Hi I’m Cecily, and I am a futurist. Though I have not brought my crystal ball, I can prove to you my power of foresight by predicting the very next thought that will pop into your heads: “What the hell is a futurist?” That the work of a futurist is inherently hard to grasp is in its very nature, since it deals with the un-pin-down-able: that fluid space between the present and future. Futurists are much like electrons in an atom, whizzing and zipping around, here one gazzillionth of a second, there another, and somehow everywhere at once, seeking to make meaning out of apparent chaos. The point of all that zipping around is to bring disparate areas of study together for a fuller, deeper, broader understanding of how our ever-changing world works—and then get people unstuck from their natural permanent present modes of thinking so they can be ready for the changes heading our way.
Picture this: after a long day’s work, you return to your hotel room—an underwater suite with glass walls that transform into computer screens—and fall onto your bed, famished. You don’t have to call room service. Instead, you grab your cell phone, touch a few keys, and hop in the shower.
By the time you come out, you can smell your dinner—a Kobe beef steak, cooked medium rare, and broccoli rabe sautéed with red wine vinegar and garlic—printing out from the FAB Hub on your bedside table.
After dinner, you check your message notifications, and are fascinated by a photograph of an enormous cockroach that a friend has sent from Madagascar. You could use some company, so, using the FAB Hub, you print out a 3-D cockroach robot, complete with six clicking metal legs and two wire antennae. Your new pet isn’t an exact replica of the one that freaked out your friend; on a whim, you’ve given it a green Mohawk made of rug fibers, and the ability to sing on command. All you want now is a slice of hot apple pie fresh out of the printer. Can you smell the cinnamon in the air?
Can you see the future on the horizon?If not, your resistance probably isn’t prompted by an aversion to sweets or cockroaches, or what your kindergarten teacher unkindly referred to as your lack of imagination. The fact is, the future I’ve described is closer than you think. (The straight-out-of–Star Trek FAB Hubs are already being used to generate human tissue for medical purposes.) But you are hardwired not to believe it, or even imagine it. Here’s why: according to the most recent brain-imaging research, the same neural networks we use to envision the future are also used to recall memories. That means that most of us can only imagine what we already know.
Okay, let me back up. In order to understand what a futurist does, you have to understand three things: first, how the outside world works, how the inside world works--in other words, how our brains process information, and generate ideas and insights—and how the organization works. All from a systems point of view.As for the outside world, I use an examination of what I call the Four Forces of Change—resources, technology, demographics, and governance—as a predictive model to help clients see what their particular piece of the future will look like as they prepare to meet it. The inside world relates to, literally, how we think: the neural basis of how we perceive change, make predictions, generate insights, and problem-solve. Finally, to really be effective in leading change—working proactively to anticipate changes in the environment, by aligning strategy, resources, and productivity—you have to do two things: widgitize the functions of foresight and innovation and make them scalable.To think like a futurist means to understand the mechanism of change- in the environment, in human agency, and in an institutional setting—such that you can get a realistic view of the future, imagine your place in it, and then make sure that the activities and investments in time and talent you make on a daily basis—the emails, phone calls and meetings that fill our schedules--are aligned with that future. – Cuz if all that activity isn’t busy building your future, then all you are is just busy.So, we’re going to get busy now. Busy peering into how each of these systems of change works, and work together so that, by the end of lunch, you will see the future in a whole new light.Ready to go for a ride? Good. All you have to do is sit back and let your mind relax as we plunge into the future.
The Four Forces of Change are resources, technology, demographics, and governance. I will show you how to familiarize yourself with them in order to get a big-picture perspective on any challenge you may face. Understand how they work together to drive change, and you will be able not only to avert crises but also to uncover ideas and opportunities for your future along the way.Current trends are not the purview of a futurist anyhow. Our concern is with the deep, structural forces that are constant and that cast a longer shadow on the future. In my work as a futurist, I have sought to reduce change to its most elemental components, and have come up with the Four Forces Model. Like hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, and sulfur are the four building blocks of all life forms, resources, technology, demographics, and governance are the four building blocks of all change. These forces generally move more slowly than and have a permanent effect. Because we understand the relationship among the Four Forces – [PICTURE] -- , we also understand that the changes they bring about occur in a fairly predictable manner. What we can’t predict are its outcomes.
