Posts Tagged ‘futuring’
Good report for public sector managers, strategists and so on who are running, or plan to run, futures planning outfits.
Here’s a rather cool 2009 trend mapping by Richard Watson. You can download the pdf version here.
The author highlighted the top 11 trends (or as the author footnote claims – “Educated guess”) in 2009, namely: Ageing, Anxiety, Climate change, Debt, Digitalization, Global connectivity, GRIN (Genetics, Robotics, InfoTech, NanoTech) technologies, Power shift Eastwards, Sustainability, Uncertainty & Volatility, as well as the impacts of each events (of varying degrees, depending on the size of the bubble), segmented by eight different sectors (basically STEEP + Biz, Family and media).
Here’s some of the events that caught my attention:
Society – Utility, Authenticity;
Technology – Simplicity, Green IT;
Economy – Industry consolidation, Sovereign Wealth Funds;
Environment – Urbanization, Green Cities, Nuclear Power, Bio-fuel backlash;
Politics – Rising protectionism, Fall of US Empire, Virtual protests;
Business – CSR, Transparency, networked risk, skills shortages;
Family – Single person households, IMBY;
Media – TOO much information, Facebook fatigue, etc…
It is also interesting to note some of the global risk highlighted, such as Influenza pandemic/ Return of SARs (as in ’03), Major Internet Failure (Din we experience this in ’01/02?), Alternative Energy Bubble (2009? Unlikely? or 2013 – 2015?), Severe water shortages, Income inequality, etc… On a lighter note, Richard warns of the risk in taking trend maps too seriously and mocks at Nicole Kidman winning another oscar(Probably a TC fan)…
Dr Sohail Inayatullah did a quick causal-layered analysis summary of the myths and worldviews that influence the alternate futures that people choose to see arising from the crisis. Where do you see your own views in this crisis? With his permission, the summary can be downloaded here.
Fu-ture (fyoo-char) noun: the time yet to come
Could Singapore become the futuring node of Asia? Do we have what it takes to amalgate such a community in our midst? I have been mulling on this for several months, and my recent trip to Europe reaffirmed my belief that we stand a good chance.
Singapore has always marketed ourselves as a gateway and fusion of East and West technologies, methodologies and management theories. Likewise in trends and foresights work, the ability to blend best practices, tools and interpret research with an Asian perspective is our advantage. The same trend interpreted by different cultures yield different policy implications. Language (English) works with us, allowing us a common platform for discussion and communication of ideas. Thought foresights leaders and consultants gather here to exchange ideas and network. One foreign delegate at our recent RAHS conference confided that she networked with all the people she had intended to meet throughout Europe, during that one trip to Singapore.
How can we nurture a vibrant futuring community? It starts with open knowledge sharing amongst people scanning for trends, studying the future and generally making sense of the myriad knowledge. The analysed data must then be packaged into something relevant and useful to our companies and disseminated to our industries and consumers.
One representative from Finnish SITRA (innovation fund) put it aptly. The knowledge from futures research and a vibrant network are public goods. The cost of setting up a public sharing network by pivate companies and individuals typically outweighs their direct benefits. Is there then a market failure or gap that needs to be addressed?
On the other hand, an elaborate network and availability of complex analytical tools are redundant if there is no demand for them. Tools are mere tools, unless there are champions and sponsors for them. The community has to germinate, bottoms-up. Universities and educational institutions will have to offer courses in futures studies, generate and publish research materials. Private consultants add to the learning literature and projects with organizations. Industry associations get involved with producing horizon scanning materials for their sectors and members. A transparent and vibrant ecosystem of sharing knowledge and commissioning projects between the public and private sectors, and strong linkages with the global futuring community enhances the learning curve for everyone.
Wither the futuring landscape in Singapore?
Following the European Futurist Conference, I had meetings in Helsinki which were helpfully arranged by Leena Imola, a partner at Fountain Park. She had an on-going project with us in Singapore and helped to set up various meetings within the Finn futuring community – public administration and academics. It was unfortunate that we did not manage to secure meetings with the private companies – many were too coy and humble about their futuring/ foresights efforts. I met with SITRA, TEKES, TEM (Finnish Ministry of Employment and Economy (equivalent of my unit)), Finland Futures Research Centre, and a senior advisor to the Parliamentary Committee for the Future, and some research work done by Fountain Park.
In essence, Finland has a well-entrenched and structure futuring model. It was started by a few champions, who introduced the concept to the government, which was later endorsed into a permanent structure within the Finn Parliamentary system. Their public administration has many trained and qualified futurists, examining and churning out reports on various aspects of society, as directed by the government. Finland also has a growing community of private sector futuring companies/ consultants, and company-based activities supported by various industry associations. The academia and volumes of research work bridges the two sectors, and there is a thriving network of foresights practitioners interacting with one another.
Much of the Finn foresights work focuses on innovation, science and technology. As Leena observed, the Finns’ output was largely positive, highlighting opportunities, unlike say UK, which focuses more on risk assessments. Singapore was in some ways similar, looking ahead to the future in search of new opportunities rather than focusing on threats. However, the Finns’ futuring perspective was typically more inward-looking (tackling societal issues, integration of S&T with culture, youth values etc), rather than casting a global view.