Tag Archives: Trends

Signal Crafting

Providing Foresight to Turn Fear into Fuel for Future-Proofing Your Business

Signal Crafting

GUEST POST from Teresa Spangler

As a business leader, it’s crucial to have a futurist vision and navigate the world of extreme consequences with optimism.  Maintaining good morale and motivation within the organization can be challenging as worldly events may create fear and anxiety. These issues can compound when navigating through company or organizational traumas.

“Trends are only useful when we look at them through multiple lenses as we gaze across all six time zones. We must think of trends as signposts that can illuminate the conditions we will likely encounter at some point in the future, even if that future is a century away. Or, as we’re about to see, as close as 1.3 light seconds.”

― Amy Webb, The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream

What strategies could be used to turn fear into fuel and lead through these tough times?

One effective method is through what I call “signal crafting.”  Signal crafting involves diving deeply into futuristic scenarios. Crafting both the best-case and the worst-case outcomes is a healthy exercise that provides insights beyond your day-to-day and even your year-to-year planning.  Signal crafting exercises help you anticipate future scenarios of global events, giving life, and a 360-degree view of circumstances.  In turn, by building out these signaling exercises you are equipping your organization to better plan.  Diving even deeper, combining different factors that affect not just your business’s future but humanity’s future, can help leaders envision various potential outcomes and make strategic decisions based on the most likely scenarios.  Signal exercises provide a foresight into the future in many cases alleviating fear and turning that fear into fuel.

What are the benefits of signaling in planning for the future?

  • Signal crafting is an exercise that helps businesses prepare for the future by creating scenarios based on different factors that affect their industry.
  • Companies must focus on attuning to signals of change in the world, including industry trends and emerging technologies, changing consumer behavior, social and cultural shifts, political and regulatory changes, and economic conditions.
  • By combining different factors that affect a business’s future, it can envision various potential outcomes and make strategic decisions based on the most likely scenarios.
  • The exercise helps businesses identify potential risks and opportunities and develop strategic plans considering different possible outcomes.
  • The exercise fosters cross-departmental collaboration and gains multiple perspectives.
  • The exercise can be repeated periodically, allowing companies to adapt to new signals of change and remain future-ready planners and strategists.

Signal Crafting Exercise

To reinvent the future, leaders should be attuned to the signals of change in the world. These signals may come from internal and external factors, such as:

  • Industry trends and emerging technologies: Businesses should keep a close eye on industry trends and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and automation, that may potentially transform the industry.
  • Changing consumer behavior: Businesses should stay abreast of evolving consumer preferences, such as a growing focus on sustainability and ethical practices.
  • Social and cultural shifts: Businesses should keep up with social and cultural shifts, such as changes in attitudes towards diversity and inclusion.
  • Political and regulatory changes: Businesses should be aware of political and regulatory changes, such as new regulations around carbon emissions and sustainable practices.
  • Economic conditions: Businesses should monitor economic conditions and prepare for potential changes in the market, such as recessions or fluctuations in currency.

Here are twenty-five (25) possible signals of change that may impact the world in 2035: 

