23 Trends for 2023
The future is a vast and complex issue, and one that covers so many potential topics.
Since I speak in virtually every industry, from agriculture to healthcare, banking to technology, transportation to energy, it’s always been difficult to come up with a good concise end of years trends preview list!
And so this year, I’ve done something different! 23 Trends for 2023!
It’s a grab bag of trends to get you thinking – based on what I am hearing from my global list of clients as to what CEOs and senior executives are thinking about. I’ll post a new trend each work day to mid-January!
#1 – Techno-skepticism [ link ]
It hasn’t been a great year for tech. Things went too far. And so the tech collapse in 2022 was entirely predictable.
This leads to my first trend to watch in 2023: “techno-skepticism.”
In 2022, a lot of people lost a lot of faith in the power, benefit, and opportunity of technology, and some are going to the other extreme of optimism. We will see this play out in a major way in 2023. The impact of this trend is significant, for it will cause challenges to the issue of the timing of the future and the speed at which some organizations will choose to align to it. Some will win because they will be aware of it but won’t fall to it; others will lose because it will become core to their purpose, and will defer their future.
#3 – Inevitable Inevitability [ link ]
Auto-dealers fighting the sale of cars online. Energy utilities trying to fight the arrival of micro-grids. State legislatures trying to prevent OTA (over-the-air) software upgrades for cars.
It’s all pretty futile, and people and companies that fight the future ultimately fail.
After all, the funeral home industry learned this in 2000. Did you know you can buy a casket online at Costco?
#4 – Escalating Risk Realities [ link ]
The future of risk is clear: there’s going to be more of it. It’s going to come at us with greater speed and intensity. Unless we are watching really carefully, we won’t be aware of it until we have to deal with it. The implications of not dealing with new risks will become more severe as time moves on.
#5 – Transformation, Not Innovation [ link ]
We are living in a period of time that is seeing massive transformation occurring within every single industry. Entire industries are being turned upside down, the fundamentals are changing, and in 10 years, they won’t look anything like they do today.
You can’t nibble around the edges with small innovations – you need to go BIG with transformation.
#6 – Opting out [ link ]
There might be a recession in 2023. Or, maybe not!
But whatever happens, it’s pretty certain that an increasing number of CEOs are deciding that they choose not to take part. They’ll opt out. That’s trend #6 of my ’23 Trends for 2023′ series.
It seems simple but is pretty critical – when uncertainty stares you in the face, double down on innovation and transformation, and refocus on the long-term view!
#9 – Entrenched workback pushback [ link ]
Most companies are on a path trying to get key employees back to the office. Return to work is the beating drum.
The problem is that many of those key employees – highly skilled, in huge demand – have tasted freedom, and don’t want to go back. And in the context of trend #8 – Knowledge Velocity – they are in the ‘driver’s seat.’
#10 Revisiting Strategic Agility [ link ]
We need to plan faster with bigger goals in mind – but we’ve been distracted.
After all, we’ve been in triage mode with our organization in dealing with the pandemic, supply chain challenges, a volatile economy, and workforce issues.
That’s why trend organizations will be busy ‘revisiting strategic agility’ – which is to say, the ability to plan faster with bigger goals in mind!
#11 The Massive Velocity of A.I. [ link ]
There can’t be a bigger story in tech this year – other than the self-inflicted destruction of many aspects of the tech sector through hubris, arrogance, and fraud – than what has happened with AI.
And it truly does represent a double-edged sword. My Daily Inspiration earlier today featured this entirely uninspirational message: “The future can be, in but an instant, wonderfully magical and yet. terrifyingly real, at the exact same time!” That’s the essence of the AI story right there.
#12 : Doubling Down on Dignity [ link ]
Sometimes it does seem like the world has gone mad – extremely divisive politics, a rise in hate crimes, absolute emotional terrorism on social networks, attacks on public institutions, and increasing violence. Everyone has a feeling that things are getting out of hand. That’s why I think we will a real trend of “Doubling Down on Dignity” – focusing more on lifting people up rather than tearing them down.
And in particular, we will see them doing so by placing more emphasis on their DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – initiatives.
#13 Peak Carbon [ link ]
The end game is this: oil is a sunset industry, in decline, kaput-ing. Quite simply, we’ve got so much momentum happening with the push to electric vehicle technology, the acceleration of battery storage science, micro-grid concepts, fast-paced developments with wind and solar and renewables and so much more … that, essentially, oil is over.
