August 17, 2015

I have been helping large corporations develop new strategy for almost 20 years.  Here are 5 things I have learned:  strategies get overtaken by events so be agile; use megatrends to stretch future-thinking; focus on customers and innovation; dig deep into current business challenges; involve many different teams to create ownership and commitment.

1. Strategies get overtake by events so be agile

Our world is changing faster than you can hold a board meeting, and the days of a 5 year strategy cycle are over in most industries.  That means you need more than one strategy, and strategies need review every year.  Think ahead about contingencies and backup plans that will work across a wide number of possible futures.

Agility in strategy will be a number one survival issue.  Dynamic thinking and rapid decision-making, which means empowering local teams to make many more types of decisions, while retaining the capability to make radical central decisions at the speed of light in response to major global events.

Take the energy industry for example:  in 40 seconds, an earthquake in Japan cracked a nuclear reactor and changed 40 years of energy policy in Japan and Europe with an impact that will be felt across the world for a generation.

2. Use megatrends to stretch future-thinking

The most important single step in developing fresh strategy and vision is to take teams on a journey into the future.  Most business leaders are consumed by day to day pressures of running the business – tactics rather than strategy.

We need to step back and view the whole business in the wider context of global megatrends – long term factors which are changing relatively slowly and which will together dominate our future world.

We need to map out major new market opportunities and challenges in response to these, as well as important technologies, innovations, competitors and regulations.

As we have seen recently in banking, the greatest risk to any business is institutional blindness – leaders all influenced by the corporate past or by old ways of doing things.  We need to open people’s eyes, so they can find fresh vision, challenge and inspiration, which will drive future strategy.

3. Focus on future customers and innovation

The future of every business depends on happy customers, but strategies often focus on numbers, which usually fail to inspire teams.  Focus strategy on your most important customers and how they may change, and you are far more likely to grow a healthy business.

Track future lifestyles, fashions and fads in different markets.  How can we better understand how your customers will think and feel? How can you improve their experience?  What will they most need in future?

What innovations could radically transform their lives?  What other types of future customers could you target? What are you learning from competitors and other types of business?

4. Dig deep into current business challenges

Every company future is different. What are your greatest opportunities and challenges, strengths and weaknesses right now?  The greatest insights are often two levels below group executive team.

Look at past strategies (what actually happened and why).  Are people ready for change?  Look at where most investment and human effort is going right now – map this against future markets and needs, and all the other trends above.

Do you have the right people in place to take the company forward?

5. Involve many different teams to create ownership and commitment

Most strategies and change management programmes fail because senior managers and decision-makers are unconvinced and disengaged.  So involving a wide range of teams in developing new strategy is absolutely critical to success.

Bring them into the big picture, excite them about the future with your focus on customers. Show them how your company can really make the difference.   Consult teams about the detail of what is being proposed.  Broadcast great ideas and honor teams for their contribution.

And then you can track each team’s progress far more easily, in implementing their own part of the group strategy, with commitment and enthusiasm.

For more: read my new book The Future of Almost Everything - .

 “Absolutely brilliant.  I love this man’s exhilarating thinking and writing.  Here are fast far-sighted insights into the tangible and intangible horizons of future change, underpinned by wisdom about its ultimate driving force – human nature.”  Nigel Nicholson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, London Business School

August 09, 2015

5 reasons why the message of The Future of Almost Everything really matters to the success of every business

The Future of Almost Everything, my latest book, is packed full of key survival and success factors for every business, whether you work for one of the world's largest corporations, or a small, family-owned enterprise.  

This forecast of the future will transform how you think about tomorrow, and guide vital decisions you need to take today, in 5 key areas.


All leadership is based on vision, which means you need to see further ahead, to inspire people with a big picture of a better future.  The stronger and more compelling your vision is, the stronger your leadership will be.

This book will open your eyes, take you over the horizon and prepare you for radical changes in a rapidly evolving world, where faster responses will be needed than ever before.

You will be less surprised by tomorrow’s headlines, and find it easier to talk confidently about your plans, in the context of how the world as a whole is changing.


In every change or trend there is usually huge opportunity for someone, somewhere who is in the right place, at the right time, with the right business – and it could be you.

This book identifies the most important growth areas in every industry and is the ultimate guide for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.  At the same time this book will help you manage future risks.

