eSAMI 2017

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September 2017

Our thinking on Brexit continues to evolve. We have been publishing regularly on our blog, and are now proud to announce our new paper, "Britain 2030 - four post-Brexit scenarios". We have brought our experience in foresight to this most pressing of national problems, and whilst no-one can predict this particular future with confidence, we present four alternative scenarios, with their implications for Britain, and British business in particular. Click here to download or view a copy.

Wendy Schultz and I have both (separately) been in Africa this summer (Tanzania and Zimbabwe respectively) and shared our perceptions.
>First, the trajectory to energy, roads, housing, schooling is set, albeit with patchy execution: which means for instance in Kenya, 89% of the population has access to the internet – the same as in the UK. While this of course does not mean that there is not real deprivation, and it is not all of Africa.
Second, the energy of the young population has enormous potential, reaching beyond a purely economic model to similar questions of identity that Europeans ask themselves.
Third, with an energized and increasingly tech savvy young population, Africa is also benefiting from increased trade, development, and diplomatic relations with Asia, which it might in future leverage into a much more significant role in global politics and economics.

   Future Issues

Mixed signals for self-driving cars:

An AI robot has performed in the top 20 percent of students on the entrance exam for the University of Tokyo.

Augmented Reality (AR) is making inroads into medical care. Applications include EyeDecide which simulates a patient’s vision (through cataracts for example); the Empowered Brain provides feedback to autistic children; and Accuvein which helps identify where the vein actually is for blood tests.

Fitbit have launched a new smartwatch, Ionic, which will be able to give deep health insights like sleep apnea, on-device dynamic workouts, and improved heart rate tracking. It will also have a continuous glucose monitoring service for people with diabetes. The device also comes with smart features like contactless payments, on-board music, and smart notifications.

CRISPR now offers the possibility of managing evolution. But evolution has been working toward optimizing the human genome for 3.85 billion years. Do we really think that some small group of human genome tinkerers could do better?

An Australian article suggests Generation X is less healthy than Baby Boomers despite smoking and drinking less. How will these trends affect healthcare generally?

   Our Blogs

Since our last full edition before the summer break we have maintained our weekly blog postings and have touched on a number of different subjects. Firstly we shared some thoughts from a recent report completed for EU-OSHA on trends and drivers in ICT and work location. We then returned to the current conversations on Brexit and looked at some of the issues facing business. Following our attendance at a Centre for Cities seminar we posted a review of a talk on the role of cities as part of a modern industrial strategy and, more recently, have posted the first three in a short series of blogs on foresight, what it is, the evidence that this works and some of the tools that support futures thinking.


August 2017 – Training special edition

With the summer break upon us, this eSAMI focusses on training courses we are planning for this Autumn.

A recent BBC Radio 4 programme on Critical Thinking was part of its Bringing Up Britain series. Forming good conclusions and making informed decisions when faced with information which may be incomplete, uncertain or just plain wrong seems more important than ever, so Critical Thinking is a skill which everyone should have.

Political shocks, rapid technological advances, shifting generational attitudes and economic upheaval show that change is happening everywhere – and in complex interconnected ways.
Straight-line forecasting or assuming the status quo continues are no longer – if they ever were – a basis for sound strategic planning.

Fortunately, there are tools and techniques to help you deal with this complexity. Delivered by professional futurists, who have years of top-level experience in a wide range of organisations, our Autumn SAMI training courses help participants develop their critical thinking skills to help make decisions in uncertain times.


This course is Intended for those new to futures thinking wishing to learn several techniques that they can apply to real-world issues in their organisations and provides opportunities for hands-on experience of their use in a workshop format.
2 days, 25th, 26th September 2017, and 5th, 6th March 2018
Central London
£900 + VAT

We are also running some courses aimed at Directors of Corporate Strategy, Policy Directors, Chief Risk Officers, Non-Executive Directors, Governors, Trustees and board advisors, in conjunction with “Better Boards”.


