What's to come in the evolution of the practice of strategy
A few years ago, I wrote an essay about what will shape future strategists. I’ve revisited the essay and revised it to widen the aperture to include a wider set of strategists.
Strategists evolve, shaped by the times they live in, prisoners of the problems of the day. And so, as the world constantly changes, so must strategists. So what will mold future strategists?
The task is to see what future challenges might be on the horizon, and then connect them to the characteristics it will take to succeed. This essay thinks to Generation Z, first born in the mid-1990s and running through the 2010s. I was born at the tail end of Generation X, so Gen Z is the generation of my two daughters, so I have a personal stake in contemplating their futures. Gen Z’s first strategists will enter positions of strategic service (i.e., high-level staff positions) about 2030 and by 2050 they will occupy the entirety of key strategic decision-making positions if the past is any guide. What follows are five characteristics that will differentiate them from today’s strategists, each tied to tidal trends in the strategic environment that will most likely drive the next several decades.
1. Global. This is the easiest to gauge. The world is getting smaller all the time. Businesses are mostly geo-agnostic. When it comes to war, all major American allies are in demographic decline, which over time will force countries to share the burdens of military expenditure. It’s one thing to not want to spend blood or treasure, it’s another thing to not have enough young people to spend. In turn, this will mean more multinational operations, overseas assignments, and international engagement. Strategists will depend more on peers in other countries.