Five things that collaboration will change in the future: or, daring to look into future scenarios


the futureI see collaboration as much a part of present business and social drivers as much as one of the critical pillars of resilient society in the future. In my opinion, a resilient society goes beyond sustainability. In that context, I am willing to share what I consider to be five possible ‘things’ that may change around us, even the meaning of life.


1. The end of a ‘boss’ as the person on top of the rewards ladder. We are going to see the established standard of a ‘boss’ being paid the most become super-rare and, in the best companies, non-existent. Example: the best sport clubs in the world – let’s take soccer. It is expected that the best teams naturally win and earn money for their club through their players, many of whom earn more than their coach. It is the quality of collaboration in the team that makes the difference. The coach sets the scene, however the moments of inspiration, motivation and all other aligned factors are not in hands of the coach, nor manager, but are dependent on how well the players put together various factors in each moment of the game. Creating value then is not dependent on a hierarchical structure (as much as it will be a critical factor) but on the capacity of a collaborative approach.


2. Products and services that are not produced collaboratively will be deemed substandard as they will reflect a lack of the quality that collaborative input offers. Consumers want a greater say in the way products are made and will demand recognition for it. Tastes, trends and attitudes will reflect a broader shift in a socio-cultural sense, whereby globally connected consumers will expand on their desires to be creators rather than passive recipients of goods and services.


3. Products and services created through collaboration will increasingly become public good. After a certain period of ownership, companies will find it more useful to then make their IP and product freely available rather than hoping to continue to exploit it through royalties etc. This will be driven by rapidly changing tastes and attitudes which will inevitably lead to new expectations on the side of consumers. Another critical driver will be greater demand for the sources of material that can be further innovated. The idea of copyright and trade secrets will be redundant at the expense of concepts such as ‘copy-left’. The total sum of complexities will render ‘big solutions’ impossible to implement. Instead, rapid adaptations to regular disruptions will be better served by a capacity to connect and collaborate in variety of settings.


4. The nature and system of education as we know it will disappear. If we think that MOOCs are disruptive, we have not yet seen real change. We are approaching a time when ‘package-deal’ education products such as a Bachelors or Masters degrees will be like teaching people how to take pictures with a box camera in an age of digital wrist watch devices capable of producing images of National Geographic quality. While not expected to be extinct, package deals will serve a small niche market of specialised jobs. Vast amounts will work at a Cloud computing type level – students will enrol in a degree but never really complete it because study will be undertaken continuously in intervals that are relevant to students at given moments. Instead of buying software, you will pay a monthly fee which keeps you up to date permanently. Another impact on education will be the emergence of revision literature that will explain history, science and all other disciplines in a new narrative that resembles current needs. In other words, we will learn how societies collaborated to prosper more than we’ll learn how they fought each other. The very idea of what it means to be ‘educated’ will be replaced by other capacities humans need to thrive; being resilient, and cultivating a capacity to learn fast,


5. We are going to collectively start to get more from Abraham Maslow’s sixth need that will only be satisfied through collaboration. The importance of intelligence fitness will not depend on the amount of exclusive information we can access and how well we integrate it in daily life, but rather on the way we read patterns, maintain a life-long capacity to be curious, be imaginative and able to form new ideas, create new solutions and adapt in the age of expectation of change. Maslow’s little known inclination to add a 6th need to his hierarchy of five identified levels of needs has started to make much more sense in the past couple of decades as we move into what some have termed ‘the fifth society’, and others call ‘the dream society’. The sixth need is interpreted as being about ‘idealisation’, where, despite the current hype about narcissistic-like behaviours, purpose sought ‘beyond oneself’ is not far off being a driving force in human behaviour.

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