There are 7 shifts dramatically altering business, society, and technology, and they are a result of the inevitable change taking place in response to our landscape of increasing complexity, and the subsequent emergence of new values, ideas and systems that will shape the answer to the question of “What’s next?”

Recently, I had the privilege of writing about these 7 Shifts for Rotman Management Magazine, and you can read the first part of that article in this post.

Our clients have also heard us talk about 4 dominant “trend clusters” that are arising as a result of these shifts. Though I agree that individual trends are important, it’s even more important to identify the larger patterns or clusters being formed by those trends. We must understand where the complex collision and convergence of many individual trends is leading us, giving us the ability to thrive in our organizations, cities, and individual lives.

Intentional Evolution

Today’s trends are converging to suggest a movement toward an “intentional” form of human development instead of simply letting our collective path unfold through accidental or even biological means. This is being largely driven through trends surrounding the amalgamation of man and machine – our ever-increasing symbiotic relationship with our technology – making networking and collaborative innovation possible on a global scale. Coupled with a pervasive “Internet of Things,” the crowds are being empowered to be adaptive and transformational in all aspects of life, radically altering our traditional models in business, education, culture and what it means to be “human.”

Creator Economy

We are in the midst of a transformation into a new economy, one where value is derived through participation and the driving force is innovation. Fueled by the Maker Movement (or DIY), the Creator Economy is a worldwide phenomenon in which the passive consumer is being replaced by the active participant. Advances in technology like 3D printing are democratizing manufacturing, making the possibility of affordable mass customization a reality. This is resulting in an environment in which consumers desire input into the creative process and “access to assets” trumps ownership.

Blurred Reality

In an age of ever increasing complexity & ambiguity, linear thinking & simple strategies are no longer working. Fueled by a desire to fulfill multiple purposes in one lifetime, Gen Y now expects the ability to live diverse and blended realities – simultaneously. The convergence of physical and digital worlds is adding to this blurred reality, resulting in what many see as the emergence of virtual cities, relationships and lifestyles. “Passion-based” values are reframing our traditional ideas connected to education, work, intellectual property, and even how we define entertainment.

Generative Mindsets

Humans are organic – living, breathing, and often messy. We thrive in environments filled with purpose, deep meaning, creativity, and connection. As a greater distrust arises around the failed quantitative-heavy measurements of the 20th Century, more and more generative and qualitative trends are producing a human-centric landscape within society, business and design. This is driving the development of more organic approaches to all aspects of life, disrupting the industrial age concepts of top-down innovation and the focus on short-term outcomes in business. Holistic images of the future are redefining what it means to work and live.

Frank Spencer
Principal

Frank Spencer is the Founding Principal and Creative Director of The Futures School. He holds a Master of Arts in Strategic Foresight from Regent University. He has worked on Strategic Foresight projects for companies such as Kraft, Mars, Marriott, and The Walt Disney Company. Read more.