This workshop on risk literacy covers:

  • Risk perception - how risk is viewed as threat or opportunity
  • Risk attitude - how we respond to risk: by seeking or avoiding.
  • Collective decisions - how group dynamics impact board decisions.
  • Accepting uncertainty - recognising limitations on future certainty.
  • Strategic risks - unseen & unspoken risks which boards often take.
  • Risk literacy - benefits of improved appreciation of uncertainty

Half-day, 10th October
£450 + VAT


This course examines the causes and types of uncertainty, helping attendees get to grips with uncertainty:

  • Causes of uncertainty - knowledge gaps & ‘domains of ignorance’
  • Types of uncertainty - from unknown-knowns to known-unknowns.
  • Reducing uncertainty - mitigating risk and calculating future outcomes.
  • Behavioural economics - cognitive bias and the ‘wisdom of boards’
  • Ambiguity management - perceptions and preferences in the board.
  • Reasoned rationality - creating a balanced and objective consensus.

Full-day, 19th October
£600 + VAT


This course looks at how we are all prone to bias in ways we are not aware of:

  • The 12 key cognitive biases which cause bad decision making
  • The Columbia Shuttle Disaster and other failures affected by cognitive bias
  • How we can spot when a bias might cause a bad decision
  • New ways of thinking that reduce susceptibility to bias
  • Using bias free language
  • Being more comfortable with uncertainty and working with it
  • A practical process for eliminating bias errors
  • Ten tips for boards
    Full-day, 28th November
    £600 + VAT

    And two other courses for early in 2018


    Two-day residential course at Wolfson College, Oxford, enabling attendees to get in-depth understanding of applying foresight techniques
    January, London – date TBA
    Cost TBA


    Applying the concepts in Tetlock and Gardner’s book Super-forecasting.
    Date: TBA
    Cost: £600 +VAT

    We also offer bespoke courses for in-house teams.

    For more information please go to or contact us at

    Next month we will return to the usual eSAMI format. Enjoy your summer.

    Huw Williams
    Principal, SAMI Consulting


    July 2017

    A few interesting thoughts have come our way this month as well as notice of events which may be of interest ---

    A blog from Stanford University discusses research on why uncertainty makes us risk averse ---

    A blog from the Association of Professional Futurists (apf) describes a recent conference at the Finland Futures Research Centre in Turku, Finland on “Futures of a Complex World”. As they say “What are the main challenges in an era of an uncertain world? How to create sustainable futures based on empathy? What is the role of futures research in identifying opportunities for action that are fair and resilient while remaining agile in a global and complex world? This futures conference aims to generate critical, multidisciplinary and stimulating discussions that promote networking between people from different backgrounds”. For more see

    The apf has also started to discuss why foresight is difficult to teach in Universities – because it spans disciplines. As a recent report from LERU – the Association of Leading European Research Universities - ( brings out, inter-disciplinarity and strong established University schools are in tension, but academic institutions do need to be harnessing the potential of interdisciplinary research. What this means in Foresight – as described by Luke van der Laan of the Doctor of Professional Studies Program at the University of Southern Queensland – is that PhD topics are often co-sponsored between two University schools. “It would be unusual (if at all) for an accredited research doctorate to be dedicated to foresight only”.

    The School of International Futures event - SOIF2017- returns for its sixth successive year. The five-day retreat from August 7-11, 2017 teaches the science and art of Strategic Foresight. This year its themes are:

    • The future of education and skills - What will life look like in a world that has started to deglobalise, with increasingly local design, production and flows of people and goods? What skills are needed, what do our educational systems look like?
    • Lean and agile foresight - Companies, governments, local communities, NGOs want to use “agile” and “lean-start-up” approaches to quickly harness insights from foresight into decision-making and operations. It will explore the role of different tools, principles and approaches.
    • NATO Live challenge - Ahead of the 2018 refresh of the NATO Strategic Concept, Jamie Shea, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Issues at NATO will set participants a foresight challenge looking at the emerging issues and how NATO can prepare. You can follow updates on Twitter @SOIFutures or

    We will be away in early August – I will be in Zimbabwe – so the next eSAMI will be in September. Enjoy the summer!