Futures tradingMinnesota economy: Iron Ore, Timber, GrainHard red spring wheatRailroads, banks, and mills sprung up to support industryMillers invented new technique to produce really fine flour => drew higher prices and made Mpls leading flour producer in U.S. Prosperity => schools, parks, hospitals, philanthropyCargill helped spearhead growth into international markets, helped to export grains to post-war EuropeFutures trading: a gentlemen’s agreement to deliver a certain amount of wheat during a certain upcoming month. “Open Outcry” auction system: Offer, counter-offer, then a nod Centralized system for farmers to know whether the price they were getting for their grain was fair or not.Purpose: promote fair trade of agricultural riches within a national and international marketplace
VALUEThe transactional lifeFinance accompanies innovationProduction capital + financial capital
Microsoft Vison: Live. Work. Play.Three themes: Arrival of Big Data, and visualization of itComputers everywhere, sensors everywhere in environmentCost of storage decreases…cloud services allow aggregationSystems that learn: clusters of Computers can learn (algorithms) Machine learningMore human, natural interfacesTalk to them, touch, gestureMore natural, intuitive interactionMoving from a world of information technology to intelligent technology
Arrival of Big Data, and visualization of itComputers everywhere, sensors everywhere in environmentCost of storage decreases…cloud services allow aggregationBig Data is very fallible, look for insights and hunches, not for factsSystems that learn: Computers can learn (algorithms) Machine learningMore human, natural interfacesTalk to them, touch, gestureMore natural, intuitive interaction
around information access and communication. Communication practices fit into two dominant paradigms. First, there were one-to-oneand small-group tools like email and IM. Second, there were more public tools like virtual worlds, forums,and chatrooms. There were people who came online only to talk with people they knew; they primarily drifted toIM and emailFor everyday folks, Web2.0 meant something different. Web2.0 meant an information ecology that wasorganized around friends. It meant a mainstream shift from private communication channels to publiccommunication channels and a shift from interest-driven publics to friend-driven publics. Let me explain.Web2.0 changed the dials of both of these styles of engagement. It expanded ways for interest-driven people tofind real-world connections, but more significantly, it began enabling public environments that were friendship-driven.Networked PublicsThese spaces are "networked publics." Networked publics connect people through networked technology andcreate public spaces through networked technology in which people can come together. User-generated contentis a core part of networked publics. People don't just consume together - they produce together. And, ideally,they consume and produce as part of everyday participation.Take microblogging tools like Twitter or media-sharingplatforms like YouTube and Flickr. Some content is entirely social while other content is "information." Somecontent is contributed in a friend-driven context while other is contributed with an interest-driven context in mind.What is interesting is an emergent attitude amongst youth that boilsdown to "public by default, private when necessary." This will have considerable implications as networkedpublics continue to grow.
Historically, these revolutions have lasted around 50 years. Each becomes a standard only after overcoming the resistance of the preceeding model.Five Technological Upheavals (since the industrial revolution)Why call them revolutions?Because they transform the whole economyNEW INDUSTRIES A powerful cluster of visible new and dynamic industries and infrastructures >>Explosive growth and structural changeNew generic technologies, infrastructures and organizational principles capable of modernizing the existing industries too>> A quantum jump in innovation and productivity potential for allA Massive techno-economic paradigm shift!CHANGING THE OPPORTUNITY SPACE AND RESHAPING SOCIETY A techno-economic paradigm shift= new wealth-creating potentialEnabling and requiring a change in the direction across all industries and, eventually, societyCapitalism is revitalized by successive technological revolutionsThe focus is on the interplay between technology, the economy and social institutions It is a complementary theory that describes and explains the way technical change drives and shapes long-term growth and provides a context for other levels of analysis• Widening and deepening market reach• Raising the potential productivity levels• Incorporating new social groups to social and economic progress(while leaving others out) and• Encompassing greater and greater parts of the globe
Bubbles and Busts: Periods of Creative DestructionBetween the two periods – characterized as Installation and Deployment– there would usually be a recession of uncertain duration, when all the negative social and economic consequences of the bubble come to the fore and gather intense pressure for radical policy changes. These new policies generally tend to regulate financial practices and to contribute to the expansion of markets through public demand or income redistribution. In essence, at this turning point, the conditions are there for the socio-institutional framework to be modified in ways that would make it possible for the new production capital, incarnate in the already powerful new firms and industries, to take the helm of the economy away from financial capital.
