Global Megatrends and Implications for Leaders |

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Global Megatrends and Implications for Leaders

Cass Business School, City University London

Extracts from the Lecture

What I want to do for the next 30 or 40 minutes or so is just give a bit of a tour of what we think is going on in the world as we look ahead, and that sets the context for what type of leadership skills we think will be needed as we go ahead.

I have to say, especially for those that are just starting their graduate education, I’m particularly jealous because I think you’re going to be leading in some of the most interesting times in history.

I want to start with this context and why we think this period of time, the next 15 to 20 years, is historic from a human point of view.

There are going to be a lot of challenges, as when we saw the rise of China, the fall of the Roman Empire, the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. I don’t think we’re going to be living for another 100 years, so you can’t tell whether I’m right or wrong, but that’s my attempt right now.

There are really four forces that we think are making this period unique from an historic point of view. One is what we call the re-rise of Asia and the rise of Africa. This is going to have a massive economic power shift.

We’re in the middle of it now, but it’s going to continue to move and it’s going to change all organisations, not just businesses, but also if you’re the Catholic Church or you’re the Anglican Church or you’re a religious organisation, whatever it is, you’re going to have to think about where the footprint is going to be – it’s relevant, and it’s shifting very quickly.

The second is the power of disruptive technologies, and we would argue that we’re in the very early stage of a multiple stage technological revolution. I think it’s very difficult to predict beyond ten years what it might look like, but just given what we see today, that force in itself is going to be disrupting all of us.

When I say disrupt, I don’t mean that in a negative sense; I mean in a positive sense as well. We are going to be the most aged we’ve ever been as humans. Although there are parts of the world that will be very young, for the bulk of the world we’re going to be older. Older people cost a lot of money. Soon there are going to be 400 million people over the age of 80. The biggest impact, I think, will be on labour productivity and unless we change pension ages or retirement ages, we’re going to see a huge shift in terms of productivity.

And then the world is integrating. Despite the geopolitics that we’ve seen rise significantly in the last five years, we are wiring ourselves tighter and tighter, particularly on the data side of things and in terms of people flows. We think that that’s going to continue. So those are the four forces and I’m just going to spend a bit of time flashing through each one, particularly the first couple.

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