Strategic Foresight

I believe an appreciation for a future that is arriving faster than most people think is settling in. One clear signal is the growing discussion around foresight. As a very different future emerges, this growing focus is good news – as there is a critical need to envision possible futures. Foresight executives like Joanna Lepore are leading the way. Joanna joined an episode of Future Hacker to discuss strategic foresight. I highly recommend this episode. Here is the episode abstract.

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Rehearsing 2023

As a new year approaches, it is natural to want to predict what’s next. But, a caveat: I prefer not to speak in terms of “predictions.” I speak about “rehearsing possibilities” – understanding possible futures and envisioning outcomes.

Frank Diana – Digital Twins Reach a Tipping Point & Save Lives

That quote above was included in a recent article about digital twins. That article focused on the role that digital twins are likely to play in 2023.

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The Cashless Revolution

I just finished a book titled The Cashless Revolution authored by Martin Chorzempa. The book was selected by the Financial Times as one of the best of 2022. Interestingly, one of the other recent books I read is also on their list – Slouching Towards Utopia. This latest read explored the world of FinTech and the cashless revolution happening in China – and the possible futures that may drive.

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Self-Driving Truck Handles Tire Blowout

Can a self-driving truck handle a tire blowout better than most humans? Watch below and see this article for details.

Agile Leadership

Steve Denning knows a thing or two about management. In a recent article, he talks about the baggage of agile and the critical need to reinvent the very concept of management. He identifies the practices of industrial-era management and labels them as “obsolete”. He goes as far as to say those practices constitute a disease that must be eradicated. In a post-pandemic world, resilience is the new buzzword. Our uncertain times dictated a focus on adaptability years ago – yet it took a pandemic to bring it into leadership consciousness. Eradicating the disease of industrial-era management is therefore long overdue.

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Future Focus: Envisioning The Possibilities Ahead

Every year in October I have the pleasure of participating in the CEO of the Year Gala sponsored by Chief Executive Group. This year’s winner was Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce. His acceptance speech was both refreshing and inspiring – as was the moderated discussion he had with last year’s winner, Ken Frazier, former CEO of Merck. As part of the event, I participate in a CEO roundtable discussion with a theme that I help shape. The theme this year was envisioning possible futures. It was a great conversation captured in this article that was just launched by Chief Executive Group. I highly recommend this read. The article provides a view into what CEOs are thinking – with a series of quotes from the session – like the one below.

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AI-Generated Predictions For 2023

As a sign of the times, AI is now in the business of making predictions, just in time for our time-honored tradition this time of year. This article presents ten predictions made by artificial intelligence, along with their implications and solutions. GPT-3 has advanced to a place where it can receive instructions and then write the text. The instructions provided are included below. Follow the link above to see what AI believes is in store for us in 2023.

GPT-3 prompt – “Write a 1500-word article that states 10 predictions, implications and solutions for 2023, including key statistics and examples, relating to water scarcity, food supply challenges, energy limits, increased waste, shifting geopolitical power from west to east, conflict and civil war, misinformation and cybersecurity, politics and national security, and how we must have hope as humanity finds new ways to work together for altruistic needs.”

Exploring Possible Economic Futures

In the interest of exploring possible economic futures, I have read books on Modern Monetary Theory, Zero Marginal Cost, The Job Guarantee, and several others. Add to the list the most recent book I finished, How Capitalism Ends. Viewed through the lens of property rights, wealth, and the transition from Feudalism to Capitalism, author Steve Paxton uses an effective method of storytelling: start with history and then explore possible futures. The book is setup by two thesis: the development and the primacy thesis. What he describes helps us understand the “why” behind the future that is emerging.

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Prediction Versus Foresight

A colleague recently shared this visual produced by the Disruptive Futures Institute. The visual does a great job of describing the difference between prediction and foresight. The Disruptive Futures Institute is a Think Tank offering education, research, and thought leadership on adapting to our increasingly complex and uncertain world. I believe this uncertain world puts a premium on rehearsing possible futures. As depicted in the visual, the need to rehearse versus predict emanates from an environment of multiple unknowns and broad possibilities. This environment is characterized by the sheer number of existing and emerging building blocks that are converging across domains.

