This post was first published on Pete Laburn’s blog in Dec 2010

10 years ago, futurists were saying that ‘In five to ten years 80% percent of of what drives the world will be driven by continuations, 15% of what we have will be driven by cycles and 5% will be driven by novelty.’

By continuations, I mean the continuations of trends, what we experience and what we perceive and know today. By cycles I am referring to global economics, weather patterns and socio economics. And by novelty I mean things that are completely new and we haven’t thought about yet.

A decade later, Jim Dator from the Futures Department at the University of Hawaii suggests that the futurists of 2010 have completely turned around their five to ten year predictions. He says that current thinking is that ‘In five to ten years 5% of what drives the world will be driven by continuations, 15% of what we have will be drive by cycles and 80% will be driven by novelty.’

I believe that most boards of companies today are looking at their strategic risks in the continuation zone rather than the novelty zone. ‘Risk committees’ are too focused on identifying the risks in their current operating environment, rather that seeking to understand the risks within the world they are hurtling towards – the novelty that is coming their way.

In order to anticipate this novelty effective organisations will need to focus on creative innovation and flexibility. The current nature of risk committees is not styled towards creative entrepreneurship but rather towards sustaining traditional management and business values.

With 80% of our future driven by novelty, the biggest risk we will face is being ill prepared to seize the opportunities on offer because we are stuck in old legacy thinking, strategic focus and operating mindsets.

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