Resilience Is Top Of Mind These Days

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. That word is suddenly in everyone’s vocabulary. Whether it is individual or organizational, resilience helps us withstand adversity and bounce back. The pandemic can be credited for our heightened awareness, but it was just a matter of time before we all got here. The factors described in my Post yesterday describe why: complexity, pace, volatility, unpredictability, and the unexpected. These factors have always been there, but during specific transformative eras throughout human history, they combined in ways that challenged the existing order.

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What Does A Recent Trend Study Tells Us About The Future?

Each year the Future Today Institute releases a very comprehensive trend study during SXSW. I just finished getting through this very comprehensive installment. In announcing this year’s report, Founder Amy Webb had this to say:

The cataclysmic events of the past year resulted in a significant number of new signals. As a result, we’ve analyzed nearly 500 tech and science trends across multiple industry sectors. Rather than squeezing the trends into one enormous tome as we usually do, we are instead publishing 12 separate reports with trends grouped by subject. We are including what we’ve called Book Zero, which shows how we did our work. There is also an enormous, 504-page PDF with all content grouped together as one document.

Well, Amy was not kidding, there is quite a bit to digest. The 12 separate reports referenced can be downloaded Here. As I do with each look into the future, I captured some highlights from this year’s trend study. I will start however with an important observation that Amy made in the opening of the report.

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The Changing Nature Of Clothing

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.

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Sustainability: Not Just Talk Anymore

Sustainability is not a new topic. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have been in place since 2015 and were adopted by 193 countries. At the heart of these goals lies our desire to advance our Human Development. We may be in a better position to do so now then we have in quite some time. In fact, History tells us that the last time we experienced a period of great human development spanned the century from 1870 to 1970. While there have been notable efforts to realize these U.N. goals, progress has been slow. Let’s take energy as an example. It is a big part of the sustainability story and the Future of Energy has been discussed for years. However, progress towards that future has been slow. That could all change in the next decade. Several forces are Converging to accelerate the path of energy. One of those forces is a shift in orientation to purpose:

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Reflect, Reimagine, and Reset

“The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.” Klaus Schwab – Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

Way back in 2010 when I launched this Blog, its purpose was to focus on reimagining. What will the world look like in twenty years? Ten years into that journey, the word reimagine seems like the right choice. The quote above from Klaus Schwab captures it well. While the pandemic may indeed serve as a catalyst for reflection, reimagining, and an ultimate reset, we have been here before – only to return to the status quo.

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The Rise Of the Smart City

In my ongoing search for signals that point to potential futures, I both stumble upon great insight, or am made aware of it. When it’s the latter, I wrestle with how much to share. I use the value of the insight as my decision criteria, and in the case of this smart city infographic, I am compelled to share. However, this insight (and all other signals) must be viewed through the lens of the current pandemic. What, if anything, is impacted as a result  of changes in human behavior? For example, will the projections of mass urbanization hold, or will fear of living in dense areas reverse that trend – essentially serving as an obstacle? Does the city revenue shortfall accelerate the march towards a Next Generation of Productivity? Does a growing appreciation for science shine a light on climate change, thereby accelerating the focus on sustainability?

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Is Any Industry Safe From disruption?

I recently dipped my toe into the Metals and Mining waters and walked away with the reinforcement that every industry is susceptible to disruption. There has long been a feeling that non-digital industries are safe from the power of disruption. In a recent piece on a New Economic Paradigm, this topic is explored in greater depth, questioning the long term viability of not just current industry structures – but the economic paradigm itself. 

Disruptive scenario analysis should be a critical focus for every business across every industry. In addition, as these scenarios converge, the implications of this convergence to a given industry or industries must be understood. The anchor visual below identifies a number of scenarios to consider. Let’s take a look at disruption in the context of the Metals and Mining industry, as well as some possible industry responses.

emerging-future

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