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Scenario planning and the future of education

Exhibit 1: Critical uncertainties for the future of work

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The Future of Work team collaborated with various stakeholders to create a list of critical uncertainties and suggested polarities (table 1-1).The categories that make up this list entail a number of questions, including the following:

• Does globalization continue unfettered, or do ideological, economic, or political forces drive toward a return to regionalization?

• Do people get to retire, or do they continue to work in order to retain a work identity or to fund a lifestyle, including healthcare? While demographics are more determinate in the ten-year horizon, this question becomes more uncertain at longer timeframes.

• Will decision making be ideological or pragmatic? This question may have a large impact on workforce and immigration policy, in that an ideological framework may shut certain classes of workers out of the economy or create less fluid immigration policy than local, regional, or national interests may dictate if examined in a rational, pragmatic way.

• Will the organization structure of the world be hierarchical or networked? Perhaps more pointedly, will the world recognize the networked aspects of work and create management practices, representations, and technology that explicitly manage through networks rather than hierarchies?

Polarity ACritical uncertaintiesPolarity B
SegmentedBlend of work and homePunctuated
Regional/localGeopolitical and social worldOpen/global
Rediscovered childhoodMulti-taskingOld Younger
Highly protectedIntellectual propertyOpen
ComponentIntellectual propertyDocument
Low adoption/human integrationSelf-organizing technologyHigh adoption/adaptive systems
Search/reactiveSelf-organizing technologyContext/proactive
More of the same?What’s after the InternetSemantic Web
Emerging marketsLocus of innovation, wages, and capabilitiesWestern-centric
Reused and reapplication/nostalgiaInvention vs. reapplicationInnovation and invention/vision
65Retirement ageNever
IdeologicalDecision makingPragmatic
Slow and managedPace of innovation and adoptionRapid and fast
DistributedPopulation and wealthConcentrated
NetworkedOrganization formHierarchical
Antagonistic/disruptivePopularity of the United StatesPopular/influential
TraditionalBusiness modelsEntrepreneurial
Local/personalData storageNetworked/personal
Specialized DevicesConverged