Getting ready for 2050

PwC report ‘The World in 2050’ is a great eye-opener. The predicted changes should not surprise anyone. Emerging markets (E7) will grow twice as fast as advanced economies within the next 30 years.  Aside from the US which is projected to have the 3rd biggest GDP (a drop from the 2nd rank in 2016 to 3rd in 2050), the ranking of the top 10 highest GDP countries will be dominated by E7 countries. 

Further down, 3 countries which make the biggest jump upwards are Vietnam (from 32nd to 20th place), Philippines (from 28th to 19th place) and Nigeria (from 22nd to 14th place). 

What do you know about the three countries? How ready are you to do business, negotiate, and communicate with them? The way we think about the world must change.

As G7 countries have been the leading economies for decades it may feel like we have lived in a westernized world, guided by western values. We are bombarded and reminded to be strong and confident, communicate directly, give constructive immediate feedback, be sociable, charismatic and so on, and so on. All bestselling books teach us how to succeed in a western way. Japan may be an exception among the advanced economies, and considered one of the most efficient, with quite a few resources available to help others learn the ‘Japanese way’.

Have you ever thought of adapting what you learn to a different reality? I have. I wondered for a long time why my great western training and coaching techniques were not very successful while training Koreans, Indians, Filipinos or St. Lucians. A very disappointing and puzzling experience it was you may think. I say a great lesson I learnt! 
Are there any world best-selling books, theories, models which consider Indian, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Brazilian cultures? I personally haven’t come across them. Please leave a comment below if you can recommend any.

The way we think about the world is very narrow-minded. We focus on ‘here and now’ forgetting about the complexity of the world, the changes happening in today’s world and their consequences. Staying focussed on ‘the only right way’ may not help to be effective in working with stronger and stronger, and more competitive emerging market businesses. Moreover it may even hamper the relations we will be forced to build.

How do those changes affect us on a micro level?

Every change should lead to an appropriate reaction. Adaptability, openness, creative and innovative thinking should be our responses to the changing world.

  • Innovative solutions.  Easy and trouble-free communication modes, access to digital learning solutions regardless of location, quick and bite-sized updates, flexible ways of working – these are only a few elements that must be considered. It is not purely caused by a millennial trend (so widely discussed these days) but rather by a shrinking and accelerating world.
  • Diversity. As we do not stick to our neighbourhood only and mobility is a more frequent phenomenon we are constantly exposed to a high level of diversity. Diversity and inclusion have become a very trendy term recently. Everyone wants it, not everyone knows how to manage it. Taking advantage of a diverse workforce, backgrounds, experiences, and opinions is a skill. It is not enough to maintain the ‘right’ statistics. It is essential to learn not only how to open up and accept differences (gender, age, ethnicity, culture, nationality, religion etc.) but most of all how to take advantage out of them. We need to learn how to make people of a different background feel welcomed, listened to and valued.
  • Cross-cultural competencies. Such competencies not only teach cultural differences but moreover tolerance, patience, openness, self-awareness and effectiveness in dealing with various intercultural situations. In a fast-changing, complex and diverse world we cannot rely on ‘the only right way’. An ability to take advantage of diversity is a must.

 David Livermore in his ‘Driven by difference’ book suggests the following approach:


Diversity itself multiplied by zero will not guarantee anyone a high innovativeness level. The other way round, high level of diversity not managed or guided appropriately may be very destructive. 

In order to be innovative and compete effectively in today and the future, global companies need to open to diversity and be able to take advantage of it in a culturally intelligent way. We cannot blindly follow western ideas, solutions, or models. Whilst they are a great base, to succeed these days, it is crucial to be able to consider and adapt them to other cultures.