Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.
How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought:
Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth.
The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Friday, July 14, 2006
Dealing with Disruptive Wildcards from the Outer Circles
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories
By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories
“A lot of things happen there in that little house, but I don’t want to get into that right now. I want to tell you about Captain John Green, the brother of Grandpa. He never goes into Greendale. The closest he gets is the dock. He won’t come in. But one day, he stood on the dock talking to his crew, who are a bunch of young kids, 19-year-olds, the helmsman and the mate… he only had two guys on his crew. He was talking to them, giving them some advice…. I guess he could say, passing on some information.“
Neil Young & Crazy Horse “Greendale”
DOUBLE NICKEL RANCH. Roughly 20 decades ago Thomas Jefferson chartered Lewis and Clark to explore and open the West for trade and commerce. The Wild West closed 11 decades ago on the eve of the 20th century to make room for the industrial revolution --- The Second Wave.
Journal of 2020 Foresight: Here’s what’s staggering to me. Following the trail and then rail, a mass population migrated west from the east coast through St. Louis, Missouri and the gold and silver mines to San Francisco, California.
Trailblazer: And, the pace quickens. It took only 5 decades to advance from steam engines to electricity through the dust bowl and the great depression and World Wars I and II -- to the beginning of the golden era of television and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
J2020F: And, in our lifetime our science has taken us off the planet to the moon and launched space flights and extended our reach far beyond into the universe.
Trailblazer: Yes. It brought back photos of the big blue marble and shifted our perspectives about how fragile our life support system is encircling the earth and raised very real concerns about how our environment has been altered by our presence on it.
J2020F: As championed by the former Vice President and Baby Boomer, Al Gore, which illustrates another example of how 2005 marked the first year 50 year olds were discovered again on the front covers of business magazines and in the movie theaters.
Trailblazer: That’s because they’ll exercise a different and growing impact on the economy – while the consumer choices they make, the options they pursue and the decisions they make -- will be influenced by forces outside their control – demographics, technology, political, and environmental.
J2020F: How so?
Trailblazer: In the ‘70s they entered the workforce in droves. In short order they triggered inflation rates and real estate appreciation. Now, they’ll be exiting the workforce in droves, but not at the same pace as when they entered.
Trailblazer: Boomers will be turning 50 for two decades. The oldest tip of this 78 million-consumer group turns 60 this year. The youngest of three Boomer segments passes through its peak earning and spending years in this decade. Almost 80% say, whether they want to or will be forced to, they plan to work into their so-called retirement years.
J2020F: So, the Double Nickel – age 55 – represents generational issues confronting the Boomers and their extended family, if you will.
Trailblazer: The Boomers on the Ranch realized that at age 55 they've lived through 5 decades, half the time it took for the western frontier to open and close.
And, almost to the person they felt a growing excitement about what the next few decades might bring.
J2020F: So, they’re confident that the knowledge-economy will wrestle control from the industrial economy and, with that understanding they’ll know how to tap into hidden opportunities it will bring? As leaders of organizations, or as everyday citizens?
Trailblazer: Absolutely! But, then I’m “Mister Foresight.” I track indicators that signal it is time to change your plans.
J2020F: Can you give us some highlights? What should we be tracking?
Trailblazer: Well, I’m tracking developments in eight sub-categories around the outer ring of “The Future by Life Design” map – many of which you’ll find listed on the left-hand column under the title, “How to stimulate your own powers of foresight.”
J2020F: Such as?
Trailblazer: Such as the interplay between politics, culture and religion, so prevalent today.
J2020F: I realize this isn’t the time or place to go into detail – the implications and indicators -- major shifts are occurring, but what can you tell us about each?
Trailblazer: Let’s start with Politics. Depending upon your plans, if you lived in the U.S. and did business in the states, you’d want to better understand the difference between Democrats and Republicans as their parties gain or lose the political agenda. Which programs get cut. Which get funded. How those decisions play out are congruent with or in conflict in your state and local community – even to understanding if you were planning on moving to a new community if it is situated in a “red or blue state”.
J2020F: What else might you be interested in?
Trailblazer: Well politics is about power. So you examine international relations --- governance, legitimacy and sovereignty – and elections, campaign advertising, public opinion polls, political corruption, lobbyist influences, hot issues like legal and illegal immigration and institutional influences -- both formal and informal, as in NGOs.
Trailblazer: Non Government Organizations – special interest grass roots organizations forming to advocate single issues.
J2020F: You can’t talk about major forces – especially power – without monitoring your second subcategory – military force, and wars as in armed forces, weapons and military logistics, right?
Trailblazer: Certainly since the 9/11 with the War on Terrorism and the War in Iraq, and perhaps Iran or North Korea.
J2020F: If you follow the Tofflers and Strauss & Howe – you have to monitor these major disruptions to the world as Crisis phenomenon occurring during a transformation from a second wave (the industrial revolution) to the third wave (knowledge-intensive society).