Retail goes to the customerOld folks homesEmployment?Job growth from small businessesSmall business services and trainingOne of the major themes of tomorrow’s retail banking is indeed the opportunity to expand the value proposition to become an enabler of life and business goals. As new industries emerge, the need for training/certification and a workforce that can easily move around industries and geographies will continue to increase, creating opportunities for banks to finance all of this or to enable person-to-person lending where needed. Banks will have the opportunity to use digital footprints to proactively address their customers’ needs and issues. Other opportunities include the ability to help SMBs expand their business in the social media domain or to offer back-office support for seamless value exchange rewarding one’s social media influence/interactions. major opportunities for retail banking will migrate to those countries with fast GDP growth and an emerging middle class.Banks as life enablers: As we move into a world of contextual/embedded banking delivered across a variety of channels, banks will have the opportunity to start cost-effectively orchestrating some of our key life/business goals, such as helping find a house for someone starting a new business, and providing key business services above and beyond mortgages or small-business loans. Contextual banking will emerge as the winning banking model in the future. It’s a world of seamless banking where financial offers come to you at the place and time of need—and where you will not be asked to go out of your way to financially enable your life goals. Next-generation branches will need to add value that cannot be replaced by a mobile/digital channel. They will need to build on the relationship, community, and advice pillars that justify the visit while maximizing customer convenience and efficiency for the bank. So, expect your banker to be able to pull other experts into the conversation using video conferencing, or tellers to be able to manage multiple queues at an airport check-in counter. As an SMB, expect your branch to offer you the ability to connect with your own customers using the bank’s video-conferencing capability, or to run product offers on their touch screens. Also expect new formats of banking pods/stations (possibly manned remotely over video) to start being tested in malls and maybe car dealerships.
In a sense, the early financiers backing the revolutionary products are true risk takers and often participate actively in the business management of the innovation process itself. In this sense, they could be seen as financial entrepreneurs.Finance is the driver. Decisions to invest are taken by entrepreneurs, often backed by financial agents.
INSIGHT is what we’re after!
According to the most recent brain-imaging research, the same neural networks we use to envision the future are also used to recall memories. That means that most of us can only imagine what we already know.This fMRI shows that the same areas of the brain that light up when subjects were asked to remember their favorite birthday—in full detail for 10 seconds—also lit up when they were asked to envision a future celebration.
Our memories are the material from which we construct, simulate, elaborate, and predict future events in an ever-changing environment. In an evolutionary sense, this drive is useful and efficient. It helps us stay alive. However, it is a death knell to any enterprise that relies on making sense of our changing world. In other words, it’s a problem continually addressed by futurists.
Manipulating your brain to Think Like a Futurist: L-R-L
The brain is constantly memorizing data concerning the people you meet, the places you go, and the things you hear, feel, see, touch, and experience. That way, when you encounter something similar, you can pull from this vast store of data and say, “Ah, I know how this goes.” SLIDEFor instance, when you hear familiar terms like “30th Birthday,” “Island vacation,” “Children’s Literature,” “Science professor,” or “Bangkok, Thailand” specific scenes and associations come to mind. Even for those of you who haven’t had your 30th birthday yet, or for those whose nearest experience of Bangkok is an order of Pad Thai, your imagination still fills in those “spaces between” with very specific images and feelings. This is what your brain does every moment of every day: it makes predictions by pulling from your unique store of memories to cast assumptions about what’s next. It’s how we make decisions large and small, conscious and unconscious. It’s abundantly clear when we see people who suffer from dementia or amnesia, how much we rely on our memory to function in the world.
