New blog for British Airways Business Life

 

Our CEO has written a blog for British Airways Business Life on the benefits of strategic foresight.  See:

http://businesslife.ba.com/News-and-Blogs/Business-Life-Blog/Patricia-Lustig.html

We can all use some foresight to improve decision making.

 

 

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Back to the Future Day – #BTTF

Today is the 21st of October 2015, the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrived in the future.  I remember seeing the film 26 years ago and thought it was wonderful then.  The film is a great example of how we just can’t predict the future.  While there were many things it got right (e.g. wearable tech, voice controlled television, flat screen television, smart glasses/Virtual reality glasses, video calls like Skype and computer controlled door locks), there were also many things it got wrong (e.g. flying cars, Mr Fusion energy converter powered by rubbish, pizza hydrators and everyone’s favourite, the hoverboard).  It also missed some important things like our ubiquitous smartphones… but then 1989 was the year that Tim Berners-Lee invented the worldwide web.

The point is that we can’t predict the future.  At best and by exploring several potential, probable futures, we can get some things right, like they did in the film.  But we will also undoubtedly get some things wrong, possibly because we missed a trend or we didn’t consider how two different trends might combine.  Strategic Foresight helps us get as much right as is possible by examining a range of possible futures and providing frameworks to minimise what we might miss.  It helps us to recognise when we are approaching one or another of the futures we’ve thought through.  And then we can execute the appropriate plan for that future giving us the best opportunity to thrive.

And I’d still love my own hoverboard….

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STRATEGIC FORESIGHT IS NOW AN ESSENTIAL PRACTICE FOR ALL BUSINESS LEADERS

Strategic Foresight Author Patricia Lustig Believes Business Leaders Put Their Business Futures at Risk through Lack of Future Due Diligence

LONDON, England – (12 October, 2015) – Future-thinking authority Patricia Lustig has published one of the most practical guides to foresight and foresight tools available today, enabling business leaders to conduct the process of due diligence on the future of their organisations.  Written for leaders, Strategic Foresight: Learning from the Future delivers practical processes, tools and techniques that turn foresight theory into practice, empowering organisations to create “hindsight” visibility for informed decision making and strategic direction setting.

“I believe that leaders in private sector companies are putting their futures at risk by not possessing the confidence, skills nor methodologies to engage in the process of assessing more than a single possible future,” said Lustig, author and CEO of LASA. “Leaders are no longer safe in assuming a single future scenario, as the slow moving linear world many leaders grew up in is changing so quickly there is no single guaranteed path to take. Only by undertaking the process of future due diligence can they truly envision a range of future scenarios, and my book gives leaders the practical skills and methodologies they need to create the fullest picture of all possible futures.  Strategic Foresight won’t turn them into psychics or fortune tellers, but into leaders who can guide their organisation forward by understanding the challenges and opportunities they may face, not just the ones they already know about.”

Published by Triarchy Press and available now, Strategic Foresight, cites real-world examples of good and bad foresight.   These include the recent disruption caused to established businesses in the taxi and hotel industries by start-up technology companies Uber and AirBnB and the recent woes of Tesco and their failure to spot the shift from mega-stores to convenience shopping.  These are both examples of where changes in the market were visible through foresight rather than hindsight.

Strategic Foresight is based on over 35 years’ experience with clients and is written to help CEOs and members of the senior management team work together to develop robust and stress-tested business strategies that will enable them to thrive in the future.” said Lustig.

The book has received praise from leading executives across Europe.  Sir David Brown, Engineer and Industrialist said, “A common boardroom feeling is that never before have we needed ‘more hindsight sooner’. Couple that with the increasingly common feeling that the tried and tested approaches to strategy formulation are no longer enough. They still work – as far as they go – but they need to be supplemented with additional tools for looking ahead further than has become the norm, and with more intellectual rigour. This book shows us a way of doing that.”

Strategic Foresight covers:

  • Future Thinking: How we think about the future, ambiguity and uncertainty.
  • Preferred thinking styles and “baggage” and values that form our perceptions.
  • Models, tools and maps required for developing strategic foresight and how this can used to inform decision-making, uncover innovation and develop creativity for competitive advantage.
  • How to identify emerging trends, what impact they may have on business, the strategic importance of early recognition and how to apply the knowledge.
  • Harnessing strategic foresight as a springboard for innovation and creativity to take advantage of the future.
  • Practical methods for exploring potential futures.
  • Case studies throughout to allow readers to “think along” with the ideas.

