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Before signing off for 2013, some updates from SAMI.
Our last “Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind” event will be held at the Royal Society on 22nd January. This will be based on Laurie Young’s book on “Thought Leadership”, published in October just after he died. A description of the event is here, and if you would like an invitation please contact us at email@example.com
Martin Duckworth presented to a large gathering of EC staff on the use of Foresight in the UK Government, emphasising the use of Foresight across departments as a way of tackling complex problems. The slides he used can be found here.
Gill Ringland was asked to run a workshop session at Generation Investment Management’s recent CEO Summit event in London. The topic was Scenario Planning for Long Tail High Impact Events Triggered by Global Resource Constraints. We used the global scenarios first developed for "In Safe Hands?" and the World Economic Forum's 2013 Risk Reviewto stimulate innovative thinking. A short description of the conclusions can be found on the SAMI Blog
Future Issues Roundup
Following Gill Ringland’s post on the City of 2050, we’ve looked at some other futures for cities.
The BBC did a series of reports on http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23524249" target="blank"> The City of 2050. From “delivery drones” to “living street lights” there are plenty of ideas here which could change your world. Amazon are apparently serious thinking about delivery drones, though many are sceptical.
The recent Smart City Expo in Barcelona had streams on Technology (City in the Cloud, Internet of Things), Collaborative Cities (citizen engagement), Sustainability and Governance and on December 13th is Re.Work Cities at Shadwell, London with over 20 speakers.
With all good wishes for the festive season and 2014
As autumn definitely draws in, here is the November eSAMI.
We held the “Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind” event at the Reform Club, looking at the challenges to incumbents of life sciences technologies using Wendy Schultz’s VERGE gameboards – unusually, all syndicates came to similar conclusions – that incumbents would need to partner with new entrants to meet these challenges. A write up can be found on the SAMI blog.
We published scenarios for the future of publishing on our blog, which prompted a number of comments. One was that the future of publishing was to provide a set of meeting places or “Agoras” for content: we found this a really useful concept as it focuses on “the place to go for---“.
I went to the Annual Parliamentary Reception of Tomorrows Company at the House of Lords, to hear some war stories around “responsible Investment, tough choices & practical dilemmas” – picking up some of the themes that we looked at in "In Safe Hands". Paul Feeney, Chief Executive of Old Mutual Wealth talked about the difficulties of simplifying a portfolio to focus on responsible investments, and Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director, PRI, encapsulated the challenge as how to make sure that when people paid into a pension, the money was there when they wanted it. As somebody who has just received a 22% on the £ cheque from a pension investment, I agree!
Future Issues Roundup
Following Illka’s post about Nokia on the SAMI blog, "Losing the Future", we thought we’d look at the future of mobile technology.
And in Africa mobile payments (M-pesa) are far more common than in the West: 3 and a half years after launch, over 70% of households in Kenya and more importantly over 50% of the poor, unbanked and rural populations use the service. It’s also widely used in Afghanistan and India. So when will the West catch up?
Radio 4’s “The Life Scientific” reminded us of a>Douglas Adams’ discussion with Tom Baker from around 1990 – and we’re still not quite there yet. Or BT's vintage film from the 1960s where they predict the future of agile working! Will your views of 25 to 50 years’ time stand up to scrutiny?
We held the first of the autumn “Cobwebs” event in September: this used a futures tool called Verge (previously the Ethnographic Futures Framework) to explore how to align strategy to culture.
The event, attended by around 40 people, was held at Somerset House, where the equally futuristic London Fashion Week was in full swing. After a quick introductory session, the table groups reviewed the Cobwebs trend card deck selecting those thought to be most important for the media industry. Demographic issues such as the ageing population and the changing role of women, and the difference in values in emerging economies were among the ones highlighted.
We then used Verge in a case study of a leading media company, exploring the brand strengths and weaknesses and cultural issues. After another input on Drucker's barriers to innovation and entrepreneurship we continued the discussion before coming to some radical conclusions.
We ended with a presentation on futures thinking by Chris Yapp – slides will be available to view on Slideshare shortly. All in all a very stimulating and animated session.
We are holding two more events this autumn:
To sign up for either of these contact firstname.lastname@example.org: we will also of course be sending personal invitations.
