And if that is the case, what's next? Extrapolating insights from what we can forecast about the future comes from experience. I never envisioned myself in research, but if I ever did make such move, I would work as strategist at a "think and do" tank. Two of my strongest characteristics are connecting and contextualizing.
What you see here is an image of the 2008 Map of the Decade by the Institute of the Future. You may download your copy here. As the center itself explains:
There are five main stories that weave their ways with people, practices and tools -
- diasporas - the new emerging economies
- civil society - the evolution of civic infrastructure
- food - the flashpoint
- ecosystems - management in the context of life
- amplified individuals - the extended human reality
If you wish to take an in depth look at the trends, download the paper on perspectives and the summary of signals. I am particularly interested in the fifth story around superhero organizations. We have been taking about personal brands. IFTF says:
as digital natives enter the workplace with superhero skills like ping quotient, mobbability, influency, and protovation, they will create supercharged organizations that see themselves as beta systems, constantly reinventing themselves through rapid prototyping.
It's worth reading the whole report. We may finally begin to simulate the future from the bottom up - that's where the changes begin and propagate, at the edges, in biology and in organizations. If your work involves any kind of planning, you might want to take a close look at the signals. I'm digging the cooperation radar, emergensight, and the longboarding - how about you?
I came across the Future Exploration Network because coincidences have it that their tagline closely resembles mine - we're both connecting ideas and people. Here, talk can change our lives, there, we're going to the edge of the future. They created a visualization of trends for 2009 that also resembles a biological system. It's a multi-tentacled hydra.
They list eleven trends - Global connectivity; Anxiety; Volatility; Uncertainty; Debt; Power shift; Eastwards; Ageing; GRIN technologies; Digitalisation; Climate change; and Sustainability weaved into eight sectors - Society; Technology; Economy; Environment; Politics; Business; Family; and Media.
If you're interested in the business of blogging and the future of social networks, you may find some interesting thoughts on What's Next current report.
Why do we care about the future? Isn't what happens now more important?
My take on this is twofold:
1) by being attuned with what happens now, we can more accurately infer the consequences or results that await us in the future. If you've been online for a couple of years, you can already predict what people will be interested in, what will be popular and what will get you on top of the charts. Sure, it still takes work to do the work, but the foresight to insight is here.
2) shifting our focus to some of the current stories actually gives them more power. What is important to you gains greater attention and thus momentum and has a greater chance of happening. By allocating more resources and energy to something, we help it along to reality. This power of intention is why it's so important to remain positive and supportive.
Future of Agency
The future of the agency business to me is where we have true agents, people who are in action and instrumental to the operations of that business - more than just mere services authorized to act for others. This is an issue of clarity and confidence in quality.
If I were an agency today, I would seek those who have consistently demonstrated a hunger for learning, experimenting and doing throughout their career, putting their skin in the game and being fanatical about results. This was my prediction last December. Have we gotten there?
This is a good start. For some of these changes to take hold, the whole compensation model needs to be revisited, along with the role of media - new, old, any flavor you'd like. I'm seeing an interesting future for those who have already been putting skin in the game, even though they are few and far between.
Anomaly suggested there is a different way. According to this article by CNNMoney.com - "They never even mentioned ads. They were telling us how we could make more money." Instead of just ad campaigns, Anomaly is selling an all-in-one package of services for advertising, product design, strategic consulting, and technology licensing.
My friend Michael Leis at Trellist also works with profit sharing. I'm sure there are more agencies that are beginning to use new models. Add yours in the comments, if that is the case and I will update this part of the post.
Future of the Company
The future of companies is where the interesting conversations begin - with the co-creation of value with their customers. There is action here as well. It's more than mere picking the color of your leather seats. However, there might need to be distributed quantity or collaborative alignment for quality to emerge.
That is happening also thanks to the increased use of social media by companies, as represented by their brands. Jesse Liebman pulled together a list of the ten brands to watch in social media for 2009. [hat tip to Karl Long]
If you were still to doubt the power of one person with a genuine interest in making a difference, look no further than Scott Monty. We were just talking about putting skin in the game, and Scott does just that on behalf of his employer, Ford. I'm a long time passionate Toyota driver (one of the reasons why Scott DeYager is welcome to connect), another company on Jesse's list. Yet, after reading Scott's messages, especially those at his own blog, I am starting to take notice of Ford's work.
If I were you, Scott from Toyota, I would invite people like Matthew May as guest bloggers. He is the author of Elegant Solutions,Toyota's Formula for Mastering Innovation. Have you written posts about Prius being the official taxis in Vancouver Canada? Where are the stories at your blog?
If you're going to post a series of news items, how about making them come alive? My first Toyota Camry was a stick shift. I was driving about 118 miles each way on the New Jersey turnpike three times a week. Drove like a charm and the mileage was amazing. It was the only new car I ever owned. Let's put some people on that open road. Maybe as you spend more time on Twitter, you will start getting ideas to bring back to the team writing the blog.
I'm also a big fan of Nokia, have been for years, especially of their European models.
These are some of my ideas. What are yours? What do you see in the future now? You probably noticed some new names in the report. Mash ups of existing words that take new meaning and bridge us into what's next.