Future trends that we should already be planning for

As a systems thinker I have long had an interest in the future. I notice what is going on and integrate observations with different trends, and draw conclusions.

It is amazing how many major developments I have been able to foresee, or at least wonder about before they happened.

Some years ago I was on the board of the South African Business Club in London. If there was an important visitor from South Africa, there was a good chance that they would address one of our meetings. One was Clem Sunter, who introduced us to his scenario planning model. It is very simple, yet very powerful, and we use it as one of our core processes in Brefi Group.

As a result, I am always delighted to learn about other people’s analysis of trends into the future.

Here are some trends I learned from Judy Piatkus:

1. Demographics

The world’s population is getting older. It is rapidly becoming urbanised, people are having smaller families. The new generation of baby boomers are wealthy and have a significant disposable income.

2. Technology

Medical developments are allowing people to live longer. In future people will have 50 year careers. Look out for the long term impact of nanotechnology and IT in general. Facebook and YouTube have been with us only since 2005. New energy resources or the use of different energy resources will impact on the environment, global politics and distribution of power.

3. Connectivity

4 billion people have phones. Connectivity allows learning about other people’s lives. Private lives become public. iPad and tablets to be a major new learning tool.

4. Companies getting smaller

More people becoming part time or freelance, huge growth in networking. A move towards project working based on the Internet. Multiple streams of income. No need for fixed overheads or staff.

5. Everybody is powerful

Customers will tweet or write on Facebook. Importance of transparency. Activists and lobbying movements operating through social networking and use of the Internet.

6. Power shift west to east

USA in debt/individual states on verge of bankruptcy. Massive migration. Cultures mixing and connecting.

7. Environment

Looking for new ways to do things. Everybody thinking about the planet/environment – all in the last five years. Sustainability.

You can find out more about scenario planning at www.brefigroup.co.uk/facilitation/scenario_planning.html

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