Searching for A Realistic Picture

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The question put to us most frequently is what the next Megatrend will be. Behind this question lies the basic query of what and where the opportunities of the future can be found. In answering this question we have to divide our audience and readers in two categories. Those who are living or doing business in countries and regions of the Global Southern Belt, and those who still believe that the dominance of the West will continue.

Given that in the West the answer what the next megatrend is not always welcome, simple because it does not fit into the want-to-be worldview or plans for personal life. But we do not create the future, we are describing what we see unfolding.

When different people are drafting scenarios of the future, even if all have the same level of information, they will get to different result. Usually the one closest to reality will lead to leverage most opportunities. Even though this is easy to understand, in reality it does not always work that way. Change can be received as a reinvention holding numerous opportunities or as a danger for the prospects one already is familiar with. To those who want to hold on to the past it results in a selective and emotionally driven perception of information. We see what we want to see. And that is true for our personal and global context.

Looking at the global context we see the decline of the Western world. And it is no surprise that such change is not welcome by many westerners. Less so as one reason is the missed chance to implement necessary reforms and adaptations. There is also not too much acceptance that emerging economies and especially China have shown a much higher willingness to change course. No exclamation of “Make America Great Again” is able to change that. Competitiveness is raised by rising productivity and not by returning to the industrial age. The best chances to fix the crisis in America’s middle class is to focus on the new markets, which will create 90 percent of the global consumer demand within the coming 15 years. With “One Belt One Road” as one of the key drivers.

While the picture of the future is much rosier for China and the emerging economies than the one for West, the mistake of holding on to obsolete pictures can be made as well. China’s days of low wages and huge exports are coming to an end. Personnel-intensive production is in decline, and artificial intelligence and robots will over time substitute many of the office jobs. Getting a realistic picture of the demands of a changing working world is the only way to adapt in time. Life-long learning and switching careers will replace the life cycle of learning, working and retiring.

Changing occupations takes forward-looking planning. But one of the tricks of opportunity is that they often slip in by the back door, sometimes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunities. Could we look into the future we could also understand the often hidden gain of a missed opportunity. It can turn out to be a lesson, a waiting time or simple not a chance we could leverage at the time. We only get certainty retrospectively. But if we make the right conclusions we nevertheless have a gain.

Nothing has changed since Confucius said thousands of years ago: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection; that is the noblest: second by imitation, which is the easiest; third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Doris & John Naisbitt

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