I love reading books about the fascinating new world that the future has in store for us, don’t you? My study is full of them, and loves me because I’m always ordering more. I’m intrigued and genuinely impressed by all the insightful predictions of how we’ll be living our lives 20 years from now. . . or 50. Flying cars! Pills to make you smarter! World peace!

One book I recently read was bold enough to describe the future 100 years from now. (I’m not so sure I’ll be around to find out if it’s accurate.)

Predicting the future is sexy. In principle, though, scenario planners shouldn’t do it. We should try to visualize what could happen and avoid acting as if we know what will happen, because, honestly, we don’t. Besides, the main value of scenario planning lies in describing a range of futures, not pointing to one particularly glamorous prognosis with a “Stand back, everybody, this is it!” mind-set.

With that caveat, this part of the book is about the future, but without the confident, absolute predictions you might find in the best sellers stacked high on my desk. Instead, I’ll highlight just a handful of trends that are going on now, all of which beg the provocative question, “Where could this lead? What kind of world could emerge if these developments continue?”

Zeroing in on the driving forces shaping our future, most trend watchers focus ...

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