Speaking at a recent public lecture on global megatrends, Stefan Hajkowicz, Senior Principal Scientist, CSIRO, discussed the patterns of change reshaping the world’s economy, environment and society.
The Business Thought Leadership event was the first in a series being run by the Graduate School of Business and Law and was attended by more than 80 students, staff and industry representatives.
Hajkowicz focused on the big picture and high level trends and drivers creating both risk and opportunity for Australia. This included resource scarcity, global economic change, ageing population and healthcare costs and digital technology disruption.
What are global megatrends?
A megatrend is a gradual trajectory of change which, at first, builds up slowly but eventually expresses itself with explosive force and puts the world in a very different place. Megatrends occur at the intersection of multiple trends which may be geopolitical, economic, environmental, social or technological (GEEST). Trends have tighter temporal, spatial and typological expression than megatrends. The concept of “megatrends” was introduced by US academic John Naisbitt in his 1984 publication of the same title and is today widely used within the strategic foresight literature.
What does this mean to an individual in the future?
We often say that we’re experiencing more change than ever before. However, change has always been present throughout history. Whether or not we’re experiencing more today is hard to say. However, it’s still important to understand plausible patterns of change and then plan proactively. The starting point for an individual is to craft informed scenarios of what the world, and their role in the world, might look like over the coming decades.
What are the key opportunities and challenges that global megatrends present?
I’d say that digital disruption is one of the biggest opportunities and challenges (together in one). Digital is about to reinvent the world of work. Many jobs will be replaced by technology and many new jobs will emerge. Unlike the industrial revolution the information revolution is happening in a hyper-connected global economy. This means that skills sets in Asia (which are improving rapidly) will increasingly compete with Australian workers.
What are the recommendations for dealing with these challenges?
There’s no silver bullet for the complex challenges which lie before humanity with the possible exception of education. Education eventually solves everything. That’s where we typically land when we talk about the big opportunities and challenges before the world – the education system for both young and old.
What can students and industry expect to learn from your new book “Global Megatrends”?
Strategic foresight will improve the quality of your decision making (about your career, your company, your family) by giving you alternative views of what the future might hold. The actual decisions you make will happen further down the track. Foresight is the start of good decision making. It’s where you get an initial idea which can be developed and distilled into actionable choices. The aim of the book (available through CSIRO publishing) is to enrich your understanding of plausible futures to help you make wiser choices.
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Story: Ainslie Logsdon