by Elana Varon

Megatrends Author Naisbitt Releases Mind Set!

Nov 15, 20062 mins

Every few years, futurist John Naisbitt collects his observations into a book of emerging trends. Mind Set! is the latest in the series that began with the 1982 best-seller Megatrends. Continuing the franchise, Naisbitt’s new book identifies five trends in culture, politics, economics and technology.

This time, Naisbitt also outlines his process for reaching his conclusions. As one would expect, he reads a lot and travels widely (he currently lives in Vienna and is a faculty member at Nanjing University in China). The key to making predictions, however, is to filter all the information he gathers through 11 “mind-sets” that guide his thinking.

For example, to formulate his prediction that the world economy will be defined in terms of industry-centered domains—like the automotive and pharmaceutical industries—that do business globally, he relies in part on the dictum “See the future as a big picture puzzle.” After observing that because of globalization, traditional indicators like gross domestic product provide an incomplete picture of a country’s economic activity, Naisbitt identified cross-border, industry-based economic domains as the key elements in the evolving world economy. How those pieces are arranged will determine how growth gets measured, he says. By reshuffling the relevant data, the picture of the world economy will emerge, he predicts.

Naisbitt’s principles have a pop-psych feel to them. Mindset No. 4, “Understanding how powerful it is not to be right,” reminds us of the chestnut that we must let go of old ways to achieve (pick one) personal, professional or corporate growth. (Naisbitt applies this principle to dogmatic European Union politics, which, he predicts, are a recipe for the continent’s economic decline.) However, argues Naisbitt, simplifying how one thinks about the world is the best way make sense of it.