You and I know that the headline on the left is going to run in newspapers and mainstream media one day. The BIG question is when.
So what are the trends that will drive future growth? Off the top of my head, there are several:
- growth markets will continue to emerge. Back in the 19th century, the head of the US Patent Office stated that “everything that can be invented has been invented.” Such silliness. Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of new products, markets, industries and ideas being built and explored. The future isn’t over. It’s arrival has just slowed to a degree.
- leaders in existing markets will grow through innovation. My own gut feel is that there are a lot of organizations out there approaching this recession differently. They’re innovating in their markets; they’re working on customer retention; they’re investing in customer service in order to keep competitive; they’re talking about how to grow in a down market. I’m certainly seeing this given my advance bookings going forward. People want to talk about innovation and the future. That’s a great sign that the recovery is underway.
- health care will see significant transformation, not to mention spending: health care is transitioning to a system of predictive medicine. This is a huge, long term, 20 year trend, but has big implications with the emergence of new careers, industries, professions, and companies — DNA based medicine is a massive change. On top of that, the mere level of spending that is going to occur in managing the looming health care crisis will drive all kinds of growth, though the funding part of the equation will remain a big problem. The result? Lots of innovative thinking as to how to solve huge problems with unique solutions.
- green and energy will continue have more momentum. Some argue that the meltdown will defer everything having to do with these two efforts. I disagree; I think the corporate sector has discovered the cost benefit that comes from green projects, and so they will continue to invest, which will drive innovation. And I think globally, we’ve passed the point where people and their leaders believe that doing the same old thing as the past is going to continue in the future. I don’t see leading edge research into solar, wind, and other alternatives slowing down any time soon. And the fascinating thing is that there is a lot of backyard, garage tinkering going on right now, and that’s where the next product/market breakthroughs will come from.
- technology will continue to hyper-innovate: I’ve got six generations of Blackberry’s that span about six years or less. They’ve got a slew of new products coming out just this month : they’ve got a very fast innovation culture. Likewise, iPhone’s have become the coolest fashion statement on the planet for the younger demographic. The Internet-enabled thermostat I have in my home and chalet is the first step in a huge wave of pervasive connectivity. I don’t see hi-tech innovation and R&D slowing down. Indeed, during the last recession, some of the biggest innovations — the iPod — emerged from the minds of those inventing the future. There are a lot more billion-dollar markets still to emerge.
- agility and flexibility will dominate: In the next several years, the manufacturing industry — globally and locally — will learn to do what Honda has done: focus on the rapid assembly and reassembly of capabilities, so as to more quickly change models and products to respond to fast paced consumer demand. As they do so, they’ll undergo a fundamental transformation in their thinking, structure and capabilities that will ensure their success.
- the global idea machine will continue to influence innovation. Look, the Internet continues to have a profound impact on everything we do. Scientific discovery is speeding up; new discoveries continue to go forward at a furious pace. Eco-building design concepts are debated, shared, and then go global in an instant. From the global mind comes unprecedented innovation, new products, new companies and new industries.
- the next generation takes over. The boomers are a dispirited bunch right now; there’s not a lot of passion and enthusiasm with some of them to change the future, particularly given the status of their 401K’s. Some in the younger generation are witnessing their first ever generation, and its’ probably pretty terrifying. (This is my 4th, so I’m an old hand at this.) Yet, they’re a hardy, entrepreneurial bunch, who have grown up with a mindset that inhales change, pursues multiple different opportunities, and collaborates like nothing we’ve ever seen before. I think they’ll shake things up pretty quickly.
- A faster world happens, well, faster. Simply put, faster news cycles means that people get through difficult periods faster, at least in terms of mindset. Re-read my post about the ‘7 stages of economic grief’ and share it around. Think about whether you think people are moving to the acceptance phase quicker. I believe they are, and I think this faster attitude shift, compared to a slower pace of acceptance in previous recessions, means that innovation will drive us out of this faster than we expect.
- transformative thinking drives growth. Last but not least, we can’t discount the impact of a new American mindset upon the global economy. It seems clear that a decisive mandate has been delivered by the American populace that they want to rejoin the global economy, and want to work hard and fast to fix the problems that have resulted. Big change comes from big ideas sponsored by leaders with big dreams. Right now, we live in transformation times.
I dunno, I’m hugely optimistic. How about you?