Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.
How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought:
Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth.
The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
The Fools on The Hill See the World Spinning Round
Chapter Two: The Ridge
By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories
“Our present situation requires specific capability to fully exploit opportunities and diminish threats to success. Vision, fueled with will power, creates a "tension" between the future and present. Like a magnet across time, tugging us through worthy change, it stretches us beyond the ordinary, the everyday, the urgent. Only fools lead others into the wilderness of the future without a careful reading of history in their knapsacks. The Past is a collection of anecdotes, beliefs about our journey through time, what it has been and what it means. When mapped out it shows how we have repeated ourselves, what we have never tried or tried too often, and what paths were never taken or were over trod. (Basecamp) ends when we know why the journey is worthwhile and what got us here in the first place.”
Jim Ewing, “The EmpowerMap”
The Polls are open. We’re asking people like you to rate trends and predictions that have the greatest direct impact on your livelihood and future plans?
Today’s top pick:
47 – International affairs and national security as a major societal factor (Cetron)
Register your vote
Journal of 2020 Foresight: Earlier you said you structure scenario stories in a four-box matrix as a trick is to minimize the size of the “window pane” for our personal and collective blind spots. And you gave two different examples of the stories past learning expeditions scripted.
Trailblazer: That’s right. In 1997 Lone Eagle and Lost Explorer teamed up to lead an expedition focused on the doing-what-you-love story lines:
“Staying Put, Doing What You Love”
“It’s Wired, Doing What You Want – Anywhere, Anytime”
“Struggling Lone Eagle, Overpriced for Local Market” and
“Trapped & Permanently Temporary”
J2020F: As I recall, Lost Explorer dabbled in the consulting option, but found an internal position. So, he decided to “stay put, doing what he loved.”
TB: Right. But, Lost Explorer shared his “scenario implications wheel” expertise mastered in an emerging, high technology company with Lone Eagle. He’d been helping the research and development group chart a highly uncertain 5-year laser technology and marketing roadmap.
J2020F: So this story telling technique works in careers and in organizations?
TB: Yes, in fact, later in 1999, prior to the dot.com bubble explosion and meltdown, he led an expedition of “Human Resources Executives through their four Talent Scenarios:”
“Me go-go Fast Scenario”
“Running Together Scenario”
“Welcome Back Kotter / Learning Together Scenario” and
“Absent Minded Professor / Out to Sea and Treading Water Scenario”
J2020F: I imagine the two different expeditions overlapped in some areas, then?
TB: Yes. As you no doubt remember, “talent was king” in the later half of the ‘90s, unlike 2000 to 2003.
In addition to the economic picture repeating itself a decade later, two of the talent scenarios – “Me Go-Go Fast” and “Absent Minded Professor …” informed the “Trapped & Permanently Temporary” and Struggling Lone Eagle, Overpriced for Local Market” scenarios.
J2020F: Why do you suppose that happened, because Human Resource Executives develop the people side of their organizations?
TB: Sure, they’re on the hook to attract, select, orient, assimilate, develop and retain the talent critical to their organization’s success. And the same forces affecting people earning a living shape the career and recruitment markets.
J2020F: We also know that organizations grow through life stages, and what works in one stage doesn’t necessarily work in another – especially during extreme business cycles.
TB: So, the HR executives need to anticipate the demand for different sets of talent. During layoffs, they’re the ones delivering the bad news and arranging outplacement services.
J2020F: Sounds like rounds of musical chairs to me.
TB: When you look at all 8 scenarios, it looks more like a matter of fit. From the individual perspective, you want to find out as much as you can about the culture and advancement opportunities at a prospective employer or organizational client.
J2020F: And from the HR perspective the fit assessment depends upon what’s missing from their current capabilities, how long it takes to develop their internal talent pool to make up the gap, and how many of their surplus talent they can afford or let go.
TB: Or, the “Trapped & Permanently Temporary” scenario. Usually, pain (layoff, firing, company relocation, etc.) or gain (entrepreneurial, career fulfillment, or killer idea) motivates people to join expeditions.
J2020F: Let’s talk about some of those forces the two expeditions identified as highly uncertain and yet highly significant to future success and failure.
TB: Typically we ask questions to narrow down our choices. We pretend to look back from the future to the present. Since the life changing decision has already played out, we ask several hindsight questions –
If only I’d know that would happen, I would have done this differently …
J2020F: For the Lone Eagle Scenarios, what did their expedition identify?
