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It is easy to believe that the future is a consequence of a number of external driving forces. Just for the overview we can collect them under the headlines Social factors (soc), Technological factors (tech), Economical Factors (econ), Ecological Factors (ecol) and Political Factors (pol).

If we describe it as a mathematical function for how the society of tomorrow (SofT) will turn it might look like this

SofT = f(soc, tech, econ, ecol, pol)

Unfortunately this is completely misguided and even completely wrong. The most important parameter is missing: our own approach to what is unfolding. Our approach will frame how we see what is happening, how we react to it, which choices we make and will consequently have more impact on the future than all the other factors.

If our approach is A the mathematical function really looks like:

SofT = A * f(soc, tech, econ, ecol, pol)

And herein lies the greatest challenge. We need to have more conversations about what we want with our societies and organizations. Especially in complex and transformative times our own approach and our choices is what will have the greatest ramification on our future.

Only days before(!) Donald Trump is inaugurated as POTUS the US Nation Intelligence Council released a public report on the future which underlines their views of the uncertainties which will shape the next 20 years. The timing of the release of an open intelligence report is of course a whole discussion in itself.

What caught my eye was the formulation of the critical uncertainties formulated in the executive summary in the report:

Yet this dreary near future is hardly cast in stone. Whether the next five or 20 years are brighter—or darker—will turn on three choices:

  • How will individuals, groups, and governments renegotiate their expectations of one another to create political order in an era of empowered individuals and rapidly changing economies?
  • To what extent will major state powers, as well as individuals and groups, craft new patterns or architectures of international cooperation and competition?
  • To what extent will governments, groups, and individuals prepare now for multifaceted global issues like climate change and transformative technologies?

If the stability of the last century was built around the Westphalian model as the organizing principle, the dominance of US as the dominant economic and military state and the relative stability and predictability when it comes to the environmental and technological changes it is not the case any more.

In my thinking I have been sketching about how we could perceive what happened in 2016 with this little sketch. At least the sketch will point out to us that we need a new model to understand where we are heading next...

It is not yet finished but may work as a model for a discussion about where we are and what is happening.

The report can be downloaded here.

After a turbulent year like this we all deserve a calm and relaxing Christmas holiday. Even if we need virtual means to shut off the increasingly uncertain world around us...

Merry Christmas & Happy New (Virtual) Year!!

Looking back on what I wrote about some time ago I found a text I wrote in 2005 about how the European project might crash. The context then was the French riots which sent an echo throughout Europe.

I often find it interesting to read foreigners who observe and comment on your own behavior. In Peter Schwartz’s recent book Inevitable Surprises there is a chapter on the great flood of people who are moving and challenging societal systems everywhere. Among other things he is contrasting United States which is built around immigration with Europe which is not. He notes that Europeans have much more trouble with assimilation of immigrants and suggests that one of the reasons for this is the basic social model which is built around the idea of a small closed society, not unlike a large family, where everybody is involved, via the state, to help the less fortunate members. Immigrants are then shifting the balance and change the gameplan and are consequence not viewed as being part of the society. Most European countries keep immigrants separate from the balance sheet for as long as possible. Maybe hoping that the problem will disappear by itself. This has resulted in large groups of sometimes even well educated people not being able to enter the labour markets, which in turn has created a massive segregation.

Dramatically increased immigration into a society which is regarded as a balanced and closed system is shifting the balance and is therefore predetermined to generate a lot of problems. Schwartz points at the possibility that the immigration problem could be one of the biggest uncertainties when it comes to keeping EU together. A possible sequence of events for an EU collapse could look like this

  1. The tension between immigrant groups and society increases to the point that violence erupts (terrorism or civil unrest)
  2. Quick and firm police action aiming for a quick end to violence
  3. Negative reactions to police brutality increase the violence
  4. The ultranationalist forces gains support and suggests drastic measures against immigrants – which will gain support in many camps
  5. The reactions spread across borders to other groups in similar situation who will react in sympathy
  6. One or two countries will vote for closing their borders to immigration
  7. If one country closes the borders others are soon forced to do the same thing unless they want to have all the immigrants from their neighbor countries – it will cause a chain reaction
  8. When this happens the trust between the countries is damaged to a point where EU negotiations break down

Maybe we could rewrite this with some more details now when the Brexit phenomenon is playing out?

city-1057678_1280The cities of the planet are growing in both numbers and influence. United Nations predicts that in 2050 about 66% of the human population on this planet will not live in rural but in urban areas. Comparing this to 30% in 1950 the global rate by which the cities are growing is amazing. In Sweden, where I live, the urbanized part of the population today is 86% and is predicted to rise to 90% in 2050 i e 9 out of 10 people are soon living in cities in Sweden. For a country which was late into the industrialization and urbanization game this shift is quite extraordinary even if it currently being dwarfed by many fast urbanizing countries outside the West.

...continue reading "The City – the mother of all sharing platforms"

A digitalization strategy is dangerous and mainly wrong approach.

Why?

Because it draws the attention to today’s models, structures and systems and how they can change and become digital.

And why is that wrong?

Just ask yourself these questions:

  • Would the bookstores have survived if they pursued a digitalization strategy?
  • Would the newspaper industry thrive if they succeeded with a digitalization strategy?
  • Would the film developing industry have boomed if they just pursued a digitalization strategy?
  • Would the video rental business kept up with a digitalization strategy?

...continue reading "The folly of digitalization strategy"

Nature can be described as organized in hierarchical systems layers - but that doesn’t mean humans must organize themselves in static hierarchies. There are examples of different ways of organizing people to perform work together.

...continue reading "Is the norm of hierarchic organization just another failed normative logic?"

What is Blockchain and what are the possible consequences for the future?
Blockchain is the key innovation behind the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and have lately come in focus almost everywhere. Blockchain itself can be described as a technology with the ability to displace the need for other (e g human, legal, governmental…) layers of trust between any numbers of globally distributed endnodes. We can compare it to how e-mail and messaging is displacing the need for mailmen and postal services. Or putting it another way: it is a global distributed platform for implementing algorithm based trust relations.

Ok, but what does all this mean for the world in the longer term?

...continue reading "The possible long term potential of Blockchain"

We are drowning in news about new technologies every day. Technologies that are solving difficult problems as well as opening new possibilities. It is easy to see them as the most powerful forces transforming our world. But we forget one important aspect. We perceive these technologies through the stories of our time. These stories are much more important factors shaping our future than any technology. It is the stories by which we explain ourselves, our situation, our role in the world and our future that determine our thinking decisions.

...continue reading "It is our stories, not technologies, that shape our future"

Skärmklipp 2015-10-08 10.47.30

I agree in principle with the analysis that BCG have done and which they conclude in what they call the Digital Imperative. They have also developed a nice animated presentation that explain it visually.

It is when I reach the end of their animation I suddenly see all five fundamental changes that a company needs to address I start to laugh and shake my head. I suddenly visualize something like a Larson cartoon where a bunch of dinosaurs are sitting in a conference listening to a presenter that shows PPT-slides which tells them to evolve into mammals.

...continue reading "Is following BCG – Digital Imperative possible for anyone???"