In the first episode of ThrowFordward Thursday in the new year, we apply our “Grey Elephants” framework to give you some scenarios for what might happen in the year ahead. The biggest question is not “what might happen”, but rather “are you set up to take advantage of the opportunities that uncertainty will bring in 2024”?
Speak to our team to find out how we can help you both anticipate tomorrow’s disruption and prepare to take advantage of it today. Send an email to set up a time to chat.
* Episode 115: Introducing the “Great Grey Elephants”
* Episode 116: Facing a Perfect Storm (Part 1)
* Episode 117: Facing a Perfect Storm (Part 2)
Happy New Year. It’s the start of 2024, in case you’re watching this sometime in the future. My name is Graeme Codrington, and this is ThrowForward Thursday. I’m not going to do what some people are doing, which is to create a list of predictions for the year ahead. Proper futurists can’t predict the future. Nobody can predict the future, but what we do as futurists is we try and look at scenarios, helping our clients to prepare for whatever might happen.
One of the ways we do this is by looking at a variety of different disruptive forces that we believe are going to shape the world. You can have a look back at episodes 115, 116 and 117. I’ll put some links into the show notes for this video, where we outline this framework in detail. But we believe that there are seven hugely disruptive, highly probable, massively impactful forces that are nevertheless largely overlooked by businesses. Not overlooked in the sense that we don’t know about them, but overlooked in that people are not asking the question, what does it mean for us? And what does it mean for us now? We think 2024 is going to be a year of reckoning for these seven things. Let’s look at them very quickly.
The first in our list of seven elephants in the room while waiting to be noticed is Ageing. And ageing in particular has a look at the way in which the world is dealing with health care and especially the issue of people living longer. And we’re going to see this in, I think, very particular ways in 2024, as people become a lot more aware of their health, how much, especially the workplace, is taking out of them and demanding of them. I think there’s actually going to be a huge backlash in 2024 to the physical, psychological, and mental health toll that our lifestyle has on us.
Second is Angry Planet, and last year, 2023 was the hottest year in human history, as far as we can tell. I think 2024 is going to be hotter. And hotter is not just every day is hotter, but the summers are hotter, the winters are colder, and the weather is more extreme. This is going to have a huge, continued huge impact on the planet.
Our third major grey elephant in the room is Multipolarity. Now, this one we’re going to talk quite a lot about over the next few weeks because we are seeing massive shifts in the way that the world powers are put together. I think there’s an era shift taking place. America looks as if it’s becoming more focused in on itself. That’s with a Democrat in charge, what would happen if a Republican or Donald Trump himself comes into power this year?
Talking about somebody coming into power. 70 countries are having elections this year with 4.2 billion people going to the polls. The most number of elections and people voting in human history, and a lot of them are going to be hugely consequential. We’re seeing the BRICS Plus now becoming formalised this year, with new nations being added to a new global collaboration of emerging and emerged nations. Multipolarity and the reconstitution of the world system is huge.
The fourth grey elephant is what we call Big Squeezes. Now, big squeezes have got to do with the way in which the world is set up, especially economically, is under huge pressure, under pressure from inflation, for example. We probably seem to have got inflation under control; it was last year’s big, big news. I think it looks as if we are a little bit more under control in 2024 but there are still going to be ripples and repercussions, because while inflation, technically from an economic indicator, is under control, most people on the streets are still feeling higher prices, while companies at the same time are giving record dividends, recording massive profits, handing out big bonuses to their senior leaders.
That leads to the fifth of our big trends, which is Inequality, and the growing divide between rich and poor, that leads to Angry People. And last year, more people went on strike in a single year than at any other time, certainly in my memory, but possibly in recorded history. I think in 2024, there will be continued strike seasons, if not the big formalised strikes that we had across all sectors in the world last year. But I think just a general dis-ease, general angry people, and that might play itself out in those elections that are happening.
In other words, big squeeze, inequality, and angry people are all heading in a direction that talks about instability, destabilising of political, economic, and social systems in 2024. This is not going to be a year for those people who prefer certainty and solid foundations. Yeah, I don’t think we’re ever going to get those back, are we?
The final thing on our list is intelligent advances. I prefer to talk about IA rather than AI. I don’t think we’ve got proper AI yet, and I don’t think we’ll have it for a number of years. But we’re certainly going to see 2024 is going to see a lot more practical applications of generative AI. As people begin to move beyond the hype, realising what its limitations are and what it can’t do, but beginning to see some real value for what it can.
Some people are going to make some very stupid mistakes, getting rid of the human beings and thinking AI can do more than it can, they’re going to get into real trouble. But the rest of us are going to be thinking about how we augment or integrate intelligent advances, IA, with the human beings in our system, not just for productivity gains, although those are obvious, but also to improve the level at which our thinking happens massively, improve our communications, and engage with the world in a very different way.
So those are not predictions, but they are indications of what we should expect, and another disrupted and disrupting year that lies ahead. I hope that you will continue to keep connected to us here at TomorrowToday Global, the team behind ThrowForward Thursday, as we continue to do our best to help you anticipate disruption and prepare for it today. I’ll see you next week.
At TomorrowToday Global, we help clients around the world analyse major global trends, developing strategies and frameworks to help businesses anticipate and adapt to market disruption in an ever-changing world.
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Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change. Chat to us about booking Graeme to help you Re-Imagine and upgrade your thinking to identify the emerging opportunities in your industry.
For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.