  1. Climate change: The effects of climate change are expected to become more severe, with more frequent extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and widespread impacts on ecosystems and human societies.
  2. Artificial Intelligence: The development of advanced artificial intelligence systems will have a transformative impact on many industries, including healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing.
  3. Automation: The increasing use of automation in manufacturing, agriculture, and other industries is expected to displace many workers, creating significant social and economic challenges.
  4. Internet of Things: The widespread adoption of connected devices and sensors, known as the Internet of Things, will enable more efficient and data-driven management of everything from supply chains to energy systems.
  5. Energy transition: The world is moving towards a more sustainable energy mix, with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar becoming increasingly essential and fossil fuels declining.
  6. Space exploration: Human exploration of space is set to accelerate, with more missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond, as well as the development of commercial space travel.
  7. 5G and beyond: The rollout of 5G and other advanced communication technologies will enable faster and more reliable connections, leading to new applications in areas such as autonomous vehicles and virtual and augmented reality.
  8. Quantum computing: The development of quantum computing could enable breakthroughs in cryptography, drug discovery, and climate modeling.
  9. Synthetic biology: Advances in synthetic biology are expected to lead to new forms of agriculture, medicine, and materials science, as well as ethical and regulatory challenges.
  10. Nanotechnology: The ability to manipulate materials at the nanoscale could lead to breakthroughs in areas such as energy storage, medicine, and electronics.
  11. Gene editing: The ability to edit genes could lead to new treatments for genetic diseases and improvements in agriculture, but it also raises ethical and regulatory concerns.
  12. Virtual and augmented reality: These technologies are expected to transform industries such as gaming, entertainment, education, and healthcare.
  13. Autonomous vehicles: The development of autonomous vehicles could lead to significant changes in transportation and urban planning, as well as in industries such as logistics and shipping.
  14. Cybersecurity: As more critical systems connect to the internet, the threat of cyber attacks will become increasingly significant.
  15. Blockchain: The development of blockchain technology could lead to more secure and efficient financial transactions and new applications in areas such as supply chain management and voting.
  16. Wearable technology: The widespread adoption of wearable technology, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, is expected to enable more personalized and data-driven healthcare.
  17. Bioprinting: The ability to 3D print living tissues and organs could revolutionize medicine and lead to new forms of regenerative therapies.
  18. Vertical farming: Developing vertical farming techniques could enable more sustainable and efficient food production in urban areas.
  19. Smart cities: Using sensors and data analytics in urban planning and management is expected to lead to more efficient and livable cities.
  20. Universal basic income: The idea of providing a guaranteed income to all citizens, regardless of their employment status, is gaining traction as a potential response to the challenges of automation and job displacement.
  21. Circular economy: The concept of a circular economy, where waste is minimized, and resources are reused and recycled, is gaining momentum as a more sustainable alternative to the traditional linear economy.
  22. Mental health: The growing awareness of the importance of mental health is expected to lead to new treatments and interventions and changes in social attitudes and policies.
  23. Aging population: The increasing proportion of older adults in many societies is expected to create new challenges and opportunities in healthcare, housing, and social services.
  24. Social media: The impact of social media on society is expected to continue to evolve, with potential changes in areas such as politics, privacy, and mental health.
  25. Biometric authentication: The use of biometric data, such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanning, is expected to become more widespread as a means of authentication in areas such as finance, travel, and security, raising concerns about privacy and security.
  26. Geoengineering: As the impacts of climate change become more severe, the concept of geoengineering, such as solar radiation management and carbon capture and storage, is gaining attention as a potential solution to mitigate the effects of climate change, but it also raises ethical and environmental concerns.

Start the exercise:

  • Focus teams on attuning to signals of change in the world, including industry trends and emerging technologies, changing consumer behavior, social and cultural shifts, political and regulatory changes, and economic conditions.
  • Choose a signal of interest: Each team member choose 1 signal ea member
  • Details are important:
    • Who is affected?
    • What are the effects of this change/trend?
    • What does it feel like to people?
    • How are people interacting?
    • How will this impact businesses?
    • How will this impact the political environment?
    • Go as deep as you can to envision how the world is affected by this signal of change.
    • What will you be doing? How will this signal affect your world/life/family?
    • Keep going as deep as you can.
    • Include how will it impact your company.
  • Envision the signal including the details above in the scenario…it’s 10 years from today what happening?
    • Write a futuristic story about that signal. Write about two different outcomes 10 years from now.
      • Construct a positive outcome.
      • Construct worst-case outcome.
    • Finally, share your stories both positive and worst-case scenarios. Talk about these and the impacts that each signal may have on your business, on your people, on individuals, environments, governments …etc.

Company teams can create scenarios based on the categories they choose to work with. The teams can then present their scenarios to other groups, fostering cross-departmental collaboration and gaining multiple perspectives. The exercise can be repeated periodically, allowing companies to adapt to new signals of change and remain future-ready planners and strategists.

By creating a range of scenarios that identify potential risks and opportunities, businesses can develop strategic plans that consider different possible outcomes. This enables the company to be better prepared for the future and proactively prepare for different outcomes instead of reacting to events as they unfold. The approach will ensure you maintain a competitive advantage but moreover, you may experience a calming of fear and anxiety in the organization.  So many benefits come from this one exercise but overall is a future-planning exercise to help the organization achieve long-term success.

Image credit: Unsplash

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The AI Apocalypse is Here

3 Reasons You Should Celebrate!

The AI Apocalypse is Here

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

Whelp, the apocalypse is upon us. Again.

This time the end of the world is brought to you by AI.

How else do you explain the unending stream of headlines declaring that AI will eliminate jobsdestroy the education system, and rip the heart and soul out of culture and the arts? What more proof do you need of our imminent demise than that AI is as intelligent as a Wharton MBA?

We are doomed!

(Deep breath)

Did you get the panic out of your system? Feel better?


Because AI is also creating incredible opportunities for you, as a leader and innovator, to break through the inertia of the status quo, drive meaningful change, and create enormous value.

Here are just three of the ways AI will help you achieve your innovation goals:

1. Surface and question assumptions

Every company has assumptions that have been held and believed for so long that they hardened into fact. Questioning these assumptions is akin to heresy and done only by people without regard for job security or their professional reputation.

My favorite example of an assumption comes from the NYC public school district whose spokesperson explained the decision to ban ChatGPT by saying, “While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success,”

Buried just under the surface of this statement is the assumption that current teaching methods, specifically essays, do build critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

But is that true?

Or have we gotten so used to believing that essays demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving that we’ve become blind to the fact that most students (yes, even, and maybe especially, the best students) follow the recipe that produces an essay that mirrors teachers’ expectations?

