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. Got Knowledge?

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The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Friday, July 28, 2006  

Interim Managers Starting Over with Trapped Urban Cutters

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

“Earl, what a guy, huh? Well a lot of things are going on. Jed’s in jail. Sun doesn’t know what’s going on because Jed’s in jail and he used to be the youngest person in the family she could talk to … Now the media is out of control, I think we all know that. It’s nice to have them with us, but not always. They’re a little pushy, so they came to interview Grandpa about Jed. Because Jed killed a cop, of course they wanna do a special about that … Let’s find out what the Green family thinks.”

Neil Young & Crazy Horse “Greendale”

DOUBLE NICKEL RANCH. Of the four major future Baby Boom scenarios , the “Trapped and Permanently Temporary story lines take many by surprise. Unfortunately, these may be the future for many of the older brothers and sisters who are forced into retirement too soon.

J2020F: How would you describe the four trapped and permanently temporary sub-categories?

Eagle: They find themselves struggling to make ends meet searching for projects or assignments in high cost-of-living communities.

J2020F: While these stories may describe a growing percentage of Boomers in the last decades of their lives, what about for those past their prime in their 50s?

Eagle: You’re talking about the ones who run up against “age discrimination.” Those who still want to practice what they love doing where they once enjoyed living.

J2020F: Right. The ones who find that the demand for their services on a full time basis and at the salary they had been accustomed to is next to impossible.

Eagle: One scenario, in the extreme, takes place when their major employers leave a once thriving community and property values decline.

J2020F: Can you give me some examples?

Eagle: Let’s start with the lower right hand corner, what we’re now calling the “Urban Trapped” In the Claritas PRIZM NE classification system, most of the lifestyles belong to the lowest social and economic classes. It includes among others Urban Elders – located in the downtown urban neighborhoods of big cities and City Roots -- lower-income retirees, typically living in older homes and duplexes they've owned for years. In these ethnically diverse neighborhoods life is often an economic struggle for old and young singles and single-parent families facing enormous challenges: low incomes, uncertain jobs and modest educations.

J2020F: It would seem options are limited.

Eagle: Well, as you can imagine, those with strong roots in the community can't afford to move to a newer neighborhood in the same community as their neighborhood declines.

J2020F: And, if with less demand for skills they’ve developed over the years in their community, if they stay too long they’ll find themselves owning property that is worth only a fraction of what it once was.

Eagle: Yes that’s right. They’re value in the labor market drops, so they’re in a bind – even when what they do is something they hate doing just to make ends meet.

J2020F: What are they to do?

Eagle: They can “move” in three directions on our chart – up towards the border along the “Staying Put, Doing What You Love” scenarios, or to the left towards the border with the “Struggling Lone Eagle, Over Priced for Local Market” stories, or diagonally from right to left towards the center close to the “It’s Wired-Less – Doing What You Love, Anytime and Anywhere” scenario.

J2020F: How about the first one?

Eagle: Heading “north, but still most likely to stay in the same geographical neighborhood” if they can land something?

J2020F: Yes.

Eagle: We call this sub-group the “Starting Over” closest to Claritas PRIZM NE’s Inner Suburbs.

J2020F: Which segments fit the best from their scheme?

Eagle: Because the people in the neighborhoods tend to concentrate in the “inner-ring suburbs – areas where residents tend to be high school educated, unmarried and lower-middle class -- you find adults in transition and twenty-something singles and couples just starting out on their career paths –or starting over after recent divorces or company transfers.

J2020F: Talking about company transfers, I’m guessing you bump into more downsized suburban retirees, right?

Eagle: Yes. Claritas calls them the Old Glories and the American Classics who age in place in older apartment complexes, but their neighborhoods also include others with eclectic lifestyles.

J2020F: Eclectic lifestyles?

Eagle: Yes, Claritas calls them Suburban Pioneers – “a mix of young singles, recently divorced and single parents who have moved into older, inner-ring suburbs. They live in aging homes and garden-style apartment buildings, where the jobs are blue-collar and the money is tight.”

J2020F: It is dawning on me that this whole scenario “Trapped and Permanently Temporary” is all about “fight or flight.”

Eagle: Well, summarized. I would only add it is also about having the resources to do either.

J2020F: So, let’s talk about flight, along the bottom and to the left towards the Rustic and Country Eagles.

Eagle: No pun intended?

J2020F: None worth mentioning.

Eagle: Would the “Hotel California” fit in their flight plans?

J2020F: Enough’s enough, already. What do you call the sub-story bordering the “Rural Country” communities?

Eagle: We’ve named them “The Cutters” after the townies and their families in the Little 500 cycling movie – “Breaking Away,” starring a young Dennis Quaid.

J2020F: Oh yeah, right. They live in a college town and are often getting into fights with some of the male college students.

Eagle: While Claritas describes them as “Micro-City Blues” -- downscale residents living in the affordable housing found throughout the nation's smaller cities -- it was the high concentration of twentysomethings that caught our attention.

J2020F: So this the social tribe crowd who hang out together before marriage – like “Friends?”

Eagle: Not exclusively. In addition to the two Gen Y segments – “City Startups” and “Mobility Blues” , you’ve got “Park Bench Seniors” and “Hometown Retired” too.

J2020F: Don’t forget the last segment, “Family Thifts” and you’ve got quite a diverse neigborhood.

Eagle: You’ve got quite a mix. Claritas describes the neighborhoods as being “filled with cheap apartments and a commercial base of cafés, bars, laundromats and clubs that cater to twentysomethings.”

J2020: These stories take place in communities that haven’t declined as much – around universities – compared to “Urban Trapped” neighborhoods.

Eagle: That’s true. In fact, for investors and landlords there is potential for some income from real estate rehabilitation projects in some of these neighborhoods.

J2020F: So the cost of living is lower.

Eagle: And, the quality of life – while not the best – is better than the urban blight and congestion found in the former neighborhood.

J2020F: The last “chess move from the lower right “Urban Trapped” corner is diagonally up and to the left towards the mid-point intersection of all four major quadrants.

Eagle: I believe that sub-story is the most versatile in a way. We named it “Interim Middle Managers”

J2020F: Why?

Eagle: Because in the Claritas scheme of things, it takes on some characteristics of neighborhoods in the “Middle America” cluster and others in the “Middle Burbs”.

J2020F: O.K. I get the middle, but why the interim manager name?

Eagle: This is the story about those who can secure an occasional long-term assignment. They begin to master the forced entrepreneurial style with free-lance assignments taking advantage of tax write-offs.

J2020F: But worry about health insurance and longer-term security?

Eagle: Yes. Moving towards the center, they return to school or find projects – both paying and non-paying -- on which they can “fake it until they make it” to develop higher margin skills to replace the ones that had become obsolete.

J2020F: So, they eventually find higher paying projects out of the area that lead to temporary assignments and the potential for moving to a better quality of life location.

Eagle: For some they find they can translate skills they've mastered in one industry to another one in higher demand.

J2020F: This is the path of customization and personalization, right?

Eagle: Yes, that’s right. A path to offering premium products or services to more affluent customers and clients willing to pay for the higher standard of service and experience.

J2020F: Clients or customers along the top rows of both the of the Wired-Less” and “Staying Put” communities, right?

Eagle: Exactly.

J2020F: What’s next when you’ve been used to living, loving, working and playing in communities that everyone else can only dream about?

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