Last week, I shared “21 Predictions for the year 2123” (Watch here).
Today, we go behind the scenes and discover the two tools I used to select these scenarios, as we learn to think like a futurist. I’ll show you the importance of a framework for horizon scanning, and then, if you’re a member of my Futures Club, you’ll see how to take the list of trends and disruptive forces and apply the Impact vs Probability matrix together with High Road/Low Road filters to produce scenarios that will help your team prepare for the future.
You sign up for the Futures Club and get the full video here.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to predict the future, to know what would happen sometime tomorrow, next week, or next year? If we could do that, we’d be bazillionaires and we’d rule the world. What a superpower that would be. Of course, it’s impossible. But what we do as futurists is develop a toolkit that will help us to do a better job than just guessing about what might happen in the future. We call it strategic thinking, we call it scenario planning, we call it forecasting, we call it foresight. Whatever language you use, welcome to Throw Forward Thursday, where you’ll learn how to think like a futurist.
My name is Graeme Codrington, and last week was our 100th episode, and I took 21 minutes to look at 21, I called them predictions, but they’re 21 scenarios for the year 2123. I hope you see the theme I chose there. And what I want to do this week is to take you behind the scenes and show you why? How? did we choose the 21 specific scenarios that we did and what is it that we did in order to come up with some of those scenarios?
So, if you haven’t watched the video from last week, here’s a link, it will be obviously in the playlist, and I will also put a direct link into the show notes, whichever platform you’re watching this video on. If you’re listening on the podcast, I highly recommend that you watch the video of last week’s 100th episode.
But now let us have a look at how we made the choice of those 21 predictions, and there are two things I want to talk about here.
The first is a model that we use at TomorrowToday Global, we call it the tides model of disruptive change. This is not rocket science, but it’s similar to a pest or a pestle analysis, which I’m sure you’ve done before. Whenever you do strategic planning, you have to look at some of the key factors that might shape the future. And so, it’s politics and economics and societal change and technology shifts and so on.
What we did many years ago, probably 15 years ago now, is we specifically asked ourselves as a team, where does disruption come from? What are the major forces causing disruption in the world? And we saw five big categories. This is always our starting point and our reference. We start with technology, we’re a technology driven era and age, and we look for technologies, not just technologies that are emerging, not just a new technology that jumps out or a company that launches a new product, but we look for technologies that disrupt the rules of the game.
And that leads us to the “I”, the institutional change, which has got to do with both politics and economics, but it’s more about systems and structures. And what we’re particularly interested in, is when the rules of the game change, and often that’s when a lot of noise is created in the media. What tends to happen if you know ‘The Gartner hype cycle model’ is that initially there’s a whole lot of hype, and all the tech nerds and early adopters dive in and say, look at this thing, it’s remarkable. And then almost immediately after that, you get what in Gartner’s model they call the trough of despair or something like that, a little bit dramatic, but it’s basically everybody’s saying, well, this isn’t as good as you say it is, and it’s not perfect yet, and there’s a whole lot of things it can’t do. And so, there’s a whole lot of doomsayers who say, this is nonsense, it’s rubbish, ignore it, of course, and this is going to be a theme in a second.
The truth is somewhere in between, and if it is just a fad, if it is just nonsense, it disappears quite quickly. And if you were one of the early adopters who got on it, say Google Glass, for example, you got on board early. I did, I was one of those nerds and then it didn’t kind of work out. Except of course, we could argue that it did work out, it just wasn’t public appeal and now augmented reality, extended reality glasses are taking what we learned from Google Glass and applying it elsewhere. But these things are adaptive, you got to keep up with them.
We look for technologies that change the rules of the game. The “D” in our model is demographics. That’s got to do with us asking who does this impact and how are the shifting demographics creating and destroying markets and opportunities and bringing threats.
The “E” stands for the environment, I think that goes without saying that you’ve got to be having a look at the ESG factors these days. And then finally, we think one of the smartest parts of our model is that we add in social values. Whatever technologies are coming, however they might impact the systems of the world, however many people are interested in them, and whatever the impact might be on the planet, do people want it?
A good example here is a few weeks ago I put out a video saying, maybe in the future we won’t be eating meat, or at least not meat that comes from live animals. We might have genetically generated meat. My comments went crazy, I literally had a death threat. It’s ridiculous, some people are overly dramatic about this stuff. But people culture war stuff really gets people energised because we haven’t just said, you’re not going to have that thing in the future. We’ve said, you’re going to have to change your way of life, which might impact somebody at a values level, whether that’s religion or culture or gender identity or whatever the case may be. And 15 years ago, we kind of added that to the model and we thought it was going to be important. It’s way more important than it’s ever been, you got to look at that culture war stuff as well.
So, the tides model, we’ve talked about this before. I’ll put some links to two specific episodes of Throw Forward Thursday from about eight or nine months ago in which we went even deeper into the Tides model. But that’s a real starting point. What you and your team need to be doing is making sure that you’ve got a model that works for you. Maybe Tides is that model? We think it’s a good one, but maybe you’ve got another one.
Whatever model, whatever framework you use, you need to use it regularly. It’s not something you use once a year, over and done, and we sort it. It’s something you need to sort of, it’s radars. I don’t know, what other analogy do you want? It’s spotlights shining at the horizon, and we’ve got five of them pointed at the horizon and we think we’ve pretty much got the whole horizon covered. So that when a new trend begins to emerge, we see it first. That’s what we’re trying to do. So have a model and use it regularly. I often talk about Five Minutes from the Future meetings once a week and the tides model gives you where to look.
But then once you’ve got a list of things, so what I did last week with my 21 things is I said, well look, Medicine is a huge space to have a look at, Energy is a huge space to look at. So, medicine comes out of the eye, the institutional shift to move from a sick care system to a health care system. And then what I go and do is I look for a few examples that will make that point. But the big choice last week was to show you that shift to preventative health care.
The energy piece was obviously coming out of the ESG. If I’m looking at the environment in the tides model, then what’s the biggest thing in the environment? I could have looked at climate change, I could have looked at the impact of warming oceans. There would have been a few choices. I didn’t have 21 hours. I only had 21 minutes., even then my team said it, I went too long. I then went to energy. I think if we solve the energy problem, that’s then at the root of all the other issues that solves a lot of our other issues. So that was that decision and then those are just some examples of how the tides model guided me.
The second thing then that you look at, and this comes out of scenario planning. And for those of you who are not members of my Futures Club, that is the end of the free video that we are giving you this week. What we’re going to look at for the members of the Futures Club is we’re going to have a look at how we develop scenarios, especially using the axes of what’s likely to happen and the impact that it could have. If you’re a member of the Futures Club, you can just log into your personal portal and you can get access to the rest of this video.
For those of you who are just getting the free version, I hope that the Tides model is a useful model for you, but if you want more detail, if you want to go into now what you do next with the scenario planning thing, well, sign up for the Futures Club, Here’s the link. It’s also in the show notes, whatever platform you are on, and you can get access right now, this very instant to the Futures Club, and keep watching the rest of this video.
It’s a money back guarantee of satisfaction because if you don’t like what you see in the Futures Club, if you don’t think it’s worth your while, we’ll give you your money back, no question asked. So go and check out the Futures Club and see which level of membership works best for you and for your budget. I hope there’s something for everybody.
Otherwise, I will see you again next week in the Throw Forward Thursday studio as we look once again at how we can see the future and make sense of it today.
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Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change. Chat to us about booking Graeme to help you Re-Imagine and upgrade your thinking to identify the emerging opportunities in your industry.
For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.