In last week’s ThrowForward Thursday episode we looked at one of the truly BAD days in history, 60 million years ago when a meteor hit Mexico and 75% of life on Earth was wiped out. Bad… that’s an understatement. We looked at NASA is doing to make sure that doesn’t happen while we are here. Watch that video here.
Imagining worst case scenarios is a key aspect of ‘Thinking Like a Futurist’, and in this episode, I show you three tools you can use to do this:
- Grey Elephants (by which we mean highly probable, high impact and yet ignored threats in the near future)
- Chaos Monkeys (a technique started at Netflix to test their systems)
- What if Wizards
This version of ThrowForward Thursday is a SAMPLE of the full episode. If you’re a member of Graeme Codrington’s Futures Club, please log into the Portal to see the full episode. If you enjoy this sample and want access to the full video and to all the other amazing resources in the Futures Club, then you can sign up here. It’s risk free – you can cancel anytime and get your money back.
Welcome to Throw Forward Thursday, my name is Graeme Codrington and join me as I show you how to not have a really bad day.
Last week, I told you the story of NASA’s Dart programme. If you haven’t watched that video, please make sure that you do. The link is in the show notes or the notes with this video. And this was the attempt by NASA to see if they would be able to use rocket technology to divert the course of an asteroid that might be heading to Earth. If we’re thinking about some of the worst days that this Earth has ever experienced, well, 60 million years ago, when a massive asteroid smashed into Mexico and 75% of all life was wiped out, that’s a pretty bad day.
And I want to pick up that theme today and talk about what you can do as a business, as a business leader, in order to make sure that you think about worst case scenarios, not in some morbid way that makes everybody depressed, but in a way that actually sets you up for success. And we’re going to talk about three things grey elephants, chaos, monkeys, and wizards.
This version of the video is just a sample teaser. Every second week, these Throw Forward videos are for the members of the Graeme Codington’s Futures Club, and if you are not yet a member, you can get access right away. Again, the link is in the Show Notes, or go to jointhefuturesclub.com. Jointhefuturesclub.com will get you instant access to the full version of this episode, but otherwise, enjoy the sample with us.
So let’s start by looking at grey elephants. What I mean by that is if we think about the phrase there’s an elephant in the corner of the room, what we’re talking about is something that should be fairly obvious, that you can’t really hide an elephant in the corner of the room, but nobody really talks about it and often even pretends that it’s not there. And in the language that we use at TomorrowToday, we refer to grey elephants as events that are likely to happen, fairly probable forces, trends, and events that are going to change the way that the world works, but they are largely being ignored by people at the moment.
And actually, next week in the Futures Club, I’m going to be interviewing my colleague, who is the leading force behind the research into the grey elephants. And we’ve identified seven grey elephants, Dean Van Leeuwen, my colleague, will take us into a little bit more detail about each of these, but we believe that at the moment, we don’t need to be looking 20, 30, or 40 years into the future. Fine, if you’ve got time and resources to do that, to do it. But right now, we are at such a significant, pivotal moment of change in the way that the world works, possibly even in human history, that at least these seven grey elephants are just sitting there.
So, an ageing population is one of them, where we know that the demographics of the world are changing. And it’s not just ageing, it’s the fact that people are getting married later, they are having children later, they are having fewer children and those children will do the same again. People are living longer, and people are also working longer. So, every part of our lives is being stretched out and that changes. There’s almost no industry that we can think of that isn’t impacted by that and almost no countries that wouldn’t have to change their policies significantly.
We’ve seen, for example, the change in the retirement age in France. America is pushing to change the retirement age as well. In France, they did what they often do when deep structural change happens, and that is they go and riot in the streets, but it was pushed through and we’ve now got to find a balance between the fact that people are going to live longer and we need to be able to fund a longer life with the fact that we also don’t want people to be working into their 80 s and 90s and that’s one of the other grey elephants which is an angry people. That people are angry, aren’t they? All around the world there are more people on strike now than they ever have been before, and that’s because people are upset about how the world is working at a deeper level. It’s because the systems are changing, and the old rules are no longer working.
And that’s one of the other grey elephants in terms of global inequality, between the wealthy people who have the power, whichever version of power they have, whether it’s capitalism or communism or socialism or something else, and people who realise they are completely powerless except for the fact that they exist, that they have a voice and they can demand change. Change is coming and the systems are going to shift.
We can of course also look at an angry planet in terms of looking at climate change and looking at pollution, looking at industries like plastics for example. We’re going to have to do something about plastic like we did with CFCs a few decades ago, rising sea levels and so on. Then, of course, we can use maybe that example to show that it’s not all doom and gloom because people are beginning to realise that there are massive opportunities in some of the damage that is being done to the environment at the moment.
In fact, there are over a trillion dollars that have been allocated by the world’s governments and big businesses towards solutions for climate change, especially energy solutions, which is kind of at the heart of all of it. Fix the energy problem. A lot of the other problems begin to be sorted out. So, if you come up with really great ideas in the space of green and clean energy and green and clean metals that go into those and batteries and EVs and alternatives to all of those. If you come up with really good ideas, there’s actually a hang of a lot of funding.
There are massive opportunities at the moment, and so the list goes on. We’ll talk to Dean next week and get more detail about those grey elephants and exactly what they mean and how we should be thinking about them.
But this is the first thing that we need to do. If you as a business do not want to have a really bad day, you need to be looking around at what are the big structural changes that are taking place that will change the rules for success and failure in your business. These are things that are not just sort of making progressive changes, making changes like increasing the speed or decreasing the costs or slightly expanding markets, but these are things where the rules, the underlying structures and systems are being shifted and changed. And in that environment, there are massive opportunities along with the threats. We refer to those as the Kairos moments, a Greek understanding of a moment of time.
The Kairos moment, which was this moment that came where things changed and those leaders who were ready for the change, who were ready to take advantage of the shifts, they got massive advantage and moved into the future and left everybody else behind. Kairos moments brought about by the grey elephants that at the moment, we are ignoring.
If you are not yet a member of my Futures Club, that is the end of your sample. I’m now going to talk to my Futures Club members about Chaos Monkeys and Wizards and why it’s important for us to think about what-if scenarios and how we would do that with our team. How that sets us up to not just deal with the worst day ever, but also sets us up for success and being ready to take advantage of those Kairos moments and opportunities that come our way.
Please have a look at the Futures Club. It is a monthly subscription fee that you need to pay. It’s a risk free subscription because if you don’t like what you see and the resources aren’t useful, we’ll just cancel your membership, no questions asked. There’s a variety of levels of membership, something to fit everybody’s budget.
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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.