Megatrends and how to survive them – conclusions

Megatrends and How to Survive Them is the title of our book published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing and available on Amazon. This is the last of a series of blogs based on the work we have done for the book.

Our focus in the book was on global megatrends that would play out during the time span of an organisation’s planning.  It wasn’t about the StarTrek, 100 year in the future type of predictions (or science fiction to be more exact).

Trends can emerge in many different ways; we have suggested a particular way that each megatrend might go.  But, a reminder that trends are not forecasts!

A forecast is a single point in time, a prediction.  Usually with a note of the percentage possibility to hit the prediction.  Also it is usual that these forecasts are no more than 9-12 months in the future.  Philip Tetlock ran a research project called “The Good Judgement Project” to see what sort of person could make good predictions.  You can find out more about it in his book, Superforecasting: the art and science of prediction.

We had to make generalisations of each of the trend to keep them accessible.  We supplied a list of questions (some of which we’ve repeated in the previous blogs) to help people to go deeper into each of the trends, to explore in more detail just how they might emerge and, indeed, what could disrupt them.

The underlying theme across all the trends is that an increasing number of people across the world are able to make choices – in life style, in where and how they live, in what they buy.  These choices are driving innovation, society, technology and the economy, as well as impacting our global limits and climate.

Exploring these trends and how they might play out, however, is only a first step.  There are several more before you can develop options, decide on a strategic direction and implement a new strategy.

We suggest three provisos:

  • Beware of cognitive biases.  There is plenty going on in peoples’ lives; cognitive biases help us to deal with information overload, lack of meaning, the need to act (react) quickly and they can help us to remember things.  They are assumptions which we base thinking and decisions on.
  • Be cognisant of the fact that many people find change threatening, so change management is needed.  Change is facilitated by using images of the future which can be built to be relevant to your organisation and can be based upon these megatrends.
  • Trends are not independent, they are part of complex systems, so when thinking about how to respond and what you might do to influence a particular trend, you need to consider it in the context of the larger system.  Any action that you take may have delayed effects on one or another of the trends.

The most important thing that you can do with these trends is to explore them and stimulate a different sort of conversation, a different and deeper understanding of how they may affect your organisation and the work you do in the coming 10 – 15 years.  And of course, what the opportunities (and risks) might be going forward.

The future is a foreign country – enjoy the exploration.

Written by Patricia Lustig, SAMI Associate and MD, LASA Insight, and Gill Ringland, SAMI Emeritus Fellow and Director, Ethical Reading.

The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

SAMI Consulting was founded in 1989 by Shell and St Andrews University. They have undertaken scenario planning projects for a wide range of UK and international organisations. Their core skill is providing the link between futures research and strategy.

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