Originally published in Rotman Management Magazine’s Winter 2015 Issue: Wicked Problems III
In my work as an innovation strategist, I have had the privilege of witnessing a global pattern arising over the past decade. Not only does it have a distinct form and defining characteristics, but it is also demonstrating direction: purpose, evolution, universal development — call it what you will, a shift is afoot that is altering the fundamental concepts that have governed the way we have lived for the past century.
Much like the shift from the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age, we are now seeing the emergence of a new set of underlying rules and concepts about how the world works. Driven by the meshing of exponentially-advancing technology, global knowledge-creation, a transient workforce, the formation of new collaborative economic systems, the rise of disruptive educational models and rapidly fluctuating demographics, these new underlying concepts are no passing phase that can be “tolerated” or avoided by applying the thinking from a previous age — any more than the industrial revolution could have been avoided by re-applying agriculturally-minded principals. You might be wondering, “What are the rules and characteristics of this new era?” My research has led me to define seven major shifts within the larger context of what I call the Age of Opportunity:
- From Mechanical to Organic
- From Closed to Open
- From Silos to Meshing
- From Linear to Multiples
- From Data to Patterns
- From Scarcity to Abundance
- From Pasts to Futures
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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.