Staying ahead of constant requires a keen understanding of the global forces that will shape our human experiences and business decisions
The amount of change happening in the world today is accelerating, creating a continuous challenge for how companies stay ahead of it all, decide where to invest, think about the future, and innovate in ways that enable them to do the disrupting, instead of being the ones disrupted.
As a futurist, my job is to anticipate change and stay on top of current trends. There’s a new generation entering the workforce – Generation Z. Following Millennials, this generation includes those born between 1995 and 2010. While being defined as the most ethnically-diverse and largest generation in American history, Gen Z also grew up surrounded by technology, also making them the most tech-savvy generation.
I’ve previously provided some thoughts on thinking like a futurist and today, we’re diving deeper into the role Gen Z plays in the future. Here are my tips for how to collaborate with Gen Z:
1. Put yourself in their shoes
It’s important to acknowledge the obvious differences that divide each generation. For example, Gen Z grew up in a post-9/11 world with new technology and completely different childhood experiences than those of previous generations. With technology constantly at their fingertips, this generation of “digital natives” have had nearly lifelong access to boundless amounts of information at the drop of a hat. In fact, 97% of Gen Z have smart phones and spend more than 4 hours a day online.
And because they’ve never spent a day offline, they are acutely aware of the issues and challenges happening in the world around them. As a result, they are 54% more likely to say they want to have an impact on the world as compared to millennials. Also noteworthy is their attitude towards work and employers; almost half consider what the company does to make the world a better place as important as the salary.
By becoming familiar with Gen Z, and by understanding the different era and experiences they’ve grown up with, you’ll gain a better understanding of how to effectively collaborate with them. Whether it’s through asking questions, doing research, or understanding current trends, you won’t fully see eye-to-eye with this generation until you put yourself in their shoes.
2. Pay attention to what’s important
In the next decade, Gen Z is expected to cause an influx of roughly 60 million job seekers, effectively transforming the workplace. Concerning their careers, Gen Z-ers are very driven and competitive. Nothing motivates them more than achieving success and being rewarded for their good efforts. They value skill development and appreciate feedback, as they are always hoping to improve their performance. A controversial topic amongst Gen Z is the debate over work-life balance. It can be argued that this generation struggles the most with this – 24% say they feel guilty for taking time off work. On the other hand, 39% view work-life balance as a top priority when choosing an employer. Knowing these statistics as an employer can help foster a healthy work environment for future employees.
When choosing where to work, Gen Z will base their decision on the company’s values. This generation’s passion for sustainability, diversity, and inclusion reflects in their expectations for their future employers. Studies show that 77% of Gen Z believes a company’s level of diversity affects their decision to work there.
3. Stay up to date on trends
As any futurist knows, one of the most important ways to prepare for the future is to stay up to date with the latest trends. This applies to Gen Z trends as well. The more informed you are, the more prepared you will be to work with this generation.
Here are some resources for futurists to better understand Gen Z:
We can all benefit from learning from one another. As this new generation enters the workforce, preparing through a lens like this will allow us to better understand and support them in their journey as they embark on this new chapter.
As the pace of change continues to accelerate, one thing is certain. The future will look very different than it does today. I believe this accelerated innovation and the Megatrends driving it
will have a sustained, transformative impact on the world in the years
ahead — on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal
This change is inevitable, and those that anticipate and
embrace it will be the revolutionaries of the experience age. In fact,
adapting to the changes is the difference between leading change and
being led by it. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill. No silver
bullet. It takes dedication and thought. So, how can you lead the way
and future-proof yourself?
When I was in college, a single computer took up an entire room. Yes, am dating myself a little here…. Now, we hold computing devices in the palms of our hands. In fact, we have more computing power in our pockets than all of NASA had when they put the first man on the moon in 1969.
Innovation is significantly shaping our world. And it’s the number #1 topic I’m most frequently asked about. Whether it’s at the HP offices, at speaking engagements, or when I attend conferences, people want to know how they can tap into their own inner innovator, and spark innovation at their offices.
