What is your true, best-possible future?
We are faced with exponential technological changes. Almost nothing seems to remain linear. And now, these changes are quickly becoming combinatorial and interdependent, as well, creating huge waves of disruption in all industries, amplifying each other. Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than the previous 300 years. Therefore, the need to define who and what we will be in the future has never been more urgent than now – a ‘wait and see’ approach literally means waiting to become irrelevant. And irrelevance usually spells death.
VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) has become the new normal, resulting in many tough challenges but equally as many new opportunities for those who dare to consider deep transformation, frequently question their assumptions and who can unlearn or relearn.
This is where our Futurizing Program takes you to an entirely new place. To Futurize means to act in the present, but with and from a future perspective, to travel back from 5-7 years ahead, with a deep and holistic understanding of what is very certain to happen. Unlike more conventional futurism, which may attempt to predict ‘the future’ before it has happened, futurizing involves understanding what is certain to happen i.e. what is already here but unevenly distributed (William Gibson) – and then consciously choosing and creating one’s preferred future.
Futurizing is unique for every business and every leadership team, as no two futures are alike – it’s not about recipes but about discoveries!
Futurizing is based on 5 essential principles:
- The future is no longer just what may happen tomorrow – rather, it is something that has already happened today that we simply don’t realize or acknowledge yet.
- Our world is now changing exponentially and not gradually. Soon, it will indeed be detrimental to keep on expecting linear or gradual changes. Science fiction is increasingly becoming science fact, and we must therefore start to consider the utterly implausible and unreasonable to be our new reality.
- The future is not something that just happens to us. Rather, we create our future every single day, based on our beliefs, ethics and assumptions, and resulting from our actions. We always have choices – but we must discover them early enough!
- Due to the accelerating pace of exponential technological change we are now constantly becoming something else, all the time; we are going from being to becoming (see Kevin Kelly). We must embrace this as our default status.
- In order to define and create our ‘preferred futures’, we need to stop extrapolating the present in order to guess the future. Rather, we must travel backwards from the immediate future, armed with deep foresights and understandings about what is almost certainly going to happen.
How do we help you futurize your business?
Gerd Leonhard and his handpicked team approach the Futurizing process based on these 5 steps:
1) Assumptions: the process of questioning our current beliefs about our business and work. What do we assume to be ‘how things work’, i.e. what is the very foundation of what we do, why and how we do it? What do we believe to be true and valid guidance for our decisions and actions? How do our assumptions shape our foresights and future strategies?
2) Discovery: finding, exploring and experiencing what Gerd Leonhard likes to call the ‘hard futures’. We travel into the future 5-7 years out, and then look back to today, defining the key changes that are almost certain to happen. Most of these futures may already be quite visible today (e.g. artificial intelligence, bots, or virtual reality) and therefore this process may also serve to verify their magnitude and impact on the client’s particular industry. During this phase of the program we also work on embracing and dealing with the ‘future shock’ (Alvin Toffler) that invariably follows the discovery of how much of the future is already here. The discovery part of the program culminates in the discussion of two key questions: a) which future do we believe is the most likely to actually happen? b) which future would we like to see happen, i.e. which scenario is our favourite choice?
3) Impact and opportunities: defining the likely consequences of the futures that we have discovered. If and when the above scenarios actually take place, what will they mean for us? How could we shape these futures to make our flourishing more likely? What existential threats to our organisation can we identify, and what awesome and exciting opportunities do we see?
4) Vision and strategy design: what does our preferred future look like (and how realistic is it)? Now that we have immersed ourselves in what our future is likely to look like, and now that we have started to understand the impact on what we do today…what would we like to see happen? Which future can we get excited about, which future fits our culture, people, and the society around us? Where do we see a purpose and vision that would get our juices flowing? Who will we be in 5-7 years, what will our brand look like?
5) Action: how will we create our preferred future? Who is charge? What skills and mindsets do we need, what kind of people need to be brought in, where do we need to invest, what will we need from our leaders, how will we get buy-in from our teams and what kinds of resources do we need? What and how do we prioritize? Who will lead these initiatives?
It is crucial to understand that our Futurizing team will not attempt to provide recipes or ready-made solutions. Rather, Futurizing is the collaborative discovery process that will formulate each client’s unique path to their own, preferred future. The future is not a recipe – it is a process; the future does not just happen, it ‘gets happened’.
As part of the Futurizing methodology it is often necessary to embrace what Gerd Leonhard calls ‘hybrid thinking’ i.e. the ability to continue with what works today while imagining and building what might work tomorrow (which might be completely the opposite). This dualistic way of realising the future opportunities is often essential in order to mitigate or distribute the risks that such transformations will create, especially for incumbent industry leaders or large, traditional, multi-national companies.
The Futurizing process is designed individually for each client and may involve any or all of these components:
• Conversations, presentations, interventions & provocations (including board meetings & leadership events)
• Keynotes and talks at internal events
• C-Level ‘future coaching’ sessions (individuals and teams)
• The Future Experience executive offsites (see flyer and thefuturesagency.com)
• The production of futuristic films and videos for internal and external use
• Leadership development: Futurizing leadership and culture
• Deliver a new language of value discovery and exploration
• Identify false futures which actually belong to other brands
• Create a shared vision of change across borders and silos
• Leverage a decade of world-class futurist thinking
• Apply tough lessons learnt in neighbouring sectors
• Move beyond digital disruption to redefine your industry
“Gerd Leonhard and his chosen team have not only helped us to discover a whole new landscape of business value beyond the car as product, but even more significantly they have enabled us to solve today’s challenges with the awareness of business leaders several years into the future.” – Automotive Executive
“If you want to change you can plan and you can execute, but both these exercises are doomed if you come at them from a present day point of view. Futurizing our thinking with Gerd Leonhard and friends has meant in effect we have digitized our business model from the other side of the equation. We’re no longer looking ahead to the future, but back on the present.” – Financial Service Executive