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Preparing for the Future: Advice from Two Futurists in The United Kingdom

Sprinklr Team

April 24, 2020  •  3 min read

Resilience, adaptability, and (hopefully) foresight are on the world’s mind today like never before. To adequately prepare for the future and build a high level of resiliency, our organisations will probably have to make multiple, major mindset shifts. Do you know who’s been thinking about these things for a long time? People who work as professional Futurists.

We’ve identified roughly 1500 Futurists online around the world by analysing Twitter data, starting with some of the top self-identified foresight consultants in the world, spidering out across their connections, and then doing a cluster analysis for validation of each one. 25% of these Futurists are in Europe – you can find a Twitter list of more than two hundred of them here.

The United Kingdom is home to about 15% of the world’s futurists. That’s the second highest concentration of Futurists in the world (after the US), followed by Finland, the Netherlands, and then France.

Two futurists in the United Kingdom that we’ve been inspired by lately are Joana Lenkova and Tom Cheesewright. As guests on our weekly video show ‘The Sprinklr Coffee Club’, Joana and Tom have shared some great perspectives on how organisations should strategise today to be prepared for tomorrow. Here are some highlights from those conversations:

Ambidexterity: Explore & Exploit

Joana Lenkova is the founder of Futures Forward, a strategy and foresight consultancy, who spent years working at Disney in Europe.

She says organisations must organically balance between exploiting their current opportunities and investing in exploration for what will come next. She explains that actions resulting in financial success today are not guaranteed to work tomorrow.

Athletic Organisations

How do you operationalise that ambidexterity? Tom Cheesewright’s advice fits nicely here. Cheesewright lives in Manchester and uses Foresight, Narrative Planning, and Agile Organisation Design as an Applied Futurist. He’s just released a new book titled Future-proof Your Business, where he expands on some of the ideas he discusses here.

He’s got a great way of explaining the way agile organisations can use what they already know about their business, plus collaboration, plus foresight to train themselves like athletes do.

How to be Prepared for Volatility: Look Beyond Your Industry

Those athletic organisations Cheesewright talks about are made up of individuals – and Lenkova offers excellent advice on how each of us can contribute to our organisations’ view of downfield.

What Questions to Ask in Your Research

Tom Cheesewright explains what he does for his clients as a futurist, and his answer suggests what kinds of questions we should all be asking when doing the kind of research that both of these futurists recommend. These may not be the kinds of questions you’d expect: two of three are focused on change management.

The Probability/Impact Matrix

All of this research could surface any number of scenarios that could be prepared for. Where should you focus? Joana Lenkova shares a model she likes to use to determine where to focus. Importantly, it includes listening to opposing points of view and stepping out of your comfort zone!

Summary

That’s a wide-ranging but thorough body of advice for thinking about how to become a more agile organisation.

  • Balance the present with exploration for the future

  • Collaborate with your team as athletes do to look downfield

  • Look at the macro circumstances and outside your industry to find trends that could combine (the future is very combinatorial!)

  • Think about mid-term futures, how to tell the stories needed to mobilise for preparation, and how to operationalise the changes needed

  • And finally, consider both the likelihood and the impact of the various scenarios

Help make your business more agile and prepared by using Sprinklr’s powerful technology to optimise your work today and explore what your future may bring.

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