More information about the book can be found at www.triarchypress.net/foresight .

# # #

About the Author

Patricia Lustig is a widely-recognised practitioner in strategic foresight and strategy development, future thinking and innovation.  She has held senior advisory positions and led teams at major blue-chip companies such as BP, Motorola and Logica.  She was Programme Director at Management Centre Europe working in the In-Company division and a Visiting Executive Fellow at Henley Business School and CIPD Faculty for Scenario Planning and Foresight.

Patricia is the author of a number of respected books and has recently run interactive Foresight sessions for London’s Business School’s Executive Education.  She is also the founder of international business consultancy LASA.  http://www.lasa-insight.com/index.html

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New book just out!

Our CEO’s new book, Strategic Foresight: Learning from the future is now out, available at www.triarchypress.net/foresight or via Amazon.

To read some extracts see: http://www.book2look.de/book/tOuAdpmXWe&r=IYUnEX6ZIPIitm1WXQan

 

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Demographics Are Driving Entrpreneurship

Suppose you have been led to believe that your ailment will get much worse in the future. But what if instead, things start to improve. How would you feel? You’d probably be pretty excited. Exactly the same sort of excitement is occurring in the UK economy. Debunking the gloomy forecast, things are on an upward swing. There is a small amount of growth and inflation is almost non-existant. Jobs, wages and disposable income have increased (even if only slightly), inflation has gone down and most importantly, there has been a surge in entrepreneurship.
Last year, 581,000 new start-up companies were registered with Companies House (as compared to 526,000 in 2013 and 484,000 in 2012). Experts are optimistic that we will see further strengthening of this trend and that by the 2020s entrepreneurship will be at a peak.
More and more people are setting up business for themselves. Why is this happening? Some argue that it is people who were laid off during the last recession who are actually starting their own enterprises. But the rate of emergence of new startups outweighs the rate of recent layoffs. The ease of starting internet companies could be another reason for this surge in entrepreneurship.
But the most plausible reason is demographics. The young and driven millennial generation (those finishing their education today) are finding it more difficult to land jobs. There are fewer opportunities. So they set up their own enterprise. Perhaps, it could be argued, that it is easier for them because they are more agile, tech-savvy and adept in marketing than previous generations. But, are they going to become the main drivers of the entrepreneurial economy in future?
Kauffman Foundation in the US says that the peak age for entrepreneurs to set up on their own is 40, not the late 20s or early 30s. The oldest people in the millennial generation (born between 1978 to 1992) is going to hit that age in the next decade and this potentially bodes well for the future, given their strong propensity for entrepreneurship.
The baby boomers (born between 1950s and 1960s) are venturing into entrepreneurship as their second career. And as a second career, often their ventures are lasting the course, given their wealth of experience and high optimism. They are more likely to succeed in their first try than the millennials. They are also contributing to the entrepreneurial trend.
Although immigration is a controversial issue, immigrants add value to the entrepreneurial economy. They have a hunger to succeed and are frequently risk-takers (as proven by the fact that they emigrated away from their homes). In the US, 40% of the Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants and in the United Kingdom, one in every seven companies is owned by an immigrant.
In UK millennials, baby boomers and immigrants combined together will fuel an upsurge in entrepreneurship by the 2020s. Outside the UK, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are also on the verge of an entrepreneurial revolution. India and China, particularly, buoyed up by large numbers of millennials who have few other opportunities, are ready to make rapid strides.
So, this can be a time of great excitement; innovation and creation; the managed economies of 1970s-2000s are giving way to entrepreneurial economies. Opportunities abound. This is a trend to watch, let’s hope it plays out well.

