As part of our recent work to help organisations become more future-proof, we identified hundreds of seismic shifts in external context that will increasingly impact every business during these volatile and uncertain times.
We narrowed that long list down to what we believe are the 10 biggest trends for the 2020s and beyond. In this article we’ll look at the first half of that list, and discuss an approach that can help all of us prepare for what’s ahead.
In no particular order of scale of impact, here’s five of the ten big trends we can expect:
Adaptation will become as big an issue as carbon reduction
Adaptation will become one of the dominant drivers for businesses and governments. As the Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk report said in 20211: climate change is “here, now”. And, according to a recent government report2, four million people and £200bn of assets are at risk from flooding and the rising seas. An associated question to ponder: some scientists will continue to debate the severity of the expected impacts, should they be given a voice?
We are entering an age of great migrations
Climate change could force 216m people to migrate within their own countries, according to the World Bank3. Migration inside and outside country borders will increase nationalism and the risk of social unrest. Another of those questions: is there a role for government in encouraging people to consider the value of multiculturalism?
Our governments won’t rise to the challenge
A House of Lords report in late 2021 concluded government planning around extreme risks was weak and secretive4. Cities, communities and businesses will begin to act in the absence of leadership. What’s your view: in the absence of political will, is there a commercial imperative for businesses to encourage community resilience to protect their assets?
Location intelligence will inform marketing strategies and public policy
Geospatial data is here. The analysis of local data (location intelligence) will become a competitive differentiator for many businesses. Combined with deep data to understand local sentiment, location intelligence will be of massive value for every sector, as well as for governments and charities. Do you imagine a backlash against the gathering and use of this data, even if it’s done transparently?
New insights on our humanity will change everything
Everything we thought we knew about our humanity may not be true. Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience and social sciences help us revisit our assumptions. There’s new thinking about how we make sense of the world through mental models, how specific beliefs, behaviours and triggers effect neurotransmitters, how the dynamics of our social nature work, and what motivates people to act. These discoveries will have major implications for products, services, culture, communities and organisational development. Could new insight into how people make decisions impact how your organisation operates?
Become future proof
These are all massive contextual shifts that, even in isolation, will likely have huge, ongoing impacts on business, society and the environment. To help organisations understand and prepare for these coming changes, we’ve created a suite of practical techniques and ‘hacks’.
You can find more detail on all of them at the link below, but for now let’s focus on a simple tool to help you plan for the future. Imagine it as building a bridge from where you are to where you want to be…
- Define the parameters: focus on the challenge, your goal, and the principles and process that will guide you.
- Gather the evidence: embrace big data, deep data, and data based on empathy.
- Analyse the evidence: prioritise your findings and present them for discussion.
- Imagine the futures: define your plausible futures, your probable future and your preferred future.
- Create traction: define ownership, reporting and next steps.
- Activate: change mindsets and skillsets, and define practical actions to bring the preferred future to life.
We’ll explore the remaining five megatrends next month, and another tool or two to help you prepare for what’s ahead. In the meantime, you can access all of that insight (and more) right now, by downloading our free report Future Proof.
And if you want a chat about how to become a more sustainable business, just drop me a line at Tim.Parr@How-on-earth.co.uk