• That familiar world is rapidly vanishing as we encounter a bewildering new reality driven by a new set of rules. Before we know it there will be more grandparents than grandchildren in most countries; collectively, middle-class markets in Asia will be larger than those in the United States and Europe combined; women will own more wealth than men; and we will find ourselves in the midst of more industrial robots than manufacturing workers, more computers than human brains, more sensors than human eyes, and more currencies than countries. That will be the world in 2030.
• I worry not only about the future state of business but also about how workers and consumers might be affected by the avalanche of change coming our way.
• This book offers a road map to navigate the turbulence ahead.
• The basic point is this: every finale signifies the dawn of a new reality replete with opportunity—if you dare to dig beneath the surface, anticipate the trends, engage rather than disconnect, and learn how to make effective decisions for yourself, your children, your partner or spouse, your future family, your company, and so forth. Everyone will be impacted.
• As I have aimed to show throughout the book, demographic, geopolitical, and technological forces are all in motion, whether we like it or not, and inextricably intertwined. How we deal with them will be one of the defining tests of this new world to come.
• I worry not only about the future state of business but also about how workers and consumers might be affected by the avalanche of change coming our way.
• Simply put, the world as we know it today will be gone by 2030.
• The rules are changing – forever.
Mauro F. Guillén, 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything
It’s been years – OK; decades — since I have read Megatrends (1982). And The Popcorn Report (1991). And a few other books that tried to point us clearly to what was coming next.
I’ve always liked reading these. They got a lot right. Like:
The Popcorn Report:
Cocooning. (this certainly accelerated during the pandemic).
From a predominantly national economy to one in the global marketplace.
From hierarchies to networking.
And I’ve read plenty of books in recent years that hint at coming changes: Get There Early (this is the book that intruduced me to the VUCA world); Rise of the Robots; The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything. And others, like: Digital Transformation; The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. The list is long, and always growing.
In other words, trying to figure out what’s coming next is big in the business books arena. It is fun to think about. And, no matter how much we try to guess, or forecast, or predict, we’ll miss some, and get a few things right.
Well, time for a new volume to put in this mix. For the April First Friday Book Synopsis, I read another one of those “here’s what might be coming” books. I prenseted my synopsis of 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything by Mauro F. Guillén. (Mauro F. Guillén, the Wharton School, holds the Zandman Professorship in International Management and teaches in its flagship Advanced Management Program).
There was a lot I appreciated about this book. One thing was this: it deals with international realities; and brings in data from throughout the world. In other words, some of what he says is coming is definitely based on the numbers.
In my synopses, I always begin with “What is the point” of the book. Here it is for this book: The world will be different, in many ways, by 2030. We will need to learn to make peace with, and embrace, such differences.
And I ask Why is this book worth our time? Here are my three reasons for this book.
#1 – This book teaches us that global trends will truly matter.
#2 – This book captures the demographic shifts happening throughout the world.
#3 – This book beckons us to embrace the complexity of the era; it beckons us to develop lateral thinking skills.
I always include a few pages of Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted Passages. Here are quite a few of the best highlights from this book:
• Fewer babies in most parts of the world means that we are steadily marching toward a rapidly aging population.
• The whole point of mental compartmentalization is to keep things apart so that we are not overwhelmed by the interactions among them.
• For their part, technologies alter old habits and lifestyles, bringing forth new ways to think about and engage with everything from homes and offices to cars and personal items. This, in turn, will lead to alternative conceptions of money that are more distributed, more decentralized, and easier to use.
• Let me offer you an example. In addition to the electric lightbulb, the telephone, and the car, one of the great inventions of the late nineteenth century was the concept of retirement. …We inherited from that century a concept of life as a progression of distinct stages—childhood, work, and retirement—that we, hopefully, enjoy along the way.
• “The interaction between quantity and quality of children,” he wrote, “is the most important reason why the effective price of children rises with income.” …“We want to invest more in each child to give them the best opportunities to compete in an increasingly unequal environment.” From this perspective, children are investment projects, with net present values and rates of return. It is striking to note that the average American family may end up spending well in excess of half a million dollars on each of their children.