The Cobwebs events grew out of a collaboration between Gill Ringland and Laurie Young, with the most recent at Kings College London on 17th September. He suddenly and unexpectedly died on 18th September, at home. He was an amazing force with energy, ideas and a sense of fun and excitement. We have not yet worked out the best way to provide a memorial to him, and in the meantime we plan to complete the Cobwebs series that we designed together. Laurie is second front here at the last cobwebs meeting
Eric Kihlstrom attended FutureFest, an innovative event organised by NESTA. With three simultaneous events going on in addition to an exhibition, it was only possible to sample different pieces of the vast offerings organised into five FutureFest themes - The Imaginarium, The Value of Everything, Well-Becoming, We Are All Gardeners Now and The Gastrodome. The good news is that the event was very well covered and there is plenty of content online, including material already available at http://www.futurefest.org/. Eric particularly was interested in one of the stream of events called - The Imaginarium. - "How technology and creativity will transform our experience of the world". Have a look at our later this week to read more about Eric’s experience.
While we were working with a client in accountancy, they spotted a good write up of “Scenarios 101” or how to create scenarios step by step. The link is http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2011/mar/20103483
Future Issues Roundup
Welcome to our new monthly round-up of futures issues which have caught our eye recently. The idea is that this will identify topical scenario planning and futures issues that we think are interesting current debates. We’ll be sourcing content from a range of media and selecting those we think have something important to say. We’ll also be specifically picking out items that relate to our blog postings on http://samiconsulting.wordpress.com/, so please do follow us there and have your say. You can also follow us on Twitter at @SAMI4sight
For this first issue we highlight some issues relating to population growth, a good starting point for any futures thinking.
Sir David Attenborough kicked off a debate on population trends and human evolution warning against large families and predicts things will only get worse which generated several responses including http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/10/david-attenborough-humans-still-evolving
And comprehensive population forecasts from the Washington Post. The amazing, surprising, Africa-driven demographic future of the Earth, in 9 charts.
Pew Research gave their view on the growth of Muslim populations – what major implications follow for your industry from this? For example, SAMI did some futures thinking with a major global law firm which led to them deciding to e become experts in Sharia law. Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades
Some local effects of population growth also emerged recently - burial space in England 'could run out in 20 years'. What other odd effects might there be? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24283426
And of course population growth is one of the major factors affecting climate change, which the IPCC flagged up as becoming critical. “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia”; “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century” http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5-SPM_Approved27Sep2013.pdf (but sorry the file seems to have gone.)
The summer was not a time of rest for some of us at SAMI. However I am off to Istanbul at the end of the month, so it is not all work.
We contributed to the Foresight Masterclass at the University of Manchester’s Business School. This Masterclass runs over a 5 day week and attracts a very distinguished international set of participants. I talked about “Using Scenarios: Why use scenarios, and how to make sure they are effective”. The slide deck is on the SAMI web site.
In the July eSAMI we described the brainstorm on “Changing business models in TMT industries” on 24th July in London – this produced a number of insights on the fragmented nature of the supply chain for content in the post-book world. This was part of a project funded by the Technology Strategy Board. The report from the project is called “The Future of Publishing”, it is on the SAMI web site and any of the team – Eric Kihlstrom, John Milner, Gill Ringland, Jon Soar, Chris Yapp – would be delighted to talk to you about our findings.
And an update on the “Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind” events and the schedule we have planned through to another Royal Society event on January 22nd in 2014. Please hold your diary for this. In the meantime we are planning the following:
Meanwhile clients from across the spectrum of public, private and NGO organisations are asking for help in setting a framework for strategic thinking: sometimes this looks like horizon scanning, often with Three Horizons analysis, other times it uses scenarios, in order to engage with the organisation. What is very clear is that the tools that will be covered in the “Cobwebs Bootcamp”, see the paragraph above, are important in getting a qualified set of drivers of change for management teams to work with, to generate their own mental models; and that these tools are less frequently taught than the scenario planning steps.
We are resuming the successful programme of training on futures techniques. The next course is on 23rd and 24th of September in central London. It includes advice on how to conduct futures analysis with practical explanation and hands on exercises on horizon scanning, drivers of change and the generation and application of scenarios; along with introductions to systems thinking, modelling, visioning and risk assessment. The cost is £428 (plus vat) for the two days. Details here.