This book will trigger fresh insights in your own mind, about your own business: new directions, new initiatives, new markets.


Companies spend billions every year on market research, but customer surveys can’t tell you the future, because customers can’t see the future and don’t understand how their own choices may change.  As a result, many businesses are serving yesterday’s customers with last-century products or services, and will not survive.

This book describes hundreds of ways in which customers are evolving: their hopes, dreams, lifestyle choices, families, working patterns, homes, health care needs and leisure patterns.

Take a giant leap into your customers’ future.  Listen to your customers, learn from them, sort out their problems today – and then use this book to help imagine what decisions they are most likely to make in years to come.


You may think you have the best strategy in the world and the best run organisation, but if the world changes in ways you don’t expect, you are likely to keep travelling even faster in the wrong direction.  

This book contains the keys to future success in every industry.  Build your future strategy on megatrends that are likely to drive growth in demand in relatively predictable ways for the next decade and far beyond.

Drive your change management programmes in the right direction to get your business fit for the future.


The best way to develop world-class products rapidly is to use next-generation technologies and processes to meet tomorrow’s most important customer needs, hopes and desires.  

This book describes hundreds of new products, processes and technologies, which will change all our lives.  Discover how the world’s greatest challenges will be solved, what your competitors are likely to invest in, and how life will be improved for over 11 billion people as a result.

Read about the greatest innovations that will transform life on earth, and how new kinds of markets will develop as a result.

August 08, 2015

Just 20 days to launch of my latest book "The Future of Almost Everything" - order now

Here is a review just in:

“You don’t need a crystal ball to see into the future – you just need to read Patrick Dixon’s latest book, which covers all the major trends that are likely to affect your business, and quite a few others as well.   This book is the best single source out there for understanding how the business world is changing today.” 

Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, and Director of the Deloitte Institute, London Business School

August 07, 2015

10 trends that will dominate our future - all relatively slowly changing but with huge impact

Our future will be shaped by hundreds of trends which are changing relatively slowly and predictably. Here are ten of the most significant:

1) Fall of all technology and connectivity costs

40 year trend, which will continue for at least another 40 years, because of new discoveries, innovation, economies of scale and human need.

Take solar cells for example, which will continue to plunge in price.  For some communities they are already the cheapest source of electric power, and by 2030 they will make most other ways of power generation look really last century.

2) Universal access to mobile web

There are already more mobile SIM cards in the world than human beings and in most nations of the world. Most web access and e-commerce is now via a mobile device.

And by 2030, trillions of items will be joined up online, sharing information in the greatest and most explosive phase of digital expansion.

3) 1 billion children alive in the world

Never again in human history will so many children be growing up at the same time.  All will see your lifestyle in advertising or on TV or the web.  All will aspire to middle class wealth, education, health care.  Global population will peak at around 11 billion in 2060.

Those 1 billion children will all be adults in less than 18 years, and most will have children of their own in 25 years. Their views and lifestyles will dominate our planet for the next 50-80 years.

4) 85% of humankind living in emerging markets in 10 years

That’s almost everyone.  So if you live in a developed nation, think some really radical thoughts about life in 2030.  The only markets worth investing in for many industries, will be emerging markets.  

The collective voice, opinions and lifestyle choices of those living in emerging markets will one day completely dominate our entire world.  America and Europe will decline as global players.

5) Growth of middle class consumers in emerging markets

Over a billion new middle class consumers will be created in emerging markets during the next 30 years, as a result of better education and economic growth.

Countries like China and India will be transformed by growth of their own domestic markets – becoming much less dependent on exports of goods or services to developed nations like America or Japan.

6) Huge growth in life expectancy in most nations

The life expectancy of every person living in a city like London is getting longer by an average of one year in every four years.  That’s without the miracles of medical technology, pharma and health care that we can expect in the next 50 years.  Life expectancy is growing even faster in many of the poorest nations.

By 2040 we will know all the secrets of non-ageing animals – of which there are many types – and will be finding new ways to slow down ageing in wealthy humans.

7) Growth in global trade and corporate giants

Every year, trade between nations continues to grow rapidly, as our world continues to become more joined up as a single economic community.  Expect huge consolidation and mergers in manufacturing, distribution and retail.  Over 70% of all retail spending will be in less than 10 companies in many nations by 2040.  

