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Dairy Facts 2016

Futurist Jack Uldrich Says Look to AHA Moments for Growth

Jan 24, 2018
Jack Uldrich, global futurist and author

The shutdown of the federal government this week, however brief, forced two Dairy Forum speakers to cancel their plans to attend. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Deputy Agriculture Secretary Steve Censky were unable to attend, but Rep. Goodlatte sent a video message for attendees. View the video here.

Fortunately, Jack Uldrich, a renowned futurist and author, was the perfect replacement to kick-off the conversation about shaping the future of dairy during the Chairman’s Lecture Sunday night. The best way to start, Uldrich said, was to look for big AHA moments through heightened awareness, humility and action.


Noting that the future can unfold in unexpected ways, Uldrich said having heightened awareness will allow leaders to uncover opportunities in novel places. Self-driving trucks piloted by robotics are already on the road, he said, and a dairy farmer in California is using artificial intelligence designed to recognize the faces of individual cows to optimize feed distribution.

In today’s business world, every company is in the data business, and the leaders that succeed will find ways to use that data and give consumers what they want before they know they want it. Amazon making deliveries by drone and collecting data in the process is a perfect example of that trend, he said.


But awareness is not enough; leaders need humility to keep an open mind and embrace ambiguity to spot opportunities before the competition, he said. To avoid getting locked into seeing ideas only one way, Uldrich recommended “reverse mentoring” with younger colleagues who can “open your eyes to innovations that might be right in front of you,” Uldrich said.


Combining awareness and humility with action often provides the AHA moments that innovators need, he said. Uldrich encouraged attendees to take a week every year to think about the future, even though that may seem like a luxury. He challenged attendees to begin by taking 15 minutes every Friday at 4:45 p.m. to think about the future, saying, “If you’re not thinking about the future of dairy, who is?”

Paraphrasing Peter Drucker, a recognized master of business management, Uldrich concluded by saying, “The only way to shape the future is to create it yourself.”

For more insight into Uldrich’s ideas on innovation and the future, visit his Twitter page and blog.

Dairy Delivers