The courses are part of a programme of training we run on behalf of the Government Office for Science’s Horizon Scanning Centre but private sector participants are also welcome and the sharing of experience across sectors is a valuable part of the experience. If you would like to attend or have any questions on the training please contact email@example.com
No eSAMI in August 2013
As we head for a break over the summer, some of our activities have led to new insights.
I was asked to talk at the 21st WFSF Conference, in Bucharest, on “Here be Dragons”, the book in which we explore the trials and tribulations of organisations trying to “see” the future, what worked and what did not, through the eyes of a fictional company. I used the opportunity to talk also about how we are applying the thinking at the European Commission as we help the DG for Research & Innovation re-orient towards a foresight culture. For more see the SAMI Blog , and the slides I used are on the website www.samiconsulting.co.uk
An MBA student at the University of Durham, Colin Campbell, has conducted a survey on scenario planning as part of his research – the results can be found on our web site here – one surprise was that just over 1/3 of the respondents saw immediate results from scenario planning.
The work we did with Helios for Eurocontrol on air traffic in Europe to 2050 has now been published. The documents are now available on the website here and the press release has been released on http://www.eurocontrol.int/press-releases/.
We are hosting a brainstorm on “Changing business models in TME industries” (Telecom Media and Entertainment) on 24th July in London – if you would like to take part, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be briefing the results of our study on publishing “Bite Sized Business Content” on 22nd August – if you would like an invitation, similarly please email me.
SAMI Fellow Mike Owen spoke at Chatham House on 15th July on The World’s Industrial Transformation, bringing together four sectoral case studies – aircraft, automotive, pharmaceutical and retailing. The four briefing papers can be found on the Chatham House web site http://www.chathamhouse.org.
And an update on the “Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind” events and the schedule we have planned through to another Royal Society event on January 22nd in 2014. Please hold your diary for this. In the meantime we are planning the following:
To sign up for any of these contact email@example.com: we will also of course be sending personal invitations.
In the meantime, please do have a splendid summer.
We have been busy on a number of fronts – five snippets
Long Finance hosted a seminar on May 16th, given by the Centre for Business & Strategic Affairs, on Understanding India. The slide set can be found at www.zyen.com One point that came out that gave me a new perspective was the importance of two way links between India and the Gulf, with large numbers of Indians working in the Gulf and high dependence of India on oil and gas from the Gulf. Also, there are 18 official languages, and India's population is 1.3 billion, of which 49% are below the age of 25, comparable with many African countries rather than other counties in Asia.
SAMI is working on a project, funded by the Technology Strategy Board. to explore a future in which people will need access to bite sized pieces of content from a wide range of electronic publications anywhere, anytime and will be willing to pay small sums for each transaction. As a part of the feasibility study for a Software as a Service (SaaS) business, we ran a workshop at Said Business School in Oxford, on May 14th - the participants looked at what such a business would look like if it took into account all the differing stakeholders views and needs. Tricia Lustig has described the workshop on her blog, www.lasadev.com/blog: or for more information on the project contact firstname.lastname@example.org. As part of that same project, we are running a brainstorm on “Business Models for TMT industries” on 24th July from 13:00 to 14:00. If you would like more details or an invitation, please contact email@example.com.
John Reynolds and Gill Ringland were the speakers at the May SPS webinar. The subject was Scenario Planning: What does it do well? When to use it? 155 people signed up. Here are the slides and either of the presenters will be happy to discuss them further – contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Royal Institute of International Affairs ('Chatham House') is publishing a new report on "The World's Industrial Transformation", which analyses the future prospects to 2020 for some key business sectors - aircraft; automotive; pharmaceutical; retailing. Michael Owen wrote the chapter on the Pharmaceutical Industry. It is intended that the key findings of the report will be presented at a launch event in the near future, for details contact email@example.com.
Summer has finally come to Northern Europe, and I had an excellent two days in elegant parts of Brussels, with the sun shining, hard to beat! EFFLA was being hosted by the King Baudouin Foundation as we discussed Science 2.0, Open Innovation, Europe’s Vision 2030, ( http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/librairie/PDF/QC3210249ENC.pdf) and other aspects of Foresight relevant to the European Commission.
