Ready for the Next K-Wave

Of all the ‘wonderful’ b-school learnings, one of my theory favourites was undoubtedly the Kondratiev wave.

He was a Russian who a hundred years ago suggested global economic development progressed in long-term cycles. Lasting around half-a-century in time, give or take a decade. Each split into four sections, often labelled after nature’s seasons.

There is also an intriguing tangent mapping a prospect plan with these. Similar to matching the classic ‘product life cycle’ graph. Making Spring/Summer-Growth/Maturity as long and appealing as possible through you.

Anyway, despite much ‘conventional’ scepticism, his theory has since proved eerily robust. The three waves between the Industrial Revolution and when he wrote matching the format of the two since.

Until now?

You see, one critical aspect of his waves are what marks transition coming from one to the next.

War.

Chaos wrought clears the ground. But Winter gives way to Spring. When new innovations, crucially alongside hitherto unexploited connections between existing ones, cause (to quote a currently polarising presence), “a tremendous bounce”.

Most observers considered that the 2008 GFC (Global Financial Crisis) was the fifth waves’ ‘war’.

Do we now recognise that (ie, the Great Recession from its credit crunch that prefaced a decade-long flatline) was but a mere wobble?

Is the actual war really the one we’re in right now? Against the coronavirus..?

If, like me, you sense that to be potentially accurate, then it has big implications. For all commerce. Especially for those who hope to sell once this huge, deep, sharp yet with any luck short shock has ‘blown through’.

K-Wave Six – if that is what we shall indeed imminently ride – is not about a singular shift. I sense it is misleading to think because there’s a rush to label each ‘supercycle’ with a particular technology (from the steam engine to ‘I.T.’), the coming upwave will be similarly anchored.

From The World Economic Forum of Davos One-Percenters’ 4th Industrial Revolution prophesy of AI and robotics disruption, to those sponsoring the green energy climate change need, there’s no shortage of banners. One oft-cited Waver earned garlands for saying back end of last century the 6th Wave would be defined as a ‘health cycle’, encompassing biotech.

The impact on selling is already being felt.

Proponents suggest technical innovations propel economic expansion. How many companies (or sectors, the early fancied including automation, biomed and workplace wellbeing) majoring in the pursuit of this are target accounts of yours? Or at the very least, those that provide the ‘picks and shovels’ for them?

Such winning advancements are accompanied by managerial innovation too.

The fresh coupling of the technological and social already evident. Video conferencing and remote working got a huge boost in the mainstream psyche early on. Going well beyond the mere telephone call with a portrait talking. Are you ready for how this could become a staple? Not just for one-on-ones, but screenfulls of participants? With all its attendant different involvement, presentation and closing requirements?

Remember too, once through, pretty much every sector will get touched by impending change. Started to think about yours…?

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