Before ChatGPT, only the bravest teachers questioned the value of essays as a barometer of critical thinking and problem-solving. After ChatGPT, scores of teachers took to Tik Tok and other social media platforms to share how they’re embracing the tool, using it alongside traditional tools like essays, to help their students build skills “essential for academic and lifelong success.”

2. EQ, not IQ, drives success

When all you need to do is type a question into a chatbot, and the world’s knowledge is synthesized and fed back to you in a conversational tone (or any tone you prefer), it’s easier to be the smartest person in the room.

Yes, there will always be a need for deep subject-matter experts, academics, and researchers who can push our knowledge beyond its current frontiers. But most people in most companies don’t need that depth of expertise.

Instead, you need to know enough to evaluate the options in front of you, make intelligent decisions, and communicate those decisions to others in a way that (ideally) inspires them to follow.

It’s that last step that creates an incredible opportunity for you. If facts and knowledge were all people needed to act, we would all be fit, healthy, and have absolutely no bad habits.

For example, the first question I asked ChatGPT was, “Why is it hard for big companies to innovate?” When it finished typing its 7-point answer, I nodded and thought, “Yep, that’s exactly right.”

The same thing happened when I asked the next question, “What should big companies do to be more innovative?”  I burst out laughing when the answer started with “It depends” and then nodded at the rest of its extremely accurate response.

It would be easy (and not entirely untrue) to say that this is the beginning of the end of consultants, but ChatGPT didn’t write anything that wasn’t already written in thousands of articles, books, and research papers.

Change doesn’t happen just because you know the answer. Change happens when you believe the answer and trust the people leading and walking alongside you on the journey.

3. Eliminate the Suck

Years ago, I spoke with Michael. B Jordan, Pixar’s Head of R&D, and he said something I’ll never forget – “Pain is temporary. Suck is forever.”

He meant this, of course, in the context of making a movie. There are periods of pain in movie-making – long days and nights, times when vast swaths of work get thrown out, moments of brutal and public feedback – but that pain is temporary. The movie you make is forever. And if it sucks, it sucks forever,

Sometimes the work we do is painful but temporary. Sometimes doing the work sucks, and we will need to keep doing it forever. Expense reports. Weekly update emails. Timesheets. These things suck. But they must be done.

Let AI do them and free yourself up to do things that don’t suck. Imagine the conversations you could have, ideas you could try, experiments you could run, and people you could meet if you no longer have to do things that suck.

Change is coming. And that’s good news.

Change can be scary, and it can be difficult. There will be people who lose more than they gain. But, overall, we will gain far more than we lose because of this new technology.

If you have any more doubts, I double-checked with an expert.

“ChatGPT is not a sign of the apocalypse. It is a tool created by humans to assist with language-based tasks. While artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies can bring about significant changes in the way we live and work, they do not necessarily signal the end of the world.”

ChatGPT in response to “Is ChatGPT a sign of the apocalypse?”

Image credit: Pixabay

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The Impact of AI on Human Civilization

A New Era of Possibility

The Impact of AI on Human Civilization: A New Era of Possibility

GUEST POST from Douglas Ferguson

OpenAI released ChatGPT on Nov 30th, 2022, which has captivated the public due to its applicability to various needs and asks and near-human accuracy at astounding efficiency. AI has traditionally elicited mixed reactions, ranging from excitement and anticipation to fear and hesitation. With the introduction of this revolutionary technology, questions about its implications are beginning to arise. How will this affect knowledge workers? Which career paths are likely to become obsolete? What new knowledge do marketers, creators, programmers, etc. need to acquire to make the most of this changing landscape?

These are valid and important questions to consider, and it is essential that we have open and honest conversations about the potential impacts of AI on the workforce and how its emergence is making us and our co-workers feel. As the workplace continues to evolve and adopt more of these tools, It is critical to explore some common fears people have about AI and discuss ways that individuals and organizations can adapt, maintain the best parts of our humanity, and thrive alongside these technological advancements.

The tools now available to the public are incredibly powerful and are ushering in a momentous time of discovery. The availability of such powerful AI tools has opened up new avenues for discovery and innovation in various fields. GPT-3, Claude,  Sparrow, and the technology they will inspire all have the potential to revolutionize the way we communicate, learn, and interact with information. If we approach this game-changing tech with humanity, curiosity, and excitement, we can easily step into a world where AI is not only a tool but also a collaborator.

A common reaction to experiencing the power of AI is a feeling of cheating or that we are replaceable, this leads to discussion and debate about whether people will lose their jobs. It’s important to remind ourselves that this feeling is not new or unique to AI. Consider innovations like the printing press or the internet. While initially seen as disruptive, more opportunity has always been generated than lost. New roles and markets emerge in times of massive change.

One unique thing about AI technologies, in particular, is that there are advancing and improving at an astonishing rate. This means that it’s an exciting time to play and watch and learn what can be done with these tool and how they might shape our work in the future. As we learn more and gain clarity and confidence, we are better suited to experiment with new approaches to our work. From there, we can consider how our jobs might shift and take on new requirements and meanings. If the AI can now automate 80% of your work, what can you do with that 80% that is now gifted back to you? Are you able to spend focus on the 20% that really provided the most value? The part that speak to your humanness?

While many people will shift habits and behaviors, some will shift into complete new roles with new titles that never existed before. We’ve already seen this happen in the AI ecosystem. A role that has specifically caught my attention is the “Prompt Engineer” I fondly like to refer to them as AI Facilitators. If you’ve spent any time with ChatGPT, you’ve learned that getting great results from Chat GPT is similar to getting great results from a room of people you are facilitating. You have to ask GREAT QUESTIONS.

Software companies seeking to add GPT capabilities into their products are hiring Prompt Engineers to create the best prompts for GTP to tailor the responses for their product use cases. Think of it like constructing the perfect MadLib. Consumers of a product will interact with the product and maybe fill in some data or make some requests in the app. The app will then submit that request and data to GTP by inserting the pieces into this perfectly crafted MadLib that will generate the ideal result for the end user. Prompt Engineers design these prompts and Madlib-like structures to get desired outcomes from the AI model.

It’s fun to watch the job boards and careers pages for AI consultancies and AI-forward tech companies to see what trends are emerging around new job titles. Reflecting on these observations and considering what that means for overall trends and how those might emerge in your work can lead to valuable insights. Take a look. What ideas surface for you when you consider potential new roles in this emerging landscape?

If nothing else, remember to be curious! It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed, confused, scared, frustrated, dubious, and generally concerned. Take time to move past those reactions and cultivate the generative curiosity needed to learn and understand the technology. When we are curious, we see connections that are non-obvious, and when these pathways are illuminated are able to design our future more effortlessly.

Putting It Into Action

As I mentioned previously, questions have always been paramount in facilitation, which is still true for ChatGTP and other language modules. While these tools are amazing, you won’t get far if you don’t know how to ask good questions or know what questions you should be asking. Questions are uniquely human. No other being discovered has this ability. And, when we engage in self-reflection, introspection, and empathy towards others, we connect more deeply with our humanity—leading to a better understanding of our thoughts, emotions, and values as well as how we are connected to those around us. Thoughtful inquiry cultivates a greater sense of awareness, compassion, and connection within our teams, organizations, and, eventually the AIs alongside us.

Master facilitators have spent years honing their skills and developing their ability to attune to and guide the flow of energy, attention, and conflict in a room. Successful facilitation in the future will also require mastering the art of collaborating with machines. Adapting and extending existing practices to maximize new potential with AI will be the norm. In preparation for this new age of collaboration, we’ve started experimenting by employing proven facilitation techniques while interacting with ChatGPT and other tools. The familiarity of the tools provides some comfort and confidence as we experiment with the unknown.

Start with classic facilitative questions to help guide ChatGPT toward your outcomes:

  1. How might we clarify and align the goals and objectives?
  2. How might we identify the tone and perspective?
  3. How might we recognize empathetic requirements that are considerate to our audience?
  4. How might we brainstorm and generate ideas for prompts and test them?
  5. How might we evaluate and prioritize prompts with core values in mind?

If you are a leader, facilitation is key to your work, or you are curious to grow into these areas, start by familiarizing yourself with the capabilities and nuances of the tools. You’ll want to start with any tool-specific tutorials to familiarize yourself with the UI and functions of the tool. Once you are on the tool and ready to start experimenting, take a moment to explore and learn how to craft questions that yield the best outcomes. As with any good question, think about the context of your audience, what do they know, the purpose of your question, what’s the format of a really good response, and even the types of answers you’d like to avoid.  Remember that we have spent our entire lives asking, communicating, and presenting questions to other humans, and it will take some time and experimentation to master questions for machines.

I have been experimenting with ChatGPT and have made some progress on how to get the most interesting results.

  • Always make sure to start with your purpose, and think clearly about why this is important. Find ways to incorporate your why into the questions and prompts you construct for ChatGPT.
  • Consider the personality of, or style of, the response that might be most valuable to you. Would you like to have your meeting summarized from the perspective of an investigative journalist, Charles Dickens, or Gandhi Think about the tone, attitude, and mindsets you seek to convey.
  • Remember that ChatGPT is there to perform tasks for you. What is the thing you want it to generate? An essay, a poem, a love letter, a summary, a report, or computer code.
  • One noteworthy feature of ChatGPT is that it can reference up to approximately 3000 previous words from the conversation. Take advantage of this is beneficial for requesting revisions and getting the tool to generate variations and adaptations until you get results you are happy with. Give it specific instructions on how to improve.
  • Include specific qualities or requirements you have for defining a good response. This may not be immediately apparent when you first start, and you’ll need to rely on iterating and refining to get the answer you want. Over time you’ll get a handle on the criteria and instructions that are important to you. Save these for the next time you use ChatGPT.

