We start this last eSAMI of 2010 with a quote from Tony Hayward, ex-CEO of BP, and a series of questions. “BP was forced to make up its oil spill disaster response as it went along……..For BP this was the ultimate low-probability, high-impact event – a black swan “. Was this in fact a black swan? Was it a case of “'When good companies do bad things” as in the book by Peter Schwartz and Blair Gibb? Or were there some systematics that could have been anticipated? Was the fact that deep sea drilling had not had an accident in 20 years a reasonable predictor of the future? We will collate the responses to these questions received via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and put them on our web site.
The latest Scientific American has a section on "10 World Changing Ideas". An interesting common theme of several of them is “living better within this earth’s constraints” – such as knowitall toll roads which can cope with higher levels of traffic, a killer water filter for the one in six people who lack access to clean water, a wandering, plant eating robot to generate power from biomass, gas from trash. These small steps make me more optimistic that we may find ways to live together on our planet.
McKinsey Quarterly (2010, #4) focuses on ten tech-enabled business trends, and it will be no surprise that ICT is connected to innovation in many aspects – the role of web 2.0 and the network in innovation, collaboration at scale, computer intermediated transactions, analytics and large scale data, the role in public good. We are seeing the rise of the “ICT as service” offerings – cloud computing being the umbrella term. This looks to gain traction really quickly once organisations have gained experience of its power for collaborative work.
I attended a Workshop on “Innovation Workshops” based on a joint project between The Centre for Leadership in Creativity and the Royal College of Art. For more details of the project, or the workshop, contact email@example.com. Coming out of that a new group is being set up for experienced facilitators running workshops, and intended to explore best practice across a range of different workshop styles - including those run in business/design and arts contexts. For more details of this, also contact John as above.
So with best wishes to everybody for Christmas and 2011
2010 is rushing to its end and at SAMI we are finding that the UK public sector cuts are being described by some insiders as “not enough to promote real change” – while others are anticipating significant social unrest following on from the effects of the cuts. Our articles in Utility Weekly and Cover Magazine look at one scenario for some of the potential impacts of the cuts on business.
The current issue of the US journal “Foreign Affairs” is themed “The World Ahead” and has articles on four “Game Changers” – China, Russia, Turkey and Brazil. – leaving out India, which surprises us. It identifies that Africa could, if it embraced the green revolution in agriculture, could become a major exporter of food; and has an article by Eric Schmidt on “The Digital Disruption”. It also has a useful reading list of “Books for the World Ahead”, containing for instance “From Asian to Global Crisis” An Asian Regulator’s View of Unfettered Finance in the 1990s and 2000s”. Their web site is www.foreignaffairs.com.
Scenario planning continues to be in demand, both for strategic foresight related to new business opportunities, and for improving the risk awareness of senior management – moving risk management “up a level”. “BUSINESS, The Ultimate Resource, the 3rd edition” will be publishing an article by Gill Ringland on Scenario Planning next May. The 2nd edition sold out its first printing and can now be found on www.lulu.com.
The London Accord presents a compendium of reports, written by a range of financial services firms, providing insight into environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues ranging from renewable energy to the price of carbon to microfinance to governance. The London Accord allows access to this research free of charge - offering policy makers an insight which they may not otherwise access and giving the financial services industry a way of engaging with society on long-term issues. Find the list of reports on their web site www.london-accord.co.uk.
Finally, following the successful programme of training courses that we have just completed, we will be running further futures coaching courses in late February and March next year. If you would like information on these please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I write this it’s a beautiful Indian summer.
The Expected Surprises event held on 27th September brought together an eclectic collection of people who went away asking for more and we are packaging it as a one day workshop which allows a group to get to grips with the uncertainties within their business environment. Please click here to see an image of the Three Horizons schema we used – which provoked a number of insights and ahahs. For instance, on the evolutionary scale, every extinction has been of the most advanced type. These have been succeeded by less advanced, but more flexible and agile types. For more details on the output from the event or about future workshops, either open events or for your organisation, email us at email@example.com.
The Long Finance Futurists Forum (L3F) held a working session to develop the scenarios for 2030 and 2050 – as a way of bridging into the implications for the sectors of the financial services industry. We met in the crypt of the Guildhall of the City of London – click here to see us in action and some of the amazing stained glass lighting us up. A key question is whether the industry can survive in anything like its current form. As Gillian Tett in the Financial Times on 9th October 2010 pointed out, threats are apparent in the potential for disruptive swings in currency values and commodity prices. For more information, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was at a re-union of ex-ICLers last week and the conversation turned to – “How did the UK IT industry blow it? We were in at the beginning but now have very few IT companies based here.”
