Monday, September 15, 2008

World View in 2025

I caught an intriguing lecture last Friday at Augusta State University. The Hull College of Business presented global trends strategist Eric Peterson as the first speaker in its Russell A. Blanchard Lecture Series. Mr. Peterson is senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where he is the William W. Schreyer Chair in Global Analysis and director of the CSIS Global Strategy Institute. Peterson presented 7 "structural drivers of change."

I'll be most curious about the view my church friends and mission colleagues will have on this material. It's worthy of close examination despite the fact that most church leadership doesn't do this sort of thing too well.

Peterson started the presentation with 2 great quotes and then led the large group on a thrilling adventure including an excellent video presentation.

Darwin wrote, “It's not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. " Albert Einstein

While none of it was particularly unexpected, the presentation was well done with LOTS of information, and for me the most powerful thing was the cumulative effect of the 7 revolutions. Peterson's bottom line for leaders is that we will be in a time of hyper promise and hyper peril. I did like his lines at the end warning about "leaders devolving into managers," and shortly after he warned of "strategy succumbing to tactics." Even if, like me, you might want to argue some points this does seem to sharpen a leader's consideration about the not-so-distant future and the steps we are taking today to be prepared for 2025.

  1. Population- The world population hit 6 Billion in 2006, & will TRIPLE in the next 60 years. The highest growth will be in the poorest countries while many developed countries will continue to experience marked depopulation. Migration will continue to be an issue. Urbanization will continue with a projected 5 Billion in urban areas by 2030. Challenges- there will soon be a day when there are more slum dwellers in Mumbai than the whole population of Norway. Peterson also discussed the traditional pyramid graph of population which has a large base of the younger and a narrowing tip of the older population. This is changing as people are living longer so the new graphs look like a rectangle for some countries, and for those nations with lower birth rates an inverted pyramid best captures the scenario.
  2. Resource management- the "carrying capacity" of the word for this large population is an issue related to agricultural land availability, land degradation, water availability, and global warming are key elements. Available energy sources and the environment, plus the long term sustainability of all these factors are worth consideration.
  3. Technology - deep computing, pervasive computing, robotics, biotechnology, nanotechnology are the issues continuing to change the world in this revolution.
  4. Information- the gap between the knowledge proficient and knowledge deprived will continue to grow. Now a person anywhere in the world can innovate and not emigrate. The world chooses its truth, e.g. CNN vs. Al Jezeera on middle East news. Reduced decision times. Growth of the BRIC's (Brazil, Russia, India, China) over G6. Changes in center of balance and consumption.
  5. Conflict- asymmetric warfare- terrorism, bio terrorism, info terrorism, conflict within nations, and greater complexity of these issues, e.g. Iraq & Afghanistan as norms in this category.
  6. Governance- beyond nation/states, continued growth of world economy and NGO's, interesting comparison of top national GDP's & added Corporation GDP's which fell in top 50, re. Kissinger quote- we "must bridge gap between thinking re. economic model and nation/state model, Kissinger- must find "system of linkages," Peterson- must find "new balance"
You can explore the seven revolutions in more detail and find printable pdf's at

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