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A Disturbing Emerging Trend

Do you sometimes wake up to a sinking feeling that things are just not headed in the right direction? Maybe, you worry about your debts, children’s college tuition, housing rent or child-care. Or maybe you are frustrated by not being able to maintain a decent lifestyle despite working hard. Do you fret and blame yourself for this situation? Think again: you are actually a victim of a trend which is deviously shifting money away from the middle class to elites at the top end of income distribution.
While the middle classes continue to fear for their future, a tiny percentage of our population is becoming much wealthier. This overly privileged class is eating up almost the entire national income and even managing to squeeze concessions, tax-cuts and bail-outs from governments.
Despite many Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, leaders of companies do not always see socio-economic responsibility as a priority. Free trade agreements have opened new avenues to profit maximisation not only through access to cheap-labour markets and massive customer bases but also through securing monopolies over their intellectual property: patents, trademarks and copyrights.
Technology companies such as Apple – through absolute control of IP and over-hyped marketing – have consolidated their brand monopoly and continue to earn obscene profits without paying commensurate taxes. There are hundreds of such companies.
New trade agreements signed after 1980s are robbing the middle-class of jobs and lowering their real income. According to Economic Policy Institute, the North American Free Trade Act alone cost the U.S. almost 700,000 jobs.
Slowly and steadily trade unions have lost their power to protect workers as corporations have lobbied governments in their favour. In the absence of options and bargaining power the middle class are taking up jobs which call for longer working hours and provide lower incomes.
Against this background a new ‘sharing’ economy has emerged which lures desperate middle-class people to monetise extra-hours through on-demand jobs. In theory this sounds like a great idea: utilise your resources when they are not being used. So you can use your car to sell transport services (competing with taxis), space in your home or office (competing with hotels) and your free time to provide labour. There is no regulation, competition with the normal economy is easy. In practice, however, these sharing economy companies are arguably devious and unethical in the way they do business, subverting minimum standards for wages, safety, security and working conditions.
Uber, Upcounsel, Healthtap and other such companies are flourishing by pocketing hefty percentages of the fees charged to their clients, leaving minimal income for those who actually provide the service. For these fees, they match customers and suppliers (workers) via software, nothing more. They don’t provide risk-cover, benefits or insurance to workers or customers.
If you follow emerging trends, you’ll have noticed that across the world and across culture, the middle class is shrinking and that income disparity and inequality are rising. Aristotle once said, “Where the middle class is large, there are least likely to be factions and dissensions.” History has shown that when inequality is great, civilisations fall. Isn’t this an early warning sign that we should do something about?

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A hotel with a difference. Robots anyone?

When you check into a hotel, you expect a decorous greeting and a bright smile at reception. Imagine that you suddenly realise that the person you are speaking to is not really a human, but a robot. And she calls over another human-like robot to carry your luggage and take you along to your room? Does this sound like the future? Well think again, because it will happen sooner than you think.
Actually, it could really happen if you check into the Henn-na (strange) Hotel, in Nagasaki, Japan this year. This hotel is planning to ‘employ’ ten humanoid robots to serve its customers, starting in July. Developed by Japanese robotics company Kokoro, these robots are vastly improved versions of their previous prototypes. They will join the existing human staff, but if they are successful, the plan is to staff the hotel with 90% robot staff.
They don’t look like drab automated machines; these ‘actroids’ (as their manufacturer calls them) resemble young Japanese women with dark brown hair and delicate features. Three of them, at the front desk, can speak and understand Chinese, Korean and English besides their own native Japanese.
They can handle customer questions, they make hand gestures, and they can form different facial expressions as well as making eye contact. Researchers at Kinsai University are now working on enabling them to exhibit involuntary reactions like breathing, sweating and displaying goose bumps to make them seem even more realistic.
And that isn’t all that the Henn-na Hotel has on offer. Its rooms will open automatically using facial recognition and the room temperature will adjust to your body temperature.
How would you feel dealing with a robot receptionist? Would you find it strange or interesting? It truly is as William Gibson said, the future is here now, just not evenly distributed.

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Bezos helps Washington Post use Foresight

Jeff Bezos helped the Washington Post use Foresight for the reasons we recommend people use it. To read more, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/business/media/jeff-bezos-makes-his-mark-on-washington-post-with-new-kindle-app.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

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Would you recognise your company in 20 years?

When we work with organisations, helping them to explore what they might look like in 20-30 years, they are often surprised – shocked, sometimes – when they realise that their activities might be completely different from what they do now.  Change is happening all the time; usually the steps are manageably small, so we adapt and acclimatise ourselves to the new normal, literally on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes the steps appear really big: so remarkable, so unusual that you may hear comments like “it will never take off” – which cause you to smile some years later when that “remarkable” and “unusual” thing is now the norm.  A perfect example is the smartphone or tablet. Consider all the functions that small handset provides, instantly, pretty much anywhere in the world you choose to take it. You can virtually run your life and business with it!  The original purpose – conversing with someone voice-to-voice – is almost a secondary, or even tertiary aspect of what we expect from the handset now.

