Andrew Winston: Gigatrends Shaping the Future
1. What are “gigatrends”? Can you give us a sneak peek of a couple you’ll be talking about at the NAEM Forum later this month?I’m using the word “gigatrends” to mean the largest of the forces changing the world and business. These are things that operate on the scale of billions (thus ‘giga’): billions of tons of carbon we need to cut from the atmosphere, inequality affecting billions of people and billions needing help out of poverty, and the clean economy growing in scale to many billions in investment.
2. Has the pandemic eclipsed some of these gigatrends in terms of what leaders have to be focused on right now? What’s your advice for putting gigatrends and the COVID-19 pandemic in relational perspective?Yes and no. We’re all focused on the pandemic for logical reasons. But if the pandemic can teach us anything, it’s that everything is connected, and we’re all connected. For example, our use of the natural world and cutting down forests — a major source of carbon emissions — has greatly increased the likelihood of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. As we bang up against the planetary boundaries, we come in contact with other species more. Poverty drives people to eat bush meat as well. The connections run both ways — the pandemic has exposed massive inequality in health and outcomes with people of color 2 to 3 times more likely to get sick or die in the U.S.
So, our biggest trends are feeding each other. The bad news is that they can spiral out of control. The good news is that tackling one issue, if we work together on systems, works on many issues at once. Improve the livelihoods of farmers so they don’t need to cut down forests in Indonesia and Brazil, and you improve health and reduce emissions.