In the early days of 2021, there is still an uneasy feeling involved in any search for a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, it may be that this will always remain the case. And yet, without disregarding or minimizing the tragedy that the pandemic has inflicted all across the globe, there are certain potential positives coming to light.Continue reading
In looking at transformative periods throughout history, it is apparent that Convergence was a critical driver of change. While I am still hopeful of the ultimate convergence across societal, political, environmental, philosophic, economic, and business domains, it is clear that convergence is already occurring in the science and technology domains. This synergistic relationship where advances in one domain fuels rapid advances in the other is the force behind our rapid pace. As we saw in the Poll that looked at the catalysts that drive convergence, it is this rapid pace of innovation that many believe will ultimately drive it. This initial convergence is altering long-held Beliefs and Intuitions – eventually forcing convergence across the other domains.
Updated results: April 9th, 2019. The response has been great, but I’d like to capture more voices. Please consider taking this very short Poll.
In a recent post on What to Expect in 2019, I launched three focus areas for the coming year. This focus attempts to identify the key drivers of change and the outcomes they enable. The three areas are:
- Convergence is one of the key dynamics I expect/hope to see more of this year. A century ago, convergence across multiple domains ushered in unprecedented advancements in human development. Multiple forces will drive a similar level of convergence in the coming decade.
- The pace of innovation and change is often cited as a key difference between the next revolution and prior ones. This is one of the key catalysts driving change, and I expect it to Accelerate.
- I believe the world will experience a burst of Possibilities enabled by these forces of convergence and acceleration
As I described in my Thoughts on 2019 post, convergence is one of the key dynamics I expect/hope to see more of this year. A century ago, a convergence across domains ushered in unprecedented advancements in human development. As Robert J. Gordon describes, the special century (1870 – 1970) that followed the Civil War was made possible by a unique clustering of what Mr. Gordon calls the great inventions. The great inventions of the second industrial revolution significantly improved our well-being. In his view, the economic revolution of 1870-1970 was unique in human history, unrepeatable because many of its achievements could only happen once. What makes this century so special, is that these inventions altered what until then, was a life lived in misery. I captured the advancements made during that period using an Innovation Wheel to map them to our areas of well-being (click on visuals in this post to open in a separate window).
A look at history is very instructive, as several dynamics from that period have the potential to emerge once again – the biggest being the opportunity for convergence. In this context, convergence refers to a virtuous cycle where events in one domain spur action in another. The great inventions (electricity, telephone, and internal combustion engine) were clustered together at the end of the 19th century, forming a virtuous cycle that drove a period of astounding innovation. This innovation cycle continued well into the 20th century – a dynamic that could be emerging again. Yet, science and technology are simply two domains that converged during the special century. The others were the economy, business, politics, and a broader set of societal issues. What enabled this convergence and created the most dramatic improvement in human development? There were several key catalysts.
This recent Article focuses on the failure of MBA programs to prepare leaders and innovators to cope with a fast-changing world: leaders that can put the long-term health of their company and customers first. Here is the bottom line straight from the article:
Far from empowering business, MBA education has fostered the sort of short-term, balance-sheet-oriented thinking that is threatening the economic competitiveness of the country as a whole. If you wonder why most businesses still think of shareholders as their main priority or treat skilled labor as a cost rather than an asset – or why 80 percent of CEOs surveyed in one study said they’d pass up making an investment that would fuel a decade’s worth of innovation if it meant they’d miss a quarter of earnings results – it’s because that’s exactly what they are being educated to do
At a recent KPMG Robotic Innovations event, Futurist and friend Gerd Leonhard delivered a keynote titled “The Digital Transformation of Business and Society: Challenges and Opportunities by 2020”. I highly recommend viewing the Video of his presentation. As Gerd describes, he is a Futurist focused on foresight and observations – not predicting the future. We are at a point in history where every company needs a Gerd Leonhard. For many of the reasons presented in the video, future thinking is rapidly growing in importance. As Gerd so rightly points out, we are still vastly under-estimating the sheer velocity of change.
With regard to future thinking, Gerd used my future scenario slide to describe both the exponential and combinatorial nature of future scenarios – not only do we need to think exponentially, but we also need to think in a combinatorial manner. Gerd mentioned Tesla as a company that really knows how to do this.
I had the pleasure of joining SAP’s Coffee Break with Game Changers Radio Show on August 5th. This was my third appearance on the show, and I was joined by Futurist Gray Scott and SAP Global Innovation Evangelist Timo Elliott. The show titled “Emerging Paradigms and the Future of Business” was part two of a series that was expertly moderated by Bonnie D. Graham. Part one of the series was a discussion on Decentralization.
The show abstract: The pace and scale of change is hitting unprecedented levels. This presents unique challenges for the future of business. We’re seeing new and emerging paradigms, exciting innovations in energy, challenges due to resource scarcity, big implications for the climate and environment, an increasing blurring of physical and digital boundaries, growing business decentralization, exponential progression, and many more global drivers – all contributing to an uncertain future. Futurists worldwide, including our panellists, are examining these factors and assessing their potential business impact. Some of the critical questions to address:
- What factors will shape our future?
- What new leadership skills will be needed?
- How will leaders deal with challenges and implications outside of their base of experience?
To the readers of my Blog: a fascinating book titled The Future of Business was released last week. The lead Editor for the book was Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future Research and Fast Future Publishing. This is a must read for anyone interested in where the world is going in the next 20 years, and its broad implications for individuals, society, business and government. From Mr. Talwar:
“The Future of Business is the first book in the FutureScapes series. The book focuses on the critical social and economic forces, business trends, disruptive technologies, breakthrough developments in science and new ideas that could reshape the commercial environment over the next two decades. It explores how these future factors could come together to force a fundamental rethinking of the purpose, strategy, business models, values and structures of organizations as they seek to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing reality.”
I highly recommend this book
This Presentation tells the full business evolution story articulated below.
Several key drivers have positioned the next two decades to deliver a staggering – perhaps unprecedented – amount of change. The accelerating pace of business, the growing impact of digital, and several other major indicators suggest that a next generation enterprise is on the horizon. The first of these indicators is the level of societal change impacting everything from business to war. In the business world, the implications of this change can be seen in our employees, where for the first time in history, four generations of workers are in our work force. The associated challenges are coming into focus, as some of these workers are digital natives, but the vast majorities are digital immigrants. With customers, the shift of power to the individual has changed their role forever and placed them at the center of the company ecosystem. Other indicators include an intense focus on growth, which increasingly requires collaboration within and outside the four walls of the Enterprise. This growth agenda drives a new type of value ecosystem, enabling growth that in many cases is outside a company’s traditional business.
This post continues the disruption scenario discussion initiated by my earlier Insurance Industry Case Study. I’ve been using the autonomous vehicle (AV) as an example of a disruptive scenario with potential societal, economical, and environmental impact. In this post, the focus shifts to the scenario’s possible effect on the automotive ecosystem.
Autonomous vehicle technology can be viewed using a five-part continuum suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with different benefits realized at different levels of automation:
Last month, an IHS Automotive study predicted the world will have nearly 54 million self-driving cars by 2035. The study also predicts that nearly all vehicles in use are likely to be self-driving cars or self-driving commercial vehicles sometime after 2050. Meanwhile, automakers and others are unveiling both their plans for – and introduction of – automated features: