The 9 Megatrends That Will Boost Your Organization’s Legs

One way or another.

The 9 Megatrends That Will Boost Your Organization’s Legs
Some see an iceberg here, others see an inverted underwater mountain range.

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 in order 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.

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Image of: The Tyranny of Merit

The Tyranny of Merit

Meritocracy fuels American inequality.

Michael J. Sandel Farrar, Straus & Giroux

But inequality is not purely an American problem:

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Image of: Global Gender Gap Report 2020

Global Gender Gap Report 2020

Progress continues toward achieving gender parity around the world.

World Economic Forum World Economic Forum
Image of: The Future of Work

The Future of Work

Rapid technological change could revolutionize economic policy for the better or for the worse.

Darrell M. West Brookings Institution Press
Image of: Optimal Money Flow

Optimal Money Flow

Quantitative easing should benefit everyone, not just the owners of capital.

Lawrence C. Marsh Greenleaf Book Group
Image of: Good Economics for Hard Times

Good Economics for Hard Times

Immigration and trade are important issues that need more than fractured politics and fact-free debates.

Esther Duflo and Abhijit V. Banerjee Allen Lane
Image of: The Rich Cut Their Spending. That Has Hurt All the Workers Who Count on It.

The Rich Cut Their Spending. That Has Hurt All the Workers Who Count on It.

COVID-19 has revealed the dependence of service workers on spending by the rich.

Emily Badger and Alicia Parlapiano The New York Times
Image of: The Velvet Rope Economy

The Velvet Rope Economy

What happens to a republic when even public amenities bend to serve the rich?

Nelson D. Schwartz Profile Books

2. Education

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.

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Image of: Peak

Peak

“Deliberate practice” is the smarter way to gain expertise.

Robert Pool and Anders Ericsson Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Further reading:

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Image of: Game Changers

Game Changers

Biohacker Dave Asprey shows how to hack your mind, body and spirit for better health and contentment.

Dave Asprey Collins
Image of: The Myth of

The Myth of “Learning Styles”

Although you may prefer a particular learning style, you won’t actually retain material better if you use it.

Olga Khazan The Atlantic
Image of: The New Education

The New Education

A professor asserts colleges must update education to prep students for the digital and global workplace.

Cathy N. Davidson Basic Books
Image of: Learning and Earning

Learning and Earning

Amid constant technological change, workers’ education will become everyone’s responsibility.

The Economist The Economist

3. Infrastructure

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.

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Image of: Bottom-up Responses to Crisis

Bottom-up Responses to Crisis

Seven essays offer an academic, useful overview of disaster responses and the strength of communities.

Stefanie Haeffele and Virgil Henry Storr Palgrave 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:

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Image of: Remote Work Is Killing the Hidden Trillion-Dollar Office Economy

Remote Work Is Killing the Hidden Trillion-Dollar Office Economy

The businesses that catered to, fed, dressed and cleaned up after office workers face an uncertain fate.

Steve LeVine Medium

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.

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Image of: Reprogramming the American Dream

Reprogramming the American Dream

A Microsoft executive presents a comprehensive overview of AI for rural Americans, policy makers and IT/AI executives.

Kevin Scott HarperBusiness

Further reading:

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Image of: Smart Cities For Dummies

Smart Cities For Dummies

Smart cities apply people-focused technology to improve city dwellers’ quality of life.

Jonathan Reichental Wiley
Image of: From Managing Decline to Building the Future

From Managing Decline to Building the Future

A new visa program could reverse the economic fallout from declining US population growth.

Adam Ozimek, Kenan Fikri and John Lettieri Economic Innovation Group
Image of: Seven Trends That Will Reshape the Airline Industry

Seven Trends That Will Reshape the Airline Industry

The 2020s will bring turbulence – and new opportunities – for the airline industry.

Ben Wade, Yana Topalova, Nicolas Boutin, Pranay Jhunjhunwala, Hean-Ho Loh, Tom von Oertzen, Masao Ukon and Alan Wise The Boston Consulting Group

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.

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Image of: Geopolitical Alpha

Geopolitical Alpha

Goodbye, Washington Consensus. Hello, government profligacy.

Marko Papic Wiley
Image of: America’s Democratic Unraveling

America’s Democratic Unraveling

When checks and balances begin to fail, the collapse of democratic institutions can swiftly follow.

Daron Acemoglu Foreign Affairs

Read more on the topics:

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Image of: Four Ways of Looking at the Radicalism of Joe Biden

Four Ways of Looking at the Radicalism of Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s shift to the left is surprising but logical.

Ezra Klein The New York Times
Image of: Lighthouses for a Perfect Storm

Lighthouses for a Perfect Storm

Through stakeholder capitalism, companies are taking the lead to address formidable global challenges.

World Economic Forum World Economic Forum
Image of: Stakeholder Capitalism

Stakeholder Capitalism

Short-term priorities created the Earth’s problems, but long-term thinking could offer solutions.

Klaus Schwab and Peter Vanham Wiley
Image of: Ill Winds

Ill Winds

Democracy’s strength relies on the courage of its defenders.

Larry Diamond Penguin Press
Image of: The Coming Post-COVID Anarchy

The Coming Post-COVID Anarchy

Will the fallout from COVID-19 push the international order into lawlessness?

Kevin Rudd Foreign Affairs
Image of: How China Lends

How China Lends

China, the world’s largest creditor, lends to nations on opaque and seemingly political terms.

Anna Gelpern, Sebastian Horn, Scott Morris, Brad Parks and Christoph Trebesch Center for Global Development
Image of: There Will Not Be a New Cold War

There Will Not Be a New Cold War

A cold war between the United States and China would not serve either nation’s interests.

Thomas J. Christensen Foreign Affairs

5. Economy

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.

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Image of: Failure to Adjust

Failure to Adjust

Globalization has sapped American prosperity. But the tide can still turn.

Edward Alden Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.

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.

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Image of: Jobs of Tomorrow

Jobs of Tomorrow

Worried that AI will steal your job? Your future employment prospects may be brighter than you imagine.

Vesselina Ratcheva, Till Alexander Leopold and Saadia Zahidi World 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:

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Image of: Building a Culture of Learning at Work

Building a Culture of Learning at Work

Companies can’t succeed until employees feel safe enough to try – and fail.

Adam Grant Strategy+business
Image of: The Big Reset: Human-Centered Leadership

The Big Reset: Human-Centered Leadership

Employers who treat their employees with empathy are most likely to weather the unpredictability of the post-pandemic economy.

Josh Bersin Josh Bersin
Image of: All the Things Covid-19 Will Change Forever According to 30 Top Experts

All the Things Covid-19 Will Change Forever According to 30 Top Experts

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new era of tech-enhanced business processes.

Mark Sullivan Fast Company
Image of: Welcome to the YOLO Economy

Welcome to the YOLO Economy

The pandemic changed the world of work – and many employees are refusing to go back to the status quo. But what can employers do?

Kevin Roose The New York Times
Image of: Jobs of Tomorrow

Jobs of Tomorrow

Worried that AI will steal your job? Your future employment prospects may be brighter than you imagine.

Vesselina Ratcheva, Till Alexander Leopold and Saadia Zahidi World Economic Forum
Image of: Leaders in Lockdown

Leaders in Lockdown

The pandemic devastated the world. Savvy leaders adapted.

Atholl Duncan LID Publishing

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.

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Image of: Health Divides

Health Divides

Why some places are more healthful to live in – and how politics makes the difference.

Clare Bambra Policy Press

Additional reading:

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Image of: Relocalizing Health

Relocalizing Health

A guide to rescuing companies and communities from America’s voracious and ineffective health care system.

Dave Chase Health Rosetta Media
Image of: Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

For working-class white people in America, life has gotten worse – much worse.

Anne Case and Angus Deaton Princeton University Press
Image of: Infrastructure’s Multiplier Effect on Well-Being

Infrastructure’s Multiplier Effect on Well-Being

How can governments transform money into tangible benefits for citizens?

Saurabh Bakliwal, Joao Hrotkó, Jailendra Kashyap and Ruth Chiah The Boston Consulting Group
Image of: Embracing Innovation in Government

Embracing Innovation in Government

Around the globe, public sector innovation is transforming the way governments work.

OECD OECD
Image of: ‘Loneliness on the Job Is a Public Health Crisis’

‘Loneliness on the Job Is a Public Health Crisis’

Loneliness is a public health emergency – and organizations can serve their own self-interest by addressing it.

Bryan Robinson Forbes

7. Demographics

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.

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Image of: How Population Change Will Transform Our World

How Population Change Will Transform Our World

Changes in the structure of population worldwide will affect human well-being and how people live and retire.

Sarah Harper Oxford University Press (UK)

Read more:

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Image of: Empty Planet

Empty Planet

After decades of concern about a population explosion, a precipitous population decline raises complex issues.

Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson Crown Publishing Group
Image of: Disruptive Demographics

Disruptive Demographics

Four demographic trends are shaping humanity’s future.

Joseph F. Coughlin World.Minds

8. Environment

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.

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Image of: Is It Too Late to Stop Climate Change?

Is It Too Late to Stop Climate Change?

Individuals can help resolve climate change issues through political will and personal commitment.

Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Gates Notes
Image of: The Technological and Economic Prospects for CO2 Utilization and Removal

The Technological and Economic Prospects for CO2 Utilization and Removal

Humans might help solve the climate crisis by turning excess carbon dioxide into useful products.

Pete Smith, Cameron Hepburn, Ella Adlen, John Beddington, Emily A. Carter, Sabine Fuss, Niall Mac Dowell, Jan C. Minx and Charlotte K. Williams Nature
Image of: Beyond Global Warming

Beyond Global Warming

A study of climate modeling that aims at science researchers and scholars.

Syukuro Manabe and Anthony J. Broccoli Princeton University Press
Image of: How China Could Be Carbon Neutral by Mid-Century

How China Could Be Carbon Neutral by Mid-Century

China plans to produce its electricity with non-fossil fuels and reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.

Smriti Mallapaty Nature
Image of: Brave New Arctic

Brave New Arctic

In a gripping story, a scientific insider explains the mystery, and implications, of the thawing Arctic.

Mark C. Serreze Princeton University Press

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:

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Image of: Top 10 Digital Transformation Trends for 2021

Top 10 Digital Transformation Trends for 2021

Trends in digital transformation are steaming ahead despite the pandemic crisis – and often getting a boost from it.

Daniel Newman Forbes
Image of: 2020 Tech Trends Report

2020 Tech Trends Report

The 2020s are the tipping point for the technologies that will shape the world’s future.

Amy Webb Future Today Institute
Image of: Bitcoin’s Greatest Feature Is Also Its Existential Threat

Bitcoin’s Greatest Feature Is Also Its Existential Threat

Bitcoin could be at risk of government or corporate manipulation.

Barath Raghavan and Bruce Schneier Wired
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