In 2050 there will still be only 2-3 major airline manufacturers, only 2-3 global mobile or computer operating systems, only 10 mega-sized pharma companies, less than 5 major groups of car manufacturers.

8) Increased automation – factories, cars, offices, homes

The Internet of Things, Cloud Computing and Big Data will all accelerate global automation of every aspect of human existence.  This is an irresistible trend that has been accelerating for over 100 years.  

Despite this, expect several billion more jobs to be created, mainly in service industries, as people look for ever more creative and personal ways to improve quality of life.

9) Tribalism feeding radical extremists and terrorism

Tribalism is the most powerful force on earth today.  Every family is a tribe. Every community is a tribe. Every brand forms a tribe.  Every large company is a tribe of tribes.

As a reaction to globalization and threats to local cultures, languages and ways of life, expect rapid growth of tribalism, localism, activism and terrorism.  These forces will be fed by social media, and will undermine democracies and dictatorships.

10) Search for purpose, sustainability and spiritual meaning

Most people in the world say that they have spiritual beliefs which influence how they think, feel and live.  As communities become wealthier, expect sharper focus on purpose, meaning, making a difference and spirituality. As part of this, expect intense focus on long term sustainability for our world.

* Buy The Future of Almost Everything - new book by Patrick Dixon - 

5 Steps to Instantly Future-Proof Your Business

Here is a five minute guide to future-proof any business.

1) Bring in outsiders to challenge your world view

The greatest risk to any business is institutional blindness.
When too many bankers spend too much time with bankers, the result is a sub-prime crisis. Too many generals playing too many war games with too many other generals in the same nation, and the result can be disaster.

So seek out advice from experts, consultants, innovators – people who think very differently to you and others in your company.

2) Listen to your customers – but don’t believe them

Always take what your customers tell you seriously. Fix their problems. Make life easier. But don’t believe them when it comes to predicting the future.

Get to know your customers well, with deep insights into how they think and feel, and then try to imagine how they may behave in a very different kind of future world. One of the best ways to find those insights is to pretend to be a customer in your own business as a “mystery shopper”. Every senior manager should do that at least once a month.

3) Read widely – and be curious about all you meet

I wrote The Future of Almost Everything as a one-stop guide to the future of every industry, region and market. Many of the insights came from reading everything I can get my hands on – unfamiliar magazines in airports, blogs by influential people, newspapers like the Financial Times, and other key publications like the Economist.

The key is to challenge your own views on the future, rather than just absorb the forecasts made by others.

One of the fastest ways to stay ahead of change is to be constantly curious about the lives of those you meet. For example, when you arrive in a new city, talk to your taxi driver who will likely be a very reliable guide to what is really going on, if the local economy is picking up, who is spending what and where.

4) Review your strategies every year

The world is changing faster than you can hold a board meeting, which means that you need to have more than one strategy. Bring your team together regularly to think again. Develop contingencies to stay ahead of constant change. What are you going to do if….

Focus on major long-term trends, which change relatively slowly and you already understand most of your future. Things like demographics, growing life expectancy, the relentless fall in price of most technologies, rapid pace of globalization, rise of emerging markets and so on.

The rest will be driven by Wild Cards – low probability, high impact events – but there are a huge number of them, and in a hyper-connected world, their combined impact can be awesome. Remember that in every risk or challenge there is a new business opportunity.

5) Agile leadership teams

And finally, prepare for rapid change, by developing more agile teams. That means simplifying decision-making, giving more power to local teams to innovate, diversify and respond to events rapidly. Recruit and promote leaders who cope well with ambiguity and uncertainty, who enjoy taking initiative, have courage and are great collaborators.

Agility is so much easier when you have completed steps 1-4 above. When you have a dynamic view of your future, and have mapped out different possible directions depending on what happens around you.

