Tool to Explore Major Forces that are Shaping what is Possible


I've been covering the Map of The Decade by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) for the last five years. Ever since I happened to find six front page stories and the future in August 2007, I've been tracking the evolution of the themes year after year.

At the announcement says, the 2012 Map of the Decade once again offers
an overview of the major forces that are shaping this century—and
creating turbulence in the coming decade. It is an at-a-glance tool for
exploring the fundamental question: What is possible?

The Map covers six main areas of transition — evolving patterns and not just what we're accustomed to call "trends":

  • From a once rural to a radically urban environment
  • From a fossil fuel economy to a new energy paradigm
  • From large-scale manufacturing to lightweight just-in-time production
  • From institutional wage labor to vast webs of social producers
  • From information overload to ubiquitous cognition
  • From humans as independent organisms to humans as microbial ecosystems

We're called to make trade offs every day. The more disciplined and in listening/observing mode to capture feedback and implement course-correcting measures as we go, the more resilient we will grow our organizations.

Terms like agile, responsive, and iterative have moved into our language to describe processes and methodologies we're adopting to address the change or shifts these patterns inform.  

Two curves on The Map of the Decade: a first incumbent curve of practices that will slowly
decline over the coming century and a second curve that will give shape
to our new human enterprises
. It represents the choices and consequences as we respond to these forces.

The starting point of any two-curve problem is an S-curve: a trend that starts out in the margins of an industry or society at large and slowly establishes a foundation for growth. It often hits an inflection point where it appears to burst on the scene out of nowhere and the curve ascends steeply, usually undermining the incumbent trends and stakeholders.

When something happens over a period of time, as I highlighted in Moore's observation about cloud computing yesterday, the question of timing becomes critical.

What events or innovations will trigger inflection points? How can you straddle the two curves so you keep serving your current (potentially declining, yet where you have a loyal base) market on the one side, and start building for the early adopters who will be your future base.

Timing is everything, as the saying goes. How are you going to make the leap? What are the early signals in your industry? Are they significant enough to be critical? What parts of the future are already here that you failed to recognize or acknowledge?

Develop your map and identify critical signals or thresholds that will trigger your leap.



Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.

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