A business analyst predicted the Great Bifurcation on the basis of nationalism back in 2018, not due to any geostrategic acumen or historical pattern analysis, but his observation of international business activity and the transition to a younger generation of leaders:
Most great business leaders are successful because they are able to create, nurture, and support a unique and believable company value system that sets the tone for their strategy and execution. But according to the leaders I spoke with, something has changed; “Country-based value systems” are becoming increasingly important and the foundational roots of “nationalism” are starting to become more apparent in the business. By way of example, twice this week I was running different Leadership Simulations for high potential leaders. In the simulation, small teams are responsible for setting and executing a global strategy across multiple regions (which are made up of countries). I saw something in both sessions that I’ve never seen before; intense and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about how countries are losing their identities and therefore customer segments are also losing their identities which makes it harder to differentiate solutions to customers. I was surprised to see the concept of Nationalism show up in conversations about business acumen.
My take-away observation is that this is an issue that business leaders should put on their radars as my sense is that different value systems by country and market are going to be disruptive forces.
Generational Disparities are Real
The next generation of leaders are knocking on the door and their perspectives are different which is truly bothering the current leaders, but apparently not the stock markets. The next generation of leader wants their companies to do something important and meaningful and are very adept at building strong cultures quickly around values. Legacy companies that don’t make “new and cool stuff” are losing key talent and the war on talent is actually showing up in a way that is much different than anyway ever expected.
My take-away observation is that the big disruptions aren’t going to come directly from new technologies, but from new types of employees that want more value in in their business lives and if they don’t get it, will close once-thriving businesses.
Laws and Regulations are Going to Matter More
Political nationalism and in some cases political isolationism has direct impacts on business specifically when it comes to new laws and regulations. We can only all pray that physical wars don’t erupt between nations because of increased global fractionalization but one big challenge is going to be wars fought through regulations on business. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
This is fascinating, because it has long been my belief that the future can be seen, indeed, must be seen, from varying perspectives due to the fact that every change from present to future will be eventually be observed by a wide variety of individuals specializing in a wide variety of subjects. Just as a military historian can correctly anticipate that a NATO-supported Ukraine will lose a war with Russia, or that the Japan-USA historical analogy applies to a future USA-China naval war, an astute business consultant can perceive a shift in the qualitative nature of the coming executive class in the international business community and extrapolate successfully from that change.
If one is extrapolating successfully – and only time can confirm that – then the predictions in one area will necessarily line up with the predictions from another area. Think of it as transdomain futurology.