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It’s The 2023 Prediction Season

It seems like you blink and prediction season is upon us again. Futurist Bernard Marr shares his top ten technology trends list in the video below and associated article. He touches on AI, Metaverse, Web3, Digital Twins, 3D Printing, CRISPR, Quantum Computing, Green Technology, Humanoid Robots, Autonomous Systems, and Sustainable Technology. A very good list from a technology standpoint. It’s time for this ritual to focus as much on geopolitics, economics, philosophy, and society, as these domains will play a significant role in shaping possible futures.

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The Age Of Resilience

In an online leadership course developed in 2016, I stressed the need for resilience and adaptability. The course, titled A Journey Through the Looking Glass, focused on an emerging world of complexity, uncertainty, and the unknown. We rarely heard the words resilience and adaptability spoken back then, but along came a pandemic to force them into our vocabulary. While our short-term focus obstructed our view, cracks were forming and accumulating in ways that were likely to put a premium on these two traits.

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America’s Demographics

Demographics are a big piece of forward-looking analysis – and we are living in times of significant demographic shifts. An aging society, a fall in working age population, a drop in fertility rates, and a diversifying population are just a handful of examples. This recent article provides a great interactive visual via Visual Capitalist that captures one hundred years of demographic change in America.

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What Do Patents Tell Us About AI In 2023?

Foresight is all about signals and they come from various sources. History provides us with an incredible number of signals, with other sources including venture data, market research, academia, analysts, think tanks, and experimentation. One critical source of foresight is patents. This recent article provides an example of patent data as a source of foresight – in this case, focused on artificial intelligence (AI).

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A Look At Economic History

The “free market” is perhaps the most familiar of economic bywords. Since at least the Great Depression, the term has been a staple of the nation’s political discourse, used both to praise and to criticize policy. An economic philosophy intertwined with a number of powerful political ideologies

Jacob Soll – Free Market, The History of an Idea
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Ecosystem Enabling Ways Of Organizing

Building blocks. We know they exist in the form of science and technology innovation, but they also exist in various geopolitical, economic, societal, philosophical, and environmental forces. It was 2014 when I read a report via John Hagel on combinations and disruption. Fast forward several years and discussions of composability have elevated to organization design. I recently moderated a CEO Roundtable titled “Envisioning Possible Futures.” In that discussion, enabling the edge of our organizations was discussed in an indirect manner. Without using the words, CEOs were challenging current command and control structures. I heard phrases like sense and respond for the first time in that type of leadership setting.

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Building On Belief – For The Love Of Running

I had the pleasure of joining this One Vision podcast to discuss the future of running. As a sponsor of many marathons, TCS sees science and technology as an enhancer of the running experience, health, wellness, and performance. The podcast includes perspectives from Susanna Sullivan, a public-school teacher and competitive runner. The abstract of the session follows.

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Humanoid Robot Mimics Facial Expressions

She’s baaaack. Every new video of Ameca gets more fascinating. We watched her come to life. We saw her defend her personal space. We watched as she practiced facial expressions in a mirror. We then watched her have a conversation with her creators. Now, we see her mimicking the facial expressions of an engineer. Check it out.

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Living Standards Have Improved Around The World

As the Industrial Revolution gathered momentum, circa 1800, virtually all countries had a life expectancy at or below 40 years; today, just six countries have a life expectancy below 60 years. Put another way, a daughter born into a family in Lesotho or the Central African Republic — the countries with the lowest life expectancy today, each at around 53 years — can expect to live a longer and healthier life than the newborn daughter of an Englishman or American in the year 1800.

Tony Morley – 9 astonishing ways that living standards have improved around the world
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Scenario Planning Thoughts From Futurist Peter Schwartz

Are you curious, imaginative, and collaborative? If so, you have what it takes to be a scenario planner. This brilliant video via Peter Schwartz is a must see.

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An Economic History Of The Twentieth Century

UPDATE: Brad DeLong recently talked about his book on this podcast.

I just finished reading a book titled Slouching Towards Utopia. The book explores the history of what author J. Bradford DeLong calls a long twentieth century. He views the 140-year period between 1870 and 2010 as the most consequential years of all humanity’s centuries. In an earlier book by Robert J. Gordon, he told a similar story of a special century between 1870-1970. The common denominator is the starting point of 1870, or the start of the second industrial revolution. Both books tell a compelling story about a period of economic prosperity never seen in human history.

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