Take a moment and think about the future with me.
The next 11 years, to be precise.
What do you think could happen on the world stage - and behind the scenes - in the next 11 years that might affect you? In that time period, a number of trends are going to play out, changing the landscape in dozens of ways - politically, socially, economically. We will have made possibly startling technological advances. We will have myriad new products to buy. And we will face challenges that are maybe only dimly recognizable as potential problems today.
We will think differently, because the future - in some as yet unknown way - will be different. That means our attitudes and expectations will change, too.
Nobody knows what actually will change over the next 11 years, but:
- What could change?
- What is likely to change?
- What is almost certain to change?
If you are responsible for making sure your organization stays competitive in the future - whether you're heading up a Fortune 500 company, a small start-up, or the local YMCA - you need to think about how your world might be different in just a few short years. So have you thought about these questions? Are you and your organization ready for the changes ahead?
This different way of thinking about the future is what this web site is all about. It is also the subject of my new book Scenario Planning: A Field Guide to the Future.
Welcome to 11 Changes!
On this web site, you can read about some fascinating and unusual developments I believe we will see over the next decade or so.
You'll also read about scenario planning, a technique for visualizing the alternative paths that the future may take. Scenario planning helps you see that at any point in time, there is not one single future that is certain, but a whole range of possible futures, depending on how today's trends and events develop. It helps you understand that, even though you can't be sure which future will emerge, it is worthwhile to be prepared for any of them.
A portfolio of wild and woolly ideas about where we're headed
You'll find some thoughts here on 11 themes that I think will play a role in shaping the future. Why did I choose these particular developments to showcase – and why should you care? The reason is not only because they’re interesting to think about, but because I believe they have the potential to significantly alter the business landscape in which your company will be competing in the next few years.
For example, many of your customers eleven years from now are teenagers - or even younger - today. How will they think and behave differently compared to the people who are your customers right now?
As the future landscape takes shape, new markets and opportunities might be revealed. But so could new threats. New competitors might enter your landscape – or new substitutes for your company’s products and services might emerge out of nowhere and become dangerously attractive to your customers.
People might structure their entire lives differently, and relationships with institutions such as schools, governments and media – not to mention within the family itself – might be very different.
Even the map of the world is not likely to be the same.
In short, the world in the early 2020’s will be a different place from today – in some cases very much so. The decade ahead is sure to be full of surprises.
But as John Naisbitt, author of the book Megatrends, said, “The future is embedded in the present.” If that’s true, then what could be more instructive than taking a good look around at the trends and developments happening all around us today, and thinking about where they might lead us? That is the essence of scenario planning.
Some of the 11 changes described here are already underway. However, even though they’re happening right under our noses, their full impact won’t be felt for a while yet. Others are less certain to come about, but depending on how trends already visible today play out, they are definitely possible – and could have a big impact if they do become reality.
By understanding these trends and applying some creative thinking, it’s possible to envisage the world that could emerge. It's a weird and wonderful place!
I wish you a thought-provoking read. And I invite you to let me know what you think of these ideas. It would be a pleasure to discuss them with you.