A great video describing innovation in the education space. Special thanks to April Harris for pulling together another impactful video! Join the conversation on this and other topics by visiting the Reimagining the Future YouTube Channel.
I had a discussion last week that focused on a post-digital world. It was an open question about the state of digital and the related transformation journey. Although the digital maturity of organizations is not where I envisioned it – and Covid-19 underscored the point – digital should be a foundational piece of a bigger story. The continued digital discussion ignores the bigger contributions of science and the boardroom conversations around purpose and innovation. A recent article goes one step further in declaring that the digital era is over, and we are in a New Era of Innovation. In it, Greg Satell makes the exact argument I made above.Continue reading
“Without good stories to help us envision something very different from the present, we humans are easily stuck in our conventional mental programming.”
Per Espen Stoknes
That quote captures a phenomenon that has plagued humans throughout history. In a recent article, Per Espen Stoknes looks at 250 Years of Innovation and what it reveals about the future. History is indeed very revealing, a fact that explains why Futurists spend so much time in the past. Whether it is the Uncanny Similarities to the 1920’s or other Lessons from History, applying history is very instructive. That quote speaks to a status quo bias that has existed in every age. As the article’s author describes, we have a strong emotional bias that prefers the current state of affairs over change. That bias now hampers our response to an ecologically destructive future. The article views the topic through this lens.Continue reading
As we look ahead to our continued human development, it is easy to focus on things like energy, transport, health, and food. Changes in these areas grow more evident by the day. But what about clothing? We rarely think of innovation in the context of what we wear, and for good reason: clothing has not really changed (except for style) in a long time. Clothing, however, is expected to change dramatically, according to a recent Article by Jared Lindzon. Advancements in manufacturing in four primary areas are the reason. Those advancements are increased connectivity; data; computational power; analytics; machine learning; artificial intelligence; human-machine interaction; and advanced engineering.Continue reading
While COVID-19 is an acknowledged accelerant, we are accelerating towards a known destination. Remote learning and working should have evolved sooner; the digital foundation should have been a priority earlier; eCommerce should have exploded by now; and last-mile delivery is only just beginning. Although we may arrive at this destination sooner, acceleration now draws scenarios that are further out closer. Those that may have been reluctant to order online overcame their fears. The elderly on zoom calls is now a thing. With broader societal adoption comes an ability to more aggressively pursue innovative ideas that may have been further out. When combined with learning that comes from broader adoption, acceleration becomes a virtuous cycle.Continue reading
“Standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world” – Lauren Bacall
By now, it should surprise no one that the world is changing very rapidly, but just how fast is an open question. Michael Simmons explores that question in a recent Article. When looking at the future back in 1930, the big concern was how to use the leisure time enabled by technology. Instead, a quote from the article describes the world that actually emerged:
“Rather than being bored to death, our actual challenge is to avoid anxiety attacks, psychotic breakdowns, heart attacks, and strokes resulting from being accelerated to death.”Geoffrey West
In a Post from 2016, I explored the balance required when the forces of innovation take hold. The pace of innovation four years ago was already staggering, and the engine that drives it continues unabated. From that post:
The unabated exponential progression of science and technology has driven a staggering pace of innovation. The building blocks are mostly there, allowing creative minds to combine them in ways that attack the world’s most difficult challenges. Additional forces have emerged to position the next two decades as a period that is purpose-focused and transformative. Innovation itself is no longer the sole purview of business, universities, government, and military, as our connected world provides an ideation and innovation engine never seen before.
By now, readers of my Blog know that I have been researching the catalysts of human action for over 18 months. I have used a poll to gather insights from the community. I posted Results a while back, and am providing an update via this post. As a reminder of the topic, here is an excerpt from a Post back in April 2019:Continue reading
More votes have come in since I last reported on my poll. The question based on history is this: what catalysts drive human action in the future? It took two world wars and a great depression to drive humans to act in ways that prevented reoccurrence and advanced human development. In a world that looks eerily similar to that era, we once again wonder about catalysts. Here are the current results.Continue reading
As I mentioned in a recent Post, the global pandemic has altered how we think about our world. However, one thing is constant if not amplified by it: society needs to act if we hope to shape a future that advances human development. The rapid pace of innovation – riding on antiquated institutions – required our attention pre-pandemic. In a post-pandemic world, both of those factors are amplified. The inadequacies of our institutions are more visible now than ever; and innovation that may have unfolded over years is realized in months.Continue reading
Seems like an eternity has past since I first launched this Poll on the catalysts that drive human action. As I mentioned back then, one of our Lessons from History was the presence of catalysts that drove actions that ultimately shaped our future. The major catalysts of the second revolution were astounding levels of innovation, World War One, The Great Depression, World War Two, and the eventual democratization of innovation. The question I asked in the poll was: What catalysts force stakeholder actions that ultimately shape our emerging future?
