How To Spark Out of the Box Thinking and Sharing

Posted on 19 juli 2019


What do you consider normal? And what would you consider the new normal?

That’s the question Justien Marseille, futurist and public speaker and Punchy Packer, asks a crowd of ambitious young professionals who gathered at ABN Amro’s headquarters for the kick-off of the Frontrunner’s Challenge.

“You probably do not consider it to be normal to buy milk from a cow that’s standing in the middle of the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, do you? But you do find it normal to buy milk from the supermarket. 

However, there’s a fair chance that within a few years time, buying milk straight from a cow in a public park will be considered normal, as the interest in buying food locally is increasingly rapidly. 

For those who are afraid the food will go bad: there’s an app for that.

From weak signal to paradigm shift

Marseille researches possible futures, trends and scenarios. She examines how the future of money, work, media, food and other all encompassing themes will look. She has presented her views on numerous occasions, and is a popular speaker. 

At ABN Amro, she is challenging a crew of future intrapreneurs to look around with a different mindset and spot, as she calls it, paradigm shifts

She wants the group to identify weak signals. Or find indications that could be clustered together and identify a broader trend. 

Marseille: “Here’s an example: Airbnb started off as an innocent startup. It was the successor of, letting rooms to strangers as a way to make some extra money. At first this sort of transaction was considered weird. People wondered: ‘Why would you allow a stranger into your house?’. Fast forward to 2019: Airbnb is now a $25bn+ worth company offering more rooms than the Hilton group.”

Marseille frames this development a societal trend, enforced by economic and technical drivers of change. The crisis made it relevant to let spare rooms, while technology gave us insights into what was available.

“It’s no longer cool to own a car”

“We are moving towards a culture that is not ranked by property, but by how much you can share. It’s no longer ‘cool’ to own a large car. It’s cooler to share this large car with others, and reduce carbon emissions as a result.” 

She points out other societal trends that have appeared in previous years, or are appearing now. 

From scarcity to abundance

“We are at the stage that we’re moving from a scarcity culture, to a culture of abundance, thanks to technology. Take agriculture for instance: between 1940 and now the yield per harvest has multiplied five times. It is expected vertical farming will help double or triple this.”

She then challenges the group to think about weak signals within their topic of choice. The topics include deforestation, debt, fashion, reducing inequality and many more. “Use them to identify a potential paradigm shift. “Keep in the back of your head: that the innovation itself will not be the success, it’s the context that will feed the success.” 

Then the teams are instructed to discuss and cluster the findings into 5-7 trends that will influence their topics.

They enthusiastically get clustered and start sharing thoughts. You can feel and see the energy floating through the room. Marseille has sparked their imagination. Discussing out of the box-ideas, rather than fitting the box-ideas, seem to be the norm. 


Do you want to uncover your own future trends?

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