No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All The Trends by Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel, McKinsey&Company

In the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, one new force changed everything. Today our world is undergoing an even more dramatic transition due to the confluence of four fundamental disruptive forces—any of which would rank among the greatest changes the global economy has ever seen. Compared with the Industrial Revolution, we estimate that this change is happening ten times faster and at 300 times the scale, or roughly 3,000 times the impact. Although we all know that these disruptions are happening, most of us fail to comprehend their full magnitude and the second- and third-order effects that will result. Much as waves can amplify one another, these trends are gaining strength, magnitude, and influence as they interact with, coincide with, and feed upon one another. Together, these four fundamental disruptive trends are producing monumental change.

1. Beyond Shanghai: The age of urbanization

The first trend is the shifting of the locus of economic activity and dynamism to emerging markets like China and to cities within those markets. These emerging markets are going through simultaneous industrial and urban revolutions, shifting the center of the world economy east and south at a speed never before witnessed. As recently as 2000, 95 percent of the Fortune Global 500—the world’s largest international companies including Airbus, IBM, Nestlé, Shell, and The Coca-Cola Company, to name a few—were headquartered in developed economies. By 2025, when China will be home to more large companies than either the United States or Europe, we expect nearly half of the world’s large companies—defined as those with revenue of $1 billion or more—to be headquartered in emerging markets. “Over the years, people in our headquarters, in Frankfurt, started complaining to me, ‘We don’t see you much around here anymore,’” said Josef Ackermann, the former chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank. “Well, there was a reason why: growth has moved elsewhere—to Asia, Latin America, the Middle East.”

Perhaps equally important, the locus of economic activity is shifting within these markets. The global urban population has been rising by an average of 65 million people annually during the past three decades, the equivalent of adding seven Chicagos a year, every year. Nearly half of global GDP growth between 2010 and 2025 will come from 440 cities in emerging markets—95 percent of them small- and medium-size cities that many Western executives may not even have heard of and couldn’t point to on a map.1 Yes, Mumbai, Dubai, and Shanghai are familiar. But what about Hsinchu, in northern Taiwan? Brazil’s Santa Catarina state, halfway between São Paulo and the Uruguayan border? Or Tianjin, a city that lies around 120 kilometers southeast of Beijing? In 2010, we estimated that the GDP of Tianjin was around $130 billion, making it around the same size as Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. By 2025, we estimate that the GDP of Tianjin will be around $625 billion—approximately that of all of Sweden.

2. The tip of the iceberg: Accelerating technological change

The second disruptive force is the acceleration in the scope, scale, and economic impact of technology. Technology—from the printing press to the steam engine and the Internet—has always been a great force in overturning the status quo. The difference today is the sheer ubiquity of technology in our lives and the speed of change. It took more than 50 years after the telephone was invented until half of American homes had one. It took radio 38 years to attract 50 million listeners. But Facebook attracted 6 million users in its first year and that number multiplied 100 times over the next five years. China’s mobile text- and voice-messaging service WeChat has 300 million users, more than the entire adult population of the United States. Accelerated adoption invites accelerated innovation. In 2009, two years after the iPhone’s launch, developers had created around 150,000 applications. By 2014, that number had hit 1.2 million, and users had downloaded more than 75 billion total apps, more than ten for every person on the planet. As fast as innovation has multiplied and spread in recent years, it is poised to change and grow at an exponential speed beyond the power of human intuition to anticipate.

Processing power and connectivity are only part of the story. Their impact is multiplied by the concomitant data revolution, which places unprecedented amounts of information in the hands of consumers and businesses alike, and the proliferation of technology-enabled business models, from online retail platforms like Alibaba to car-hailing apps like Uber. Thanks to these mutually amplifying forces, more and more people will enjoy a golden age of gadgetry, of instant communication, and of apparently boundless information. Technology offers the promise of economic progress for billions in emerging economies at a speed that would have been unimaginable without the mobile Internet. Twenty years ago, less than 3 percent of the world’s population had a mobile phone; now two-thirds of the world’s population has one, and one-third of all humans are able to communicate on the Internet.2 Technology allows businesses such as WhatsApp to start and gain scale with stunning speed while using little capital. Entrepreneurs and start-ups now frequently enjoy advantages over large, established businesses. The furious pace of technological adoption and innovation is shortening the life cycle of companies and forcing executives to make decisions and commit resources much more quickly.

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No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends by Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel

No Ordinary Disruption – Description

Our intuition on how the world works could well be wrong. We are surprised when new competitors burst on the scene, or businesses protected by large and deep moats find their defenses easily breached, or vast new markets are conjured from nothing. Trend lines resemble saw-tooth mountain ridges.

