2022 firms running Sprints achieved 70X ROI on average!

If your company is not architected for agility, flexibility, adaptability and speed, it doesn’t matter what your strategic planning is. Your company is going to get left behind. ExOs taking advantage of trends scale better, faster and cheaper.

Disruptive Innovation: Why Every Organization Must Pay Attention to Disruptive Innovation

A staggering 93% of car accidents are due to driver error. So think about the 40,000 lives that will be saved in North America every year in 2025 when all new cars are autonomous vehicles – self driving cars.

Think of the 4.4 million people who won’t be injured in North America annually, the HUGE reduction in trauma for families and the billions of dollars of savings in health care costs. That’s the GREAT news.

The bad news is that if you’re an insurance agent selling auto insurance, you’ll witness the evaporation of the $500 billion a year auto insurance market. If you’re in auto insurance you had better be planning to find a new $500 billion a year market for premiums to replace it. (Thankfully the cyber risk market will grow to that level in the same time frame. But currently only 10-15% of brokers are comfortable in writing policies in this new field.)

And driverless vehicles have a profound and cascading impact for other organizations as well.

In seven years time your autonomous Tesla will drive you to work, you’ll get out – and tell it to go forth and earn its keep – as an autonomous vehicle in the Uber pool. You won’t need a parking spot for the day – saving you the $35 you currently pay every day in downtown Toronto.

When no one needs a parking spot, what happens to the value of parking lots in urban centers? Do you know that currently a parking spot in some urban cores sells for as much as $100,000?!

And what does the value of used car dealerships fall to when no one wants to buy a used car that doesn’t have an autonomous system? After all, what’s the value to you of your spouse and children’s’ lives and well being? If you own used car dealerships, now might be a good time to sell.

I was recently working with an executive who happens to own 16 car lots. He was arguing that electric vehicles and autonomous systems are less than 1% of the market and therefore irrelevant. Jarring new information that threatens our world view and our current business model is rejected by most people.

In 2014 Mercedes Benz dominated the category in US Large Luxury Car Sales, but by 2015 things had changed and Tesla began to dominate. Finally, by 2016 Tesla’s acceleration was even more pronounced.

In 2007, Lexus represented only 2% of Toyota’s unit sales, but a staggering 33% of the company’s auto profits. In other words – the luxury car market is where car companies make a disproportionate share of profits.

So you can now hear the huge sucking sound as Tesla strips profitability from the auto industry? Realizing this, can you now comfortably say that Tesla with less than 1% of auto sales in North America is irrelevant?

One simple disruptive innovation – autonomous vehicles – has huge cascading implications for insurance, health care emergency room capacity, car dealerships (both new and used), parking lot owners, taxi cab companies, city planners and auto executives.

Imagine the impacts of other trends – such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G wireless and Moore’s Law – when amplifying each other will have on companies, industries, society as a whole.

Risk Management: Thriving in an Era of Disruptive Innovation

Here are three strategies for mitigating risk in our era of disruptive innovation:

Becoming A Real-Time Organization
Imagine that you took an antibiotic this morning that had a bizarre side effect – a 15 second muscular delay. So, from the moment your brain gave the order to your hand to move, there was a 15 second delay. How effective a driver would you be?
We know that we wouldn’t survive in our modern world for long with a 15 second muscular delay. How, then, do our organizations work? Quarterly financials. Annual performance appraisals. Invoicing at the end of the month, or quarter. To thrive in this era of rapid change organizations must move towards working in real time.

Friction Audits
What do you hate about taking taxis? You can lose the receipt and accounting won’t reimburse your expense. Cab drivers will tell you their credit card machine isn’t working. Some cab companies charge an extra $3.50 to use a credit card. You don’t know how much the trip will cost when you get into a cab. Once you’ve ordered a taxis you don’t know when it’ll arrive. If you’ve ever left something in a cab you don’t even know the name of the taxi company let alone the driver. These are just some classic fears and frustrations that people have with the taxi industry.
Uber and Lyft have completely re-invented the experience of what it is to take a taxi by eliminating these friction points. An Uber and a taxi are the same in that they both involve a car and a driver getting me from point A to B. But aside from that the experience is COMPLETELY different.
By focusing on friction – everything that customers HATE about taking taxis – Uber has created a fiercely loyal customers.
Has your company conducted a friction audit with customers? Employees? Suppliers?

Speed of Processes
It used to be big companies that dominated small ones. Today it’s the fast that are crushing the slow.
In the 1990s it took 8 weeks from when you had your car accident till you got your cheque in the mail from your insurance company. One insurance company completely re-engineered its internal processes and it now settles more than 50% of its claims within 8 hours. This is a 99.4% reduction in time. But we can’t remain complacent.
Lemonade is a insurance start-up in New York City that in 2017 set the world record for the fastest claims settlement ever of just 3 seconds!

Collaboration & Engagement: Realizing the Full Potential of People

Who’s in charge of Wikipedia? No one. And yet volunteers have invested 100 MILLION hours of time creating the content.

Most people believe that large companies use less than 50% of the skills and motivation of employees. Some say it’s less than 10%! This is the challenge for organizations: unleashing the full potential of people.

