I've come across two excellent trend documents recently. While the publications will be of special interest to nonprofits focusing on education, both resources will be useful to a broader audience of nonprofit leaders engaged in strategic thinking and planning. The resources are noteworthy because of the content they offer; they are also noteworthy because of the formats used to make the information more accessible and usable. These formats can be used to better organize trend data that you are gathering for your own strategic planning efforts.
The first resource is the book Sixteen Trends, Their Profound Impact on Our Future by Gary Marx. The author highlights a number of key trends, and then shows how each will influence educational policy in the future. Each chapter focuses on one major trend: there is a summary of the trend, implications for society as a whole and education in particular, and then a listing of questions and activities to stimulate further thought discussion and action.
The second resource is the Education Map of the Decade, created by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation to examine the forces affecting education and the economy. The map includes three key elements: trends, which represent major shifts, new developments and concepts and the driving forces that will shape the future of education; hot spots -- trends that the KnowledgeWorks Foundation thinks will have broad impact on education, and dilemmas -- problems that can't be solved and won't go away which require new thinking and new solutions. This map is more than a trend document -- it has to be experienced online. You'll find tutorials on the use of the map, discussion boards, links to additional resources and much more. This interactive website is a powerful example of how good information -- an essential ingredient of effective strategic planning -- can be gathered, organized and presented in user friendly ways.