In the Transformation Talks, we think beyond our day-to-day business, and we focus on the megatrends of our time that concern us in our daily consulting work frequently in 2022. In this post, we recall our kick-off event with speaker und trend researcher Tristan Horx.
In which direction is the world evolving? Which effects have current developments for us and our own transformation? In the Transformation Talks, we seek answers to these questions together with experts. Three events are already behind us, and before we end our series with the last Transformation Talk about security, we would like to review the insights and moments of the past talks.
February 4th, 2022: The beginning of our Transformation Talks with a hybrid launch event. We were pleased to welcome trend researcher Tristan Horx from the Zukunftsinstitut as our speaker. Horx has been on international stages since the age of 24. He shares insights on how the world is changing. The cultural and social anthropologist primarily focuses on the trend areas of digitalization, mobility, globalization and generational change. In addition, Tristan Horx is one of the most inquired experts concerning the classification of developments and their analyzation based on megatrends. Event host Dr. Christoph Wargitsch and speaker Tristan Horx exchanged ideas from think tank to think tank, focusing on the topics future and transformation. The audience on site as well as the livestream participants experienced how megatrends are already changing our society, our economy, and our lives sustainably and how they will continue to do so.
About the Systematics of Megatrends: Coopetition, Prosumer, Downaging & Co.
As the futurologist describes, megatrends designate and describe complex change dynamics and serve as a model for the transformation of the world. But is it possible to use megatrends in order to make forecasts of the future? According to Tristan Horx, this is possible if we don’t make the mistake of assuming a linear course. The futurologist explains that “the real future moves in loops. For every trend, a counter-trend develops over time; these two enter into a synthesis then.” The Zukunftsinstitut summarizes these trend syntheses in numerous terms of art, from “coopetition” to “prosumer” to “downaging.” The term “downaging” describes the phenomenon of not only living longer, but also feeling younger in the process.
Horx explains: “Each generation behaves younger than the previous generation by an average of 7.4 years.” And biographies have changed, too. Whereas in 1960 a person’s life could classically be divided into three phases (childhood/adolescence, family/career, retirement), today we speak of a six-step-model characterized by numerous crises. The crises trigger transformations that lead us, for example, to a new job, a new educational path or even into a new relationship. As a result, life is less rectilinear than it was 70 years ago. Perhaps this is because today the individual generations can’t be labeled. Sociodemographic characteristics aren’t enough to describe and understand people. Many different lifestyles and value models can be found within a single generation. But according to researchers at the Zukunftsinstitut, a new trend counteracts this trend of individualization: Collectivism. Tristan Horx determines that this trend won’t completely prevail, because “consistent generations are only constituted by epochal events such as natural disasters, world wars or famines.” Covid, he said, isn’t enough to put us back into full collectivism. “But we assume that we are over the peak of individualization and wish for a new ‘us’.” The Zukunftsinstitut speaks of the post-individualization. “In the past, people were born into communities and had to find their individuality. Today, people are born as individuals and have to find their community.”
During the Pandemic: Acceleration and Splitting of Megatrends
So even if the pandemic is not a major, epochal crisis, it still triggered a lot and also influenced megatrends. Still, the Zukunftsinstitut doesn’t see the need of creating a entirely new megatrend map. “The covid crisis accelerated some of the trends, split some, but did not create any new ones,” Horx explains. Digitization is one of the winning trends – we are now even talking about “over-digitization”. On the one hand, the pandemic has taught us to appreciate digitization, but on the other hand, it has also made clear at which point it cannot help us. We are extremely well connected across all generations, there are WhatsApp family groups, birthday songs are sent as a video and dating apps have been socially accepted for a long time already. But despite digitization and optimized networking, surveys show that we feel lonelier than ever before. Tristan Horx sums it up: “The network solves connection issues. But not relationship issues.” At this point, he says, it is time for a digital correction loop.
Yet another megatrend was heavily influenced by the pandemic: Security. Covid reminded us how insecure and fragile our lives as well as our environment are. And the Ukraine conflict is causing our sense of risk and danger to increase even further. These two developments reinforce our need for security extremely. The statement of the futurologist: “Trust is the currency of the future.” Security is the first basic need, especially among the younger generation. As a representative of Generation Y, Tristan Horx repeatedly points out that the needs and wishes of young people should be taken seriously. For companies, this applies in many respects, because people of younger generations are the customers and employees of the future.
And even if young people demanded remote work and flexible working hours already years ago, we needed the pandemic to see a wide necessity of these former marginal phenomena. Host Christoph Wargitsch has had experience with hybrid work models and remote leadership for many years, not just since covid. For him, it’s the appropriate mix that leads to success: “Remote work offers very high productivity for regular or creative work that I’m engaged with as an individual. Complex topics require idea explosion and also -synchronization: These are a result of fast, analog exchange.” Futurologist Horx adds: “Creative meetings work best between people with different opinions and productive disagreements, put together in a well-designed space.” Offices are thus becoming places for collaboration and social encounters, while home office is becoming a retreat for concentrated work. The working world has experienced a major transformation as a result of the pandemic, Horx reports.
A livestream participant summarizes the following: In order to endure changes, a culture of trust is crucial in the company. The participant asks how such a culture can be established sustainably in the company. Horx explains: “A good culture of trust includes a good culture of failure. A transformation can fail from time to time; honest expectations and open communication are crucial.” Accordingly, one of the corporate values of the WARGITSCH Transformation Engineers is “be brave, fail fast.”
Change requires Courage and Energy
But how does a company actually determine its status quo, how does it recognize that the time for a transformation has come? For this purpose, the Zukunftsinstitut uses the concept of the Adaptive Cycle, the so-called Lazy Eight. The cycle model has its origins in the resilience research, which examines development dynamics in complex systems. The key insight: Crisis is an integral part of every system. In principle, it can’t be prevented and it indeed initiates transformation processes. The model helps recognizing the signs and the need for upheavals and seeing crises as an opportunity for innovation and learning. Tristan Horx is convinced: “Companies that use crises to reflect on their own economic actions and deal with changes in society and economy foresighted will be well-positioned for the future.” With the Transformation Talks, Christoph Wargitsch wants to release a pulse to achieve this self-reflection. “It is crucial for successful transformations that they are actively pursued. They lead an organization from a steady state through a phase of uncertainty into the next steady state.” As the head of the WARGITSCH Transformation Engineers, he is concerned with the inflationary use of the term “transformation.” As a result, his goal is the creation of a new quality – filling the empty word with meaning again. The first Transformation Talk was a huge step in the right direction to achieve this goal.
This video of the event is only available in German language.
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