I have recently realized that most startups are still in innovation-as-usual mode. Day in, and day out, they keep on trucking with technology, apps, business services, consumer platforms, and new business models as if it was 2018.
That's cute. How many of them are aware we've entered an irreversible 2008 moment, where most of the market paradigms we take for granted are violently shifting away from the last decade's normality? Better question: How many are taking advantage of this sweeping international reconfiguration of reality as we know it? So fucking few.
Granted, I'm usually not a fan of the vanilla insights of McKinsey; for once, I'd recommend everyone reads the bloody memo.
The bullet points are:
- World order is going multipolar; the economy will not be so global, multi-regionalism and diverging ideologies are rising to change production and trade all across the board.
- Technology platforms and digitization are reaching saturation, and a few leapfrogs bets are on the table (from AI to bioengineering), but no one knows really, and the major economic engine of the last decade is coming to a halt.
- Demographic forces are transitioning from a young to an aging world with tremendous implications on public spending, inequalities challenging the social fabric, and vastly different consumption needs.
- Resource and energy systems are at a plateau, victims of both chronic underinvestments, geopolitical disruption, and climate change starting to hit us in the face (my words).
- Capitalization and forever economic growth will no longer be sustained; the century-old OECD supremacy is fading, giving way to an "Asian century."
This memo is not about design fiction or fancy prospective. It's the memo McKinsey is now sending to the industry laggards. We are right in the middle of a new 2008 moment where the world is reconfiguring for the next decade(s). And yet so few startups are rushing in and seizing the opportunities that are always seeded with such global chaos.
This is shocking to me, and I'm not sure if we need to blame the normalization of innovation (Everyone is an entrepreneur? My #ss!), the spread of lame acceleration programs, or simply how much risk-averse venture capital has become (and yes, that should be an oxymoron) but here we are.
So please, pretty please, some of you read the memo.