“The future won’t wait for your panic to subside!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Hey, how about that stock market!
I’ve been beating the drum for some time that we are headed into some sort of economic correction or downturn – and yet, even so, people tend to deny all the signals of the impact of relentless volatilty. And yet, now attitudes are swinging in the other direction, away from relentless market optimism to depressing outlook pessimism.
Take a chill pill! Back in ’08, with the global economic meltdown, I wrote a post about ’10 fundamental trends that don’t change with the meltdown.’ I thought I’d give it a small bit of an update, since the message still holds.
Start here – here’s a headline I used on stage to great effect from late ’08 until about ’13 as I walked my audiences through the issue of why needed to be relentless growth optimists. 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. Its arrival has just slowed to a degree in some industries; in other industries, this market blip and volatility will barely be noticeable.
- 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, based on lessons learned from previous downturns. 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 already underway!
- health care and medical science will continue to see a significant transformation if you ignore the looney-bin anti-vaxxer whack jobs, a simple fact has emerged from Covid – our world of healthcare has changed forever! Yes, there are deep problems with staffing, skills, burnout, and spending – but beneath the surface, new medical knowledge is growing at a furious pace, science is accelerating and new discoveries are exploding — mRNA-based medicine is a massive change. This is a huge, long-term trend, but has big implications with the emergence of new careers, industries, professions, and companies. I’m bullish on science, and health is science.
- green and energy will continue to 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. Oil is over, batteries are the future, and gas cars are DOA given energy prices. We’ve passed the point where carbon industry leaders believe that doing the same old thing as in 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.
- technology will continue to hyper-innovate: technology now dominates the disruption and pace of innovation in every single industry. Aside from the silly shenanigans of crypto, meta, Web3, and other hype trends, there continue to be massive opportunities for technology-driven growth. Cars become computers, agriculture moves to 24-hour farming, and retail continues to devolve to online sales domination. The fact is, I don’t see hi-tech innovation and R&D slowing down. Indeed, during the last recession, some of the biggest innovations — the iPhone — 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 take the lessons being learned right now about supply chain challenges and relentless volatility, and turn those into opportunities for business model reinvention. 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. And the fascinating thing is that there are a lot of backyards, and garage tinkering going on right now, and that’s where the next product/market breakthroughs will come from.
- 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 – but they are now leaving the economy. (I’m one of them, 63 years old, and know that one day, I won’t be doing what I do today!). At the same time, some of the younger generations are witnessing their first-ever downturn, and its’ probably pretty terrifying (particularly those invested in crypto). (This is my 6th downturn, so I’m an old hand at this.) Yet, they’re an 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 mean that people get through difficult periods faster, at least in terms of mindset. Re-read my post about the ‘7 stages of economic grief’ below 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 folks like me who know the lessons of previous downturns. Every downside has an upside; breakthrough performers are those who focus on the future despite volatility. Big opportunities comes from big ideas sponsored by leaders with big dreams. Right now, we live in transformation times. Are you in that mindset?
I dunno, I’m hugely optimistic. How about you?
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