• Some people may find a future in which robots will take care of senior citizens and children an aberration. Frankly, we have no alternative, for two reasons: not nearly enough babies are being born today to take all the caregiving tasks that will be required, and there’s an effort, pushed by governments around the world, to halt the flow of immigration, which as I’ve shown has typically provided the workers to fulfill this role in the past.
• One key distinction between middle-class and working-class values is the individualism of the former and the communitarianism of the latter. A middle-class upbringing emphasizes individual choice and independence, while the classic ethos of the working class is all about solidarity and interdependence.
• In 2015, the Pew Research Center announced that the combined numbers of poor and rich households in the United States had, for the first time in two generations, exceeded the number of middle-class households. In 1971, there were 80 million middle-class households (compared to 52 million either above or below). By 2015 there were 120.8 million middle-class families, compared to 121.3 million in the two other groups.
• The middle class is shrinking in Europe and the United States not just because people are losing well-paying jobs to global competition or automation but also because the young cannot gain access to stable jobs in the first place; there are just fewer of those jobs to go around.
• “There’s no such thing as a glass ceiling for women,” argues author Laura Liswood. “It’s just a thick layer of men.”
• Any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich. – PLATO
• In The New Urban Crisis, Richard Florida notes the dualistic nature of cities: “Are cities the great engines of innovation, the models of economic and social progress, that the optimists celebrate, or are they the zones of gaping inequality and class division that the pessimists decry? The reality is that they are both.”
• Creative destruction is … the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. — JOSEPH SCHUMPETER, ECONOMIST
• The iPhone had launched in 2007, and the App Store opened a year later with an initial 500 apps available. (R.M., Note:1.82 million apps 3/28/2021).
Here are quite a few of the points and lessons and insights from the book:
- Can I just say – 2030 is only nine years from now. Nine years!
- The clock is ticking. The year 2030 isn’t some remote point in the unforeseeable future.
- Remember, it’s all unfolding in our lifetime, and it’s right around the corner.
- The world as we know it is coming to an end
- maybe the world of so much private ownership; maybe the world dominated by “married with children”; maybe the world of dominance by the US; maybe the world of money and banks…
- Consider Airbnb
- Airbnb wouldn’t be so successful if it weren’t for a number of converging trends: declining fertility, longer life expectancy, doubts about the future viability of public pensions, expanded use of smartphones and apps, and a growing interest in sharing rather than owning.
- By 2030 nearly half of our spending will be in the form of “collaborative” or “shared” consumption, which will include cars, homes, offices, gadgets, and personal items of all sorts. Owning is out; sharing is in.
- Here it is in a nutshell: By 2030, a new reality will take hold, and…
- There will be more grandparents than grandchildren
- Population aging is becoming the norm in America and Western Europe.
- The middle-class in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa will outnumber the middle-class in the US and Europe combined
- The global economy will be driven by the non-Western consumer for the first time in modern history
- There will be more global wealth owned by women than men
- There will be more robots than workers
• There will be more computers than human brains
- There will be more currencies than countries
- We are getting too big (physically; we weigh too much) – everywhere, and especially in the US
- The sheer population of China and India means that much will change
- Cities, especially along the coast, are in for some real challenges related to climate change
- The wealth gap is an ongoing problem; and not getting any better – especially within cities
- We will have a “sharing” economy” – Millennials are spearheading the sharing economy (while eschewing ownership)…
- AI (artificial intelligence) will finally arrive
- Alan Turing, who led the effort to break Germany’s Enigma secret code during World War II and helped pioneer the computer itself, declared in 1951 that AI would “outstrip our feeble powers” and “take control.” Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking added his two cents by saying that it “could spell the end of the human race.” …Apocalypse aside, there is little doubt that AI will bring about epochal change.
- Think self-driving cares: Current experiments with autonomous vehicles indicate a bright future because human beings are sloppy and unreliable. We can get distracted, bored, or tired.
