What are foresight trends?
“...the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” William Gibson
Trends are patterns of change that have meaning and direction. In foresight work, trends are found by first looking for signals (of change) in the environment.
Signals of change can be found in unlikely places. In fact, the more radical something seems, the more likely it is to be a very early signal of change for the future. The more we are aware of change that seems radical, strange or new, the more likely it is to be shaping behaviour and ideas in our environment. Signals can be anything from a newspaper headline, a tweet, or the emergence of a new hashtag.
Once we have collected a range of signals, we begin to cluster them together—looking for patterns and themes. These patterns are what we call trends. Trends have meaning and direction.
Once trends are identified, we begin by identifying how 'mature' they are. Based on research, we plot each trend on an adoption curve which helps us to see how embedded these changes are in the environment. Where a trend falls on the adoption curve makes some trends seem strange to some people while some trends seem quite obvious. The less obvious a trend may seem (the earlier on the adoption curve it is), the more likely it is to come to maturity five, ten, or fifteen years from today.
One way to think about signals and trends is to think about how something that seems second nature today took root ten or fifteen years ago. To many, the prevalence of smartphones today is a given, however, fifteen years ago what were the signals and trends that pointed at this future? High speed internet was making its way into the home, manufacturers were experimenting with different kinds of batteries, and digital photography was rapidly gaining traction. These signals were early indications of the smartphone revolution.
The following are a list of trends that are likely to shape and influence the experience of children and youth in the year 2030.
What are the trends for Generation 2030?
What are foresight drivers?
Drivers are forces that create change. They are the broader systems and themes of change that impact and influence our communities and organizations. The drivers reported here can be applied to more than just childhood. These can be things like shifting populations and demographics of an area, or cultural movements and stories that we rely on to shape how we believe. Drivers are often the “causes” behind the trends and signals we observe through our scan.
What are the drivers for Generation 2030?
Integration of Technology
Technology, particularly computing devices and capabilities are becoming more pervasive and embedded in all aspects of our lives and society. This rapid acceptance of technology is forcing many industries, communities and individuals to change in a variety of ways.
Mechanistic to Holistic Thinking
Since the Industrial Revolution, Western society has embraced a mechanistic view of organizations and communities, breaking systems down and defining a system by its specific parts. A shift is occurring towards holistic thinking, which addresses the complexity, ambiguity and connections between elements within a system. This shift is changing the ways we understand and approach the world around us.
Deformalization is the transition from formal structures, processes, and institutions, to informal ones. Deformalization is enabled in many cases by technology and is occurring as people question traditional views and ways of doing things.
Decentralization, or the redistribution of power, responsibilities, and resources, is driving many changes in government, education, healthcare, and business. Decentralization enables wider participation in systems and decision-making and supports greater diversity. Technology is enabling decentralization through tools such as crowdsourcing platforms, social networks, and blockchain technology.
Connectivity & Processing Speeds
Advancements in technology have created much faster connectivity and processing speeds. These specific achievements have enabled countless innovations in personal computing devices, technology platforms and artificial intelligence, among other things.
Acknowledgement of Interconnectedness
As our world becomes increasingly complex and global, we have become more aware of the ways in which humans are interconnected with each other, plants, animals, and other elements of the natural world. This awareness is driving change in policy, societal values, and behaviours.
Global and local climates are changing, resulting in unpredictable weather patterns and an increased incidence of extreme weather and natural disasters. Droughts, hurricanes, and floods are all examples of extreme weather that put strain on human and natural systems.
Social inequity and the increased acknowledgement of discrimination against different groups of people is a strong driver in our present day. Inequity in Canada impacts politics, communities, health, and education.
INCREASING POPULATION DENSITY
Increasing population density, particularly in cities around the world, is driving many trends, both social and environmental. The growing concentration of people in many places can create resource scarcity, competition and conflict, and contribute to increased pollution levels. It can also lead to positive social outcomes and more robust economies.