Some companies won’t let people buy $1.19 of paperclips from Staples without getting approval. And yet what do we accomplish outside work? We negotiate $500,000 mortgages. Is there some latent potential that isn’t being tapped?

Do your children have more potential than they realize? Do you have more potential than you realize? Shooting for extracting 100% of skills and motivation from employees may be shooting too low. How can we achieve 150%?

With millions of baby boomers retiring from the North American work force, new ways of engaging employees in collaborating will be essential. How can organizations unleash more talent, creativity and innovation?

I interviewed Rob McEwen, the CEO of Goldcorp. He took an executive education course and learned about the open source movement. Returning to his firm, he decided to apply this new economy concept to an unprofitable gold mine at Red Lake.

He created a global competition with a $250,000 first prize, and had all the geological and seismic data published on the web. Goldcorp licensed 3D software that you could download a free client and model the data.

His engineers freaked out, saying, “This is our proprietary data.” McEwen’s response was, “Well how’s that working for you? The mine is unprofitable!”

When the first entry arrived his engineers couldn’t read it. They’d never modeled in 3D – so they got busy up skilling.

Robert estimates he received $10 million of consulting. As a result, Goldcorp realized entirely new ways of mining.

Mining firms are valued on proven reserves. The competition doubled Red Lake’s and set Goldcorp on the path to becoming the second most valuable gold mining company globally. Goldcorp was worth $90 million when McEwen became CEO and more than $10 billion when he retired. That’s a 100X valuation increase.

The key question for leaders today is, how do we use new and different strategies to better engage all people in our enterprise?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Why is CRM so important? How can CRM increase profitability? Reduce the chance of being disrupted? And increase the chance your organization will disrupt your competitors? What are the best CRM practices?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is critical for organizations:

  • Lexus sales are two percent of Toyota’s sales but 33 percent of the company’s profit;
  • In the UK, the top six percent of cola drinkers drink 60 percent of all cola sold there;
  • Business travelers account for only 8-10 per cent of air passengers but produce over 40 per cent of commercial airlines revenue.
  • It costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one;

Imagine that a car rental company hosts a customer appreciation event at a 40,000-seat baseball stadium. Every customer comes, filling the stadium. The company’s best customers, those who rented 25 per cent of all vehicle rentals, would represent 0.02 percent of attendees or just 80 people! In other words, the 80 best customers do 1/3 of the business of the remaining 39,920 added together!

Most companies can’t even name their customers, let alone identify their most important ones. So to communicate with their best customers, most companies in this situation would take a mass marketing approach, talking to all customers at the same time. So within the stadium they would advertise on the stadium monitor and make public announcements.

If the company was using CRM, it would identify the 80 most important customers, and it likely would not hold the event. Instead it would spend more money providing value-added services to those 80 customers. In this way, the company could ensure it retained its most profitable customers and prevent a competitor from luring them away.

A sharp competitor however, hearing about the event, could work to identify the customers of its competitor that would likely be the most valuable and send in 80 sales reps to sit beside these frequent renters during the game, buy them a beer and a hot dog and find out what it would take to win their business. At the end of the game, the competitor could walk out with 25 percent of the company’s business and the non-CRM company would not even know what had happened.

The car rental company would be left to service 39,920 customers but with 25 per cent less revenue.

The Smart Revolution: Smart Cities, Communities & Building

How smart buildings, communities & cities are changing the way we live

Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term applied to connected devices that are connected to the web. By 2020 there will be 50 billion IoT devices globally that will create $17 trillion dollars of value – in the form of savings, new value for customers and new products and services.

An IoT device is simply connected via WiFi or cellular to the internet and can provide value without human input. Smart buildings, communities and cities are using technology in innovative ways.

Some homeowners can no longer get insurance coverage for basement flooding. One solution is an IoT rain barrels. In the days before a predicted rain storm, the rain barrels slowly empty, creating capacity to store a downpour deluge and mitigate flooding.

Smart Buildings
Smart buildings can save on capital AND operating costs. In Toronto the construction of PwC tower saved $1 million on construction costs by implementing smart technologies.

Normally in a commercial building there will be 35 network cables running up the core: telephone, Internet, fire, elevator, security, cameras etc.

Historically each system was proprietary. So the Otis elevator cabling and system could only be repaired and serviced by Otis. But at 17 York the developer chose to run IP – Internet Protocol – cabling. Every supplier had to embrace open standards. That meant in turn that at any time in the future, tenants would be able to switch suppliers.

Blockchain & Shaving Peak Electricity
In North America peak electricity demand occurs on hot summer days when everyone is running air conditioning. Peak will represent 8 hours out of 8,760 hours a year. Historically electrical utilities have built gas peaker plants to cope with peak demand. But new technology can change all that.

Imagine the utility using blockchain technology, negotiates with my Nest or Ecobee home thermostat to power down the air conditioning (AC) for just 5 minutes during peak, and agrees to pay $1.62 for it. The blockchain would enforce the contract to: 1) make sure the system actually turned off the AC for the entire five minute period and 2) to ensure credit was applied to my next month’s bill.

With blockchain millions of similar negotiations will happen in seconds with of customers simultaneously.

Topics Jim covers

Current topics are on disruptive innovation, blockchain, AI, CRM, digital transformation as well as all my traditional talks. I have more than 40 days of material and customize everything.

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