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, September 01, 2006  

Stepping Stones for Rebuilding Mountains Out of Flat Earth Mole Hills

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

"How do we deal with the fact that those eighty knowledge workers from China will be willing to work for so much less than the eighty knowledge workers from America? How will this difference get resolved?"

Thomas Friedman, “The World is Flat”

DOUBLE NICKEL RANCH. In the lower right-hand corner of Pine and Gilmore’s model, from “The Experience Economy,” is where the lowest valued offerings can be found – at the intersection where pricing (premium or market-determined), needs of customers (relevant or irrelevant) and competitive position (differentiated or undifferentiated) converge. The lower right position corresponds to the lowest valued skill and experience offerings in the “Doing-What-You-Love Scenarios,” the “Trapped and Permanently Temporaries”

Journal of 2020 Foresight: One of the parallels you can draw from our models is, just like physical commodities and manufactured goods, skills and work experiences become obsolete and commoditized too – especially for the “Urban Trapped,” “The Cutters,” those “Starting Over,” and “Interim Middle Managers.”

Explorer: Pine and Gilmore’s model explains the cause for the “Trapped and Permanently Temporary” scenario. In severe cases entire communities, just like the 550 mining ghost towns in the Sierras find themselves unable to compete on the world stage.

J2020F: They’re trapped in a negative economic spiral that feeds upon itself -- the interplay of undifferentiated, market determined and irrelevant skills in the region’s workforce.

Explorer: In metropolitan areas you find the “Urban Trapped” living in the undesirable and rundown neighborhoods. Their rural counterparts, “Rustic Eagles,” live off the grid on country back roads.

J2020F: Pine and Gilmore say that over time packaged goods can be customized to better meet customer needs. When that happens in an industry the process of making goods becomes commoditized. Today, all things being equal, in terms of quality, customers don't care as much about which products they buy, right?

Explorer: I think that depends on if they know anything about the products. Even with the Internet as a resource, I hear a lot of people complain about how much of an expert you have to become to tell if you’re getting a good deal or not.

J2020F: There are just too many choices.

Explorer: For many everyday products, people will shop at Wal-Mart or Costco, to your point.

J2020F: But for the others requiring the research?

Explorer: Shoppers take their savings on price and, because they care more about the experience of owning, say a computer, consumer technology or entertainment system, they’ll be willing to pay a higher premium to service providers who can chose the right product for them, set it up and train them –-- in its use or specific application for their enjoyment.

J2020F: So, just as packaging and producing products commanded a higher margin when products commoditized what was extracted from the ground, so too services will commoditize products?

Explorer: That’s right. We’re jumping to the next stepping-stone to the left in our model. Delivering services customizes the goods-making process, so that the high margins the goods-makers swiped from the commodity extractors move in a similar fashion closer to the customer (to the upper left) as services are delivered.

J2020F: We even noticed an example during our travels, in Utah I believe.

Explorer: What do you mean?

J2020F: The fur trapping and trading business was extremely difficult to run – as their expedition journals recount -- especially when the mountain men had to haul what they collected after a season’s worth of work to the trading posts and merchant centers.

Explorer: Oh yeah. All that changed, though when the merchants and traders came to the trappers on the banks of the Green River– an enterprising idea accredited to Jedediah Smith – a Baby Boomer Transcendentalist.

J2020F: Rather than forcing the fur traders to traverse all the way down the mountain passes to trade their wares at the way stations, forts and trading posts set up along the overland trails from Independence, Missouri, the merchants came to their customers.

Explorer: The essential whole supply chain comes to the point of purchase – or trade – as the case may be, thus eliminating middlemen.

J2020F: In today’s flat earth with the advent of synchronized technologies connecting worldwide supply chains the making goods becomes a commodity and should be outsourced, just ask local manufacturers. Or IBM. Is that the end of the road?

Explorer: Not at all.

J2020F: It feels like it. What’s next then?

Explorer: According to Pine and Gilmore those competitors who differentiate themselves by staging the experiences customer’s value even more can customize service delivery. It’s all about the experience of personalization.

J2020F: Which is what a Rendezvous became for a few decades – a chance to re-supply, swap stories, party and play games of skill and chance.

Explorer: And, what Buffalo Bill figured out during the last few decades of his career.

J2020F: So as the interplay continues between customization and commoditization -- services, like products and raw materials become commodities.

Explorer: And that’s what’s next for the reinvention teams.

J2020F: What's next?

Got Knowledge?
Copyright ©2002 - 2006 Aarnaes Howard Associates. All rights reserved worldwide.

11:37 AM

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