By Gloria Álvarez Hernández, EMEA Sales Operations, Alcatel-Lucent
The first time I heard the word ‘megatrends’ was in 2005 when I was given a book (see it on Google Books, in Spanish) about twenty first century megatrends based on an international Delphi study. Later, I discovered John Naisbitt who introduced the concept and published his first megatrends book in 1982. I have researched a lot about megatrends, and discovered their power by collaborating on many projects and workshops including Alcatel-Lucent’s “Megatrends: a wave of change impacting the future” report, and by applying megatrends tools in different domains including creativity and innovation, strategy and marketing.
One of my fellow researches has developed an interesting and comprehensive “Model of trends in Creativity cCC” (read the article, in Spanish), which categorizes megatrends as one part of the emerging trends in the creativity field, which are more centered in complexity and across disciplinary perspective compared to traditional creativity trends. I believe the analysis of Megatrends is a critical tool to address complexity in different domains: personal, organizational and societal.
Recently I have been exploring how we can go one step further using megatrend and creativity tools for innovation, developing strategies and future visions in a fast changing world and ever more complex environment.
For the last two years, I have been mentoring two groups of women as part of the EPWN (European Professional Women Network) mentorship program. The women who attended these mentoring sessions were professionals in different industries: telecoms, education and training, retail and food, consulting services as well as entrepreneurs. They also have different personal and professional interests and objectives. The mentoring topics I address are creativity and innovation, and I have used the Alcatel-Lucent Megatrends research as a tool in some of the mentoring sessions.
The sessions consisted of defining megatrends, using the brainstorming creativity methods to list relevant megatrends. Then, ranking them by the impact in their areas of interest and analyzing megatrends intersection -megatrend impacts in other megatrends. Finally using the morphological force connections creativity technique -Idea Box and Forced Connections creativity techniques described in Thinkertoys book (see it on Amazon) - to understand how megatrend impacts within their individual business, company, or professional life.
Creativity and Megatrend tools can be very powerful when combined with innovation to visualize new products and solutions. During our sessions two of my entrepreneur mentees discovered tangible areas of innovation for their own businesses.
Identifying strategic opportunities
In Alcatel-Lucent I also lead some strategic workshops at product and regional level, with a diverse profile of participants including technical, business, executives, middle managers and experts.
These workshops involved the use of a variety of tools:
- Warming up creative techniques to create mindfulness, focus, team spirit and the right climate of trust;
- Creativity tools such as IDEART (PDF) to create visual stimulation including a trend board on the wall with all megatrends and trends. Brainstorming for idea generation, Mindmap for category ordering and 8-Factor Analysis for filtering.
- Strategic tools such as Gartner‘sHype Cycle model for filtering by horizon time and technology benefit and the McKinsey Three Horizons model for Profit, Revenue vs Timing filtering.
During these sessions the team “brainstormed” 84 ideas, and after using filtering and strategy tools and, eight key strategic projects were selected for further development.
Developing Future Visions
Generation X (read the Wikipedia article) is perhaps the most highly educated generation in history. When I look at my colleagues, friends and work mates in this cohort, I am impressed by the number of careers, the amount of diverse experience, master’s degrees, certifications, and skills they hold.
Being a member of this generation, for some years I have experienced the “Ed-you-cation,” megatrend, through the vehicle of free online courses from different Universities, typically Open University courses like Coursera. In one of the courses the professor asked the following question: “What will the “university” look like in 100 years?”
We could combine imagination with some forecasting methods to try to answer this difficult and complex question. One answer might be to work megatrend analysis and brainstorm how each of the megatrends, or the combination of several megatrends could impact the future of universities. This would allow us visualizing, understanding the drivers, and foreseeing potential opportunities, risks, and future direction for many players in this sector.
At points where megatrends 168 (24×7 Connectivity), Ed-you-cation, Neo-urbanization and Sustainable by design intersect we can identify new business models to deliver education in the future and address different region needs worldwide. For instance the lack of access to education resources in India and where students are now benefiting from projects like the Khan Academy, or entrepreneurship skill gaps and skills mismatches worldwide.
In summary, by extrapolating and exploring the interactions of megatrends we could develop future visions in education as well as in many other sectors – health, enterprise, energy, government, security, etc.
Through analysis of megatrends and their impact, we can stretch our imagination to understand underlying complex issues, and establish innovative conclusions that would never have been conceived without megatrends and creativity tools working together.
There are many more examples of megatrend applications, I look forward to hearing about your experiences from your field or any insights that you may want to share here.
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