Tuesday, June 22, 2004


A fun part of my job is looking at trends and predicting where training, e-learning, business, and technology will be going in the near and far future. But futuring is also a distinct profession, with publications, conferences, organizations, and so forth. Here are some recent good finds in the futuring arena.

I. Two experts in futuring, Charlie Grantham and Jim Ware, were interviewed for a must-read article on "Divining the Future of Work." They had some fascinating things to say about the coming talent shortage, the free agent/freelance/consultant transformation (it's way beyond a trend), offshoring, business sustainability, and more. Grantham and Ware say, "How we work, where we work, with whom we work and who's in charge--it's all changing," fast. They predict a "major social and political earthquake within the next three years."
Points important to workplace learning professionals:
--demographics of workers are changing to include more women and minorities, lower-skilled workers, and older workers
--the hottest job growth will be in the creative class--teachers, healthcare professionals, designers, financial analysts
--there will be a critical shortage of knowledge worker jobs--perhaps 10 million by 2010
--the shortage will lead to a change in the rules. Talent will set the terms.
--the age of the large organization may be over. Small groups, teams, and micro-businesses will lead in the future.
(I wrote about a conference put on by Grantham and Ware's Future of Work organization back in March. Their Weblog is featuring some interesting stuff these days.)

II. Thomas Malone, professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and co-director of a five-year study there on "Inventing the Organization of the 21st Century" has written a book on The Future of Work published by Harvard Business School Press. (It isn't related to Grantham and Ware's organization as far as I can tell.) Subtitled "How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and Your Life," the book doesn't just offer predictions--it provides case studies of organizations; discusses how business leaders, managers, and students can learn new management skills for the new world of work; defines critical leadership capabilities; and more.

III. The World Future Society is holding a conference I'll be attending in Washington, D.C. July 31st through August 2nd. There's a whole track on Learning and Education, plus ones on Business and Careers and Technology and Science, so I think I'll bring back some useful information. Sessions I'm interested in attending include "Transition into Tomorrow's Workplace," "The Future of Online Communities," "Human Capital and the Future," "The Emerging Paradigm of Knowledge-Based Enterprise," "Future-Focused Leadership and Communication," and "Incorporating Games and Simulations into Educational Contexts" (this one is led by Clark Aldrich, frequent contributor to T+D and Learning Circuits).

Have some favorite futuring resources? Post them in the comments section to share with your fellow readers and me.

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