Yes, we lost the leadership but maybe in the future there is no more single world leader. Maybe there are different leaders in different areas. We don’t need a global leader we need global collaboration. With connections across all countries we develop friends across all countries. And with friends across all countries we are less likely to start yet another war just to make the weapons industry happy. There are over 300 Million Americans who no longer want war, instead want to see the tax money put into education and innovation, both being the no.1 driver for jobs and wealth.
Today – July 12 – is world population day
I was thinking the other day about the growth of our population and what it really means. How can we deal with it and how far can we grow?
I did the math:
If we would take the space of the entire US and populate it with a population density like for instance Munich, which is a very green city, not too crowded and has a very nice standard of living for everybody. Guess what – we could have 370 Billion people on that continent and the rest of the entire globe would be completely untouched – no human being anywhere else.
In other words: With a rather moderate squeezed in super population of 370 Billion people, still 93% of the planet would be completely unpopulated.
If we take the population density of New York we could squeeze in 1 Trillion people (1,000 Billion) in our Super continent and still 93% of earth would be our farmland with no human beings living there.
Considering regions with high mountains are just 5 – 10% of the space – water was not taken in consideration at all – So space on earth surely isn’t an issue for a long long time.
Food for everybody and the billions to come?
About 200 years ago 80% of the western population was involved in food production feeding the 100% of all. Today only 7% are involved in food production and 93% do other things. We have food for every human on earth and another 10 Billion if we re-arrange things a bit with the food production that we have already today. So availability of food isn’t an issue either.
Food distribution and clean water is a different story.
The way we distribute food is one of the bigger problems. Large corporations actually sell bad food that is no longer accepted in the western world into third world countries thinking “better than nothing”. But her starts the problem. It actually is so cheap that the local food producers get out of business and need to eat that imported rotten food that causes disease and even casualties. Our understanding of the global food production and distribution is so superficial that we often times damage more than we fix – even so we want to help. And this goes on for decades now. Fixing this would make a huge difference.
This is one of the biggest problems on earth. And it is not only a problem of third world countries – it is even an issue in highly developed California. There is simply not enough drinking water for all right now – given the way we consume water. But here again we mess with the resources in a COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE way. Every hour one billion developed households flush their toilet with millions of gallons drinkable water. The toilet water we flush would be enough to keep 20 Billion people alive. So also here it’s the distribution that is completely messed up.
It’s too expensive to help
I understand it is expensive. We would need to have a dual water supply system to every house where we supply drinking water to the kitchen and bathroom and even the lawn and a secondary system to provide sanitized regenerated water or even prepared salt water to the toilet, washing machines and other water needs. Then we would need to build pipes into these massively large continents with all those other people who are in desperate need.
Thoughts for a possible sustainable development
We have to accept that we will continue to grow. We will become 20 Billion and we will need to find ways to help all of them thrive. We will need to find ways how we can make them all happy and healthy, even rich earthlings. And rich is the key word. We need to think differently – instead of abusing their cheap labor which is always just a short term gain – we need to make them all happy and rich consumers.
If we think about emerging countries that want to grow and thrive like Uganda or Kenya and the hundreds of others we need to invest in helping those countries become world citizens and consumers of what we provide. China thrives and countries who are very engaged in bilateral relationships with China are thriving too. Coca Cola cost only a few cent in underdeveloped countries and it seems to work – why can’t other businesses do that?
If we stop thinking short term gains and begin thinking in sustainable development of the rest of the glob – we can all grow more than we can without them. Meaing it actually isn’t about accepting the growth – its welcoming that growth. All we need to do is make them happy, healthy and wealthy consumers and a world citizens. Think of a brand new market of 370 Billion people – lots to be produced and delivered there.
Learning from the Curch
The Catholic Church has the best business model in the world since over 1,600 years. With that much experience in building a sustainable growth and wealth we can learn one thing: A growing population is the best guarantee for long term wealth. We may not need to follow their methods or believe system but we can learn to thrive over centuries.
I was recently asked by members of the European Commission about my thoughts when looking beyond 2020. And since I love thinking about long term development, I felt I should share, at least an extract, publicly.
