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 - http://tinyurl.com/o296kqa .

 “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.

1. STRONGER LEADERSHIP

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.

2. GROWTH OPPORTUNITY

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.

3. CUSTOMER INSIGHT

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.

4. SMARTER STRATEGY

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.

5. FASTER INNOVATION

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 - tinyurl.com/o296kqa