We have created a template laying out these steps in further detail so you can play with ideas and help streamline this process.

ChatGPT has lots of potential but how do we get the most out of it? It’s all about the prompt. Writing and tweaking prompts specific to your needs is key to unlocking the best results. Use this tool template to think through what you’d like to achieve and how to construct the ideal prompt for ChatGPT to get you there.

Collaborating With AI

Practice, practice, practice! Learn to ask the right questions and become more comfortable collaborating with AI. This is key because, eventually, AI will work with us on our teams. We need to become accustomed to how they operate and how they “think”, as it will be different than collaborating with humans. We have generations of experience collaborating with humans, and now is the time to start building that same experience with machines.

Imagine you are on a team of five, four humans and one AI.

  1. What does collaboration with AI look like, and how does it feel?
  2. What questions will the team ask the AI?
  3. How will we learn to work and collaborate in new ways?
  4. What does it mean to invite AI in as a team member?
  5. How might we notice and encourage it to have more ethical and inclusive answers?

Inviting the AI in as a team member means giving it context and teaching it how to work best with us. We can help it learn our culture and values to better align with our mission, vision, and purpose. Building a strategy to incorporate AI as a team member is not unlike working with people in an organization. When a company’s strategy is aligned with its values and purpose, it can create a more meaningful and fulfilling work experience for employees. AI can be an extension of this, reinforcing desired norms and behaviors. Creating a safe environment allowing people to bring their whole selves to work and tap into their innate sense of purpose and connection with others. This can, in turn, help employees lean deeper into their humanity and contribute to a more positive, ethical, and sustainable organizational culture.

Transcending The AI

There are many examples of how technology has allowed us to put aside trivial matters and  elevate as humans. AI is currently simplifying tasks of all kinds by efficiently performing mundane tasks on demand. For example, AI design tools are able to nearly eliminate the creation of UI design, allowing designers to spend their time considering the strategy, conceptual design, how to elevate user experience, and how to address accessibility or other concerns. While the simple example is handy for examples sakes, the potential is much greater than just moving from tactical work to strategic work. As these tools advance and provide deeper functionality for us, we will shift into a higher state of work, finding deeper connections and relating at levels never before experienced in the workplace.

Humans are exceptionally adaptable organisms, and the AI revolution is a time that calls for us to lean into that ability. As with any change, we must also be considerate of long-term systemic implications and sustainability of our actions and work. As you embark on your journey, consider the ethics of what you or your organization are asking of the AI.  Think about the second and third-order effects of what you are asking. If the AI excels at doing this task, what might result from that and so on and so forth? What are the long-term consequences of that? Finally, consider if we might want to pick a different starting point or provide more conditions to properly guide or constrain the AI.

I’m excited about what the future holds for us. As we explore these times together, join me as I focus on appreciating and respecting the diversity of experiences and perspectives that make us all unique. As we begin to create our first relationships with AI, remember to reach firmly into the deepest depths of our humanity.

Article first published at VoltageControl.com

Image credit: Pixabay

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Top 5 Tech Trends Artificial Intelligence is Monitoring

Top 5 Tech Trends Artificial Intelligence is Monitoring

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Artificial Intelligence is constantly scanning the Internet to identify the technology trends that are the most interesting and potentially the most impactful. At present, according to artificial intelligence, the Top Five Technology Trends being tracked for futurology are:

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI): Artificial Intelligence is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks typically requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. AI research is highly technical and specialized, and is deeply divided into subfields that often fail to communicate with each other.

2. Autonomous Vehicles: Autonomous vehicles are vehicles that can navigate without human input, relying instead on sensors, GPS, and computer technology to determine their location and trajectory. Autonomous vehicles are used in a variety of applications, from consumer transportation to military drones.

3. Virtual Reality (VR): Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment. VR uses technologies such as gesture control and stereoscopic displays to create immersive experiences for the user.

4. Augmented Reality (AR): Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes computer-generated content onto the real world to enhance or supplement a user’s physical experience. AR is used in a variety of contexts, from gaming to industrial design.

5. Internet of Things (IoT): The Internet of Things is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity that enable these objects to connect and exchange data. The IoT has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of our lives, from manufacturing and transportation to healthcare and energy management.

It’s obviously amusing that artificial intelligence considers artificial intelligence to be the number one technology trend at present in its futurology work. I would personally rank it number one, but I would rank autonomous vehicles and virtual reality lower. I would put augmented reality and IoT number two and number three respectively, but what do I know …

Image credit: Pixabay

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New Skills Needed for a New Era of Innovation

New Skills Needed for a New Era of Innovation

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

The late Clayton Christensen had a theory about “jobs to be done.” In his view, customers don’t buy products as much as they “hire” companies to do specific “jobs” for them. To be competitive, firms need to understand what that job is and how to do it well. In other words, no one wants a quarter-inch drill bit, they want a quarter-inch hole.