We saw two main themes.
We have some interesting events coming up:
One was the ability of the organisation to harness the talents of outstanding individuals – many of whom went on to run other major organisations – and the flip side, the relative lack of process which allows an organisation to scale up more easily. Michael Edwards, who took over British Leyland and described his experience in “Back from the Brink” reached similar conclusions – when he hired in successful people from Ford they were unable to adapt to British Leyland.
The second theme was the lack of ambition – an over focus on a home market too small to support the industry as it became – perhaps an unfortunate side effect of the government’s preferential procurement rules in the 1970’s. The SAMI Publication “Future of Services to the Public” noted a similar trend in the outsourcing companies working with the UK public sector – the UK companies are mostly UK dominated, the foreign competitors have a larger asset base and the ability to adopt learning across more geographies. Are there other industries which our readers know about with similar characteristics?
18 th October; Introductory Course in Strategic Futures, London. Details here.
27 th October: Half Day symposium “Beyond Crisis” (with the Strategic Planning Society) : Please book here.
28 th October: Full day symposium “Beyond Crisis” (with Sayer-Vincent): further details from www.sayervincent.co.uk
10 th November Intermediate Course in Strategic Futures, London. Details here.
And of course you can order a copy of “Beyond Crisis” at Amazon.
Welcome back after the summer.
We were pleased to see that McKinsey have also been working over the summer, and their August newsletter highlights five global trends to watch: the great rebalancing from the western economies and the wave of innovation this will drive; the productivity imperative; the interconnectedness of the world; the demand for resources; and the tension between the market state, globalisation and nation states. The complete paper can be found on https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com
The August issue of Scientific American has an article about the global limits and suggests: Peak Oil in 2014; Water battles 2025; Gold mined out 2030; 90% of available coal extracted by 2072; Lithium reserves run out in 2560 (ignoring the amount in sea water). It also punts on probabilities of catastrophic events – nuclear war 1 in 30 in next 10 years; solar super-storm 1 in 20 in next 15 years; killer pandemic 1 in 2 in next 30 years. Since these are independent they combine to uncomfortable odds of surviving the next 30 years......
And we look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events this autumn:
20th September: Long Finance Futurists Forum, invitation here.
27th -28th September: Expected Surprises Symposium: “Expected Surprises” – how can we reduce the number of Black Swans swooping on our organisation?” A registration form and more details can be found here.
28th September Gresham College Lecture “Beyond Crisis: Achieving renewal in a turbulent world”: further details from http://www.gresham.ac.uk .
18th October; Introductory Course in Strategic Futures, London. Details here.
27th October: Half Day symposium “Beyond Crisis” (with the Strategic Planning Society) : further details attached here.
28th October: Full day symposium “Beyond Crisis” (with Sayer-Vincent): further details from www.sayervincent.co.uk
10th November Intermediate Course in Strategic Futures, London. Details here.
A brief eSAMI this month just to flag two events in September:
First, an invitation to join the next Long Finance Futurists Forum.
Secondly, we are running a symposium with St Andrews University School of Management, over two days on 27th-28th September 2010. The topic is “Expected Surprises” – how can we reduce the number of Black Swans swooping on our organisation? A registration form and more details can be foundhere.
As summer progresses in England, with Wimbledon and Henley now over, three articles have appeared, extending the thinking in “Beyond Crisis” .
The first is on public sector leadership, “Leadership in the Public Sector – the next decade”, by Patricia Lustig, John Reynolds, Gill Ringland and Richard Walsh, in the International Journal of Public Sector Leadership, published in May. To get a copy, email email@example.com.
The second is “Frameworks for coping with Post-normal Times: a response to Ziauddin Sardar”, by Gill Ringland, published in Futures Volume 42, Issue 6. A copy of the article is available through firstname.lastname@example.org.
The third is by Oliver Sparrow and Gill Ringland, in Strategy & Leadership, Volume 38 Number 4 2010, called “A system for continuous organizational renewal”. To get a copy, email email@example.com.