“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”- Albert EinsteinYou see, a problem is simply a situation that we don’t yet fully understand. We don’t have the knowledge or perspective to see an obvious solution. We are stuck in what I call the permanent present, futilely trying to solve future challenges by looking backwards
THE HOLY GRAILSo, again, how do you get unstuck? How do you create those new memories? We need to watch My Chemical Romance concerts on the iPhone and attend Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera; we need to listen to lectures by prominent stem-cell researchers and watch Real Housewives of New Jersey; we need take kite surfing lessons, and see Tornado Alley and attend the upcoming Body Worlds exhibit. Each new scent, sound, taste, view, touch, movement, and sensation contributes to a rich portfolio from which creative ideas and insights arise.Now, here’s where it gets really exciting:When these new experiences are being recorded, the brain looks for similar “data” to associate it with. It’s like a mental mash-up; an established memory collides with new information, and your frame of reference suddenly expands. In that moment you re-perceive an idea, now in a broader context, with nuances you’d not seen before, and think, “Aha! I’ve never seen it that way before!” Indeed you haven’t. Without the new input and the new synaptic connections that it creates, there’s no physical way that you could have seen it that way before.This moment of insight is what futurists are working for. In that moment, perspective expands and understanding deepens; a cascade of new predictions ripples through the brain and, with it, new ideas start to pop. When this starts to happen in the innovation process, the insights, the new predictions, and the ideas are the material from which a solution is mapped out. The result is a new set of possibilities that fits our interests and matches future conditions.
LEFT-RIGHT-LEFTThe Zone of Discovery is designed to maximize the brain’s natural facilities for analysis, prediction, imagination, associative fluency and planning. The flow of activities engages the left brain first DEFINE: analysis and prediction, framing the problem, determining scopeFour Forces ScanBest QuestionsThen exploring NEW material through learning expeditions that make insights “Pop!”DISCOVER: interviews, field trips, workshops, prototypes, etc.The biggest and best ideas are reverse-engineered and distilled as action plans, accounting forDISTILL: time, money, people, outcomes
A Booz & Company study found that more than 75% of CEO’s are very aware that their companies aren’t very effective in managing the process of idea generation (uncovering opportunities) and idea conversion (into workable projects)
And workers feel it!Top concern for R&D managers is responding to immediate demands amidst expectations for long-term ideas.Popular exhortations to be creative, collaborate, use the right side of your brain, fail forward fast, invest in design thinking, create a culture of innovation, etc. do little to bridge the gap. Instead, what it takes to make ‘thinking like a futurist’ both stick and scale, is to incorporate it into one’s regular workflow.Otherwise, all the effort and investment made in new skunkworks or the latest innovation methods fade away soon after their (the consultants, or the directors leading the initiatives) are gone.
Zone of Discovery processDefine (left brain)Discover (right brain)Distill (left brain)A creative problem-solving methodology that is robust enough to support big, complex project, yet light enough to work in small, quick projects.Allocate just 5% of time and budget on ALL projects to ZoD. That way, whenever you hit a snag or come across new information that needs to be integrated into your thinking/project, the right tools are available and at the ready (already baked into the budget). Unplug from unproductive, circular discussions at meetings (note: if an issue cannot be resolved within two meetings) it’s time to “throw it in the zone.” Look at the systems, learn more about the conditions and behaviors influencing project outcomes, and adjust. Make decisions. Get back into the 95%: execution.
