David A. Smith
The value of foresight
Foresight seeks to redress the dangerous, short-term weighted imbalance evident in planning by providing a systemic framework for thinking about, imagining, and planning for the future. At its core, foresight allows stakeholders to have structured conversations about uncertainty, which is perhaps the only certainty right now. Done correctly, it can reveal challenges and opportunities that are easily dismissed in a business-as-usual environment.
For example, in 2011 speaking to Terex in Mannheim, Germany, we noted the important role of wildcards in our planning stating that ‘we are well overdue, statistically, for a large-scale pandemic. We should expect an outbreak that could kill 100 to 200 million people. We know that we will have to face one.’ In early March 2019, forecasts for up to 90 million global deaths in a worst case COVID-19 scenario were made. Being broadly correct in this prediction gives us no pleasure, but it does dispel the notion that a challenge of this nature and scale was unpredictable.
Those with the foresight to digitally enable operations, new forms of work and craft an agile data and IT architecture are currently better placed to handle the direct fallout of the crisis. Work, as many organisations are now appreciating, is not a place. To the Basware conference in Tampere, Finland in 2010, David predicted that ‘it is very unlikely we will travel to do regular, repetitive work that we can do elsewhere.’ To Microsoft a year later, David noted that ‘PC based video conferencing will become huge, and then in turn will virtual reality worlds. Beyond that, holograms will then allow us to be in many places at once.’
The rate of remote work uptake was significant prior to COVID-19, but now it seems the new normal for those who had the foresight to appreciate the agility it brings. For more of David’s wide-ranging past predictions that highlight the value of foresight, visit https://www.thegff.com/forecasts.