Everything's changed--what's next?
We can bin our past predictions - what just happened in politics, the environment and social impact means a re-set for almost everything.
10 *new* things we need to figure out in the 20’s 🌏
This next decade has to count, hard. And we can’t waste time on word-wars or politics.
Adding to our list of existing challenges (the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for a start), Here’s ten new things we need to figure out fast to make our 2030’s workable.
Can technologists move the needle (back) on climate change? And if we invent things that could reverse our climate fate, will the world listen? Will big industry block those innovations, or embrace them? Will venture capitalists shift their dollars into enviro-tech to help those inventions quickly scale?
How will Gen Z’s leadership style change us? Gen Z and Gen Y get bunched under the ‘millennial’ umbrella. But with the upper end of Gen Z only just entering their 30's this decade (whilst Gen Y moves solidly into its 40’s) we can expect a different leadership perspective to play out in the workplace and beyond. If Gen Z’s Greta Thunberg is a glimpse of what’s coming, we could see a courageous, high-impact and humane leadership model emerge. In a year of polarities, whilst Greta united hundreds of millions globally, leading from the heart, traditional leaders were more focused on political in-fighting and legal battles and criminal charges than leading at all.
How will commerce change when Western consumers are living in survivalist mindset? Catastrophic climate changes seemed at least 10 years away from reality — until 2019 when the arctic reached an advanced tipping point the Amazon and 15 million+ hectares of Australia bush caught fire (killing half a billion animals and counting in Australia alone) — leaving us with the eerie feeling of living inside a Sci Fi. As many are prompted to re-think their plans — from how and where they live, holiday and raise their kids, to how they spend and invest any spare cash — companies will be forced to make dramatic changes to how they cost + conduct business. 💰💰💰 Customer trust will also erode for those that don’t prioritise social-enviro impact outcomes.
*Do* we have a planet B? The idea of inhabiting Mars in some form has been a trendy topic, but with severe climate change and population pressures now confronting us in 3D, it makes sense to look skywards for a solution. It’s hard to imagine Mars being more hospitable than our burning planet — more evidence must be gathered to know either way.
How will the extended retirement age change the workforce? Boomers and Gen X are confronting a standard retirement age of almost 70 years in many Western countries. With less government resource available to support retirement, how will this new lifestyle planning begin to affect our work-life habits, education, social contracts, housing, holiday and other lifestyle choices?
How will media evolve? Journalism is one of few forces that can hold citizens, business and governments accountable (and, unlike the legal model of accountability, it remains accessible to the average citizen). But with traditional media failing to resonate with audiences, professional journalism is under grave threat. Social media may hold the lion’s share of our attention, yet in more than a decade it has failed utterly to maintain fair standards for accurate reporting and sharing of information. Will new, independent, media interests enter the scene to fund new models? How will they sustain themselves financially, when the public no longer sees the need to pay for information?
How will business-building change? The high-growth tech start-up model (also just over a decade in) has already disrupted most traditional business sectors — fueling growth in entrepreneurial activities amongst younger generations in particular. (Why submit to old business models when you can control your own destiny?) With pressure to deliver more profit and positive social impact, how will entrepreneurship evolve? How will the changing face of startups impact investors, overall business returns, customer expectations and the business model of larger enterprise?
Will impact investment improve our ability to solve humanitarian challenges? Philanthropy, Non-Profits and the old ‘triple bottom-line’ or CSR corporate giving model has slowly shifted into a more sustainable model of funding social outreach— that of impact investment. Three trends are pushing this forward as a powerful alternative and an exciting investment option — 1. The ability of technology and medical development to solve major global challenges at scale. 2. A focused drive towards purpose and impact by younger generations of workers and consumers. 3. Outstanding returns — including those by entrepreneurs from developing economies, who can rapidly solve major market problems at scale.
What does love look like in the age of climate anxiety? Romantic love and social contracts have evolved hugely in the past few decades — marriage equality is an accepted reality within many countries, male and female partnerships are far more equal, there is less tolerance for abuse in relationships, children are more empowered and diverse family structures are more accepted. With the survival of the planet deeply on the minds of our next two generations — how will this be reflected in their romantic choices? Will it create deeper or longer bonds, or encourage more spontaneity and less commitment? Will the next generation consciously choose not to bring children into an uncertain environment? How will that change family structures generally?
Will humanity align more with hope or hate? Fear and uncertainty is a great catalyst for change — and, right now, humanity is divided between those maintaining a business as usual approach at all costs (either via avoidance or denial), those to find control or express anxiety by blaming or attacking others, those who are victims of the change and those who align with hope and are actively mobilising towards solutions. The quality of our leadership and the number of people willing to align their energy and resources around the latter option is likely to determine our ultimate path forward.
These are hard questions for a hard decade. And brilliant compassionate minds are already toiling to find answers. We can support that process by pushing politics (personal and govt) to one side to make solution-gathering as rapid and open-source / source-agnostic as possible.
We have seen the most profound advances in medicine and technology, which continue to drive up our life expectancy and quality of life outcomes. Education and access to knowledge is greater than ever. Entrepreneurship and globalisation are offering new opportunities to those in poorer nations. Power bases are shifting, with a growing awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion on a global scale. Yes, some things feel like they are going backwards, however many change movements start ugly.
With so much to solve for that is in our face and truly counts — well beyond ideaology or future-gazing — I am optimistic the triple forces of our innovation and technology communities, the rising force of youth and the growing will to act amongst those who operate from heart rather than The one upside of living inside polarity is it strengthens the will to change