Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

Industrial Research Looks Into the Future, and You Can Too!

A report out this month from IRI—one of a handful of associations that specialize in industrial research—presents a vision of the research-and-development industry 25 years from now. How is the future glimpsed, and how can you do it too? The process:

Step 1

Look at existing trends. In other words, what is the current thinking about the future?

Existing trends in R&D:

The reasons to work for large companies (job security, opportunities for advancement, health insurance) are rapidly diminishing; and it's getting increasingly easier to work remotely.

Step 2 & 3

Seek out "weak signals," or trends-to-be, and then extrapolate them into a vision of the future.

Weak signals in R&D:

Holograms could be important in remote work environments; more research could be conducted by machines; and certain people might opt out of connectivity entirely, hiding behind firewalls.

Step 3 &4

Assemble a scenario, then "backcast" to see what has to happen for us to get there.

Scenario for R&D:

Scientists make themselves available to companies on a freelance basis; and the most successful researchers become like Hollywood stars—the most in-demand and the best compensated for their services.

[llustration by Zine Police]

Add New Comment