Today I will be teaching so just a quick post about an impossible subject – the future.
As some very smart folks have said, the future is already here. We just don’t know it yet. In other words, the trends that will shape tomorrow are at work now. But for the average guy, like me, it is a challenge to separate out these out from the roar of noise around us.
Jeff Bezos argued that the best way to do that is not to try. As he developed the Amazon business model for selling books online, he asked this question – what will NOT change? And he identified three things. People will always want (1) better selection, (2) lower prices, and (3) faster delivery. An online service could beat bricks and mortar retailing in all three categories, and Jeff made massive investments to achieve that. Amazon — with its astonishing low profit margins — still does.
So, we might ask this question more broadly. What will not change in how humans relate? Well, I think humans will always want to be part of friendly, empowering communities. Are we? Well, modern life stresses our communities in a number of ways. One way in particular – the drive for efficiencies makes life very regimented.
From this vantage point, we can say with some confidence that folks will develop tools to strengthen community. These tools will include (1) new devices (like web platforms) (2) new organizational structures (with more emphasis on management as communication, and (3) new demands on politics (less tolerance for government that sells out its constituents).
And I see a lot of writing that addresses these ideas. Like how managers inadvertently stifle discussion and how cloud computing will redefine what management should do.
My point here – these writings should be seen as addressing larger and deeper human needs that are not likely to change.