NaiMind 07-01-04



John Naisbitt

HarperCollins, 2006, 281 pp., ISBN 0-06-113688-3



Everyone has a mental picture of the world.  It comes largely by extrapolating what they see in their own piece of the world through their own grid or mind set.  The international best-selling author of Megatrends is a compulsive traveler, a sponge for information, and a voracious reader of newspapers.  He has examined his own mental filters, the rules that help him recognize trends.  He also includes a few major trends, including the impact of the visual culture, the growing power of economic domains over nation-states, the growth of China, the decline of Europe, and the future of innovation in this century.


Here are the 11 mind sets he describes:

1.      While many things change, most things remain constant.

2.      The future is imbedded in the present.

3.      Focus on the score of the game.

4.      Understanding how powerful it is not to have to be right.

5.      See the future as a picture puzzle.

6.      Don’t get so far ahead of the parade that people don’t know you’re in it.

7.      Resistance to change falls if benefits are real.

8.      Things that we expect to happen always happen more slowly.

9.      You don’t get results by solving problems but by exploiting opportunities.

10.   Don’t add unless you subtract.

11.   Don’t forget the ecology of technology.


Some mindsets that were not included in the book:

1.      Look at what is rewarded and what is punished.

2.      A proposition doesn’t have to be true; it just has to be interesting – a good way to stimulate thought.

3.      To appraise the viability of a society or a company, examine its ability to be self-correcting.  (94)


“I match and measure information against my own experience, using my values and mindsets.  And so does everybody else.” (xvii)  “My pictures of the future…are based on an analysis of the present…” (xx)


“A common purpose of the 11 Mindsets in this book is to…focus on the things that have and will have the strongest influence on our lives.” “Differentiate between basics and embellishment, rules and techniques, trends and fads, breakthroughs and refinements.” (10)


“Most change is not in what we do, but how we do it.  Within all the hype, the more we are able to differentiate between constants and change, the more effectively we will be able to react to new markets and profit from change.” (5)


“Core values in a visionary company form a rock-solid foundation and do not drift with the trends and fashions of the day.” (8, quoting Collins in Built to Last.)


“My bottom line is that ‘the only certainty in business is change’ is just not true.” (9)


“…we, focusing too far out into the future, can stumble over what is right in front of us.” (11-12) 


“Only an objective and unbiased study of the present can reveal the future.”  “It is not saying that the future will be little more than an extension of things as they are.  It is saying that we find the seeds of the future on the ground, and not in the width of the sky.” (13)  If you lose perspective, fads can block your view. (14)


“Basic change is the result of a confluence of forces, rarely because of just one force….” (17)


“Newspapers are our great collaborators.  They are not only the first draft of history but the first to give us a glimpse of the future….” (20)


The reality is in the objective measurements, not the grand pronouncements.  Consider population rates, employment rates, growth rates, reforms being implemented, etc.  (22) Companies do not perform better because of the rhetoric of their CEOs. (32)


“In business, politics, or private life, the gap between words and facts widen when personal pride is involved.  Often it’s not the promises made but the problems hidden.” (24)


In politics, “…exaggerating problems without any real idea of the score of the game distorts society’s priorities and makes it hard for citizens and leaders to make the best decisions.” “Environmentalists routinely exaggerate problems so as to alarm people and get support for their agenda.” [He gives examples.] (28)


More people die from falling coconuts than from shark attacks [He gives statistics.] but did you ever hear about it happening on the news? (29)


“It is in the nature of human beings to bend information in the direction of desired conclusions.” (31)


“If you have to be right, you put yourself in a hedged lane, but once you experience the power of not having to be right, you will feel like you are walking across open fields, the perspective wide and your feet free to take any turn.” (39)


“Sequence is the enemy of making connections.”  “Look at the future as a puzzle.”  Explore by trying to make connections between things that don’t seem, on the surface, to fit. (41)  This is an intuitive process.  Breakthroughs break old mindsets.  Geniuses often connect details that others see but don’t connect. “42)


“…the daily challenge in business and politics lies not only in the fundamental skills of leadership but also in the necessity to stay within the field of vision of those you want to lead.” (53)


Regarding Change

“You don’t bend down unless something is worth picking up.” 


“It is the responsibility of those who lead to communicate the benefits of change.”  “It is not their responsibility ‘to get it.’  They are not the ones asking for change, and they will not support it unless they truly believe they will benefit.” 


“Do not underestimate people.  When they resist change—change you think they ought to readily embrace—you have either failed to make benefits transparent or there are good reasons to resist.” (62)


“Expectations always travel at higher speeds.”  With inventions, we continually underestimate the time span required from idea to…realization.”  “…almost all change is evolutionary, not revolutionary.  Things just take time—almost always more time than we expect.” (76)


“Windows of opportunity are often blown open and closed again like windows in a storm.  You have to be ready to grasp them.” (82) 


“Big companies with little flexibility are on the side of the losers.”  (83)


“The problem of a declining market for a product can’t be fixed by improvements to an already obsolete technology.” (83)


“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they don’t find them, they create them.” (91, quoting George Bernard Shaw)


“Times of change are times of opportunity.  When the relationships of people and things are shifting, new juxtapositions creating new needs and desires offer new possibilities.  Keep your eye on those who grab openings and do something with them.” (92)


 “In Australia short-term benefits (from introducing rabbits) were wiped out by long-term damage.  What is true in nature applies to technology.”  “…the accelerated rate of the technological change has been so great that the social accommodation to new technology has lagged further and further behind.” (101)


“…the consequences of our relationships with technology are not given much consideration.  It is our most unexamined relationship.  With the advent of a new technology, questions need to be asked:

       What will be enhanced?

