The Next Big Things

Next Big Things

The Next Twenty Years in Local Government

“The future doesn’t just happen to us.  The future passes through us.”

- Karen Thoreson, Former President, Alliance for Innovation

What are the Next Big Things Facing Local Government? The Alliance Board of Directors set out on a journey one year ago to answer this question. Partnering with Rebecca Ryan, we challenged ourselves to look beyond the horizon at what we can see, and imagine our communities one generation from now. The Next Big Things highlights 44 trends in four categories - Resources, Technology, Demographics, and Governance - that could impact how local government operates in the next generation. And it equips you with tools to be a FUTURE READY COMMUNITY!


The premium version of the Next Big Things report includes additional resources for scenario and action planning and can be used with varied teams and groups (organization, electeds, community members, etc).  This report is FREE for Alliance members, and $149 for non-members.  Please contact us at or call 888.496.0944 to obtain the premium report. 


The Process

A Delphi Panel, comprised of representatives from the private sector, nonprofit professionals, city and county leaders, and university scholars, helped jump start the project, focusing on what communities need to be paying attention to now that might impact the next twenty years. An exhaustive literature scan was conducted to determine what else was being written and studied regarding the future of local government. Then, a team of experienced and emerging local government leaders worked alongside international architects, futurists, and innovators to develop scenarios for the future of communities. 

What's Included in The Next Big Things?

Using the Four Forces model developed by Cecily Sommers, we organized and prioritized four forces and 44 trends impacting communities in the next twenty years. In priority order the Four Forces are:

  1. Resources
  2. Technology
  3. Demographics
  4. Governance

The report provides detailed information on the Four Forces and 44 Trends, a summary of four plausible scenarios for communities, basic, intermediate, and transformative solutions you can consider, along with tools to put The Next Big Things to work in your community. 

Take Action and Share!

The premium version of The Next Big Things includes activities to assist you in becoming future ready. Free to Alliance Members and available for $149 to nonmembers, the activities include:

  • The Big Sort
  • Designing Community Scenarios
  • Foresight Workshop Toolkit

As the people and organizations preparing our communities for the future, we want to hear from you! How are you using The Next Big Things? What trends do you see on your horizon? There are several ways you can stay connected with others putting these resources and tools to work:

  1. Tweet with us @transformgov using #NBT.
  2. Share The Next Big Things with others in your community.
  3. Consider joining The Next Big Things Consortium (open to Alliance members only).
  4. Email us at with your questions and comments.