Most importantly, computers can communicate with other computers. …By contrast, a self-driving car, in tandem with other cars in its vicinity, can collectively manage traffic flow (and reduce accidents) in a coordinated manner.
- The number one challenge from this book: — learn to Think Laterally!
- (R.M. – remember that everything is “overdetermined.” – I learned this from M. Scott Peck. – In other words, there is no one cause; there is no one solution.Everything is complex; and interrelated).
- You might be perfectly capable of coping with the changes if you keep each of them separate from the others.
- Anthropologists and sociologists have long established that we reduce the complexity of the world by breaking it into categories. …Companies and organizations also think this way. They compartmentalize everything.
- Lateral thinking can be further augmented through “peripheral vision.” “People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for” — they’re blind to the unexpected, the unusual, the periphery.
- Facts and Figures
- Percentage of the world’s wealth owned by women in 2000: 15. Percentage of the world’s wealth owned by women in 2030: 55.
- Worldwide, the number of people who went hungry in 2017: 821 million. Worldwide, the number of people who will go hungry in 2030: 200 million.
- Percentage of Americans projected to be obese in 2030: 50.
- Percentage of the world’s land occupied by cities in 2030: 1.1. Percentage of the world’s population living in cities in 2030: 60.
- The largest middle-class consumer market today: United States and Western Europe. The largest middle-class consumer market in 2030: China.
- The number of people currently in the middle class in the United States: 223 million. The number of people in the middle class in the United States in 2030: 209 million.
- The big trends…
- We need to develop a true global perspective.
- The middle class is shrinking; the wealthy, and the poor, are both growing.
- We have to be more open — Compartmentalizing, however, blinds you to new possibilities.
- Breakthroughs occur not when someone works within the established paradigm but when assumptions are abandoned, rules are ignored, and creativity runs amok.
- The reality is that by 2030 we will be facing a baby drought.
- The change in women’s roles in the economy and in society more generally is the single most important factor behind the decline in fertility worldwide.
- Women are surpassing men in educational attainment: Back in the fifties about 7 percent of women between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-nine had a college degree, half the rate of men. Nowadays, the proportion of women with a college degree is nearly 40 percent, while for men the figure is only 32 percent.
- The US needs immigrants.
- If we dive into the data on specific occupations, we find more evidence that most immigrants do not compete for jobs with locals. The top three occupational groups among immigrants in the United States without high school diplomas are maids and housekeepers, cooks, and agricultural laborers. Meanwhile, native-born workers without a high school diploma are more numerous among cashiers, drivers of trucks and other vehicles, and janitors. Head-to-head competition for jobs between immigrants and natives is rather limited. The United Nations calls it “replacement migration.” …The American economy will need a larger influx of immigrants to cover the demand for dozens of occupations, from nursing assistants and home health aides to construction laborers, cooks, and software developers.
- By 2030, more than half of these and other jobs in the United States will be occupied by foreign-born workers.
- When the US is truly rivalled by China and India, things might look different…
- In other words, the largest markets write the rules of the game—simply because they are large and influential. …I’m ready to bet my entire pension fund that, alongside FCC and CE logos, our smartphones will also carry a Chinese, and possibly an Indian, regulatory stamp of approval.
And here are my five lessons and takeaways:
#1 – People – including you and I – will resist every change more than we realize… But maybe it is time to jettison our resistance to change. We are pretty much going to have to learn to embrace change.
#2 – It does not matter if you “don’t like it.” The changes are coming.
#3 – Recognize that the middle class is endangered.
#4 – Develop a greater concern for the people in need.
#5 – Expand your understanding horizons. The global world is here to stay. Try to better understand people from other cultures.
The value of this book, and others like it, is this: it makes you stop and think; and say to yourself: “I haven’t even thought of that.” And, with other insights, it reinforces what you thought might be coming.
This book is not just some guy in your neighborhood thinking about the future. This is a highly educated man; doing plenty of research, and saying to us all, yet again:
The future is coming.
We are not ready.
We’d better get ready; and soon.
Because we don’t have long before that new future arrives.
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