The same can be said for an entire society. We need certain jobs to be done and will pay handsomely for ones that we hold in high regard, even as we devalue others. Just as being the best blacksmith in town won’t earn you much of a living today, great coding skills wouldn’t do you much good in a medieval village.

This is especially important to keep in mind today as the digital revolution comes to an end and we enter a new era of innovation in which some tasks will be devalued and others will be increasingly in demand. Much like Christensen said about firms, we as a society need to learn to anticipate which skills will lose value in future years and which will be considered critical.

The Evolution of Economies

The first consumer product was most likely the Acheulean hand axe, invented by some enterprising stone age entrepreneur over 100,000 years ago. Evidence suggests that, for the most part, people made stone axes themselves, but as technology evolved, some began to specialize in different crafts, such as smithing, weaving, cobbling and so on.

Inventions like the steam engine, and then later electricity and the internal combustion engine, brought about the industrial revolution, which largely put craftsmen out of work and reshaped society around cities that could support factories. It also required new skills to organize work, leading to the profession of management and the knowledge economy.

The inventions of the microchip and the internet have led to an information economy in which even a teenager with a smartphone has better access to knowledge than a specialist working in a major institution a generation ago. Much like the industrial era automated physical tasks, the digital era has automated many cognitive tasks.

Now as the digital era is ending we are entering a new era of innovation in which we will shift to post-digital computing architectures such as quantum computing and neuromorphic chips and enormous value will be created through bits powering atoms in fields like synthetic biology and materials science.

Innovation, Jobs and Wages

As economies evolved, some tasks became devalued as others increased in importance. When people could go to a smith for metal tools, they had no need to create stone axes. In much the same way, the industrial revolution put craft guilds out of business and technologies like tractors and combine harvesters drastically reduced the number of people working on farms.

Clearly replacing human labor with technology is disruptive, but it has historically led to dramatic increases in productivity. So labor displacement effects have been outweighed by greater wages and new jobs created by new industries. For the most part, innovation has made all of us better off, even, to a great extent, the workers who were displaced.

Consider the case of Henry Ford. Because technology replaced many tasks on the family farm, he didn’t need to work on it and found a job as an engineer for Thomas Edison, where he earned enough money and had enough leisure time to tinker with engines. That led him to create his own company, pioneer an industry and create good jobs for many others.

Unfortunately, there is increasing evidence that more recent innovations may not be producing comparable amounts of productivity and that’s causing problems. For example, when a company replaces a customer service agent with an automated system, it’s highly doubtful that the productivity gains will be enough to finance entire new industries that will train that call center employee to, say, design websites or run marketing campaigns.

Identifying New Jobs To Be Done

To understand the disconnect between technological innovation and productivity it’s helpful to look at some underlying economic data. In US manufacturing, for instance, productivity has skyrocketed, roughly doubling output in the 30 years between 1987 and 2017, even as employment in the sector decreased by roughly a third.

It is the increased productivity growth in manufacturing that has fueled employment growth in the service sector. However, productivity gains in service jobs have been relatively meager and automation through technological innovation has not resulted in higher wages, but greater income inequality as returns to capital dwarf returns to labor.

Further economic analysis shows that the divide isn’t so much between “white collar” and “blue collar” jobs, but between routine and non-routine tasks. So warehouse workers and retail clerks have suffered, but designers and wedding planners have fared much better. In other words, technological automation is creating major shifts in the “jobs to be done.”

A recent analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute bears this out. It identified 56 “foundational skills” that are crucial to the future of work, but aren’t in traditional categories such as “engineering” or “sales,” but rather things like self awareness, emotional intelligence and critical thinking.

Collaboration Is The New Competitive Advantage

The industrial revolution drove a shift from animal power to machine power and from physical skills to cognitive skills. What we’re seeing now is a similar shift from cognitive skills to social skills as automation takes over many routine cognitive tasks, increasingly the “job” that humans are valued for is relating to other humans.

There are some things a machine will never do. An algorithm will never strike out at a Little League game, see its child born or have a bad day at work. We can, of course, train computers to mimic these things by training them on data, but they will never actually have the experience and that limits their ability to fully relate to human emotions.

To see how this is likely to play out, simply go and visit your local Apple Store. It is a highly automated operation, without traditional checkout aisles or cash registers. Still, the first thing that catches your eye is a sea of blue shirts waiting to help you. They are not there to execute transactions, which you can easily do online, but to engage with you, understand what you’re trying to achieve and help you get it done.