       Future Issues

    Societal change is often hard to identify as it happens. Is there a generational change emerging in Russia ?. But we do know we have an ageing population. Here are some materials to help you plan for it.

    Are automated systems safe? Or did automated systems cause the surprising crash between a US warship and a container vessel ? There are clear signs that something odd was happening when one of the world’s most sophisticated vessels runs into a vast lump of slow-moving metal.

    We are at last seeing evidence that electric vehicles are on the march . 46% of new car sales in Norway are electric; And Volvo says that all its new cars will be electric or hybrid by as soon as 2019.

    AI continues make strides in medicine – this article discussed the use of AI in radiology , arguing that radiologists should embrace it and recognise their jobs will change. And a University of Adelaide research paper claims that an “off-the-shelf” machine learning system can predict longevity from CT scans as well as humans.

    But maybe big data is too risky. Wetherspoon’s seem to think so . And cyber-attacks are becoming expensive – Bloomberg thinks we’re looking as $2.5bn

       Our blogs

    In the past few weeks our blogs have looked at various aspects of the future. These have included the possible impacts on Brexit of the General Election and the future of work in pharmaceuticals and life sciences , as well as a look forward at the future of Latin America . We also advertised a webinar on scenarios for Europe for 2030 hosted by Unlocking Foresight and Atkins and based on our work with Grant Thornton International - a blog following this up will be published soon. And finally we noted that interest in Gill Ringland’s book on scenario planning is still high with a review from the Chartered Quality Institute.


    June 2017

    Two sources of thinking about foresight took my attention this month –

    Two articles in Forbes on Foresight, both from Robert Wolcott.

    And the Singapore Centre for Strategic Futures has published its 2016/7 IPS Nathan Lectures

    Future Issues

    If you thought that right-brained emotional intelligence was how humans would outperform AI, then the emotional chatbots being explored in China may cause you to think again. And in his new book, the Heart of the Machine , Richard Yonck similarly describes scenarios for the development of emotional AI.

    In a survey on what people want from an AI assistant , Ikea (!!) found that 84% of people wanted AI that could detect their emotions, 63% wanted it to stop you making mistakes (which entails not doing what you tell it to), and 23% even wanted it to be religious! Ikea also announced plans to start selling smart lighting compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and the Apple HomeKit application, thus enabling speech-controlled lighting .

    So some believe AI is becoming so important to organisations that they now need a CAIO (Chief AI Officer) ?

    Qualcomm are stepping out with the “Internet of shoes” . Devices in the shoe will not only log your steps and help navigation, but also monitor your gait, to tell you when to speed up your pace.

    A Ukrainian company has taken a major leap in sustainability, developing a 3D printed “passive” house that doesn’t need any fuel combustion even in Arctic climate conditions.

    In some interesting changing social trends, it seems like we may be adopting healthier lifestyles. The young are not drinking as much , and vapers are giving up smoking . Impacts on healthcare, insurance and many other sectors could be substantial.

    Our blogs

    In the past few weeks our blogs have covered a range of different topics from insurance to cities to social care. Early in May we looked at some possible futures for life insurance and the factors affecting this. Following this we considered some issues relating to sickness absence and households' financial resilience in this area. Moving away from the financial world we reviewed a webinar on the future of cities and thought about the evidence that foresight works . The UK General Election was then upon us so we had a look at what the manifestos had to say about social care and what might happen going forward.

    May 2017

    We are planning a series of training events to help “robust decisions in uncertain times”, as well as our next webinar on The Future of Work in Health, on Wednesday 17 May 2017. It is based on our recent Forum. Click the link for details.

    Following the success of our two-day workshop on Futures Thinking skills in March, we are pleased to announce that it will be held again in central London on 3-4 July 2017. The workshop follows a hands-on format which allows participants to practise the techniques of Horizon Scanning and Scenario Planning, in a friendly setting with a small class size and expert tuition.  Feedback from attendees in March included: “I thoroughly enjoyed the course. It has fully met my objectives. Thank you very much for an engaging and interactive training on scenario planning.”   

