We searched through many recent studies and forecasts, including those from the WEF, the US National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends Report, Brookings Institution, Future Today Institute and MIT Sloan Management Review. They agree on a number of major issues that should be on your radar if you want to have a say in the race for talent, innovation and the preservation of our environment.
In other words: If you want to identify disruption long before it hits your organization, monitor the following areas, particularly for convergences, contradictions and inflections. From here, trace disruption forward to your organization to act preemptively.
1. Wealth Distribution
Current must-read: Professor of government theory at Harvard University Law School, Michael J. Sandel – an exemplar of meritocratic achievement – provides an apt and cutting critique of the US merit-based system. His cogent text pinpoints the root cause of America’s current pronounced divisions, and his reflections on meritocracy’s impacts on globalization, class resentment and education prove fascinating and potent.
The Tyranny of MeritFarrar, Straus & Giroux
But inequality is not purely an American problem:
Global Gender Gap Report 2020World Economic Forum Read Summary
The Future of WorkBrookings Institution Press Read Summary
Optimal Money FlowGreenleaf Book Group Read Summary
Good Economics for Hard TimesAllen Lane Read Summary
The Rich Cut Their Spending. That Has Hurt All the Workers Who Count on It.The New York Times Read Summary
The Velvet Rope EconomyProfile Books Read Summary
Current must-read: The difference for top performers isn’t practice – it’s “deliberate practice,” a focused method of systematic improvement that psychologist Anders Ericsson spent a lifetime studying. He and co-author Robert Pool explain the science that supports deliberate practice and illustrate their manual with historical examples of top performers.
PeakHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Current must-read: Stefanie Haeffele and Virgil Henry Storr, both Hayek scholars at George Mason University, present seven essays in this academic but useful overview of current thinking on disaster response and the sometimes hidden strengths of communities. The essays focus on public versus private roles, and report findings that in a crisis, decentralized, local, private networks can respond more effectively than federal agencies. The authors envision a more contained government role, advocating instead for greater local resilience and responsibility. They conclude that strong communities often provide the best defense against disaster.
Bottom-up Responses to CrisisPalgrave Macmillan
Trend Micro CEO Eva Chen foresees a return to the “small-town model” of clusters of offices with more employees working remotely, anyway. And Steve Case, CEO of Revolution, says entrepreneurs might take this moment to consider relocating to non-coastal locations to boost their business in “start-up cities.” Read more about this trend here:
Remote Work Is Killing the Hidden Trillion-Dollar Office EconomyMedium
The crunch point in this transition is technology: Microsoft’s chief technology officer Kevin Scott unabashedly champions AI – and his firm’s role in it – and its potential to help solve the “digital divide” between the rural and urban United States, and perhaps reduce political partisanship, too.
Reprogramming the American DreamHarperBusiness
Smart Cities For DummiesWiley Read Summary
From Managing Decline to Building the FutureEconomic Innovation Group Read Summary
Seven Trends That Will Reshape the Airline IndustryThe Boston Consulting Group Read Summary
4. Government and Geopolitics
Current must-reads: Political analyst Marko Papic suggests to prepare for a new era of populist policies and bigger government, while economist Daron Acemoglu argues that America has experienced numerous challenges to its democratic bulwark over the years, but, thus far, its institutions have avoided collapse by a cause.
Read more on the topics:
Four Ways of Looking at the Radicalism of Joe BidenThe New York Times Read Summary
Lighthouses for a Perfect StormWorld Economic Forum Read Summary
Stakeholder CapitalismWiley Read Summary
Ill WindsPenguin Press Read Summary
The Coming Post-COVID AnarchyForeign Affairs Read Summary
How China LendsCenter for Global Development Read Summary
There Will Not Be a New Cold WarForeign Affairs Read Summary
Current must-read: As the world economy grows ever more competitive and connected, US politicians have done little to protect America’s position in global markets. That’s the premise behind an astute analysis by trade expert Edward Alden, who reports on decades of stagnating wages and dying factory towns.
Failure to AdjustRowman & Littlefield
He notes that Washington, DC, has gone missing in economic strategy – leaving city and state officials to do battle on the international stage. Alden does see a way out, but his strategies would require levels of commonsense cooperation from a system mired in political gridlock. The good news, according to the WEF, is that emerging professions will add 2.4 million new job opportunities in 2022. Such demand could add $11.5 trillion to the United States’ GDP over the next decade and create new pathways to prosperity for American workers.
Jobs of TomorrowWorld Economic Forum
The “new normal” is likely to incorporate the flexibility the pandemic has made necessary. On-site work and learning will integrate with more online learning. And Everlaw CEO AJ Shankar predicts that employers will also readjust their expectation that home-based workers will always be “on,” while Josh Bersin argues that human-centered leadership is revolutionizing corporate culture and appears to be on the ascendency. As business and economic trends evolve in increasingly rapid and unpredictable ways, managers will need to be more empathetic, flexible, patient and kind – indeed, more human – than ever.
Deep dive this topic:
Building a Culture of Learning at WorkStrategy+business Read Summary
The Big Reset: Human-Centered LeadershipJosh Bersin Read Summary
All the Things Covid-19 Will Change Forever According to 30 Top ExpertsFast Company Read Summary
Welcome to the YOLO EconomyThe New York Times Read Summary
Jobs of TomorrowWorld Economic Forum Read Summary
Leaders in LockdownLID Publishing Read Summary
6. Public Health
Current must-read: Durham University professor Clare Bambra offers an in-depth analysis of how the politics and economics of the place you live in influence your health. She explains why health inequalities exist both among nations and within them. Bambra examines such inequalities past and present, and details their ubiquitous, long-standing nature. Reducing them – and making people’s lives safer and healthier – will require vast changes in political and economic priorities. In other words, “where you live can kill you,” but often it’s death by politics.
Health DividesPolicy Press
Relocalizing HealthHealth Rosetta Media Read Summary
Deaths of Despair and the Future of CapitalismPrinceton UP Read Summary
Infrastructure’s Multiplier Effect on Well-BeingThe Boston Consulting Group Read Summary
Embracing Innovation in GovernmentOECD Read Summary
‘Loneliness on the Job Is a Public Health Crisis’Forbes Read Summary
Current must-read: From 1975 to 1999, says gerontology professor Sarah Harper, demographers worried about population growth, which now has slowed except in some Middle-Eastern and North-African nations. In richer countries, the population is shrinking and the workforce is aging. When fertility falls, so does the ratio of young dependents to workers. This boosts economic growth until the population begins to age, and the society must tend its elders. Harper offers a detailed (very detailed) analysis of today’s demographics for planners and anyone interested in the future of working populations.
How Population Change Will Transform Our WorldOxford UP
In articles here, here and here, we have already pointed out the greatest looming threat to our future: climate change. In this section, we therefore dispense with the must-read section – there is much more to the topic than just one top title.
Is It Too Late to Stop Climate Change?Gates Notes Read Summary
The Technological and Economic Prospects for CO2 Utilization and RemovalNature Read Summary
Beyond Global WarmingPrinceton UP Read Summary
How China Could Be Carbon Neutral by Mid-CenturyNature Read Summary
Brave New ArcticPrinceton UP Read Summary
9. Technology, Media and Telecommunications
Here are our recently featured articles and reading lists on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and 5G. What you’ll learn: Disruptive forces can mean disaster for even the most successful organizations – but they can also offer valuable opportunities for leaders who perceive them in time to act.
What you also might want to know: