By Thornton May
Futurist, Senior Advisor with GP, Executive Director & Dean - IT Leadership Academy
The future – at least important parts of it – is knowable. Prediction is a talent that can be cultivated. In the general population, without special training ~2% of us are gifted predictors -Superforecasters in the terminology of former Ohio State psych professor Philip Tetlock. Let’s stop whining about complexity and pace of change and get busy making preparations for what should be the greatest year in any of our lives.
The dark ages are over. Bill Shakespeare kicked us in the butt and said “Men at some time are masters of their fate” [Actually Cassius said this to Brutus in Julius Caesar I. ii.]. In Elizabethan England people had generally come around to the concept that good decisions and appropriate behaviors had more to do with the trajectory of one’s life than the whim of petulant deities.
In the technology arena, if you have done your research on the research being conducted in the various labs and universities around the world you should have a pretty good feel for what’s in the development pipeline.
If you read broadly and deeply you should have a pretty good handle on the drivers shaping our society and economy.
How Long Things Take
The real question is when will I have to take action? When will I have to actually do something about all the promising prototypes bumping around on the fringe of release? Around the opening of the first Star Wars, robots able to do our bidding were thought to be just around the corner. Here we are twenty years later, watching the tragically derivative Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the smartest robot in the room is a Roomba vacuum cleaner?
Here is a prediction – great organizations will not be hostage to the technology adoption rates and development agendas of the general technology ecosystem.
Stanford University psychology professor emeritus Philip Zimbardo contends that our attitude toward time is a defining key personality trait. How organizations think about time is a critical ingredient of strategic success.
Rather than being passive consumers of whatever Silicon Valley sends our way, great leaders intervene and accelerate the development trajectories of technologies and capabilities they deem strategic.
A Future Economy Based on Collaboration
Jane McGonigal, director of games research & development at the Institute for the Future in California and author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Happy and How They Can Help Us Change the World (Penguin) presents the surprising factoid that gamers today prefer, on average, three to one to play co-operative games rather than competitive games. Collaboration is predicted to become one of the key drivers of personal and organizational success in 2016.
The Managed Digital Personna
Increasingly reputation and credentialing is done virtually. Successful executives not only need to create a solid digital portfolio [e.g., blogs, posts, and tweets], but also, making sure your judgment appears impeccable online. Mistakes last forever on the web. Millennials in particular need to be continuously be aware of the things they do and say on social media and in person, even if they feel they have privacy.
Future of Health
The median age in developed countries will continue to rise as the population “grays”. We are living longer – which is a feature not a bug. Life expectancy is rising about three months each year meaning state supported health care costs will rise.
The US Congressional Budget Office forecasts that US health spending will rise from 17% of the economy today to 25% in 2025 and 49% in 2082. Efforts to sic control health care costs will migrate from subtle "nudges" [proven ineffective in changing behaviors] to financial and regulatory "shoves" and "pushes" [e.g., people who don’t exercise will be taxed at a higher rate].
What are you predictions for 2016?