JOHN DORIS NAISBITT on their and great­est cre­ation.

Bulletin - - Contents - By Si­mon Brun­ner (in­ter­view) and David Payr (pho­tos)

Mr. and Mrs. Naisbitt, you de­vel­oped the field of fu­ture stud­ies. How do you ex­plain to a child what a trend is?

We tell our grand­daugh­ters Leonie and CosiDORIS NAISBITT ma that trends are the di­rec­tion in which things are mov­ing. For ex­am­ple, not too long ago ev­ery­body used text mes­sages to com­mu­ni­cate. Text mes­sages were trendy. Then they were re­placed by new mes­sage ser­vices like Face­book Mes­sen­ger, What­sapp, Wechat, Snapchat and In­sta­gram. And you can add emo­jis to these mes­sages to show how you feel. In short, text mes­sages have fallen out of fash­ion and been re­placed by a new trend.

And when does a trend be­come a mega­trend?

When the trend in­volves, to take this ex­am­ple fur­ther, DN not just the in­di­vid­ual apps, but in­stead in­volves some­thing big­ger: a change in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. The in­ter­net en­ables us to use smart phones and new mes­sage ser­vices. You can stay in touch with mul­ti­ple friends at the same time, no mat­ter where you are or where they are. Trends come and go, but megatrends are de­vel­op­ments that change our en­vi­ron­ment and stay with us for a long time.

How did you come up with this con­cept?

At the end of the 1960s, I was work­ing for JOHN NAISBITT Pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son as a spe­cial as­sis­tant. Although I sup­ported his Civil Rights Act, which pro­vided le­gal equal­ity to African-amer­i­cans, I was against the Viet­nam War. I quit and started look­ing at what in­ter­ested me – the fu­ture of Amer­ica.

How did you go about do­ing this?

Those were dif­fi­cult times for Amer­ica – with mass JN vi­o­lence, ri­ots and loot­ing on a daily ba­sis. To get a pic­ture

of where my coun­try was headed I founded the Ur­ban Re­search Cor­po­ra­tion. We an­a­lyzed around 100 lo­cal and na­tional news­pa­pers: Read­ing those news­pa­pers was like look­ing at the pieces of a puz­zle, and we were try­ing to put the pieces to­gether cor­rectly.

What did you find?

That Amer­ica was in a re­struc­tur­ing process. The con­venJN tional was ob­so­lete and the new had not yet fully evolved. There was no vo­cab­u­lary for the tran­si­tional phase and, more im­por­tantly, the new world. I ended up with ten ma­jor pil­lars – the “megatrends” of the trans­for­ma­tion.

These in­cluded the shift from an in­dus­trial to an in­for­ma­tion so­ci­ety, and you also coined the term glob­al­iza­tion. How did you come up with the ground­break­ing ti­tle of your book?

We were near­ing the pub­li­ca­tion dead­line, but we JN still didn’t have a ti­tle. My ed­i­tor called me and said just one word: “Megatrends?” And I said: “Per­fect!”

You ad­di­tion­ally pop­u­lar­ized the field of fu­ture stud­ies. How has it de­vel­oped since then?

First, fu­ture stud­ies has ex­panded in an in­fla­tion­ary JN man­ner, with the ba­sic idea now di­luted. Megatrends, or “broad out­lines,” can only be an­tic­i­pated by study­ing the present global sit­u­a­tion and putting to­gether the small pieces to form the big­ger pic­ture. Megatrends by na­ture do not ap­pear ev­ery year, as con­sumer trends do.

And sec­ond?

In the 1980s, out­side-in views dom­i­nated. Peo­ple DN fo­cused on the chang­ing con­text, then they looked for a per­sonal con­nec­tion and de­vel­oped busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties from this. Now it is the ex­act op­po­site. Peo­ple are fo­cused on them­selves with an in­side-out view. The con­text is only rel­e­vant if it has short-term ben­e­fits. And megatrends will be ne­glected if they do not match up with pre­con­ceived no­tions, the de­sired think­ing or main­stream ideas.

John Naisbitt, 89, pub­lished his book “Megatrends” in 1982. It was pub­lished in more than 57 coun­tries, with 14 mil­lion copies sold. Naisbitt, a US ci­ti­zen, pop­u­lar­ized fu­ture re­search and the con­cept of glob­al­iza­tion. Prior to that, he worked for US Pres­i­dents John F. Kennedy and Lyn­don B. John­son. Doris Naisbitt, 66, is an au­thor (of seven books writ­ten to­gether with her hus­band, John) and teaches at var­i­ous Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties. The cou­ple lives in Aus­tria and China.

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