Are You Prepared to Create and Lead the Future?

It doesn’t require a #10YearChallenge to notice that things have changed pretty dramatically over the past decade — and we’re not just talking about hairstyles. So we can only imagine what the next ten years will bring us.

For Bob Johansen, thinking about the future is more than just an interesting exercise; it’s his mission. A distinguished fellow and past president of the Institute for the Future (IFTF), Bob has built up a remarkable track record of accuracy in his ability to forecast ten years into the future. Of course, the predictions are only part of the story. Bob’s challenge to leaders is to mine insights out of those forecasts and then turn those into actionable steps to create their future.

In 2010, Bob delivered a keynote and follow-up session at the ISA Annual Business Retreat on the external “future forces” that would be affecting leaders in the decade ahead, along with the leadership skills that would be required as a result. It hasn’t quite been ten years, but we’re pretty close to it, and Bob will be joining us again at the 2019 ABR to kick off the Fearless and Focused theme with a conversation about “spectrum thinking,” a skill he sees as mandatory for leaders to be able to thrive in the future.

Before we look ahead, though, let’s take a quick look back at just a few of Bob’s predictions from his ABR appearance in 2010. See if any of these resonate with you:

  1. Choose your own learning adventure: The tech world of 2010 was dominated by voice and text technologies. IFTF predicted that, by 2020, cloud computing would take over, including cloud video, web, GPS, sensors and more. “The network is the computer” would finally come true, transforming learning, leadership, the industry and every person. About learning, in particular, Bob said, “People will choose their own learning resources to filter their experience of the physical world.”
  2. Everyone will be a maker, and everyone will be a learner: Bob predicted a rise in the “Maker Instinct,” where a culture of makers and a DIY spirit transform how things are designed, manufactured and distributed. That may have foreshadowed the hipster craftsperson down the block selling artisanal wares on Etsy, but it also referred to the explosion of the Internet of Things, with wearables, connected devices and apps allowing people to take more control and “learn in place” — or any place.
  3. Try, learn, improve, repeat: With it becoming easier and more feasible to develop prototypes and quickly get them out in front of your audience, there would be more opportunities for businesses to create, test and get real-time insights from customers on new products and services. This capability would usher in a new era of businesses learning through rapid prototyping.
  4. Learning goes communal: From social media to online sharing platforms and communities, new technologies of cooperation would enable the shift toward skills that leverage the collective intelligence of others. These “amplified learners” create profiles, share information, seek out communities, contribute new knowledge and ideas, and learn from each other and their collective experience.
  5. Learning goes viral: Given the choice, learners in 2020 would opt for video as the medium for learning, Bob noted, adding that learning requires engagement, and engagement would be happening in the cloud. Even more broadly, video would become a part of almost every organizational strategy, with an increase in “amateur” videos mixed in with broadcast quality media.

What will you see when you look back from the 10 Year Challenge of 2029?

In 2010, Bob told ISAers that innovation in the cloud would offer the biggest learning opportunity in history. Learners would no longer be passive recipients, but active participants and co-creators. Clearly, the past ten years have proven much of that hypothesis out. And a host of disruptors and startups have come along to take advantage of some of those huge opportunities in the learning industry.

With technology accelerating the pace of change, the next ten years will surely bring more disruption and more opportunity. You won’t want to miss Bob’s Sunday afternoon keynote at the 2019 Annual Business Retreat to get a valuable head start on creating your business’s future.

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