2020 and beyond
Going beyond 2020 I see three plus one major developments. Two are already quite apparent one not so much. You may say there is no way to predict the future that far out. Well it isn’t actually that difficult. The foundation for Personal Computers were laid in 1973 – 10 years before IBM introduced the IBM PC which was revolutionizing the computer world. Internet was created in the 60’s with arpa net even longer before the launch of the public Internet as we know it. Social Media started with groups and forums long before 2003/2004 when LinkedIn and Facebook opened their doors. Cell phones gained huge popularity in the 90’s but my father had a mobile phone already in the late 70’s. In other words nothing that comes “out of the blue” and changed the world actually came out of the blue – but was invented at least 10 years earlier. The art is to identify those and predict the development of those existing technologies and their impact on the world.
Now – I don’t mention energy or environmental development in here because that is one of the challenges we are going through already today and it’s evolution is too obvious and will be a mainstream topic by 2020 – if it isn’t already today.
1) Democratization of influence
Our society is undergoing a massive change – probably bigger than any other change in history. With tools like social media but also and more importantly an urge to more individualism and more autonomy our society is influencing itself across all levels and traditional influence from industry or government leaders is rapidly diminishing. Co-creation of our future like co-creation of products today will have a significant impact on our political and economic landscape. The fear of creating an anarchy is pretty unsubstantiated – but the fear of missteps, failure in the experimentation phase is quite realistic. Governments will be challenged to stay involved in the democratization of influence and actually leverage the evolutionary development rather than fighting it in fear of loosing “control”. Governments, more than ever, need to be very clear about their responsibility as a function FOR the public and not a power in itself. By 2020 the democratization of influence will be in full swing and in the following decade democracy will be re-invented. There will be nations benefiting from this development and others will fail to create an integrated democratic model where the government’s role is more of a conductor orchestrating a societies development than leading it or even worst, controlling it.
2) Distributed Production & Service Networks
In several keynotes I described a “New Enterprise”. Already today we see the evolutionary development of distributed and rather “linking independent businesses” then “owning a complete process”. For instance: Code is developed by a software shop in India, a reception maybe managed by a “virtual assistance” who could work in Ireland, some of the production is in China and so forth. More and more of those functions get outsources to third parties. The antenna design of most cell phones was created and even patented by a small and creative shop. More and more start-ups and emerging businesses are leveraging those high energy, highly creative and highly productive small businesses, integrating them into their own product strategy. Reseller channels is an old technique to sell but in today’a age even more relevant than ever before. A company like Nokia could be as agile as a company like Apple if they would focus on market needs and designs and not on their own, old and very traditional company structure. A cellphone company doesn’t need to be more than 5,000 employees – Apple has approximately 10,000 in their iPhone group – Nokia has over 100,000. Running a business as a distributed production network means selecting the most creative people – most of them are not employable anyway, selecting teams when they are needed, selecting resources that are required while a project or a product is in high demand and needing to “keep people busy” because you have them on your payroll. It’s part of the human nature that we are thriving towards more individualism, autonomy, independence and freedom. Significant growth in entrepreneurship is just one facet of that trend. All indications are there that in the next decades Distributed Production & Service Networks will dominate our industries. Businesses and governments should be prepared for that evolution.
3) Age Revolution
Fact is that our live expectancy is notably accelerating since around 1900. Fact is that within the last 50 years the acceleration level actually doubled – creating a hockey stick effect. It is more likely than not, that we are on our way to get significantly older than any previous generation. There is a good likelihood that in the next 20 to 50 years we may expect people turning 140 or 150. If average live expectancy continues to grow at current rates – we will see a growth from 80 to 120 years in the next 50 years. The implications are enormous. Somebody retiring at age of 65 would have possibly another 55 years to live – which is longer than the live expectancy 150 years ago. 2020 and beyond Age will be one of the most challenging topics our society, economy and government is facing. While people may say I don’t want to become that old – the trend shows a different development and we just will get much older.
This will change the way we work, we live, we get educated, we adopt changes and the way we think. It may allow much longer term projects, will create a massive experience pool we could not develop in the past but equally a massive problem as much of the experience from the past is no longer relevant. It will change retirement planning, work live cycles, age care and many other things.
The next big thing on Technology
Things like social media, Internet, smart phones, TV, Radio, Automobile never came with a big bang. It took years to create the base for the technology, years for making early market entrants successful and than finally we are talking about the big thing. The next big thing can be considered as such when three things are happening: A larger part of the population declares it as a hype that will go away, large consulting firms caution industry leaders that companies will loose billions of dollars because of it and one group of people get very laud about the security risks.