McKinsey Quarterly’s Ian Davis and Elizabeth Stephenson just released a web exclusive trend article with macroeconomic factors, environmental and social issues, and business and industry developments that will shape the corporate landscape in the coming years (may require subscription).
Apparently success is not always about execution – but more about being in the right markets and geographies with the right technology. So it’s more about being in the flow rather of going upstream. The key of course is to find the right currents. And, according to the authors, to predict the right currents you need to look far out into the future instead of focusing on short term changes.
The three macroeconomic trends are:
- Centers of economic activity will shift profoundly, not just globally, but also regionally.
- With a rapidly aging population in the West, public-sector activities will balloon, making productivity gains essential.
- The consumer landscape will change and expand significantly – with 1B new consumers entering the marketplace
They also list 4 Social and environmental trends:
- Technological connectivity will transform the way people live and interact – some of that is already visible
- The battlefield for talent will shift – with a big shift towards knowledge-intensive industries
- The role and behavior of big business will come under increasingly sharp scrutiny – about time
- Demand for natural resources will grow, as will the strain on the environment – think about this (heard on NPR this weekend) 1/3 of the world copper inventory is in the ground, 1/3 in use and 1/3 in landfills
And then they list 3 business and industry trends:
- New global industry structures are emerging
- Management will go from art to science
- Ubiquitous access to information is changing the economics of knowledge
Perhaps the most significant trend is the one related to shortages in natural resources and the increasing strain on the environment. Sure people will behave differently because of technology and come up with new management structures, and the worker profile will change. And while it will be fun to be an active participant in these changes, in the grand scheme of things, those changes will be incremental.
When it comes down to the environment, however, incremental changes will not be enough to result in a sustainable world for the future. What we need is the end of a “human-centric-we-are-the-end-of-evolution-and-everything-in-this-world-is-ours” attitude in exchange for a more symbiotic “world-nature-human-technology” balanced worldview. And that will not happen incrementally – it will require radical new ways of world governance and fundamental changes in people’s beliefs about their place and role in nature’s evolution.