The world not only feels different. The data tell us it is different. Based on years of research by the directors of the McKinsey Global Institute, No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends is a timely and important analysis of how we need to reset our intuition as a result of four forces colliding and transforming the global economy: the rise of emerging markets, the accelerating impact of technology on the natural forces of market competition, an aging world population, and accelerating flows of trade, capital and people.

Our intuitions formed during a uniquely benign period for the world economy—often termed the Great Moderation. Asset prices were rising, cost of capital was falling, labour and resources were abundant, and generation after generation was growing up more prosperous than their parents.

But the Great Moderation has gone. The cost of capital may rise. The price of everything from grain to steel may become more volatile. The world’s labor force could shrink. Individuals, particularly those with low job skills, are at risk of growing up poorer than their parents.

What sets No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends apart is depth of analysis combined with lively writing informed by surprising, memorable insights that enable us to quickly grasp the disruptive forces at work. For evidence of the shift to emerging markets, consider the startling fact that, by 2025, a single regional city in China—Tianjin—will have a GDP equal to that of the Sweden, of that, in the decades ahead, half of the world’s economic growth will come from 440 cities including Kumasi in Ghana or Santa Carina in Brazil that most executives today would be hard-pressed to locate on a map.

What we are now seeing is no ordinary disruption but the new facts of business life— facts that require executives and leaders at all levels to reset their operating assumptions and management intuition.

No Ordinary Disruption – Review

“Danger! Opportunity! In this snack from the business-class galley, three McKinsey Global Institute researchers serve up a view of a future that ‘presents difficult, often existential challenges to leaders of companies, organizations, cities, and countries.’… Libertarians may squall, but investors just beginning to look at emerging market trends may find value in this book.” –Kirkus Reviews

“An intriguing work for those interested in the business impacts of globalization.” –Library Journal

No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends is no ordinary management book. Everyone in and around business and technology has heard about disruption for awhile now, but the way Dobbs, Manyika and Woetzel dissect the phenomenon and give it meaning is truly new and exciting. They not only provide a prescient diagnosis of what’s to come, but also offer compelling thoughts on how we succeed in a world that’s moving faster and faster every day. The massive changes they describe can be overwhelming, but they do a remarkable job of inspiring us to confront them with intellect, humanity, and a profound optimism about our future.” – Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman

“A compelling and rigorous illustration of how the pace of change in the last two decades has grown by orders of magnitude. Leaders from all spheres must now face up to these developments, and change their old models and processes for decision-making to handle the massive increase in shorter term volatility — while still keeping their eyes on the longer term. Important reading for policy-makers, financiers, industrialists and NGOs interested in updating their worldview and making it fit for modern purpose.” – Andrew Mackenzie, CEO of BHP Billiton

“No one can know the future. But No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends takes a very good shot. By reading this book you can prepare for what the future will bring. Everyone with responsibility for a part of the future should carefully consider its analysis.” – Lawrence H. Summers, former Treasury Secretary

“The world is getting more connected, and thus more complex. New strategies are necessary for a networked age. No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends is an excellent primer in how to think strategically about the transformational role of technology and the accelerating global flows of goods, capital, and talent — and how to prepare yourself for a future that will be marked by relentless change and massive opportunity. I highly recommend this book.” – Reid Hoffman, co-founder/chairman of LinkedIn

About the Author

Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel are the directors of the McKinsey Global Institute, the business and economics arm of the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Richard Dobbs, based in London, has led research on global economic trends, including urbanization, resource markets, capital markets, lifestyle diseases, productivity, and growth. He is a coauthor of Value: The Four Cornerstones of Corporate Finance and has taught at the Said Business School at Oxford University.

Dr. James Manyika, based in Silicon Valley since 1994, has led research on the global economy, disruptive technologies, the digital economy, and productivity. He is the author of a book on robotics as well as technical and business articles. He was appointed by President Obama as the vice chair of the President’s Global Development Council. He is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and is on advisory boards at Harvard, UC Berkeley, and Oxford, where he was a research fellow.

Dr. Jonathan Woetzel, based in China since 1985, has led research on urbanization, the global economy, sustainability, and productivity. He also leads McKinsey’s Cities Special Initiative and is cochair of the Urban China Initiative. He has authored four books on China, most recently The One Hour China Book, and is an adjunct professor at the China-European International Business School.

No Ordinary Disruption

No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends by Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel