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

Asia on the Rise - why Australia's Neighbours Will Leave us Behind
Wednesday 31 October 2018
The Asian Productivity Organisation has shifted gears from being a centre for member countries to talk about productivity, to one that now wants to upskills its member countries. We've just completed the first chunk of helping National Productivity secretariats to ready their staff for a more proactive, future facing approach to their Country's development
Read more...
10 years on from the Australia 2020 Futurists Summit
Friday 19 October 2018
The question is, 'how does the thinking inside this document stack up?' Turns out, pretty good. What we spotted and what problems we said we'd have to watch out for, are just about spot on
Read more...
BBC Article on the Future of work and the likely skills needed
Monday 15 October 2018
it’s OK not to know your career path when you leave university – sometimes that won’t emerge until much later down the track,” Barber says. “We should remind kids that the pathway they select to start off with is unlikely to be their final pathway,
Read more...