The anti-trends

Kristin: Dr Stefan Hajkowicz spoke at the Sir Mark Oliphant Cleantech conference yesterday on the CSIRO’s new Report on Future Megatrends. In a really lovely piece of foresight work, Stefan and co-author Dr James Moody have gathered trends from research across CSIRO using an internal wiki to detect five major trends. The purpose of the report is to provide an input in the decision-making for research projects into the future, and as Tim Harper commented yesterday, a megatrend is useful for focusing attention on solutions.

Yet to borrow from Newton’s Third Law of Motion, for every force there is an equal and opposite reaction. The law of trends is that for every trend there is something that indicates the opposite trend. So here’s my thoughts on the anti-trends for CSIRO’s Megatrends. For there may also be some benefit in considering the opposing trend as part of the research decision-making process.

Note: Foresight is about testing the edges of thinking, not necessarily about proving something right. So the anti-trends are about testing thinking to provide another piece of the puzzle, adding the foresight work of CSIRO, not proving the megatrends wrong. And the anti-trends are just ideas – they could be tested with further input and research if they are seen as useful.

Megatrend 1: More from Less – A world of limited and depleting resources with increasing demand for those resources through economic growth and increases in population. A need to focus on resource use efficiency.

Anti-trend 1: Less from Less – A world of limited resources and depleting resources, with demand for those resources slowing as people appreciate these limitations. People are turning to multi-functional devices, reusable items and buying experiences and therefore require less products.

Megatrend 2: A Personal Touch – personalisation of products and services. Growth of the services sector of western economies is being followed by a second wave of innovation aimed at tailoring and targeting services.

Anti-trend 2: Reducing Choice – A backlash against too much choice. People shop at ALDI, make choices between only two suppliers (eg  Mac or PC) and look for ways of simplifying decision-making.

Megatrend 3: Divergent Demographics – OECD countries are ageing and experiencing lifestyle and diet related health problems. The developing and underdeveloped worlds show high fertility rates and food scarcity.

Anti-trend 3: Growing Global Health – Improved treatments for chronic diseases lead to longer lifespans with better health outcomes. Education and application of technologies within local values in developing world also improve health outcomes and slow fertility growth.

Megatrend 4: On the move – Move to cities and people are increasingly mobile, changing jobs and careers more often, moving house more often, commuting further and travelling more often.

Anti-trend 4: Fulfilment – Young people are urged to follow passions, which lead to a range of jobs, but some consistency in career. New online technologies deliver improved face to face opportunities for connection, leading to less travel.

Megatrend 5: iWorld – digital and natural convergence. Everything in the natural world will have a digital counterpart. Computing power and memory storage are improving rapidly. Many more devices are getting connected to the internet.

Anti-trend 5: Opting out – Not everything will have a digital shadow if sections of the community are able to opt-out.

Another aspect to the report is Global Risks, or disruption that have the potential to occur. Stefan also talked about crafting scenarios. The anti-trends might be useful to ask questions about ‘the other’ and provide more depth to the scenario worlds.

Do you agree with the anti-trends proposed? Can you think of others?


  1. This is amazing philosophical foresight to me. I will not add further thoughts until I have taken it all in and thought on it more deeply.
    thank you.

  2. Any foresight into Eco-capitalism?

  3. Love what you have done here Kristina – I heard Stefan talk about the megatrends late last year – and I had this sense of unease, but didn’t spend much time analysing it – and, voila, here is a post from you with the challenge that I couldn’t articulate at the time. I asked him a question at the time about whether they were going to do any work on how the trends intersected, and he said they would use them in scenarios, which started the feeling of unease. Imagine where they might get to if they looked at the intersection of their megatrends and your anti-trends – that would be interesting!

  4. Kristina: excellent points, concise, useful, thank you for posting it.

    How about Anti-Mega-Trends? say, a million micro-trends or mini-trends? its a local, individual POV. Seems to me our futures are more wrapped up on a million small actions than all stomping together down a single uber-highway.


  5. And I’m a little late in getting back to this, but I wanted to thank you for your comments and let you know we’re doing some more work thinking about anti-trends and niche futures.

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