Trends and Predictions

Last week I announced a new research project focused on gathering insights and ideas from a wide range of smart people (that is, almost everyone I know, plus many of you who I don’t know – yet).

There are four questions I’m asking everyone I know these days – and that includes you:

 

  1. What aspects of the future of work are you most excited about?
  2. What are you most uneasy about?
  3. What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the way we work and live in the next five to ten years?
  4. If you could change one thing about the way you work right now, what would it be?

I am pleased that I’ve already received thoughtful responses to those questions from several people, including Robert Buss, Graham Jervis, Bob Leek, and David Fleming. You can read their  responses, posted on my blog last week, at this link: “Let’s Talk About Tomorrow[click to continue…]

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I recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with an old (not old – just long-time) friend and colleague – Teri Flynn, the founder and principal/design guru at Flynn Architecture, based in Oakland, California.

Teri and I first met back in the mid-00’s, when I was studying and writing about what I then called “business community centers” but which have since become widely known as “coworking” facilities.

She was the architect behind the Berkeley and San Francisco coworking centers known as The Impact Hub (both are thriving, and they’ve been joined by Teri’s third Impact Hub design, at The Hive, located on Broadway in the Uptown part of Oakland, and right next door to her own studio).

Teri and I met for lunch in The Hive neighborhood, at a delightful restaurant and brew pub (Drake’s Brewery) with an outdoor garden seating area that was enclosed by a delightful old brick wall but open to the sky on a mild January day (that’s not an oxymoron, we do live in California!). [click to continue…]

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The Future - Next ExitI often start reading new books in January (or in the holiday period just before the New Year). It’s a time of year when most of us are renewing our business plans and looking ahead optimistically to new beginnings.

This year I’ve focused in on two books about the future and the future of technology. One is “old” – first published in 2011 but still incredibly relevant – and one is much newer, having just become available in 2016. Both are stimulating and provocative; I’ll mention them briefly today and then share their lessons here a little bit at a time over the next several weeks. [click to continue…]

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Toolbox

Last week I described five dimensions of the future of work as I envision it (“Oh, the Things I Know about the Future of Work!”). I don’t claim to have any special or unique insights, but I do believe there are patterns visible today that help us anticipate what the future of work will likely include.

But never forget that we don’t discover the future; we invent it.

Yes, there are events and conditions outside your control that certainly impact your future, but it is your reaction to those “uncontrollables” that determines whether the future works for or against you. And what matters most is how proactive you are about both anticipating those “outside” factors and developing plans for coping with and/or leveraging them for competitive advantage.

I’ve just returned from a powerful two-day experience that convinced me more than ever of the power of applying an activist, designer mentality to the future. [click to continue…]

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Happy new year!Welcome to 2017!

I am committed to making this year a positive one on many fronts. As I wrote last month, I am starting it off not by making “Resolutions,” but by committing to develop new habits.

And my first commitment is to pay more explicit attention to the future of work. Despite the headline above, I don’t claim to have any unique insights into what the future will look like. However, I do have some expectations – and some warnings.

Let’s focus first on expectations. It’s hardly a stretch to suggest that, long term, the future of work will be:

  • technology-dependent (duh!)
  • globally distributed;
  • hyper-connected; and
  • massively collaborative.

In addition, I am convinced that much of what we call work will become more and more invisible. That’s a more complex and less obvious idea, but let me briefly address those first four facets of the future before I describe what I mean by invisible work. [click to continue…]

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Disappearing Work - StuckyIn October my monthly Talking About Tomorrow membership program (“TAT”) featured former IBM researcher and current Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Stanford University – and Very Smart Person – Susan Stucky, who led the group in an important conversation about “disappearing work.”

But Susan wasn’t talking just about all the jobs that are being automated out of existence. She is of course highly aware of, and deeply concerned about, automation, but she asked the TAT participants to focus on another, often unseen, side of the emerging digital economy.

She opened with this statement by economist W. Brian Arthur, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, from a 2011 thought piece in McKinsey Quarterly:

Digitization is creating a second economy that’s vast, automatic, and invisible—thereby bringing the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution.

(from “The Second Economy,” October 2011) [click to continue…]

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Crystal BallYou don’t know – you can’t know with 100% certainty – what will happen tomorrow. Yes, you can (and we all do) contemplate the future with a good sense of what is likely to happen, although these days the future seems incredibly cloudy, uncertain, and basically unpredictable. And if tomorrow seems hazy, what about next week, next month, next year, five years from now?

And the less certain you are of what the future will bring, the more highly stressed you are likely to be. That stress comes from not knowing, and from being afraid that you won’t be able to control whatever does happen.

But what if you could “premember” tomorrow as clearly as you remember yesterday?

[click to continue…]

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peekingfear_000014658459November 8, 2016, is election day in the United States. This has been the most contentious, drawn-out, and, yes, tedious election in my memory. Everyone I know is glad it is about to be over. No matter what your politics or political values, I am positive that like me you are relieved we’ve finally reached the end of this unpleasant journey.

One inevitable result of this year’s electoral dysfunction (deliberate pun) has been rampant uncertainty about the future. And one of the best indicators of uncertainty is the stock market. The U.S. markets have been unsteady and volatile throughout the year, and foreign markets have generally followed suit. [click to continue…]

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Social PhysicsOver the just-completed three-day weekend celebrating Labor Day here in the United States I started reading Social Physics: How Social Networks Can Make Us Smarter, by Alex Pentland, Toshiba professor at MIT and a co-creator of the MIT Media Lab.

Dr. Pentland also directs MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab and co-leads the World Economic Forum Big Data and Personal Data initiatives. In 2012, Forbes Magazine named Pentland one of the seven most powerful data scientists in the world. In short, he’s a very smart guy.

I’ve only read the first two chapters so far, but I can tell already that this is an important book filled with valuable insights (I’ve been aware of it for over a year; shame on me for waiting so long to finally pick it up).

Social physics is “a quantitative social science that describes reliable, mathematical connections between information and idea flow on the one hand and people’s behavior on the other.” In my words, it is the study of networks and relationships – of all the interactions, information, ideas, and emotions that flow between and among people. It utilizes “Big Data” to develop new insights into how ideas form and spread, how and when people communicate with each other, and even what they pay attention to.

For me, the first “Big Idea” to jump out from the pages of Social Physics is this: [click to continue…]

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Sigmoid1Last week (“Ignore the Sigmoid Curve as Your Peril”) I described the Sigmoid curve, also known as the technology assimilation curve and the “S-curve.”

It depicts the way many new technologies, new products, and new ideas grow in the marketplace; they begin slowly, and then if successful reach what Malcolm Gladwell dubbed the Tipping Point, followed by rapid, almost out-of-control growth. Inevitably, however, even the most successful products/ideas eventually experience slowing growth, which is often followed by decline as even newer technologies and products begin their own new growth curves: [click to continue…]

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