One such example is a small project we funded through the Idea Greenhouse. In 2007, the Fiber One brand was launching a completely new product, the Fiber One Bars, but had a small marketing budget with which to do it. At that time, there weren’t any data on the effect of social media on product sales, and three managers (Adam Guiney, Xavier Sanchez de Carmona, and Chris Quam) saw the Fiber One Bars launch as a great opportunity to start doing so. They brought their ideas to the Idea Greenhouse, and when it was presented to the venture board, their proposal easily won our support.The results of that project have been nothing less than spectacular. In terms of impact on sales, their research demonstrated that online conversations were critically connected to the success of Fiber One Bars during its launch.Gayle says, that “it took the hierarchy out of innovation.” What’s more, “it lifted up and differentiated very junior people as thought leaders” in the division.Kaia described it this way: the Idea Greenhouse had “succeeded in reframing the thinking throughout the function. Innovation had become the norm. . . . Where we look for inspiration now is much, much broader than consumer segments, retail and food trends, or industry practices. We look to countries, cultures, disciplines, philosophies . . . it makes the insights stronger“Now,” he says, “it’s an expectation! We’ve become comfortable with trying things out—just get the idea out there; it doesn’t have to be perfect. Our job is to solve the problem, so experimentation is a valued part of that process.”[The successful integration of futurist thinking in CI has influenced the corporate culture, as evidenced in a new, organization-wide adoption of “core hours” at General Mills. Beginning in 2011, meetings can be scheduled only between 9 am and 3 pm, leaving 5 percent of employees’ workday—before 9 am and after 3 pm—free to be used at each employee’s discretion. Jon’s greatest wish, time for “clear space” to think, is now protected
You. Your creativity. Your insight. Your foresight. Your practice and discipline.Once you have that broad reservoir of memory, you can become agile in thinking and creative, a quality we used to think was divinely endowed to a special class of genius, the likes of Galileo, Da Vinci, Mozart, Shakespeare, Oprah, and Steve Jobs.And while we may not all be Einsteins, it’s important to remember that our brains are wired in the same way theirs were, and since we now know understand more about how to enhance its capacity for prediction and insight, we can more readily access the ‘genius’ potential in each of us. Yes, we can.But far more critically, we have to. We have to, because our world and the issues before us are growing in complexity. This is the natural course of progress, like it or not. To adapt, we need a rich and dynamic store of memories from which we can cast flexible and nuanced views of the future. If we don’t, we are destined to feel overwhelmed and stuck in a permanent present.
Sommers tlf innovation day
Know What Changes, What Doesn’t,and What’s Next @CECILYSOMMERS
Three Themes:1. Arrival of Big Data, and visualization of it2. Systems that learn3.More human, natural interfaces
New toolsWeb 1.0 Web 2.0• around information access and • An information ecology communication. organized around friends Communication practices fit into two dominant paradigms. • Friendship-driven public• 1:1 and small group spaces: ―networked publics‖ communications: email and IM.• Public tools like virtual worlds, forums, and chatrooms.
Industrial Revolution Steam and Railways Age of Steel, Age of Oil, Age of Information Electricity, Heavy Automobile, Mass and Engineering Production Telecommunications (1771) (1829) (1875) (1908) (1971) Mechanized Transportation Steel Cheap fuels Microprocessor Labor Petrochemicals, Computers, combustion software, desktop Ports, highways, Paper and engines, publishing, digital Cotton Gin, telegraph, postal packaging, Civil household communications, service Engineering electronics, biotechnology, refrigeration new materials Energy intensity => Increased Productivity => Distributed Economies Based on the work of Carlota Perez Author, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital
―Finance is the driver. Decisions to investare taken by entrepreneurs, often backedby financial agents. ‖ - Carlota Perez
The Role of Banks: Enablers• Personal and business goals – Guides, training, certification• Wealth creation – Credit, investment• Economic engines – Support new models of technical-socio-economic progress
JP Morgan• 1878: J.P. Morgan funded Edison at the very beginning of electricity.• 1908: Rebuffed Henry Ford, ―automobiles are rich men’s toys.‖
General MillsIdea Greenhouse• + 5% in net sales for Snacks Division It ―succeeded in reframing the thinking ―Freedom to experiment‖ ranked low (on throughout the function. Innovation had Climatethe hierarchy out he innovation…lifted ―It took Survey). ―Now,‖ of says, look an ―it’s• 10% market share in grain- become the norm. . . . Where we for cereal bar category expectation! We’ve become comfortable with up very junior people as thought leaders…‖ inspiration now -is much, muchGlobal Consumer Insights broader than trying things out—just get the idea out there; it Gayle Fuguitt, SVP, consumer segments, retail and food trends, or• Adoption of ―Core Hours,‖ doesn’t have to be perfect. Our job is to solve industry practices. We look to countries, 9am-3pm (2011) the problem, so experimentation is a valued cultures, disciplines, philosophies . . . it makes part of that process.‖ the insights stronger.‖ - Jon Overlie, Senior Manager - Kaia Kegley, Assistant Manager