We’ve seen similar trends at work even in highly technical fields. A study of 19.9 million scientific papers found that not only has the percentage of papers published by teams steadily increased over the past 50 years, the size of those teams has also grown and their research is more highly cited. The journal Nature got similar results and also found that the work being done is far more interdisciplinary and done at greater distances.

What’s becoming clear is that collaboration is increasingly becoming a competitive advantage. The ultimate skill is no longer knowledge or proficiency in a particular domain, but to build a shared purpose with others, who possess a diverse set of skills and perspectives, in order to solve complex problems. In other words, the most important jobs the ones we do in the service of a common objective.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Unsplash

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How Is PESTLE Analysis Connected to Trends?

How Is PESTLE Analysis Connected to Trends?

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

PESTLE is an acronym that stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors. It is a tool used to analyze and understand the macro-environmental factors that can affect the success of a business. PESTLE analysis helps businesses identify potential risks, opportunities and trends that may arise due to changes in the external environment.

Political Factors

Political factors refer to the governmental regulations and policies that can impact businesses. These include laws, regulations, taxation, political stability, and trade agreements. Businesses must be aware of political changes in order to adjust their strategies accordingly. For instance, changes in tax regulations can affect the cost of goods and services, and can lead to higher or lower profits.

Economic Factors

Economic factors refer to the macroeconomic conditions that affect the performance of a business. These include inflation, exchange rates, interest rates, and GDP. Businesses must be aware of economic changes to make sure that their strategies are in line with current economic conditions.

Social Factors

Social factors refer to the beliefs and attitudes of the people in a society. These include demographics, values, education levels, and consumer preferences. Businesses must be aware of social trends in order to tailor their marketing strategies to meet the needs of their target market.

Technological Factors

Technological factors refer to the advances in technology that can affect businesses. These include the development of new products and services, the emergence of new technologies, and the improvement of existing technologies. Businesses must be aware of technological changes in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Legal Factors

Legal factors refer to the laws and regulations that govern businesses. These include labor laws, competition laws, and health and safety laws. Businesses must be aware of legal changes in order to comply with the law and avoid potential penalties.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors refer to the natural environment that can affect businesses. These include climate change, pollution, and resource scarcity. Businesses must be aware of environmental changes in order to minimize the potential impacts on their operations.

PESTLE analysis is an important tool for businesses to understand the macro-environmental factors that may affect their performance. By being aware of the political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors, businesses can identify trends and adjust their strategies to maximize their chances of success.

Bottom line: Understanding trends is not quite the same thing as understanding the future, but trends are a component of futurology. Trend hunters use a formal approach to achieve their outcomes, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to be their own futurist and trend hunter.

Image credit: Pixabay

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What is the difference between signals and trends?

What is the difference between signals and trends?

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

The terms SIGNAL and TREND are often used interchangeably in the business world, but they actually have very different meanings. A signal is a short-term indication of a change in direction, while a trend is a long-term pattern or movement in a particular direction.

Signals are often indicators of changes in the market, such as a new product launch, a sudden surge in sales, or a shift in customer preferences. They’re often used to inform decisions about the future, such as when to launch a new product or when to deploy a marketing strategy.

Trends, on the other hand, are longer-term movements that can provide insights into the overall direction of the market, such as a rising demand for a particular product or service. They’re often used to inform strategy and investments, as they can provide clues as to where the market is headed.

Innovation, however, requires looking beyond signals and trends. It requires looking at the bigger picture and considering not just what is happening now, but what might happen in the future. It requires thinking outside the box and being creative in order to come up with unique solutions and ideas.

Innovation is about anticipating and preparing for the future. It’s about staying ahead of the curve and finding new ways to do things better, faster, and cheaper. It requires embracing risk and being willing to try new things and challenge the status quo.

So, while signals and trends can be useful in informing decisions, they can’t replace the need for innovation. To stay ahead of the competition, companies need to be constantly looking for ways to innovate and stay ahead of the curve.

Bottom line: Understanding signals and trends is not quite the same thing as understanding the future, but signals lead to trends, and are a component of futurology. Trend hunters use a formal approach to achieve their outcomes (including looking for signals), but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to be their own futurist and trend hunter.

Image credit: Pixabay

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What are Signals?

And how do signals relate to trends and futurology?

What are Signals?

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Signals are important indicators of future trends and developments in a field. Futurology, the science of predicting the future, relies heavily on the ability to identify, analyze, and interpret signals that may indicate future changes or developments.

Signals can come from a variety of sources, including economic indicators, market data, industry trends, consumer behavior, and technological advances. By studying and interpreting these signals, experts in the field of futurology can develop predictions about the future.

For example, economic indicators such as GDP, the unemployment rate, and consumer spending can be used to identify signals that may indicate future changes in the economy. Market data such as stock prices, commodity prices, and currency exchange rates can be used to identify signals that may indicate future changes in the financial markets. Industry trends such as the rise of new technologies, the emergence of new business models, and the evolution of consumer behavior can be used to identify signals that may indicate future changes in markets and industries.