    In August, we are repeating our successful 2 day Bootcamp which introduces a range of futures thinking tools, led by SAMI Principal Dr Wendy Schultz at Wolfson College Oxford.  

    One day training courses in October on “Dealing with uncertainty” led by SAMI Associate Professor Garry Honey and “Superforecasting” led by Professor Paul Moxey, will both be in Central London.  

    A one day training course in November on “Overcoming cognitive bias” will be led by Professor Paul Moxey in Central London  

    And in January 2018 we plan a two day Bootcamp on futures thinking tools in Central London.  

    For more details on any of the above please see our Training section of our website, or email us at  

    We should also like to mention two dates for a one day course “Foresight on Africa” – 20th June and 6th July, details from Warwick University.

    Future Issues

    Flying cars have hit the news again with several announcements of prototypes.  An electric VTOL version from German company Lilium (backed by investors who include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström) has been tested. Dutch start-up Pal-V demonstrated a prototype that satisfies air and road regulations and is due for commercial launch in 2018 . And a very weird looking piece of Heath Robinson design was shown off by Larry Page .  The idea has been around for ages – is it finally becoming reality?  

    Tesla has overtaken Ford and GM in market valuation. This coincides with TfL investing in a rapid EV charging network .  Is the end of fossil fuel cars nigh?   

    China continues its investment in robotics – it will account for more than 30% of the worldwide robotics spending in 2020 – with the manufacturing sector dominating.  

    If you haven’t got your head around Blockchain yet, try this TED talk on how it will radically transform the economy.  

    Will non-invasive “neurostimulation” enhance our ability to learn?  DARPA is trying to find out.  

    New technology is sweeping through the medical profession – this article gives 60 examples of medical applications  of robotics and AI, VR and AR, smartphones and social media, sensors and 3D printing, nanotech and genomics.   

    In the world of economics, the idea of basic universal income is becoming ever-more popular – one TED speaker called it “venture capital for the people” – while another economist regards it as a natural evolution of economic systems.  

    Our blogs

    Recently our blogs have focused on decision-making and reputation management. Our interest in these areas was piqued by two books we read that explored the subject of decisions and how these are made which then led us to consider how training in decision-making can be supported. In turn this led to considering how decisions about problems and crises can so easily damage reputations and brand .

    April 2017

    As we get back to work after the Easter break, some news of SAMI and colleagues.

    SAMI with Global Foresight & Futures organised a Forum on the Future of work in Health to 2040, with reactions like ”terrific event” making us realise that foresight approaches really do help insights! We will publish some of the output soon.

    An article by Cat Tully, Alun Rhyddersh and Peter Glenday of the School of International Futures, “Strategic foresight can make the future a safer place" , has been published by Chatham House. This was provoked by an earlier article in Chatham House’s The World Today– ‘The Lost Art of Leadership’ – on how government and corporate leaders were failing to cope with an increasingly unpredictable world. The authors, Nik Gowing and Chris Langdon, opened with the almost unthinkable ideas that Britain might vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump could be sitting in the Oval Office.

    SAMI have recently launched a new proposition, providing support to organisations looking to use Futurescaper to help with their Horizon Scanning and Drivers Analysis . Based on our experience of working with Futurescaper on projects such as Horizon Scanning for Defra, the offering provides guidance not only in the practicalities of setting up Futurescaper, but also ongoing support with the data sourcing and analysis.

    We are partnering with Unlocking Foresight and Atkins on a series of monthly webinars. The first is at 17:00 hours London time on 26th April, on “The Future of Cities”. This takes a broad look at the role of community and cities, prompted by Ban-ki Moon’s “Our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities” and the recent Scientific American article (Varun Sivaram, May 2017) pointing out that 10 of the 20 most polluted cities are in India. The second at the same time on May 17th will be on the Future of Work in Health, and the 3rd on 5th July on Scenarios for Europe. For more details, and to sign up, click here .