Now think back 20-odd years. Remember the car phone? A large, black handset which was fixed beneath the car dashboard or between the front seats and needed a battery so big and unwieldy it sat, like a very heavy small suitcase, in the boot. Analogue wireless connection was intermittent, geographically patchy and the voice quality could be crackly.
“Why would I want to call anyone from my car?” the critics said – not foreseeing the apparently limitless possibilities of mobile communication.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Several emerging technologies developed and converged: miniaturisation, new technology in materials, new network technology, optic fibre cables and the cloud, to provide us with what we see today; a small, ridiculously powerful computer with mobile communication capabilities that we now take for granted.

There have been many winners in the field of mobile communication, as well as us, the users.  But there have also been losers; leading companies which did not take a wide enough view of emerging trends, did not keep their finger on the pulse of the market and did not believe they could be toppled from what they considered an unassailable position at the top of their field. Take Nokia: an innovative engineering company back in the 1990s which, at one point, was the world’s leading mobile phone manufacturer. But it failed to spot that developments in software, programs and apps were powering ahead towards the smartphone. A victim of its own success, Nokia was wedded to the view that was a hardware specialist – and it got left behind. See below for more on this story.

Take a look at your organisation. What does it currently do? What are the emerging trends in your industry?  What trends might merge with others and what would that deliver?  More importantly: what are the emerging trends in OTHER areas? Which of these might be useful to you? Which might threaten your future? How would you know the difference?

The application of Foresight can help you be aware of the bigger picture; it can help you see beyond the expected to the unimaginable. It can help you prepare for the future.
If YOU had been manufacturing car phones 20 years ago: what would you be doing now?

http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/where-nokia-went-wrong

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Foresight is exciting…

At LASA it’s our job to keep in touch with new things coming on stream… whether that’s technology, societal change, economic upheaval or the famous butterfly effect.  We really enjoy scanning and discovering what is new and sharing it.

One of the many thousands of technological developments which caught our attention, and caused great excitement, was (and is) 3-D printing. It is a field which is exploding – pun intended – with possibilities and challenges.

Back in 2011 our CEO Tricia Lustig, was writing a book* to explain the practical, strategic and commercial benefits of Foresight in any organisation. Foresight is not an off-on tool; it’s not something an organisation brings in from outside for a specific purpose. Foresight is an attitude that’s nurtured within an organisation: in the jargon it’s an organisational competence.

To get this message across, Tricia and her co-authors decided to take the unusual step of splitting the book in two; one half would be a toolbox containing numerous techniques, methods, models to enable Foresight to be introduced into an organisation.

The other half would be a narrative of what it looks like “on the ground” when Foresight is introduced and encouraged in a business. The result was the fictional tale of FutureParts, an automotive parts business facing up to the unpalatable truth of being sidelined and going out of business, as it settled complacently into the comforts of success up till then.

The example Tricia and her co-authors chose, back in 2011, to epitomise the need for Foresight, was 3-D printing.

Follow this link for a brief overview of where 3-D printing is now – and pay attention to the section on Ford Motor company:   http://www.techrepublic.com/article/3d-printing-10-companies-using-it-in-ground-breaking-ways/.

At the beginning, we said we enjoy keeping in touch with what’s new. What we try to get across to everyone when we talk about Foresight is that it is not just a strategic or commercial necessity; it is also truly great fun.

Foresight is exciting. It opens so many windows on so many opportunities. It opens the mind beyond the mundane. It becomes a natural, optimistic way of engaging with the world. It creates connections – human, virtual, technological, philosophical, and intellectual – which did not exist before.

Foresight expands the universe we live in; it helps us see what the future might look like, so we can prepare ourselves for possible changes down the line.

This is not just self-preservation; it’s not defensive. It’s welcoming opportunities for growth and renewal with open arms; it is energising.

Beware: Foresight can become addictive.

 

*The book was published in early 2012 as “Here be Dragons: navigating an uncertain world”  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Here-Be-Dragons-Gill-Ringland/dp/0956219055/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396019626&sr=8-1&keywords=here+be+dragons+uncertain

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