⏩ Future Normal: Fast Forward #13

Rising Stars; climate positive pledges; biodegradable vegan spider silk; Chief Heat Officers, and more...

Last week was exciting: I was at my first in-person events in over a year. It felt great. I felt alive in a way that virtual presentations don’t match. We are social beings, and the energy, spontaneity and depth of connection that happens when you gather in person hasn’t yet been matched online.

We focus so much on what the pandemic will change that we sometimes overlook that not everything will be different in The Future Normal, and nor should it be.

With that in mind, let’s get cracking with five recent glimpses of the future. What will change? What will stay the same?

Founders Forum Rising Stars: creating the future

🔮 #FutureNormal // I’m working on content strategy for Founders Forum, and as part of my role there I’ve spent the past few months working on bringing together some of today's most exciting entrepreneurs who are creating The Future Normal. These Rising Stars are working on everything from animal-free, to low-impact food to fast-charging, to high-powered batteries, to inclusive healthcare, to decentralized and private communications, and much more.

💡 So what? // Asking if a startup's solution works perfectly today is the wrong question. Instead, ask yourself how it will change people's expectations once they learn about what it can do for them. Because that's what you'll have to respond to.

The creator of the web Tim Berners Lee is auctioning his source code as an NFT

🔮 #FutureNormal // NFTs allow digital items to be verified as 'unique'. As a result, digital collectibles will become no different from any other collectibles, such as original manuscripts by famous authors. Skeptics remain but Tim Berners-Lee's embrace of the technology will help NFTs move out of the crypto-bro domain towards mainstream credibility.

💡 So what? // Yes, NFT prices in 2021 are in a bubble. But like all bubbles, they are fueled by deep human truths: the buyer of the web's original source code will get status, meaning and identity from their purchase.

Burberry promises to be climate positive by 2040

🔮 #FutureNormal // Another day another pledge. Like IKEA before it, Burberry has made an eye-catching commitment: to become climate positive throughout its extended supply chain (the brand claims it will be carbon neutral by 2022). As always, we hope Burberry is able to back up its science-based pledge with genuine action. Fortunately, green data will be ever-present in The Future Normal.

💡 So what? // Climate commitments are like free shipping. What starts as a headline-grabbing differentiator quickly becomes table stakes, as customers and employees question why any organization wouldn’t be climate positive?

‘Vegan spider silk’ provides sustainable alternative to single-use plastics

🔮 #FutureNormal // Confession time: this article lost me at ‘polysaccharides’ and ‘ultrasonication’. But despite that, we’re obsessed with novel bio-innovations like this vegan, biodegradable ‘spider silk’ because they offer a clear glimpse of The Future Normal where materials are more efficient to produce, easier to dispose of, and yet come with no trade-offs for the end-user. Now that’s progress!

💡 So what? // The biotech revolution is just beginning. Right now we’re in the period of excited exuberance, where it’s easier to focus on the promised benefits, as the unintended consequences haven’t yet become clear (remember how social media would lead to global democracy?). As well as the immense hype, there will be plenty of charlatans and flameouts. Don’t be one of them ;)

Miami appoints Chief Heat Officer to address climate impact

🔮 #FutureNormal // Here’s a job of the future for you: Chief Heat Officer. As the impacts of the climate crisis start to become more regular and more devastating, organizations will appoint leaders that can work across the silos that weaken their ability to respond effectively.

💡 So what? // People are strategy. You can tell a lot about an organization and its priorities by its org chart. As climate risk becomes a higher priority, expect the green job boom to echo the digital job boom of the past two decades.