    The recent election results in Turkey should not have been a surprise – see a description of a 1997 scenario study on Turkey by SAMI Fellows Adrian Davies and Dr Adam Scott (It's the first case study in the book)

    Future Issues

    Innovate UK has identified some interesting applications of the Internet of Things.

    • Demonstrating how IoT can connect a city: the Cityverve project in Manchester captures information on: travel and transport; energy and the environment; health and social care; culture and public realm
    • Using IoT to deal with diabetes & dementia life challenges: two winners of a £10m NHS competition, Diabetes Digital Coach (DDC) and Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM), are using wearables, intelligent appliances, discreet sensors and powerful analytics to understand and help address the challenges that these people, their families, loved ones and carers are facing.

    The Transport Catapult has been looking at autonomous marine vehicles , from oil tankers to data collecting mini-submarines.

    And continuing with robots and AI, PwC is predicting that the U.K. will lose 30 percent of its jobs to automation in the next 15 years.

    Our blogs

    In advance of our workshop on the future of work in health on 6th April we published a short series of blogs. Firstly looking at the use of technology in health , followed by an examination of the impact of other STEEP categories and finally looking at how these currents of change may affect health and social care . We will report back on thoughts for the workshop in future blogs. In other recent blogs we looked at the use of scenarios in strategy development , the future of mobility and dealing with uncertainty .

    March 2017

    As the UK approaches BREXIT and is focused on internal struggles, we are fascinated by the happenings in Europe – for instance, President Junckers' speech on a new blueprint for Europe on 1 March. And we look back at some scenarios to 2050 that were developed in 2010 on the future of Europe , for the Research and Innovation Directorate, which are prescient.

    There is a thoughtful look at trends shaping the MiddleEast in a podcast (sound only) I heard recently from Tarek Osman’s talk at the London School of Economics (LSE).

    We still have places available on our futures courses in March. A half-day “Introduction to Futures Thinking” on March 30th 2017 aimed at those wishing to understand the basics and decide how the approach might work in their organisation; and a “hands-on” two-day workshop for strategists where you learn to build scenarios yourself –March 27/28th 2017. Contact for more information.

    And we can now announce the details of our Future of Work in Health Forum : this is on 6th April in central London, and David Lye ( can provide more detail if you are interested.

    Future Issues

    The debate about autonomous cars moves on. Elon Musk is still bullish, predicting that all new cars will be driverless in 10 years . Others worry about the legal and ethical issues .

    Last month we mentioned Airbus plans for autonomous flying cars , at least in prototype, this year. Now Dubai are getting in on the act with autonomous flying taxis due in the next 5 months.

    AI advances continue to surprise with even poker pros being beaten ; how does the system spot a bluff?

    Cybersecurity remains a concern. Microsoft President, is calling for a digital Geneva Convention to protect civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace.

    And moving on from technology, we again see predictions of increased longevity . How will that affect healthcare, retirement, working profiles etc?

    Our blogs

    We've published blogs on a wide range of subjects over the past few weeks. Firstly there was our update on the issue of Brexit which looked at some of the uncertainties arising from recent political events. Then, continuing the Brexit theme, we looked at the impact of this on the outlook for cities going forward . We shifted gear for a moment to look at some of the impacts of the new bereavements benefits scheme and, finally, shared some thoughts that came out of a workshop on the impact that machine learning might have on the work skills required in the future.

    February 2017

    Well, we certainly live in interesting times – and as our clients move from a focus on BREXIT to what is happening to the EU, life gets even more complex.

    Meanwhile, I was invited by Joe Ravetz, SAMI Principal and co-Director of the Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy, to lead a seminar on the the future of cities at the newly launched Manchester Urban Institute recently. Joe’s new book City III is due to be published later this year.

    We found that one of our most visited blogs was The Airport of the Future. So here is a link to the blogs by Helios on other aspects of aviation

    Andrew Curry of Next Wave Futures has published a summary of some of the futures that New Scientist discussed in its 60th anniversary issue in November 2016:

    SAMI Fellow David Lye has a recent article, The fourth industrial revolution and challenges for government in BRINK which describes the issues facing government as a result of artificial intelligence and other tech changes.

