Futurist Sean Culey has a warning for us: “Things are about to get really disruptive, really quickly.”
The new technologies associated with the “sixth wave” of innovation are creating a “triple whammy of creative destruction,” he told the recent P3 Momentum conference: robots are taking over manual jobs, artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly doing our thinking for us, and machines are beginning to manage each other.
The results, he believes, can already be seen at every stage of the traditional Source-Make-Deliver-Sell supply chain. In its place, Sean envisions a new “PAL” supply chain model, featuring “Personalised products and services”, “Automated manufacturing delivery and planning”, and “Local production and storage facilities”.
Beyond logistics, the disruption will be no less radical. According to Sean, AI should overtake hu-man intelligence by the end of the century, forcing people to take a more creative and proactive approach to their working lives.
What is your ‘why’?
In Sean’s view, the most important question we can ask ourselves going forward is, “What's your ‘why’? What is the thing that defines you as a human being? What are you passionate about? What do you value? And for corporations, it's exactly the same: Why should you exist?”
Humanity is going to be divided between passive consumers and those that actually take the opportunity
The biggest challenge for individuals will be to stay relevant and find meaning in a world where machines take millions of jobs.
> Hear what Sean had to say after his presentation at his P3 Momentum conference debut, in 2016.
“What this technology does is enable people to act without permission,” he explains. “You used to have people who said, ‘I’ll join a company, and the company will tell me what to do, and if I work for 25 years, I'll make it to the top.’ Now we're in this new Golden Age where you can find some-thing that people are passionate about and do it. The future of humanity is going to be divided between those who become passive consumers and those that actually take the opportunity.”
Companies, meanwhile, must rid themselves of an industrial-era mindset, based on efficiencies and short-termism, and embrace a future in which opportunities abound and labour costs are no longer a limiting factor.
“Organisations need to look at the opportunity, not just the risk,” says Sean. “To ask, ‘Who are our customers and what do they value? And how do we use these technologies to deliver more value to them?’ rather than just saying, ‘How can we save money? How can we get rid of people?’ Those companies might win in the short term, but they’ll lose in the long term.” For leaders, meanwhile, the key will be creating a culture in which individual freedoms are protected and risk-taking encouraged.
Asked to name the most important idea in his 2018 P3 Momentum presentation, Sean picks out culture. “Culture matters enormously,” he explains. “The rules you set, the leaders you have, and the way they control the population determine whether that country or company is going to suc-ceed We're taking away a lot of the freedoms that enabled the Industrial Revolution. We have to ensure that we maintain those freedoms, that we don't use technology to encroach on them.”
“The coming decades will be truly amazing,” he concludes. “But it’s up to us to ensure that we create a society that enables us to be amazed.”
About Sean Culey
Sean Culey is a futurist, author, keynote speaker and business transformation expert who helps companies develop customer-centric business models. His latest book, Transition Point: From Steam to the Singularity, was published in December 2018.