I am often asked after a presentation on future trends how an individual working in a company can keep track of all the changes coming our way at the moment. This is what our team at TomorrowToday Global do for a living, and we have full-time support, so it’s understandable that it might feel a bit overwhelming to someone who has a full-time job, deadlines and a boss who doesn’t want to give them time to “just think”.
The good news is that there are many things we can all do to turn on our radars, and keep an eye on the horizon of our industries. We’re actually in the process of finalising a 24 part video programme that will go into detail on this – more information will be available later this month.
For now, have a look at this 6 minute video for an overview of a few things you and your team can start doing today to ensure you’re tracking future trends more effectively:
TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO (automated by YouTube):
Thinking like a futurist is not something that somebody in some department needs to do, or something you do once a year at at some off-site meeting. This is a skill that every single leader, every single manager in every single industry needs to learn and apply on a daily basis.
Thinking like a futurist is a skill that’s going to help your organization to be able to guide themselves through uncertain times, deal with turbulence, manage complexity. So how do we do that? Obviously you can go to a three-year university course on futurism and learning how to do this. But just a very few steps that you can start today: the first thing is that you
need to select what it is you going to be looking for – you need a framework.
There are frameworks that exist already, like the classic PEST or PESTEL analysis that looks at politics, economics, social changes, technology, legal issues and the environment. But there are others as well. At TomorrowToday we use a model called the TIDES of change – this is specifically looking at disruptive change and the forces that are causing deep structural change in the world.
TIDES stands for Technology; institutional change – that’s got to do with the rules for success and failure; demographics; environment and ethical issues; and the S for shifting social values.
Whatever you choose, don’t look at more than seven categories. Don’t do less than three. Choose the issues that you want to deal with – these are going to be issues that affect your industry; issues that you know in your gut are causing deep
changes in your environment.
The second step involves reticular activation – this is what happens when you think of something and then see it everywhere. If I say, for example, that today you will see a red car and for some reason that sticks in your mind, you will see any red cars on the road. You might think there are not many red cars on the road, but that’s because you haven’t been tuned into them – you haven’t been noticing them. Women who are pregnant or maybe even more so men whose wives fall pregnant suddenly see the world has been filled with pregnant women. This is because they are activated – their brains, their eyes are all turned into something. You have to get your self tuned in to the future trends you want to track.
We even suggest to our clients that you put big posters on the wall in your office as a daily reminder of what it is that you should be looking at.
Thirdly, get your whole team involved. This is not something just for you to do alone. If you’re going to track the model we use – the TIDES of change – give each one of those five forces to one person in your team. The technology piece to somebody who’s really into technology, for example, and going get to them to look at what’s happening in technology; what changes can they see and what impact will that have on your function, on your team, on your business. The whole thing you want to do then is make time for this – obviously this is something for you personally to do. This doesn’t happen in the bus, this doesn’t happen on your way home from work ,it can happen, but if you going to do it as part of your job – as a skill – you’ve got to make time for this. I’m not talking hours and hours every week. Put it into your diary – five minutes in the morning ,tracking trends. Look at different magazines. Look at different newspapers. Look at a different channel – the discovery channel on TV.
But also not only personally – make time for this with your teams. Put fifteen minutes into every team meeting to ask everybody around at the table: what have you seen recently that might cause change in our business?
It’s like gym. You don’t want to do this once a month – going to gym for six hours once a month is only going to damage you. You want to do it twenty or thirty minutes every day, or a half an hour every other day. However much you can fit in. And thinking like a futurist is exactly like that. Don’t leave it for your once-a-year conferences. Do it 10 minutes every week, every team meeting, every Monday morning, every Friday afternoon, just a few minutes on what’s changing, what does it mean for us.
This is a skill that can be developed – that must be developed.
The final thing that you need to do is make sure you capture your thoughts – these fleeting glimpses of the future can come
and go. Have a space in your office or white board, wiki, a blog – somewhere you just capture these thoughts no matter how small or a weak signals they might be. Keep them. Look at the picture that emerges over time and thinking like a futurist will become second nature and the skill that will take you not only far in your business and in your industry, but also in your career as well.
Think like a futurist – it definitely is worth it!