On a different topic, Oliver Sparrow writes: “The most "hits" on the chforum website, by far, are on the scenario for social networks, knowledge and growth. I since discovered some American researchers got hold of telephone data for August 2005, that covered 90% of English cellphone and 99% of landline connections - from, to, duration, post code. They related this to the Government's post code-based index of multiple deprivation. The data show that poor post codes talk more, but talk to a geographically constrained and socially stereotyped network. Rich post codes speak to a spatially diverse network and to an open-ended topology of connections; and speak less. (So, if you call Antarctica once a month and are extremely curt, you are probably very rich.) The full text is here. Not only are there geographical clusters of excellence, but such clusters also exist also in the abstract topology of "connectivity space", and are predictive of wealth generation”.
The first meeting of the Long Finance Futurists Forum led to a surprising set of outcomes – an investment portfolio from 1930 – the write up is here . The next meeting will consider similar scenarios to 2050 and will be held at z/Yen on 11th August. If you would like an invitation, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAMI Director and Fellow Glen Peters has been thinking about the implications of Macondo for Reputation – to read this, click here.
And two dates for your diaries after the summer:
Gill Ringland is giving a prestigious Gresham Lecture at 6pm on 28th September at the Museum of London. The subject is “Beyond Crisis – Achieving Renewal in a Turbulent World”. This is free but places are limited – details are on http://www.gresham.ac.uk.
We are running an innovative symposium with St Andrews University School of Management, over two days on 27th-28th September 2010. The topic is “Expected Surprises” – how can we reduce the number of Black Swans swooping on our organisation? Using three real events, one on financial systems, one in humanitarian disasters, one in security/terrorism, participants will be able to work with their peers to draw out the lessons. The speakers who will set the scene are Professor Richard Hames of the Asia Foresight Institute, Dr Randolph Kent of the Humitarian Futures Programme and Dr Oliver Sparrow of the Challenge Network. A registration form can be found here or for more details contact email@example.com. We hope to see you at one or both of these events.
Meanwhile, enjoy your summer.
This month a mixture of short and longer term thoughts.
A team from SAMI have explored potential futures for corporate governance following its failure in the recent financial crisis. Two contrasting scenarios show the growing tensions between Western and other cultures and their approaches to corporate governance, and the increasing challenges to the rule of law from failing states and global crime. The two scenarios are described in a paper here. They will be featured in SAMI Fellow Emeritus Adrian Davies' next book, "The Global Challenge to Corporate Governance" to be published by Gower this autumn.
A useful City Briefing by The Conference Board highlighted the shift that is underway in the global economy, with about 2/3 of the world’s GDP in the advanced countries in 2000, and 1/3 of world GDP forecast by 2016. This provides extra urgency to the findings in the book, “Beyond Crisis” by SAMI Fellows Gill Ringland. Oliver Sparrow and Patricia Lustig, which is getting excellent reviews eg “This book is a treasure trove of great insights, useful tools, handy hints and homily wisdom. Even before I'd finished it, I had fired off emails to colleagues extolling them to "read this book", "use the tools on pages X and Y", and the like. The overarching message is one that standing still is not an option. We need to open our eyes to ourselves and to what's happening around us and to have the courage to accept, welcome and embrace change. As I read it, I was conscious of having one eye on my own organisation; undertaking a strategic review in my mind as I turned the pages. Are we a PS-RO? Do we have a clear Narrative? Do we have the right Machinery? etc. My Hero Quest is to build strategic thinking into my organisation. On my journey, I will return time and again to this book for help, guidance and reassurance. It may not deliver renewal, but having it to light the way will give us more of a fighting chance!”
The Queen’s speech and budget statements from the new government have identified major cuts in public spending. More changes will be introduced in the autumn based on a radical rethink of the role of the public sector. These together will have a big impact on the UK over the next five years. However there are many other factors that will affect us – from the euro zone developments to long term trends in demographics and energy. SAMI has brought together a number of these forces for change to describe what may be expected for the UK, over the next five years, to 2015, as well as highlighting the areas where there are big question marks. The think piece can be found here.
We are running a symposium with the University of St Andrews on “Expected Surprises”, on 27th and 28th September. This will use real events which “took the world by surprise” in order to understand how organisations can be better prepared; it will be led by Professor Richard Hames of the Asian Foresight Institute, Dr Randolph Kent of the Humanitarian Futures Programme and Dr Oliver Sparrow of the Challenge! Network, and engage participants to find the “ahas” that will affect their organisations. For more information, click here.