Trailblazer: As you know, in some parts of the world you have all three waves in conflict: agrarian, industrial and knowledge-intensive.
J2020F: Which points to the other two sub-categories you mentioned -- culture and religion.
Trailblazer: Well, taking the last topic first – religion – I believe you can practice one of twenty-two recognized religions today.
J2020F: Pathfinder described how the path of original experience is interpreted by many different religions – as the same universal story, but in different local costumes – borrowing from Joseph Campbell’s life’s work.
Trailblazer: Certainly, the violent reaction to a cartoon published in a Scandinavian paper and the uproar over the blockbuster novel and movie, “The Da Vinci Code” illustrate this bubbling cauldron -- World Cultures.
J2020F: The clash of civilizations and societies. Wave wars.
Trailblazer: Yes. Some culture examples for a deeper understanding about this time in history and what the future may hold for each of us: Imperialism, Acculturation, Western Culture, Western World, Islam World, Eastern World, Culture of the US, Colonialism, Information Society, (which we’ll revisit below with our technology implications), Tribe, the process of Cultural Evolution, including a more emergent version, New Tribalists, and human-scale villages Ecovillage, and emerging Intentional Communities.
J2020F: So, civilizations, societies and cultures provide the context – or the background – against which economic transactions and social relationships dynamically mix.
Trailblazer: Well stated. Especially as an introduction to Demography, or the scientific study of human population dynamics.
J2020F: We touched on demographics when we emphasized age-stage choices of resort communities, right?
Trailblazer: Yes. We’ll come back to them later as a way of defining the best fit for Baby Boomers, or for anyone else, planning to move to a quality of life community. They are a cornerstone of market segmentation, reaching the best customer market, for your product or service and for a psychographic understanding, of purchasing behavior.
J2020F: So, back to our Boomer consumers. If the dynamic background shifts significantly – say jobs are outsourced, or companies move out of a region, or after two or more decades of raising kids parents live in empty nests, then they will change priorities and will change purchasing habits, right?
Trailblazer: Especially if 78 million do so in roughly the same time frame. Which is why you and I and a lot more advertisers take notice.
J2020F: So, there’s a direct link to economic transactions.
Trailblazer: Yes, you connected macroeconomics (economies as a whole – back to politics and government policies) to microeconomics (our households and personal businesses).
J2020F: So something you’d be tracking would be connections between the global economy and world economies on a macro level?
Trailblazer: Well, certainly the impact of globalization on local, micro levels, is what I’m tracking. What Thomas Friedman describes as Globalization 3.0 in his best selling book, “The World Is Flat.”
J2020F: Both the threats and the opportunities?
Trailblazer: Yes. And, going back to this pattern of an unraveling and then a crisis, I’m monitoring Harry Dent’s prediction that we’re in an 80-year cycle and will be experiencing a new Great Depression, the causes of the last one 77 years ago and strategies for coping on a micro and macro level, like the New Deal programs.
J2020F: You're looking for indicators and strategies – a worst-case scenario – that differentiates a depression from major imbalances in the economy, economic downturns or recessions?
Trailblazer: Yes, economic ups and downs. And last but not least, that brings us to the last sub-clusters I’m monitoring: Science, Invention, Innovation and Technology breakthroughs.
J2020F: Representing issues of major concern voiced by both Tofflers and Friedman. The United States can no longer claim leadership on a flat earth without educating more science graduates. And, therefore, its standard of living and wealth generating system will deteriorate over the long haul.
Trailblazer: That’s right. For the past several decades, developments in this cluster produced entirely new markets. The Tofflers say that in a knowledge-intensive world a whole new revolutionary wealth system is forming based on science and technology. But, the U.S. may not benefit as much as it has in the past.
J2020F: And because of the flat earth phenomenon, the U.S. doesn’t have a monopoly on invention, innovation its diffusion, and technology leadership it once did.
Trailblazer: If the U.S. doesn’t wake up it will accelerate its decline in science across the board -- natural and social sciences.
J2020F: And when that happens, from a national perspective, the link between basic science and applied or commercial science breaks?
Trailblazer: Yes. The pipeline of invention and innovation funneling into the introduction of new consumer and health technologies, for instance, dries up and negatively impacts the U.S. contribution to the list of technological advances in major fields -- biotechnology, information technology, global warming, computers and electronics and so on.
J2020F: That’s quite a list of developments to monitor.
Trailblazer: That’s right, but each of us only has to monitor those that will throw a monkey wrench into our plans. That’s why as you know, we’re continually updating what we call the Dent in Your Future Scenario we discussed in 2003 -- Correction, Boom, Bubble, Burst, Bust, Correction, Bear-Depression.
J2020F: Yes, when we were in Cabo San Lucas. Isn’t that when we decided to take our Outpost road trip through the western United States to field-test the convergence of four demographic and technology trends?
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