Innovation is an attitude. As an innovator you need to believe you can change the world, that if you keep working on a problem you will eventually find a solution, and that anything is possible. Innovators have a passion to make things happen. They relentlessly take action.
with small things. Have lunch every week with someone outside of your
team. Talk to them about what they do and how they do it. Innovation is
about leveraging diversity, and the more you know about more things, the
better you will be able to innovate.
down your ideas. Sometimes the simple act of writing things down can
bring your ideas to life. You never know when that list will come in
Once you become comfortable with those, move on to larger mindset shifts.
your assumptions about everything. Many times, the “right” way to do
things can be altered and improved, it just takes someone to question
the underlying assumptions. Ask yourself, how can this be improved? How
can we make it better?
2.Keep learning or unlearning
times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find
themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer
exists.” –Eric Hoffer
you have a fixed mindset, your qualities are carved in stone. If you
lack a skill, you will continue to lack it. However, when you adopt a
growth mindset, you can grow and change through persistence and
experience. With a fixed mindset, you can be easily overwhelmed with the
future’s uncertainty, but the future belongs to those who can adopt a
growth mindset and keep learning.
very interested in how the line between science and philosophy is
blurring. It seems where science doesn’t have all the answers (e.g.
quantum mechanics and the true nature of reality), philosophy comes back
to the fore to help us imagine the possibilities that we hope science
might one day prove out. Consider Einstein’s original thought experiment
about sitting on the end of a light beam (philosophy) and how that led
him to the special theory of relativity (science). Both are equally
important for charting the human future in a world of accelerating
change and technology.
A Nielsen study
examined the impact of collaboration in the development stage of
innovation. It showed ideas developed by teams of three or more people
have 156% greater appeal with consumers than those developed by just one
or two people who played a hands-on role.
developed by teams of three or more people have 156% greater appeal
with consumers than those developed by just one or two people who played
a hands-on role.
with people in your field (current or desired) by discovering how they
think and their vision of the future. When you get to know one another,
you feel more comfortable sharing ideas and voicing your opinions,
creating healthy collaboration.
Stay current on trends by reading, watching, and listening to sources you trust. As a futurist, my job requires a keen understanding of how the world around us is evolving, the global forces that are dramatically changing the landscape of markets and industries, and trends that are reshaping customer expectation.
At HP, we’ve formalized our analysis and forecasting process into a body of work we call Megatrends, a systematic effort to identify the global technological, economic, and social currents that are influencing how people will live and work around the world in the future. Take a look at this year’s report that looks at how innovation and disruptions in economics, data, automation, and energy impact megatrends.
I stay on top of trends by reading the latest technology news, speaking
with customers and industry pundits, paying attention to university and
academic research areas, monitoring venture investing trends and
start-up activity. I also draw from my personal experiences, media
coverage, and public data sources.
important to have a vision and desired outcomes in mind. Then explore
how trends and technologies can help you realize those outcomes. Ongoing
problems the world is facing, like poverty and climate change, cannot
be solved with short-term thinking. If we want to move forward and
create the future we want, we must adopt long-term, futuristic thinking.
you’ve identified the trends, come up with proactive statements about
where you think the future is going. This is something that true disrupters do. So … ask outlandish questions, free your mind, and push yourself outside of your box. The future is yours to create.
5. Give yourself a break
all that, are you feeling a bit frazzled? We spend hours pondering how
we can stay ahead of this change instead of being led by it. Even if we
could predict the future perfectly (which, of course, we can’t), we need
to be willing to reinvent ourselves continuously as all of this change
in our world occurs.
It’s okay to take a break from
future-proofing yourself. Read a book. Take a walk outside. Listen to
your favorite music. Give your brain a chance to breath and recharge.
future will be transformed by people like you, who are strategic
thinkers, quick to innovate, and passionate. What do you think? What
skills or mindsets will we need to adopt today for the future? Sound off
Automation technology is moving into the workplace with unstoppable momentum. As bots and robots take on more kinds of tasks, will they eliminate jobs? Or will they instead generate opportunity for workers to leverage their own strengths and manage their tireless mechanical colleagues?