We also have our share of “ash cloud” stories – SAMI Principal Dr Wendy Schultz was in Bucharest working on a wiki on Foresight for the Romanian Higher Education 2025 project and found out that it takes three days to get from Bucharest to Oxford by train, “seeing more of Europe in those three days than in the last 20 years”.
Finally, the Futures coaching event on 17th June still has places. It focuses on two important tools: Stakeholder Impact Analysis, which takes existing scenarios and gets people to consider the potential impact of the scenarios on various stakeholder groups; and Windtunnelling to test how future changes in the external environment might affect their ability to deliver a particular project or set of strategic objectives. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month we will be circulating our hard copy SAMI by post. It should be with you soon.
We would also like to bring you news of a new programme of strategic futures training, delivered by SAMI Consulting in conjunction with the UK Government’s Foresight Horizon Scanning Centre. The first course in the programme is:
Strategic Futures Course in Scotland
17 June 2010: Harburn House, near Edinburgh
Bookings are now being taken for this first course. It is a one-day intermediate course designed for those who have some experience of futures methods. It is aimed at policy makers who are commissioning futures work, or anyone wanting to use futures analysis. The course brochure with further details can be found on the SAMI website.
Because of the government connection, the course represents extremely good value for money at £350 plus VAT. Bookings can be made by e-mail on email@example.com or call our enquiry line on 01635 36971. Please feel free to pass it on to any colleagues or contacts who might be interested.
2010-11 Training Programme
We will also be offering the following courses in Strategic Futures in 2010 – 2011.
18 Oct 2010 London
23 Feb 2011 London
17 June 2010 Edinburgh (see above: bookings now being taken)
10 Nov 2010 London
If you express an interest at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will make sure that you receive full details at the appropriate time.
We hope to arrange other courses over the coming months - on futures methods and on how to build organisations that are fit for the future. Please contact us for the latest schedule and if you need any other training in these areas, or have knowledge of any particular demand, then please let us know.
THE BOOK is finally published and available on Amazon– “Beyond Crisis” by Gill Ringland, Oliver Sparrow and Patricia Lustig.
This is not the only publication from SAMI to celebrate – we (Martin Duckworth, Nick Jackson and John Reynolds) also contributed to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ Report on Skills to 2020 which was published in March and can be found on UKCES website.
The SAMI contribution was Scenarios for Skills 2020
We published an article "Ready for Renewal?" by Colin Fletcher and Gill Ringland in “The Treasurer”, the journal of the Association of Corporate Treasurers.
The classic "Scenario Planning" continues to sell well, and is used on a number of Business School courses, judging by the number of page copies recorded.
Malcolm Cooper, SAMI Associate and Historian of The Long Finance Foundation presented a view of history thorough coinage at a seminar “Long Finance Roundtable: In Search Of The Eternal Coin”, held at Gresham College – details can be found on http://www.zyen.com/long-finance/long-finance-events.html . We are organising a Long Finance Forum of Futurists in Financial Services (LF4S) : for more information contact us at LF4S@samiconsulting.co.uk .
At last we have signs of Spring here in the UK – it feels good! And a number of publications and presentations are worthy of comment.
SAMI Principal Wendy Schultz, with Nicola George of Natural England, has produced a survey of scenarios dealing with the natural environment. This is available as a pdf from the Natural England web site, http://www.naturalengland.org.uk or on our website . This followed a joint Natural England and SAMI project to develop scenarios for the English natural environment to 2060. The Natural England report on these scenarios and the associated report on drivers of change are on our website.
SAMI Fellow Oliver Sparrow has updated his presentation of the global forces over the next decades, “Painful Transitions, a perspective on 2030”. Among the wide scope and sweep of the data included are three points new to me – the projection that by 2025, China will emit about twice as much CO2 as the total EU-15; that 9 world cities are emerging, with more in common with each other than with cities in the same country, as measured by commercial and financial linkages; and there is a correlation between a wide range of governance indicators and GNP per capita. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Two of the authors of “Beyond Crisis” (SAMI Fellows Patricia Lustig and Gill Ringland) will be presenting the main points from the book and the implications for humanitarian organisations at an event organised by the Humanitarian Futures Programme on March 24th. The proceedings are expected to appear in the Journal of Disaster Studies, Policy and Management. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
SAMI Associate Elizabeth Lank has recently published an article in Business Leadership Review, building on earlier work on “Leadership 3.0”, titled “Developing the Learning Habit” (January 2010). A pdf version can be viewed on the BLR website.
