A key message in the Reimagining the Future body of work is that our growing digital world challenges every aspect of how we do business, how we govern and how we live. It will drive significant strategic, tactical and structural changes and fundamentally alter our long-standing beliefs, success strategies and institutional constructs. We’re already seeing it. Just look at companies like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Tencent, Google, Alibaba and Facebook. They are rewriting the rules and redefining how value is created and captured, using digitally-centered platforms and ecosystem-enabled business models.
I recently engaged with fellow futurists on an article for Digitalist Magazine titled Why Strategic Plans Need Multiple Futures. I think the authors truly captured the challenges of strategic planning in a world where pace and the sheer volume of change makes our emerging future anything but predictable. The focus on story telling as the most effective way to communicate potential futures is powerful, and the Lowe’s example really brings that point home. I recommend this articles to leaders everywhere. Here is a powerful quote:
“Companies like Lowe’s are realizing that standard ways of planning for the future won’t get them where they need to go. The problem with traditional strategic planning is that the approach, which dates back to the 1950s and has remained largely unchanged since then, is based on the company’s existing mission, resources, core competencies, and competitors.
Yet the future rarely looks like the past. What’s more, digital technology is now driving change at exponential rates. Companies must be able to analyze and assess the potential impacts of the many variables at play, determine the possible futures they want to pursue, and develop the agility to pivot as conditions change along the way.”
Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson – Authors of The Second Machine Age – wrote a new book which they launched in the middle of this year. Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future builds upon their first book, exploring three big trends that are reshaping the business world:
- The rapidly increasing and expanding capabilities of machines
- The large and influential young companies (Platforms) that bear little resemblance to the established incumbents in their industries, yet are deeply disrupting them
- The emergence of the crowd: the large amount of human knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm distributed all over the world and now available
Our exponential world puts increasing pressure on our capacity to innovate and the speed and quality of idea flow. This dynamic coupled with the speed at which automation is likely to occur brings our right brain characteristics front and center. Creativity, imagination, big picture vision, emotional and social intelligence, empathy, and other human characteristics are critical to navigating in this emerging future. As automation accelerates, these human traits become even more critical. In a recent report by Citi on Technology at Work, the authors point to our propensity for social interaction, communication, and empathy being something machines can never replace.
In my last post, I described a Sense and Respond model that sits at the heart of several activities, including scenario, opportunity, and risk analysis. As complexity and pace continue to intensify, uncertainty increases. To survive in this Emerging Future, we must embrace a framework for future thinking, and an organization that can adapt as it shifts. In essence, we must see the future, rehearse it, continuously monitor for shifts, and adapt as the shifts occur. A sense and respond model sits at the core of the framework – but represents the biggest cultural challenge.
Back in 2013, as Smartphone use was growing, I wrote about Next Generation Experiences; viewing customer experience through a lens of constant change, where failure to address foundational elements meant falling further behind. Since then, our mode of interaction witnessed a third transformation, as touch became a critical piece of our everyday experiences. Now, we find ourselves approaching the next significant change in interaction paradigms: the Fourth Transformation driven by mixed reality.
A PDF version of the visual can be found here.