       What will be diminished?

       What will be replaced? (101)


“The cry for a computer in every classroom has been with us for a couple of decades.  But have we examined what a computer is going to contribute to the real purpose of education?” “What is happening today in America is that most of the energy and money are going to the computer, many times at the expense of poetry, art, music, and the rest of the humanities.” (103)


“I say get rid of voice answering systems immediately.  They are offending customers and putting them in telephone hell.”  “I urge any CEO whose company has a voice answering system to call his company and see whether he can get through to himself.” (105)


“Technology is a great enabler, but only when in balance with needs and skills and our human nature.” (109)


Culture – A visual Culture is Taking Over the World

“It is an MTV world, a world where visual narrative is overwhelming literary narrative.” (113)  “Our literacy, and with it our verbal and communication skills, are in decline.” (115)  “As more Americans lose this capability, our nation becomes less informed, active, and independent minded.  These are not qualities that a free, innovative, or productive society can afford to loose [sic].” (117)


“If you can combine powerful technology with the fantasy of a six-year-old, you can create miracles.” (124) 


“Design has emerged as one of the world’s most powerful forces….” (126)


“MTV has contributed mightily to the shift to a global visual culture.” (139)


“…video gaming has become the major cultural activity of the generation 30 or 35 and below, the way movies and literature were for earlier generations.” (140)


Economics – From Nation-States to Economic Domains

“The economic borderlines of our world will not be drawn between countries, but around Economic Domains.” (157)  “Economics will continue to overwhelm politics in the running of the global economy, and the impact of the global economy on our lives if far greater than the rhetoric of politics.” (180)


“The winner is smart, small, flexible.” (168) 


China – The Periphery is the Center

“There are no Communists in China anymore, and the evolution of a modern China will in time lead to political reforms.” (186) 


China has certainly become the ‘workshop of the world’….”  “We will also see China developing technologies and creating new ones.”  China over time will become one of the design centers of the world….”  (188)


China’s newly revised 2004 per capita GDP still ranks lower than one hundredth in the world.”  (188)  China continues to grow extraordinarily at almost 10 percent a year….  That means its economy is doubling every seven and a half years.” (190)


China has 166 cities with populations of more than 1 million….” (191)  “Almost all of these cities have been turned into vast construction zones.” (192)    “Globalizing as much as decentralizing, they are escaping the control of the central government in Beijing.” (193) 


Europe – Mutually Assured Decline

“Economically, Europe is on the path of mutually assured decline.” (213)


“Forming the European Union was a sea change, the greatest geopolitical change in the history of the world,” (214)


“Endless political discussions are not about how to exploit the new opportunities… but about how to maintain the welfare state that now yields slow growth and unemployment.” (215)


“The European Model…is not just an economic model.  It’s a mindset, a way of life, a worldview….” (219)


Europe’s birth rate is only 1.4….  It takes an average of 2.1 children just to sustain a population at a constant level.  …in just two generations, Europe will have half the population it has today.” (221)


“…change comes when there is a confluence of changing values and economic necessity.  The economic necessity seems clear in Europe, but Europe does not seem to change even when benefits are obvious.” (222)


“Only entrepreneurs, bottom-up, can create new companies and real jobs.” (222) 


“It has become fashionable to say that America is a unilateralist, that America just does what it wants to do….”  “Americans don’t like doing business by committee.”  “And, as Robert Kagan says: ‘Those who cannot act unilaterally themselves naturally want to have a mechanism for controlling those who can… For Europeans, the U.N. Security Council is a substitute for the power they lack.’” (228)


“…to quote Kagan again, ‘Europeans simply enjoy the ‘free ride’ they have gotten under the American security umbrella over the past six decades.  Given America’s willingness to spend so much money protecting them, Europeans would rather spend their own money on social welfare programs, long vacations, and shorter workweeks.’  So, Americans are cowboys, and Europeans are freeloaders.” (229)


The big hurdles for Europe: high taxes and big governments, less innovation, slow productivity growth, restrictive labor laws, and declining export market share and rising protectionism. (229-30)  “It is Europeans and European politics that are shaping Europe’s future.” (231)


Our Evolutionary Era – Reservoir of Innovation

“The next half of this century will be an era of absorbing, extending, and perfecting those great breakthroughs [of the last years of the 20th].”  The next Big Thing will not come anytime soon. (233)  “The 1980s and 1990s were two great decades of revolutionary advancement.” (243)


“Germline engineering—where changes are made in the genetic codes that are passed on generation to generation—will overwhelm the importance of all previous technologies.  But it will also include the danger of catapulting the human race into an undreamed future.”  “Once the first step is made, we will be on a path of no return.”  (248)


“What scientists will not have is the key to our souls, our spiritual nature, which we will therefore cling to and obsess about.” (248)


“Whatever the future holds, it will be worth nothing if there is no joy.” (249)



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