We have mentioned the Scenarios 2040 project in earlier newsletters – three scenarios for 2040 have now been published. The focus is – how does the world deal with systems issues and the rapidly developing technological capability that will enhance human capability? The scenarios can be found on www.chforum.org
After the chaos caused by the unusual snows of January, hopefully February will be better.
February began very well. As Chris Skinner, Chairman of the F.S. Club says “So I finally got to attend a free lunch!” This was the launch of LongFinance, with around 400 people gathered to hear about the LongNow Foundation from Brian Eno and Stewart Brand; and a provocation on a possible new currency from Bernard Lietaer, with Professor Sir Roderick Floud and fund manager Edward Bonham Carter. This was all ably chaired by Faisal Islam from Channel 4 News. For more information, the web site is www.longfinance.net.
Also looking to the future, The James Martin 21st Century School’s Angela Wilkinson has published with the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society “The Oxford Scenarios: Beyond the Financial Crisis”. These examine the world views that allowed the financial crisis to unfold, and suggest two possible stories of how the world might evolve from here. The scenarios are available under a Creative Commons licence, from here.
While researching for an article to be published in Futures, I encountered some interesting data on “Comparing foresight styles in six world regions”, a paper by Michael Keenan and Rafael Popper in Foresight, volume 10, 6, pp16-38 (2008). They analysed almost 2,000 foresight activities reported over the last decade and found significant differences in approach. Literature Review was the most favoured approach in Europe, while Asia and North America favoured Expert Panels. Scenarios were more widely used in Asia and Europe than in North America. Delphi did not appear on the top ten list in either Europe or North America, but was widely used elsewhere. The authors discuss why this might be: it could be due to societal cultural factors, or the relative maturity of foresight itself allowing for a different paradigm, the Futures Workshop, to be significant in N W and E Europe and North America but less used elsewhere.
We have recently also come across two books on leadership, with a very different purpose. The first is by Richard David Hames, “The Five Literacies of Global Leadership”, which is the result of over ten years of intensive and expansive research across five continents. It explodes many of the conventional myths and orthodoxies surrounding Western-style celebrity leadership as a fraudulent distraction, while laying a new paradigm for facilitating positive change, which aligns with that in our “Beyond Crisis: achieving renewal in a turbulent world” due out in March. The second, “It’s Behaviour Stupid”, by Steve Glowinkowski, applies “disruptive innovation” to the realm of leadership, management and organisational performance, and provides a framework for aligning behaviour to the organisation.
If it is not too late – and you are able to get around in spite of the inclement weather – Happy New Year!
Over the Christmas break, work has continued on one project at least – Scenarios 2040. A team of about twenty, drawn from all over the planet, have been developing scenarios for 2040 on the web. Around quarter of a million people have had a look at the process, several hundred of them sending in comments that range from the unintelligible to the actionable. Many were, however, extremely helpful and the process has led us into workshops with organisations of whose existence we were completely unaware. You can find this body of work here.
There has also been a flurry of interest in guides to scenarios and the issue of “Scenarios, an Explorers Guide” from Shell - available from the Shell website. This booklet uses a metaphor of exploration and map-making to describe how to think about building scenarios. Like a set of maps describing different aspects of a landscape, scenarios provide us with a range of perspectives on what might happen, helping us to navigate more successfully. Exploration - of a territory or the future - involves both analytical thinking rooted in whatever facts are clear, and also informed intuition.
SAMI is currently exploring the concept of a consumer focused quality standard (QS) for Income Protection (IP) insurance with a number of insurers. This would be underpinned by an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) approved code of practice. The idea came from the IP Task Force’s suggestion of a kite mark but, unlike their proposal, it would only apply to a section of the market. This is normal practice for OFT codes and has the huge advantage of avoiding the need for cross-industry consensus. Developing the QS will not be a back-room exercise and it will be forward looking – rather than rooted in the past. To this end we will be carrying out a series of interviews with key stakeholders from a wide range of organisations using scenario planning techniques. This is so we can be sure that whatever is proposed for the QS is robust in uncertain times. Research will include distribution and consumer perspectives. Ultimately we will look for the QS to be a code for participating companies supported by the Financial Services Authority as well as the OFT. For more information, contact email@example.com.
We are running a joint event with the Association of Sustainability Practitioners on February 9th 2010, to explore ways of thinking and acting that will create new, resilient organisations that can thrive in the new decade. If you would like more information, email Gwyn Jones for details.