In today’s workforce a factory line worker, a university professor, and a customer service rep are guaranteed to have one thing in common: a job that will be transformed by the presence of robots and AI in the coming decade. Will that worker be able to change along with it?
Over the next 15 years, we will experience more change than in all human history to date. The pace and magnitude at which change is occurring is staggering.
Did you know we now have more computing power in our pocket than all of NASA had in 1969 when they put the first man on the moon?
Or how about the fact that artificial intelligence spent 42 hours solving the 100-year-old mystery of how flatworms regenerate body parts?
With the accelerated pace of change comes the equally accelerated rate of innovation. I believe this accelerated innovation and the Megatrends driving it will have a sustained, transformative impact on the world in the years ahead — on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal lives.
So how do we as engineers, marketers, designers, innovators, and executives stay ahead of that change and help chart our own course?
Ask yourself: Is your business Megatrends ready? Answer these five questions to find out.
1.What products could you develop to support megacity infrastructure, an aging population, or hyper global trade?
By 2030, there will be 8.5 billion people walking the earth, and 97% of that population growth will be in emerging economies. And as people move to cities, our cities will get larger, and we’ll have more of them, including megacities in places many of us have never heard of today.
It will change how we buy and consume products and services, propelling the sharing economy and convenience-based services. Businesses must design products that meet the needs of the megacity infrastructure, an aging population or hyper global trade.
TED2017: a dancing robot, taking lessons from the past, and looking to the future. TED2017 has been full of thought-provoking and ground-breaking talks. Here are a few of my favorite technology-focused talks so far:
“The future, today” Anab Jain
In the opening night, Anab Jian, Founding Director of Superflux, captured the audience with her perspective and tangible experiments focused on the future. She pointed out that while it can feel like innovation is happening too quickly, we must stay focused on our impact on the future. Jain does this by taking in the signals and trends around her to build objects – flying advertisements, an apartment to survive a drastic decrease in natural resources, and more – that allow us to experience the future. This talk hit close to home for me, as future enthusiast, and correlates nicely to the Megatrends work we’ve been doing at HP.
"We treat the future as a foreign land, but it's not — it's continually shaped by our actions today." @anabjain#TED2017
“Conquering your fears, the stoic way” Tim Ferriss “If your goals aren’t specific, you can’t achieve them.” Author, podcast host, and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss shared his inspiring story and enlightened the audience with tips to capitalize on opportunities, manage fears, and fully envision the future. He credits stoicism to his success and recommends achieving similar success by writing down worries about your next move, whether it be starting a business, taking time off, or launching your next product. Once you have those concerns on paper, Ferriss says it’s vital to document how they can be prevented, how you can repair damage if they come true, and most importantly, consider the cost of inaction.
#TED2017 Tim Ferriss: calculate the atrocious cost of the status quo… It is important.
“A vision of robots that might replace you” Marc Raibert
Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics, is responsible for arguably the most innovative robots today. In his talk, he showcased robots like BigDog, a cheetah-like robot, AlphaDog, a massive robot that can trek through snow, and Spot, a robot that uses its hands to handle packages.
I was most impressed by SpotMini. The robot can move sideways, run in place, and hop from side to side. Raibert demonstrated how SpotMini creates a dynamic map of the world around it, while delivering a drink to Raibert on his command.
Raibert’s talk inspired me to think even more about the future of human and robot collaborations. Innovative robots like the ones highlighted in this talk will allow us to automate the mundane and present endless collaboration opportunities. If we design and program robotics to work with us, there is no problem we can’t solve.
Other TED attendees, cinema experiencers, people who’ve been following along on Twitter, what TED talk has impacted you the most so far? Which TED talk are you looking forward to? I’d love to hear your comments below.
There’s so much change happening around us these days that it’s easy to forget the speed at which things are changing. At HP, we use the socio-economic, demographic and technological forces we call Megatrends as a beacon for where the world is headed.