* My new book  is published by Profile Books at the end of August.  Pre-order today:
The Future of Almost Everything

June 08, 2015

The Future of (Almost) Everything - latest book by Futurist Patrick Dixon

The Future of Almost Everything covers the following and a load more:

I have managed to pack into the book all the central messages I have delivered to every industry audience in every part of the world over the last five years:

- The future of the global economy: where growth will come from over the next 30 years and why.
- The future of globalisation, manufacturing trends and supply chain management, future of logisticsincluding shipping, and ways to reduce risks. The future of robotics in manufacturing. The future of offshoring, onshoring, nearshoring and why many millions of manufacturing jobs will return to developed nations from places like China over the next two decades.  
- The future of the European Union, future of the Eurozone, and of other trading blocs.  The future of the UN and of global governance.
- The future of emerging markets - with special focus on India, China, the rest of Asia, Russia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, emerging middle class and demographic changes.  How the world will look in 150 years - with complete rebalancing of economic, political and military power.
- The future of health care: transition from treating sick people, to prevention, to performance enhancement and what we can learn from animals that do not get old - some of which live for over 400 years.  Future of hospitals and home care, pharma and biotech, medical technology, diagnostics and gene analysis.
- The future of relationships of all kinds, different types of families, models of marriage and parenting.  The future of communities, cultures and creation of new tribes.  Why patterns of drug and alcohol abuse are changing.  Future of crime and law enforcement.
- The future of retail, mobile consumers, fusion of online and offline shopping experiences, future of shopping malls, convenience stores and niche outlets.  Future of the fashion industry, new textiles and the cotton industry.
- The future of digital including quantum computing:  how Big Data, Cloud Computing and the Internet of Things will merge to create the greatest transformation in digital tech for 20 years.  Impact on your own personal life and on every business.  Future of home automation, office automation.  Growing threat from next-generation cyber-attacks as a result of all this centralisation of information and digital power.
- The future of banking, insurance and every other kind of financial service including stock exchanges and all other kinds of markets. The future of telcos, and why the old telco business model cannot survive much longer.  The future of telco-banks and who will "own" the customer relationship.  How more than a billion unbanked people will discover financial services for the first time in the next 10 years using a mobile device.
- The future of food and beverages industries - changing customer preferences, how grocery / foodoutlets must adapt to survive.  Impact of new regulations in the food industry.  New patterns of consumption, new tastes and new types of food.
- The future of marketing, advertising, brands, viral campaigns, location-based messaging, customerloyalty and engagement.  Why traditional marketing is dead and what is already rising up to replace it. 
- The future of the auto industry: next generation smart cars, robot drivers, networked vehicles, new fuels and propulsion systems.
- The future of aviation, space travel, space colonies, business travel, holidays, hotels.
- The future of entertainment and leisure: trends in the music and film industry, TV, videos, radio and sport.  Expect many surprises.
- The future of news gathering and publishing: future of TV news channels, future of books, newspapers and magazines, future of online media channels and digital publishing - and why paper will survive much longer than most think.
- Why large cities have a great future, future urbanisation, massive migrations and real booms and busts.  What kind of cities and offices will we need?  What kind of infrastructure will we build?  Who will be the winners and losers in developing these new cities?
- Changes in workplace and the nature of paid work itself: future of workplace automation, the place of robots in tomorrow's world, and where the next 3 billion new jobs will come from. The future of knowledge management and talent management, future of retirement and complexities of managing and older workforce. Why diversity at work will become more important.
- The future of single issue activism.  The growing impact of campaigns, pressure groups, social media on governments.  Future of extremist groups, terrorism.
- The future of energy, carbon use, water use, forests, farming, fishing, sustainability, global warming and the wider environment.  The $40 trillion green tech boom and how we will develop the innovations to protect our future at affordable cost.
- The future of leadership, change management, strategy, consultancies, accountancy and the law profession.
- The future of education: revolutions in schooling and at university and why many of today's learning methods are no longer fit for purpose.
- The future of government - and why democratic governments will become weaker.  Future of autocracy, theocracy and other forms of government.
- The future of war: and why traditional wars will mostly be replaced by hybrid conflicts, which are easier to fight and harder to resolve.  Impact on military strategies and defence spending globally.
- The future of religion: future balance of influence between major global faiths, and trends in personal spirituality, as part of the search for meaning.
- The future of personal values, motivation and inspiration, corporate ethics, social enterprises, non-profitorganisations and philanthropy, regulation and compliance - and the ultimate ethical value for the next 60 years.
And loads more.....
Here is more information about the vast range of future trends covered in The Future of Almost Everything.
Order The Future of Almost Everything from Amazon.