By Dean Whittaker

It is no longer about the big eating the small.  It is now about the fast eating the slow.  Our economic success will be determined by how quickly we can learn, adapt, and change.  We must anticipate the changes and be prepared for them when they arrive.

So, how do we gain foresight to see what is coming down the road?  According to Daniel Burrus, in his book Flash Foresight – How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, we can do so by starting with what we already know.   He describes two types of change: linear (continual progression – like aging) and cyclical (seasons).  He also states that they are soft changes, those within our ability to change, and hard changes, those beyond our control.

Change, especially technological driven change, is now happening at a geometrically accelerating rate.  These technological hard changes are:

  1. Dematerialization– smaller, lighter, and more economical (i.e. the iPad 2, iPhone)
  2. Virtualization– what was done physically is simulated (i.e. Netflix, Amazon)
  3. Mobility– untethered; wireless and “in the(Internet) cloud” (i.e. gmail, DropBox)
  4. Product Intelligence–  i.e. smart phone; GPS Navigation
  5. Networking– it’s all about connections (i.e. Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook)
  6. Interactivity– conversations (i.e. websites, social media)
  7. Globalization-broad band enabled outsourcing (i.e. McDonald’s order taken in India)
  8. Convergence – mashups combinations (i.e. coffee shop, book store, interconnections)

With changes come opportunities.  For example, three trends I see happening in economic development are: 1) Regionalization; 2) Open Source economic development; and 3) Growing you own – economic gardening and entrepreneurship. How do these changes and others impact your business model and that of the community in which you live?  What do you see?  What three trends do you see happening?  If you will share these with me, I will summarize them in next month’s newsletter.