I recently added a new book to my Book Library. Authors Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler explore the acceleration of technology and the Upheaval we are likely to experience in the coming decade. Diamandis and Kotler investigate how exponentially accelerating technologies converge and impact both our lives and society as a whole. They ask key questions like: how will these convergences transform today’s legacy industries? What will happen to the way we raise our kids, govern our nations, and care for our planet?
In this recent Article, the authors describe the future of food in a way that captures the massive change driven by one future scenario: in this case, Food 2.0. Setting aside the changes likely in the form of lab-grown meats and 3D Printed foods, this story is more fundamental: it’s about farming. The article describes the current state of the industry, mostly one in decline.
As a foundational piece of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 5G is likely to drive the human development that many anticipate. Viewing 5G through the lens of convergence provides an organizing principle that allows us to leverage insight across domains and derive foresight as a result. 5G, the next generation of cellular mobile communications technology, is the best example of convergence – as geopolitics is getting involved in emerging technology decisions and technology discussions are influencing geopolitics.
Many Future Scenarios are spawned by convergence across multiple domains. The most obvious Convergence is occurring between science and technology. I have been posting links to numerous articles that explore possible futures. These futures are important for us to understand, as they usher in a very Pivotal Decade. Here is another set of articles that help us envision the future.
A recent article regarding Moore’s Law explores the winding down of a phenomenon that has impacted the world considerably since Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel, predicted that the number of components that could fit on a microchip would double every year. The article states that Moore’s Law has begun to reach its natural end, as efficiently manufacturing smaller transistors gets more difficult. Author Tom Hoggins projects that by the mid-2020s, the law will have plateaued completely as production costs increase and transistors reach their physical limits.
The pictures I try to paint of our emerging future rely upon the continued expansion of our compute power and its synergistic relationship with energy. An example of a Virtuous Cycle in action, as advances in one area drive compelling reasons for advancement in the other. Realizing innovations’ potential to advance the human development envisioned by my Innovation Wheel relies on continued advancement in both areas. As the author states, Moore’s Law has in some ways eliminated the need for creativity in both design and manufacturing. As it comes to an end, a new era of creativity is likely to bridge the gap between the wind-down and a new computing paradigm such as quantum computing.
We already see creativity in advancements such as neural network processors that support the processing needs of AI solutions. The author strikes a positive tone, as he sees new approaches emerging to both software and processor architecture. The opportunity for innovators and investors is very large.
This recent Article highlights the progress made in brain science, our focus on solving grand world challenges, and the critical need to continue this advancement. The article describes how a paralyzed man using only his brain signals was able to operate, maneuver, and walk in a whole-body robotic exoskeleton. This press release provides more details. The findings could advance efforts to help paralyzed patients drive computers using brain signals alone; “perhaps starting with driving wheelchairs using brain activity instead of joysticks and progressing to developing an exoskeleton for increased mobility,” says Stephan Chabardes, neurosurgeon from the CHU of Grenoble-Alpes, France.
The further Backward you Look, the Further Forward you can See – Winston Churchill
I really like this quote from Winston Churchill. In a previous post on Learning from History, I was trying to say the same thing. One of the key learnings in looking back at our most transformative period (late nineteenth, early twentieth century), was the Convergence that occurred across multiple domains. I had developed a visual to capture a convergence phenomenon that took place over a one hundred year period – some have called this a Special Century. I updated the visual with new content (click the visual to expand). The color scheme shows the convergence that occurred across the business, science, technology, political, societal and economic domains. The red boxes represent the Catalysts that drove this convergence.
In a recent post, I asked my readers to help me identify those catalysts that force the actions required to steer our future towards advancing our human development. Feel free to respond to the Poll. The number one response was the rapid pace of innovation. That response supports my own opinion that the pace will ultimately force stakeholders across multiple domains to take action. Much like the Domain Convergence that occurred during our most Transformative Period in History, convergence is required if we are to take the correct path towards human flourishing.
Our future is very complex. The sheer number of building blocks complicates not just our ability to see the future, but any chance we have to navigate it. As these building blocks combine in ever increasing ways, the challenges multiply. Leaders of tomorrow will move towards systemic leadership, having an ability to connect dots. Innovation will move from a myopic view of offerings to systems innovation.
To accomplish this, systems thinking must be embraced by leaders. Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. As leaders, we struggle with this holistic approach, choosing instead to focus on short term versus long term, and delivering immediate results versus positioning for the future. This focus is in direct conflict with where our complex future is taking us.