#14 Reinventing and Reimagining [ link ]
If what you sell, who you sell it to, how you sell it, and essentially, what it actually is – you’ve got to change things. If who you are, how you learn, what you know, and what you need to know, you need to reinvent.
That means you need to reimagine your future – because it will be fundamentally different from everything you know today.
#15 – Locking in Lessons Learned [ link ]
Folks don’t want to talk about the pandemic anymore, but we should, for despite all the awful things that happened, and the massive divisions it has caused in society, one thing is clear: the way that organizations organize, learners learn, science sciences, and experts’ expertise, has forever changed.
We learned a tremendous number of lessons as to how to do things better, faster, and with more insight than ever before.
Stay tuned for a continuation of the series!
#16 – The Great Decoupling [ link ]
Globalization as we know it is over -and with that, one of the most basic assumptions which have driven the post-World War 2 economy has come to an end.
That’s why are working to reinvent at a furious pace as the assumptions behind the success of globalization are challenged, and a reorganization of the global economy occurs, aka “place-based economics.”
#17 Non Immersive VR / AR [ link ]
Part of the art of figuring out the future is knowing this – you’ll often find the real trend by looking beyond the hype to what’s actually happening! The hype? Virtual headset virtual reality, best epitomized by the bold but somewhat doomed bet by Mark Zuckerberg with his Meta initiative.
The reality? The return of Google Glass ideas with smart heads-up display based on accelerated augmented reality technology and concepts.
#18 The Battle For Reality [ link ]
Whether they like it or not, leadership teams and organizations are going to have to deal with collective insanity conspiracy theory issues going forward.
They are finding it embedded in their workforce; are challenged by customers who disbelieve reality and have to regularly reconsider their advertising and public relations strategies in light of it.
#19 – Leading At the Leading Edge [ link ]
30 years of studying and working with global innovation leaders – and those who have failed – teach me the key lesson of transformative innovation: those who succeed are not afraid to step up and look out over the leading edge.
They’re prepared to align to new technologies and methodologies, explore new concepts and try them out, and keep an eye and ear well-tuned to what comes next.
#20 The Rise of the Robots [ link ]
They’re everywhere! Little robots scurrying about, doing the jobs that humans don’t want to do!
Despite the widespread techno-skepticism which I identified in Trend #1 – Technoskpeticism and Retiming the Future, it’s pretty clear that many technologies are having their moment.
#21 – Accelerating Generational Disruption [ link ]
The youngest generation now entering the full-time workforce was born right after 9/11.
They were six or seven years old during the global financial meltdown and recession of 2007-08. They’ve now lived through the global pandemic. And they’ve had a cellphone – most likely an iPhone – since they were ten years old, with social media and fast. messaging simply being a part of who they are. This generation, more than any other, is connected, wired, and thinks differently than any other generation before them.
And they are now bringing their ideas, attitudes, opinions, short attention spans, rapid collaboration capabilities, and skeptical views into the workplace and organizations.
#22 Opportunity, Not Fads [ link ]
The issues of the future always revolve around the hype of what’s hot, what’s not, what to expect – with little regard for the practicality of the trend or the timing by which the future might unfold. Fusion? There are fascinating new developments, and yet, it might take decades for them to unfold. AI? A HUGE trend in 2023 – ti’s the subject of trend #11 of this series, The Massive Velocity of AI.
Yet we can expect the hype, FOMO (“fear of missing out”), and hysteria around it to reach crazy proportions. If history teaches us anything, it’s this: long term trends can quickly become short term fads. But in 2023, more CEOs will follow a mindset that “strategy should be long on reality. Never short on wisdom!”
#23 Forward, finally! [ link ]
Next month will mark 3 years since individuals and organizations began to go through the largest disruption they will ever know. With lockdowns, a staggering loss of human life, work-from-home, and the rapid emergence of a digital lifestyle and e-commerce infrastructure – we all had to learn to adapt quickly.
They’ve all had a common theme – all of us finally have the chance to look forward to what’s next, rather than just concentrating right now on what we need to do to get through. In a conference call with a client the other day, I was given a gift when he mentioned that in his mind, they weres finally able to move away from triage – fast, quick steps to simply survive – to thinking about their future again. That’s it!
And so trend #23 is “Forward, finally!” – because we finally have the chance to move from triage to tomorrow!