We are running a workshop on 14th May at Said Business School on Bite Sized Business Content. We see a future in which people will need access to bite sized pieces of content from a wide range of electronic publications anywhere anytime and will be willing to pay small sums for each transaction. We expect that the outcome of our Technology Strategy Board funded feasibility study will be a qualified set of target markets and related content lists for a new on-line business. If you would like more details, and/or an invitation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAMI Fellows John Reynolds and Gill Ringland are running a webinar for the Strategic Planning Society on 15th May at 16:00 on Scenario Planning – based on case studies of scenarios for China and India, and for Green Jobs : it is free to SPS Members, contact email@example.com. Non-members can join in through the SPS LinkedIn site if there are enough spaces left after Members have signed up - it will be posted up around 3 days before the webinar is due to take place.
We are also planning a series of boot camps arising from the Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind event at
The Royal Society:
The (finally) emerging Spring sees us very busy - five short snippets -
The European Forum for Forward-Looking Activities has commissioned a series of reports to help advise the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. The first, by Huw Williams, reported on how five public sector bodies and five private sector companies conducted Horizon Scanning, and how that fitted into the Foresight process generally. In particular it examined the extent to which semi-automated methods were used in Horizon Scanning and this should be organised. The conclusion was that semi-automated methods, including social media tools, were beginning to become more prevalent, but that using a wide range of approaches, including traditional expert assessments provided the most robust system. The report will be available in due course from the EC: for more details email firstname.lastname@example.org. A report by Dr Wendy Shultz on “Horizon Scanning for disruptive change” looks for early warning signs of disruptive change from existing horizon scans – for more details contact email@example.com. A third report, by John Reynolds, is looking at the contribution that Forward Looking Activities (FLA) can make towards preparedness for and resilience to disruptive emergencies: for more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Restoration Partners, the boutique technology merchant bank (the “Company”) is pleased to announce it has appointed Jonathan Soar, immediate past Master of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, as Investor Relations Director. Jonathan is a SAMI Associate, an ICT consultant, mentor and a qualified executive coach and has spent over twenty years in IT at director level, mostly within the banking sector. He will be responsible for managing the growing number of investors and potential Angel investors attracted to the Restoration Partners Alpha Angels private investment network. For more details contact email@example.com.
John Reynolds and Martin Duckworth of SAMI, working with the UK Health and Safety Laboratory and Technopolis Group, have completed a study on “Green jobs and occupational safety and health: Foresight on new and emerging risks associated with new technologies by 2020”. The report describes the project ‘Foresight of new and merging risks to occupational safety and health associated with new technologies in green jobs by 2020’, carried out for the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). The outcome of the exercise is a set of scenarios covering a range of new technologies in green jobs and the impact they could have on workers’ health and safety. The summary is available here and the full report here.
We are running a workshop on 14th May at Said Business School on Bite Sized Business Content. We see a future in which people will need access to bite sized pieces of content from a wide range of electronic publications anywhere anytime and will be willing to pay small sums for each transaction. We expect that the outcome of our Technology Strategy Board funded feasibility study will be a qualified set of target markets and related content lists for a new on-line business. If you would like more details, and an invitation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And we are planning a series of bootcamps arising from the Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind event at The Royal Society. Professional services: how futures thinking improves client engagement. The first bootcamp will xplore this issue in depth, and formats for engagement. This is scheduled for 21st May. For an invitation email email@example.com. The boot camp on the effect of changes in health and social care on the third sector is scheduled for 10th June. For an invitation please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The commoditisation of professional services: all the professions have to come to grips with this macro force. This bootcamp which takes into account global scenarios and technology and explores the future of professional services is a partner-only event scheduled for 21st June; please email email@example.com for an invitation.
In a cold and snowy March, the web site describing the Newbury weather for today gave the possibility of some rain showers, even as it snowed solidly all day. This reminded me of the need for reality checks on what we say as futurists, prompted by a PwC report "The World in 2050" . The report is based on UN population projections, and PwC’s modelling of economies. They project that the world economy will grow at an average rate of just over 3% pa to 2050, so doubling in size by 2032 and nearly doubling again to 2050.
They identify an “E7” to compare with the G7, and find that the combined economies of the E7 (China, India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey) will outstrip the combined G7 total by about 2030 in Market Exchange Rate terms. Of course, the much larger population of the E7 compared with the G7 means that wealth per head will still be higher in the G7. While the outlines of the projections are clear, and well argued, what could disrupt this forecast, based on what we see today?
