Looking Back at Looking Forward

sharing knowledge about organisational foresight

Flexible Firms

On to chapter 10 of Johansen’s Get There Early describing the emergence of flexible firms. Coincidentally, I read chapter 10 after having completed a work project in quick time.

The task was to review emerging trends looking out five to ten years and produce a concise overview along with organisational implications.

The process was networked, drawing on domain experts horizontally and put together without going through all of the normal hierarchical approvals. All done in super quick time.

How did this happen? By following some principles of networked engagement. In chapter 10 Johansen describes the principles of engagement applied by the IFTF. Several of them applied to my own experience as above.

These are the ‘principles for flexibility’ that have worked for me:

Courageous opinions, humbly expressed – where diversity of perspectives is mandatory. Provocative, strongly held points of view are of value…but only those expressed with humility, respect for others, and thoughtful reflection on alternative views.

Give generously, ask respectively – working as teams is a co-dependent situation, having trust and confidence to work together. This requires being “direct with one another and express our opinions honestly, not through back channels”. It is also about valuing silence, listening and contemplation.

Honor essential processes – follow core business practices while minimising administrative and management processes.

March 9, 2008 Posted by | foresight | , , , | Leave a comment

Get there early

Have just started reading Bob Johansen’s Get There Early – fabulous so far. Bob’s mental model of foresight…the VUCA acronym and the ‘foresight to insight to action cycle’ … resonated with me.

The future is highly changeable – there is a constant state of flux and change – the future cannot be predicted, there are many possibilities – things could go this way and that. In other words there is volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Scary for some…many would rather take flight than begin to understand the many inter-related issues.

The way around this is to take what many do – sensing what’s new – to another level. That is, make sense of it (insight) … developing an understanding and clarify what is happening in the present. Out that a clear sense of direction can be formed (vision) so that timely responses or resilience to events (agility) can be actioned. In other words, instead of taking flight, VUCA empowers you to fight!

Drawing on his service as CEO of the Institute for the Future, Bob is doing us all a favour in authoring this work.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | foresight | , , | Leave a comment

Blended realities, blended lives

The Institute for the Future’s Technology Horizons 2008 Research Agenda article ‘Blended Realities, Blended Lives’ looks more like the present than the future. The article notes that the “wireless Web, virtual worlds, augmented realities overlaid on top of physical ones, advanced simulations and networked knowledge promise to transform our everyday experiences…”.

In today’s The Age there is a report on research into the web and social networking. The article claims one in five Australian’s “feel their online identities were closer to their ‘true self’ than their real-world identity [and that] many are defining themselves through their virtual identities”.

That is certainly consistent with IFTF’s view that “our personalities are becoming multiple and portable”. Even the forward-looking statement that we will soon be “able to carry our avatars from one context to another…from Second Life to…Google Earth” seems to be very near future given the trend towards integration (of social networks, other web sites, communication tools).

I’ve posted on the emergence of multiple identities:

http://paulrexroberts.blogspot.com/2007/04/who-am-i-who-are-you-who-are-they-what.html

and on Protagoras, “man is the measure of all things; of things that are that they are, and of things that are not that they are not”.

People have always had there own distinct view of ‘reality’, there own way of making sense of and interpreting things. I see the growth of multiple virtual identities as being complementary to ordinary life…through dreaming, art, conversation. The Web enhances creative expression.

December 3, 2007 Posted by | foresight, philosophy | , , , | Leave a comment