Insights · November 18th, 2012
This book, Millennial City is being released first as a serial blog. The book is a collaboration with Dennis Walsh and this blog is Part 3 of Chapter 7. We will publish Millennial City as an e-book when the serialization is completed. The book grew out of conversations that Dennis and I have had about the future of cities, sustainability, and the millennial generation. We think that these three domains, if you will, are coming together to create a new future – and just in time we hope.
CHAPTER Seven – Part 3
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra
When it comes to the question of “Whereâ€, it’s more useful to imagine where you’ll take the world five or ten years from now than where you will be by then. Industries will continue to shift jobs all over the world. At the same time we expect a growing movement toward insourcing, efforts to re-localize work, even including manufacturing work. But this is going to take a while. Faced with difficult employment prospects and a business climate increasingly geared toward independent consultants, you may have already opted to freelance. It has it’s advantages over working for a single employer.
You are by nature entrepreneurial. Not surprisingly, you may already be drawn to places that embrace entrepreneurship and innovation. Great cities recognize this and go to great lengths to attract and retain you and others like you. You are the competitive advantage they need. And you certainly will not be left behind. You’re too smart for that.
You’re on the cutting edge. You’re good at innovating at the verge. Why wouldn’t you work in places that offer the greatest opportunity? One of the greatest challenges facing global companies right now is their ability to exploit synergies and efficiencies in their global talent acquisition and retention programs. You want to make an impact, to identify problems no one else has, solve problems no one else has, make old things better and invent new things.
The question remains “Whereâ€ will you take the world. Will technological “fixesâ€ be the way of the future? Will biotechnology solve our resource problems? Will geo-engineering be on your agenda? Or will you radically rethink the power grid to get electricity to where and when it is needed?
Tinkering with nature is an option. The idea of engineering the climate on a global scale might be appealing. But the quest for meaning and for spirit is what makes you different. You believe deeply in the power of individuals and collective action. Your concerns are for the state of the environment and human rights. You have a deep sense of responsibility and pragmatism and consider it your generation’s responsibility to change the world.
Scientists and engineers believe that living systems can be engineered just like any other system. The boundaries between people machines might eventually blur one day. Who knows where that fits on your agenda? You’re running out of time. You’re much more concerned with attaining world peace and you may have the motivation and unprecedented power to do just that.
Look at Los Angeles. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has a new initiative called the “Mayor’s Council on Innovation and Industryâ€. The council is made up of Los Angeles entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and business leaders who aim to change the narrative around innovation in their city. The city is at a unique moment in its evolution. But the Council isn’t about answering a question or problem, it’s about bringing together resources and attention to momentum that already exists.
The outside perception is that LA is outdated and incomplete while in reality it has a great story to tell. Successful companies will do more to attract investors and talent than new slogans. LA has a lot of wealth, but it’s largely directed to the entertainment industry. What LA does have is one of the highest concentrations of engineering and research universities in the world. 75 percent of graduates leave after graduation. The council’s greatest challenge might be to hold on to this wealth of talent and they might just succeed.
When it comes to the question of “Whereâ€, it’s more useful to imagine where you’ll take the world five or ten years from now than where you will be by then. Industries will shift around the world. Cities with industry clusters have a distinct advantage. Los Angeles has all the elements to be a leading entrepreneurial environment – diversity, creativity, attractive places to live, a growing transit system to supplement their infamous roads, new media, ecommerce, clean tech, space industries, cloud computing and other forms of innovation.
[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]