Signals can also be identified through the analysis of consumer behavior. For example, changes in consumer behavior, such as an increase in the use of online shopping or a shift in preferences towards healthier, organic foods, can be used to identify signals that may indicate future changes in consumer markets.

Finally, technological advances can be used to identify signals that may indicate future changes in a variety of fields. For example, the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to identify signals that may indicate future changes in the field of automation, or the development of new medical technologies can be used to identify signals that may indicate future changes in healthcare.

By analyzing and interpreting signals from a variety of sources, futurologists can make educated guesses about the future and develop predictions about the direction of a field and its emerging trends. This ability is essential for organizations that want to stay ahead of the curve and prepare for future changes.

Bottom line: Understanding signals is not quite the same thing as understanding the future, but signals lead to trends, and are a component of futurology. Trend spotters use a formal approach to achieve their outcomes (including looking for signals), but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to be their own futurist and trend spotter.

Image credit: Pixabay

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What is Trend Monitoring?

Trend Monitoring: How to Track the Latest Market Developments

What is Trend Monitoring?

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s fast-paced business world, staying ahead of the competition is a must. Companies need to stay on top of the latest trends in the market to ensure they’re not left behind. That’s where trend monitoring comes in.

Trend monitoring is the process of researching and tracking emerging trends in the market. It’s a critical tool for staying competitive and staying ahead of the competition. By tracking the latest developments in the market, you’ll be able to spot opportunities and capitalize on them.

The most effective way to monitor trends is to have a dedicated team of professionals who are constantly researching the latest developments and tracking the market. This team should include experts in the industry and market analysts who can provide the latest information on trends.

Once you have a team in place, you’ll need to set up a process for monitoring trends. This process should include identifying key trends to monitor, researching the latest developments, and tracking the market on a regular basis.

To identify key trends, you’ll need to look at the market both broadly and narrowly. Start by looking at larger trends such as macroeconomic and demographic changes. Then drill down and look at narrower trends such as industry-specific changes.

Once you’ve identified the key trends, you’ll need to research them. This includes gathering data, analyzing it, and drawing conclusions. You’ll also need to track the market on a regular basis to spot any changes.

Finally, you’ll need to act on the information you’ve gathered. This could include adjusting your marketing strategy, launching new products, or changing your pricing model.

By monitoring trends in the market, you’ll be better equipped to stay ahead of the competition and take advantage of new opportunities. It’s a critical tool for any business looking to stay competitive and profitable.

Now, some of you may be wondering how to spot trends in the first place or what trend spotting is. If so, then check out my previous article – What is Trend Spotting?

Bottom line: Trend monitors are not quite the same thing as futurists, but trend monitoring is a component of futurology. Trend monitors use a formal approach to achieve their outcomes, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to be their own futurist and trend monitor.

Image credit: Pexels

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What is Trend Analysis?

What is Trend Analysis?

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Trend analysis is an important tool for businesses, and it’s essential to understand how to use it in order to stay competitive. Trend analysis is the process of looking at data points over time to identify patterns and changes in behavior. It can help businesses identify opportunities, risks, and trends in the market, and it’s a great way to measure performance and plan for the future.

Trend analysis can be used to analyze past and current data, and it can also be used to predict future trends. By looking at patterns in the data, businesses can identify correlations and relationships between different variables that can inform decision-making. This can help businesses anticipate changes in the market and develop strategies to capitalize on them.

Trend analysis can be used to measure customer behavior, demand for products and services, and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. It can also be used to identify seasonal trends, such as shopping habits during the holidays, and to monitor the performance of competitors.

Businesses can use trend analysis to identify potential opportunities and risks in the market. By analyzing past data, businesses can identify potential opportunities and create strategies to take advantage of them. They can also use trend analysis to identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them.

PESTLE analysis can be used in trend analysis to identify key drivers of change.

PESTLE stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors. It is an acronym used to analyze and assess the external environment of an organization in order to identify any potential opportunities or threats that may affect its operations. PESTLE analysis provides a comprehensive view of the external environment in which a business operates and can be used to identify potential risks and advantages that may not be immediately obvious.

This can help to identify potential opportunities and threats that may arise from changes in the external environment. By understanding how trends in these factors may impact your business, you can better plan for the future and ensure that your business remains competitive.

Trend analysis can also be used to track progress and measure the success of a business. By looking at data points over time, businesses can track their progress and measure the success of their strategies. This can help them identify areas of improvement and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Trend analysis is a powerful tool for businesses, and it’s essential to understand how to use it in order to stay competitive. By analyzing data points over time, businesses can identify trends, opportunities, and risks in the market and develop strategies to capitalize on them. It’s a great way to measure performance and plan for the future, and it can help businesses stay ahead of the competition.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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