Digital Magazine

Wanderlust for Tomorrow

I feel a bit like Alice after she awoke from her adventures in Wonderland — a bit befuddled but utterly amused and amazed. While the characters who led Alice on her Wonderland tour of that 1865 novel were at the very least peculiar, I felt the futurist gurus who led members of the Assn. of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters & Laminators through the portal to the future initially spoke a little outside my comfort zone; their subject matter was somewhat scary on an esoteric level. But I converted. There's no denying they were inspiring and addictively fascinating.

I guess these reactions are just about right for the generation I come from, i.e., a Baby Boomer. After three intense days of future talk, I had learned where humanity had been, where it presently is, where it's going, and how it was going to get there. I concluded, “The Future” is a lot to cover in only three days!

Fortunately, on March 21-24 at the Hilton Torrey Pines in La Jolla, CA, our guides were comfortable in their future skins and led the wary (like me) firmly in tow as we learned about not just our industry's but our world's anticipated metamorphosis.

The first speaker, David Houle, has a pedigree that includes an Academy Award nomination, but even Oprah Winfrey has stamped Houle as authentic, featuring him regularly as an online columnist with www.oprah.com. While a futurist evangelist, Houle didn't scream the sky is falling, but it was clear he felt confidently about things to come and for which our global society must prepare.

As the name of Houle's book, The Shift Age, implies, we are presently experiencing, during the years 2010-2020, a transitional — and unsettling — Threshold Decade that will conclude with the dawning of a transformational period he calls the Shift Age. As turbulent a period as the Threshold Decade is expected to be, ultimately the strengths of the Millennial generation (young adults presently in their 20s) essentially will save society with a global consciousness marked by a spirit of collaboration. If there's anything we can count on, says Houle, “technology will continue to be a major influence in the world” at a pace that's so fast it will make three-year business plans laughable. This shifting ground will demand that we “live in the present to succeed in shaping a golden future. And there is a golden future ahead of us if we navigate the next ten years with vision, the ability to adapt, and a willingness to embrace change.”

Futurist Jim Pinto reinforced that technology will so change our enterprises they will become computer peripherals. Faster, cheaper, better will win; productivity will be a global race; and high-tech will gain the advantage. Factories of tomorrow will achieve operational excellence through disciplined leadership, teamwork, and problem solving, and employees will become empowered with wireless connectivity for effective communication and productivity.

Where we're headed is a future even this nervous Boomer can get excited about!

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