TB: Remember the Lone Eagle scenarios, in essence, were about managing a portfolio of tangible and intangible assets created by doing what they love. So, the income streams necessary over a lifetime were threatened by shifting forces several times.
J2020F: So, largely the uncertain business and economic cycles then?
TB: Predictability of the economy for “killer investments,” opportunities for emerging markets, with enough advanced warning to make career moves without disrupting cash flow.
Avoiding prolonged dry spells that eat up cash reserves, and balloon credit card payments.
The impact of the global information economy and the degree to which it transformed organizations.
Their openness to telecommuting and online project-by-project engagement of knowledge workers.
The transfer of the center of work from a specific geographic location, either within driving distance or a relocation for a better corporate position, to the virtual home office.
The quality of life factors and cost of living factors attracting the migration of boomers to different geographical locations.
Initially, some 22 different factors sorted down to this list in response to the first question.
J2020F: What is the second question?
TB: What in the macro environment caused the factor to unfold as it did and to impact my decision the way it did – or cause that major disruption?
J2020F: Now, this was in the mid-90s, right. When AOL dominated the online world and the Internet hadn’t really taken off until Mosiac, the World Wide Web, and finally Netscape came on the scene?
TB: Roughly 5 to 8 years ago. Some of these factors still apply, others don’t:
Basic affordability of office equipment and sophistication of technology tools to deliver reports, materials overnight, if not instantaneously.
Ease of use and excitement of the internet carrying over from the early adopters to the majority of consumers.
Spending influence of babyboomers generating the prosperous economy. In the empty nest stage, they return somewhat to their earlier, non-conforming, change agent roles in society at large.
The migration to smaller towns.
Lower housing prices, deflation, individualistic-consumer oriented demands on business and organizations.
Cut-throat lower margin businesses or customer-intimate and product leadership value disciplines.
Breakthroughs in financial, communications, and entertainment markets.
J2020F: And, the third question from the future looking back?
TB: Which, as it turns out where the critical driving forces I should have paid attention to because they had the most impact and which were the most volatile, uncertain?
J2020F: And I take it, the goal is to identify two or three factors critical to the success of the decision, and the driving forces that are the most important.
TB: Right. Before 56K modems, the degree to which the following forces played out represented the most uncertainty:
Degree to which Internet / WWW becomes the source for boomer entertainment, communications, and financial transactions.
Degree to which boomers can easily access and surface, entertainment level pleasure
Degree to which they can search information to use in making key decisions or monitor performance of financial investments or competitor information to improve their business.
Degree to which one-on-one transactions are helped or hindered by the Internet. Hindered because buyer can't find the seller and the seller can't be visible to the buyer. The needle-in-the-haystack phenomenon.
Degree of financial speculation in the stock market.
Degree to which boomers can afford to answer their calling in non-conformist ways and see the internet as a vehicle for realizing their aspirations.
J2020F: So, taking these driving, uncertain forces into consideration, the lone eagle learning expedition crafted four qualitatively different stories to account for how their futures unfold, right?
TB: While largely a creative writing project, you can rely on typical plot structures as catalysts for developing story lines. The story plots revolve around the actions of, not individual people, but of larger organizations and communities.
J2020F: Of larger organizations and communities? How? Like which ones, for example?
TB: These groups enter the stories as catalysts for or as reactors to changes produced by growing forces -- for example, professions, trade associations, social institutions, nations, universities or companies.
J2020F: Give some examples.
TB: We’ve used a handful to roughly a dozen. We almost always work in three:
Zero-sum game of winners and losers;
Adventure stories of challenge and response; and
Growth and decline through evolutionary change.
J2020F: What are the others?
TB: In addition to evolution – revolution or sudden breakthroughs and co-evolution or changes in one system causes a chain reaction in another. Borrowing from the natural world dramatic structural change, like volcano eruptions or earthquakes. Something on that order of magnitude.
J2020F: What about in financial markets?
TB: Usually we throw in cycles and infinite possibilities. In the latter, the accelerating growth leads us to higher and higher plateaus. Booms lead to bubbles and then cycles exert themselves – usually in politics and in the stock market.
J2020F: Any others?
TB: Well, the rest of the world sees the US as a maverick, a cowboy, the Lone Ranger. In technology, this might be the start-up in a David vs. Goliath struggle. And, finally, the emergence of new generations with different values and expectations.
J2020F: So, how did the Trapped and Temporary scenario unfold?
Copyright ©2002 - 2006 Aarnaes Howard Associates. All rights reserved