The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel in Shanghai.
Photo: Mathias Kniepeiss/Getty Inmages
Futurist David Houle says the years ahead will be ones in which just about everything you know will change—and that's nothing to be scared of.
This new decade, 2010 to 2020, will be known as the Transformation Decade. The definitions of transformation are several: the act or process of transforming, the state of being transformed, change in form, appearance, nature or character.

Don't those definitions feel like what has been already going on in your life and the world? Many of us have already been living in this state. Many of us have only recently felt the impending alterations, disruptions and reorganizations that have begun. Everything seems to be in a transforming state of shift.

We are entering the first full decade of the Shift Age, even though it has already taken root in the past four years (more on that in future columns). Our current Great Recession can only be fully understood when seen as the reorganizational recession between two ages, the Information Age and the Shift Age. It is not unlike the recessions of the 1970s, which was the decade of transition between the Industrial and Information Ages. Almost everything is in a state of shift, in a state of being transformed.

Think about all that is going on in your life and in the world. The way we communicate has and will continue to change in form, appearance (our gadgets are vastly different from even five years ago) and character (how many of you are on Facebook, text or tweet regularly versus even three years ago?). The shape of our relationships is changing. The shape of how we work, live and travel are all changing. The economy and the workplace are changing and being reshaped.

All of these changes can leave one feeling disoriented or apprehensive. Many people feel this way. Usually those feelings are a precursor to transformation and shift.

In the next 10 years, there will be a level of transformation nearly unmatched in human history:

  • Humanity's relationship to communication technology is rapidly changing and will bring ongoing social, cultural and economic transformation. We all feel this, as it has already begun.
  • Media such as television, newspapers, magazines and radio will be completely different than they are today. We are only at the initial creative destruction phase of media.
  • Economic metrics will need to be transformed both on national and global levels. Such economic measurements as GDP (gross national product) will need to be updated to better reflect our 21st-century economy and not the 20th-century economy in which they were created. We will need to think of the global money supply, not just the U.S. money supply as we are moving ever more toward a global economy.
  • Relationships are transforming both inside and outside the family. Most of us are feeling this already.
  • Energy and energy use will be completely transformed. Alternative and renewable energy development will create great new wealth and transform landscapes and how we live every day.
  • Education is no longer serving the needs of people and society; it will be transformed. K–12 education will change within the next 10 years. For a large part of the population, it will become K–14, not K–16, as the value of a two-year degree from a community college will be of greater value to educate and train people for the new types of jobs that will exist in the future.
  • The medical breakthroughs around the corner will make 2010 to 2020 the most transformative decade in medical history. It won't just be the actual discoveries, but the moral decisions they will force us to confront for the first time in human history. We will all have the affordable ability to know our unique complete genetic map. As a result, we will move into the age of personalized medicine. We will have foreknowledge of probable personal health conditions. How will that transform how you live? Do you get married if you and your intended partner's respective genetic maps are not a good match? Does knowledge trump love?
  • The workplace will be transformed as the place part becomes less and less relevant. Human beings will only need to be in the same place to collaborate, as work is increasingly defined as collaborative and creative. More of us will work from home and places other than the office than ever before.
  • The Internet and our rapid-fire use of mobile digital devices has created a pulsing, synaptic place of unprecedented interactivity. On a global scale, it is starting to feel like a global brain. It is a live, morphing place called the neurosphere that is not only transforming us now, but could well be the technological model for a new level of human consciousness in 10 to 20 years (neurosphere as in the collective knowledge, information, culture, history and economic transactions that now occur and reside in cyberspace). That would be an evolutionary level of transformation—nothing less than an evolution shift. We are rapidly moving in that direction.
The list could go on and on. Take a holistic, 360-degree snapshot at your life right now. Do you see your relationships, ways of thinking, living and the way you look at the world? I promise that when you take the same 360 snapshot in 10 years, you will be astounded at the transformation. The speed of change has accelerated to the point where it is environmental. We live in an environment of change.

It may feel uncomfortable as familiar things and ways of living are disintegrating. Transformation, to varying degrees, is uncomfortable and disruptive. We are and will be transformed in the next 10 years.

We have entered the Transformation Decade.

Watch David's short YouTube video about the Transformation Decade.

David Houle is an award-winning futurist and strategist who has launched successful brands and is an in-demand speaker about the future. He writes the popular futurist blog Evolution Shift and lives his life slightly ahead of the curve.


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