The end of the year is usually the best time for scrutiny of past achievements and for planning the deeds ahead. Should you be asked to plan your career and life by 2030, what factors would you take into account? Inspiration on the matter comes via the book Leadership 2030, published this year by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell, two Leadership and Talent Practice top managers with Hay Group, the international management consultancy.
They call them the Mega-Trends. Vielmetter and Sell, in cooperation with Z_punkt, a market research company based in Cologne, Germany, identified six major drifts that will essentially transform the way we conduct business, lead people and experience our lives by the year 2030.
The book, also available on Amazon, paints in crude colors and vivid business cases what lies ahead of us in the years to come.
Here are the six Mega-Trends according to Leadership 2030:
- Globalization 2.0
- Environmental Crisis
- Individualization and Value Pluralism
- The Digital Era
- Demographic Change
- Technological Convergence.
1: Globalization 2.0
Vielmetter and Sell observe that, while during the first wave of globalization Western companies had expanded towards East in order to take advantage of the resources available on the newly open markets from post-communist Eastern Europe to Asia and Latin America, Globalization 2.0 is essentially the opposite.
Now companies from the former emerging markets find themselves in a position to expand west and take over parts of traditional US and European markets.
A good example is Geely, the Chinese car manufacturer that expanded to Europe via acquiring Volvo, the Swedish car maker, in March 2010.
Globalization 2.0 means something else as well. Companies on the western markets should take note that the purchase power of the middle class in former emerging economies is growing.
The authors estimate that, by 2030, 66% of the world’s middle class will be in the Asia-Pacific region. This can represent a fresh market opportunity for both local Asian and for traditional Western companies.
2: The Environmental Crisis
Vielmetter and Sell emphasize that the environmental crisis is going to become more and more obvious in the future. As key resources such as fresh water or crude oil deplete, the intensity of natural disasters is prone to strengthen.
Such phenomena aren’t letting people remain insensitive anymore.
Companies will face increasing pressure from employees and customers alike to do more in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Those companies that are reluctant to understand the new environmental reality will also face more crisis management and communication, as employees and customers will mercilessly point at the firm’s recklessness.
The authors note that “in 2012, the French company Total became the first major oil company to warn against drilling in the Arctic. Tellingly, the company’s reputation was chief among CEO Christopher de Margerie’s reasons. An oil leak in Greenland would, he said, do too much damage to the image of the company.”
3: The Individualization and Value Pluralism
As the access to the Internet and the increasing purchase power of the middle-class in emerging markets level the playing field for individuals across the globe, people’s self-awareness is also increasing.
For example, the number of car models on the world market increased by more than 40% between 1990 and 2006, Vielmetter and Sell write.
As customers and employees alike become aware of their particular needs, they are putting pressure on companies to treat them as individuals. From reward schemes to working hours and product / service customization, the individual approach throws the traditional one-size-fits-all approach in the air.
Moreover, as talent is getting scarce, we need to learn to work with an increasingly diverse workforce spread all over the world, which stretches leaders’ empathy and emotional intelligence to the maximum.
4: The Digital Era
There is no doubt that one of the most remarkable discoveries of our era is the Internet. As the number of people gaining access to mobile Internet is growing, this is totally shifting the way we work and handle our private, personal and professional lives.
Maybe the most important consequence of digitization is its impact on the Generation Y, the so-called digital natives who experience little difference between actual and virtual reality.
“There are 206 bones in the human body and the smart phone could plausibly be considered the 207th for Gen Y,” the authors quote a Cisco manager’s take on the arrival of the Generation Y at work.
Digitization is also putting extra pressure on companies’ IT systems to become more secure and prevent leaks of sensitive information.
5: The Demographic Change
It is a fact: Western civilization is growing old. For example, the authors note that in Japan sales of adult diapers have already outgrown sales of diapers for children.
Vielmetter and Sell observe that we are not only growing old in the West, we are also getting more and more crowded.
It took from the dawn of civilization till 1800 to get to 1 billion humans. It took less than 200 years to reach 7.1 billion inhabitants. By 2050 estimates show that there will be 10.6 billion people on the planet.
In 2005, just seven countries accounted for half of the global population expansion; six of them were from the developing and emerging societies: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan.
As our world is substantially changing, companies need to take into consideration numerous aspects, such as including care for the elder in their talent management schemes and attracting talent from very diverse markets with a fast-growing young population.
6: The Technological Convergence
Last but not least, the most significant mega-trend pointed at by Vielmetter and Sell is the so-called technological convergence.
The authors note that, in the future, innovation will most probably occur from a strategic combination of existing industries rather than revolutionary inventions. This leads to a challenging position for companies, where competitors needs to cooperate in order to build more value together.
At the same time we are facing essential moral dilemmas about how far we should go into exploring the possibilities of certain innovations such as neurology and cognition, cloning, wiping out disease, robotics and so on.
What do the Mega-Trends mean for strategic communications and reputation management?
Reading Leadership 2030 I couldn’t help noticing that, in one way or another, each Mega-Trend will deeply impact companies’ strategic communication and reputation management in the years to come.
Here is a list of takeaway questions inspired by the book that need to be addressed in your company’s communication strategy of the future:
1. Is your company ready to take advantage of the new market opportunities presented by the growing, increasingly rich Asian middleclass?
2. Is your company ready to defend your local market from the expansion of Asian competitors? How do you build long-term loyalty with your local customers?
3. How do you attract and retain talent thanks to your environmental consciousness?
4. Are you truly ready for crisis communication in case of an ecologic disaster?
5. How do you customize your products and services to answer the individual needs of your customers?
6. How do you customize your people management policies to attract and retain talent?
7. How do you cultivate a genuine dialogue among your various groups (gender, ethnic, cultural, religious etc.)? What could you do more to leverage diversity in your company?
8. How do you support a genuine dialogue between the digital natives and the increasingly older top management population?
9. Do you do enough to prevent crisis communication caused by leaks of sensitive information?
10. How do you address elderly care in your CSR policies? How do you use your CSR policies to attract and retain talent?
11. How do you cooperate with your competitors and innovate while protecting your key sensitive information?
12. What are your key moral dilemmas? Can you innovate and build a sustainable business yet stay faithful to your moral values? How will you communicate and turn that ethical approach into a competitive advantage in the future?
Leadership 2030 has been one of the most eye-opening books I put my hands on this year. A guide towards the world of the future, it names the unpleasant truth in a palatable way.
Most important, it was for me a deeply humbling moment. In the Czech Republic I am the Hay Group’s external media representative. From time to time my work leads me towards such pearls of thought leadership. It is a deeply humbling moment when you feel that your work is part of something bigger, essential and meaningful. It is a feeling for which I am most thankful.
Should you be looking for more information about the book and its content, take a look at Hay Group’s special page Leadership 2030 or get in touch with the authors.