reposted from The Goering Center Newsletter 

by: Mackey McNeill, President and CEO of Mackey Advisors


Why can’t we all see the future?  Edie Weiner, futurist, believes it is because we develop educated incapacity.  Your experience and knowledge is your greatest asset and your greatest baggage.  The bottom line is we learn too much about something and based on our knowledge; see what we expect rather than what is possible.    According to Edie if we can shift from objectivity to subjectivity we can all see the future.


I recently heard Edie speak at the Women’s Global Leadership Summit in Washington, DC.   Here are a few of the provocative tidbits she shared.


  • Aging is the biggest shift happening.   Most countries have more people over 60 than under 60. The United States is one of only 4 countries with enough young people to replace older workers, thanks only to immigration.  We are extending life in the middle, so people 35 to 70 are all in the same phase of life.  Never in human history have we spent this many years in one phase of life.  Our workforce will look different in the future, with 85 year olds still running family businesses and 40 year olds leaving that same family business because there is no opportunity to advance. 
  • The largest part of our workforce actually isn’t people at all.  Systems and software comprise 90% of the workforce.  Connectivity will impact everything.  Everything will be talking to everything all the time.  Your chair will talk to your desk, your cell phone and your home office.
  • Time is speeding up.  Everyday some big new thing happens and something big dies.  Big companies come to market overnight and can die just as fast.  Young technology entrepreneurs raise millions via crowd-sourcing in just minutes online.  The life cycle of business strategies will shorten.  In order to survive, we need a timeless vision, and a nimble strategic plan.
  • Employees don’t want to commit to the long hours to move up in an organization, instead opting for roles as independent workers and temporary employees.  New businesses will skip desktop and laptop computing and go straight to mobile devices.  New, at home, 3D printing will allow instant production of many hard and soft goods.
  • Education, or the pushing out of information, is dead.  It will be replaced by learning, or the absorption of knowledge.  Design will be a huge differentiator of the future. 
  • We will move past “green”, the idea that we minimize carbon impact, to “blue”, which is the idea that we create things that will inherently create positive ecological impact.
  • Play, or experiences that are fun, will become a huge value proposition in the future. Organizations of the future need to focus on infusing play into their products, services, and culture to attract top talent and top tier clients.


In general, men and women see the future differently. The male view of the world is a 3 legged stool that is built by transportation, communication and capital.  In this world, we build more and people gain by piling on top.  The female view of the world is also a 3 legged stool, but it is built upon health, education and ecological infrastructure.  In this world, the view widens and the world becomes more inclusive via outward expansion.  The future is both.  We must build all 6 legs.


As CEO’s our role through all this change is to create a timeless vision.  In Edie’s study of 2 powerful leaders, there are 3 qualities required for great leadership. 


  1. A vision and a passion for that vision
  2. The ability to articulate your vision in such a way that it engages even the most disengaged people.
  3. A total lack of embarrassment by, and complete commitment to  your vision


As owners and entrepreneurs, we have to ask ourselves, am I willing to be the brave leader, stepping into this fast paced future by crafting a timeless vision?