Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists

Events

Keeping your Future, grounded to Reality

Tuesday 19 November 2013

About once a week I get a call from a client or a media group asking if I can tell them what the future will be like. The conversation usually goes something like this - Me: can I ask what you're trying to discover? Journalist: Oh you know, something really catchy, about how the world is changing and how we're all struggling to keep up, that sort of thing'; Me: Is your audience interested in knowing how to check whether their assessment of the future is grounded in reality, or what they can do to make it reality?'; Journalist 'Um, I guess but I was really after a few interesting facts...'. With the client calls the request can often be couched in a need for a 'prediction' of the future. The challenge is over the difference between a theoretical future and a strategic future.

With a Theoretical future, you get the big, exciting, techno frenzy world where everything is really cool, or disastrously bad. Journalists are ringing for a view of the future, they're ringing to get you to do the creative thinking they couldn't be bothered doing. With clients though, it's more down to a misunderstanding between the difference of the theoretical future v Strategic Future approach.

The Strategic Future is about keeping your assessment in contact with the actions you are going to take tomorrow, to make the future you envisage more (or less) likely. It requires a different tool kit and a need for the Project team to be open to an answer they weren't expecting.

A case study of sorts involves one client I worked with across a four year period. From the outset they told us what answer they were looking for. From the outset I kept saying 'let's see what the research uncovers'. In the end we identified three core opportunities for them. One was well outside what they expected and it was the single biggest opportunity that existed - it STILL exists a couple of years later, as an untapped one. The second was an opportunity that was the OPPOSITE of what their other internal research (from HQ overseas) had advised. In looking at much of the same data but adding one extra filter, we exposed the mythology. What was proposed was a theoretical future idea but in order for that to be a plausible one, almost all competitors would need to have vacated the market. The final one, and one they acted on, led to them NOT pursuing an idea that was well underway. It saved them any, many millions of dollars chasing a pipe-dream.

Strategic Futures is about taking action toward the world you want to create. It doesn't offer a guarantee, yet through testing your views of the future, you can make a much wiser decision. Theoretical futures are often entertaining and eye opening. They just don;t lead to much change in behaviour. That's why I don't do them - I prefer working with people who want to make it happen, not just dream about what might happen. Journalists, please keep that in miond next time you call :-)


See more events...

Keep informed - Sign up

Look ahead for your business - sign up for your exclusive updates.
name

email address

Events

When it comes to decision making 'Bias' can be friend or foe
Sunday 20 May 2018
McKinsey's interview with Richard Thaler on 'debiasing the corporation' is a really good one. I've spent the best part of two decades trying to help organisations unpack their biases through the use of foresight. I recommend this article to you
Read more...
Disaster Ahead for the People of Ipswich
Monday 23 April 2018
As the Ipswich Council has determined that recycling schemes are too expensive and indicates it will end collections, the question is 'what happens next'? If result of the explosion in Tip fees by Councils around Australia is anything to go by, what happens next will not be good
Read more...
Using Foresight Thinking to Enhance the Productivity of Nations
Friday 9 March 2018
As Nations look to develop their understanding of Productivity and more effective planning, National Productivity Councils are often the first point of call for Governments looking for ideas. The Asia Productivity Organisation has been running since 1961 helping its member countries develop more effective approaches. I've just spent a week in Tokyo helping a group of them think about the future
Read more...