Insights · November 26th, 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 2 of Chapter 9. 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 Nine – Part 2
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

There’s a difference between the kind of problems cities are able to solve and the ones that they need to solve. Big cities are good at solving clear complicated problems. They’re not so good at solving ambiguities, like not knowing what they don’t know or rolling dice without knowing what will come up. Ambiguity is even more complicated than complicated problems. You don’t know how many variables there are or even what they count for.

The idea of taking risks is scary but it’s never too late to do little things, to take small chances. There are far too many smart, educated, talented people unsure of their place in the world, contributing far too little to the world. In a world of flux, what succeeds for you may not succeed for me. What succeeds for one city may not work for another. It’s the same for business. Today, business leaders need to be creative and adaptive. Change is driving jobs and work in new directions. Global competition is leading industries to migrate.

Work is no longer as it used to be. There’s no such thing as a ‘lifelong job’ anymore. You probably know that already. Things will be done, and undone, fast. That means big changes ahead for the individual. Future work will become team-based, or may be highly individualized. You’ll have to sell yourself to project leaders.

That’s where the risk comes in. Attitudes about work and jobs will have to substantially change during the decades ahead. You won’t think in terms of earning a day’s wage for a day’s work. You’ll think much more entrepreneurially since you’ll need to market your unique abilities to make a difference in the workplace. Old school people from bureaucratic organizations will be out of date and out of place

In future, you’ll have more opportunities to do whatever you do, when you want to, where you want to and the way you want to. But there will be a price to pay. You will never stop learning and expanding your skills to prepare for future job demands. Increasing complexity will create greater opportunities for specializing in small segments. Human resources will find better ways than college degrees to measure qualifications. Employee “pools” will match talent with company need while independent contractors and temps will be widely used. We’ve been getting used to this in the past decade but in the future this work style jumps to hyper speed. There’s more. Architects and facilities managers will no longer focus on creating and managing space. They will be much more like work enablers or facilitators. Space will be designed to support specific types of work.

One more thought on globalization: It’s more than just business – it is about culture and people. So, you’ll need cultural intelligence to help you achieve success as work becomes more and more global. That will mean reinventing yourself to master the fundamentals of intercultural interaction and communication. Start traveling now if you are a student. See the world. Live in it. Aside from that hurdle, your biggest challenge will be enjoying work and celebrating life at the same time. The boundaries between professional and personal lives will continue to blur.

Life is complicated enough. It’s tough to live in a world full of ambiguity, not knowing what you do not know. Hopefully this book will give you the courage to roll the dice without knowing what will come up. No matter how you cut it, change is driving jobs and work in new directions. You’ll have to change the way you think and even experiment a little though you may not know how the dice will roll. The idea of taking those kinds of risks is scary. In a world of flux, what succeeds for you may not succeed for me. So, if you’re really going to shine, you’ll need to be creative and adapt on the fly.

[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of, and curator of Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through]

Millennial City
Nikolas Badminton – Chief Futurist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

Contact Nikolas