    Our January training events were disrupted by train strikes, but we still have places available on the courses in March. A half-day “Introduction to Futures Thinking” on March 30th 2017 aimed at those wishing to understand the basics and decide how the approach might work in their organisation; and a “hands-on” two-day workshop for strategists where you learn to build scenarios yourself –March 27/28th 2017. Contact for more information.

    And we can now announce the details of our Future of Work in Health event on 6 April 2017.

    Future Issues

    Workplace monitoring is moving from fiction to reality , with a company called Humanyze (clever!) a front runner in the UK. Actually of course, as the Guardian article pointed out, there has been a long tradition of trying to monitor and optimise workers’ activities – from time and motion studies, satirised in I’m All Right Jack , through software to give tight control of call centres and on to the much greater power of today’s wearables – so there’s no doubt about companies’ motivation to take this further. Lots of ethical issues to sort there.

    AI ethics also remains an issue, with academics calling for an AI watchdog

    The hype around autonomous cars continues, but some in the industry think that full autonomy (known as “Level 5”) may not be happening any time soon. Elon Musk however, claims they’ll be here within 6 months. Even where semi-autonomous cars are designed to hand control back to a driver in some situations, a study at the University of Southampton showed this handover could take as much as 25 seconds – potentially a very long distance in a critical situation.

    More adventurously, Airbus are planning autonomous flying cars , at least in prototype, this year –how that will work with all those delivery drones soon to be around?

    January 23rd was the start of Blockchain week #blockchainweek . Lots of good examples of how Blockchain can reduce costs and improve authentication from several industries. Gartner rates Blockchain as at the peak of the hype cycle – where will it settle down?

    At least 9 of the 13 “black swans” identified by Barclays Research relate to geo-political and economic uncertainty, and we could all think of many more. Looks like a bumpy ride in 2017 – how is your scenario planning doing?

    Our blogs

    Our blogs this week have been diverse. To start the year we have a topical explanation of why 2017 will probably be worse than 2016 with Expect even stranger events in 2017 - why citizenship is nearly dead. Followed by two on care and welfare, A fairer way to fund long term health care and What a month for welfare reform and income protection . Finally a look at Diagnosing and future-proofing governance and risk .

    January 2017

    At this time of year there is a plethora of articles & posts on 10 things that will change the world – what’s hot in technology – some I always look at are Scientific American for “10 ideas that will change the world” and articles on biotech such as:

    SAMI Associate Tricia Lustig has published a second blog on Huffington Post, "What is a leader to do? Find the right questions".

    I also follow a thoughtful newsletter on India from Deepak Lalwani and with BREXIT looming we may all want to be better informed about India ---.”

    We have prepared a summary of the the Forum on "Diagnosing Governance and Risk Management then Future Proofing Them" on 16 December 2016, in which SAMI participated.

    We still have places available on our training courses in January and March. A half-day “Introduction to Futures Thinking” on January 23rd and March 30th 2017 aimed at those wishing to understand the basics and decide how the approach might work in their organisation; and a “hands-on” two-day workshop for strategists where you learn to build scenarios yourself – on January 26/27 and March 27/28th 2017. Contact for more information.

    Futures Issues

    Solar power is now the cheapest form of new energy (surpassing wind power) in over 60 countries, and in some forms is matching unsubsidised coal and gas .

    This infographic shows how the Internet of Things will affect payment systems, in the home and the car.

    Medical advances abound

    And on the societal front, France’s “right to disconnect” law came into force on January 1st. This prevents companies from contacting employees in the evening, at weekends or on holiday whether by phone, email or anything else. Details will be worked out over the next 3 months. Would that work in the Anglo-Saxon work culture?

    Our blogs

    Recent blog posting has been quieter than usual over the holiday season but we hope you caught the book reviews in time to add to your reading list and saw our review of the recent ESPAS conference along with our greetings for a Happy New Year!

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