For instance, how are the three pillars of “Davos man” doing? (see Gillian Tett’s article in the Financial Times, March 8th 2013).The first is free market capitalism, which is open to many questions after its performance over the last five years. The City Values Forum has been set up by the Lord Mayor, saying “We also need to define common standards across different business sectors and seek greater alignment between professional bodies in the industry, to set our moral compass and to find a common way forward, with disciplinary structures that are transparent for practitioners and the public alike – structures that show that the City is doing what the City does and always should do: getting stuck in and coming up with a solution”.
The second pillar is innovation, and an article Our dangerous illusion of tech progress, by Garry Kasparov and Peter Thiel, Financial Times, November 8, 2012 – argues that growth will only come if we go beyond the approaches of post-war innovation, and take on board potentially disruptive new technologies.
The third factor is globalisation – as McKinsey has recently pointed out, “Global financial assets—or the value of equity-market capitalization, corporate and government bonds, and loans—have grown by just 1.9 percent annually since the crisis, down from average annual growth of 7.9 percent from 1990 to 2007. This slowdown is not confined to deleveraging advanced economies; surprisingly, it also extends to emerging markets.” The last time that cross border flows collapsed was in the 1930’s and the localization trend remained for decades. This topic was also the subject of a webinar by Laurie Young and Vincent Rousselet for the Strategic Planning Society, and may be heard on the SPS web site.
Another aspect of the “official view” of the future portrayed in the PwC work is the trend in working age population (defined as age 15 to 59) – with the average growth rate of Nigeria at over 2.5% through to East Asia and much of Europe shrinking. These numbers could change. For instance, the UN population projections are based on birth rates. In countries like Nigeria, there are two contrary trends: the trend towards small family sizes as women move to the cities and children are a cost rather than an extra pair of hands for agriculture; and the contrary trend for children to survive with better medical care. The net effect of these two trends is difficult to estimate. And the definition of working age as finishing at 59 may well be unrealistic in many countries – particularly in East Asia and Europe – by 2050.
So, overall, perhaps we should look out of the window and reality check projections into the future!
Meanwhile, our series “Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind” has three events planned: the signup forms will be on the SAMI website shortly
Professional services: how futures thinking improves client engagement. How people in the Professional Services can use futures thinking to reframe conversations with clients, refocus the relationship, and to develop a shared language. Date: May 21st, 10-5, Central London.
The commoditisation of professional services. This was seen as a macro force that all the professions had to understand. It was felt that there was a cognitive bias which assumed that commoditisation was inevitable. The session will explore this, taking into account global scenarios and technology. Date: June 18th, 10-5, Central London.
The third sector: how might this evolve in western economies, particularly given the financial pressures on governments and the public sector: what are the implications for NGOs? We will take the health and social care sector in the UK as a specific case. Date: June 25th, 10-5, Central London.
As 2013 gets underway, SAMI with Laurie Young held a “Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind” event at The Royal Society to explore how business models are changing and how organisations can anticipate and benefit from the changes . If you would like to see the output from this event, or be advised of future events, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAMI Associate Director Jon Soar has written on Seven Things Executive Coaches Should Know About Scenario Planning – as he points out “There are fundamental similarities between coaching and scenario planning. Coaching is concerned with the 'here and now' and the future, not with the past. So are scenarios.” The full article can be found on the SAMI blog, http://samiconsulting.wordpress.com
John Kay gave an interesting lecture – based on his report “Report on UK Equity Markets and Long-Term Decision Making” at a Tomorrows Finance event. He felt that building trust and confidence in financial services must be based on changing behaviours, and discussed the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment around behaviours. On treatment, he identified three areas which need rethinking: fiduciary standards, regulatory system currently focused on internals, and the separation of investment and trading from retail banking. However he felt that a breakup of current banks to achieve the separation was unlikely. The issue of taking decisions for the long term is of course behind Long Finance.
We are working with Long Finance on a research project “Fairness and Finance”. The question is whether fairness is culturally transferrable as an organising principle for financial services. The project specification is on the web site www.longfinance.net - we are looking for a Masters student to do the research, and a financial services firm to fund it. Any thoughts on either a researcher or a sponsor, please contact us at email@example.com.
First, best wishes for 2013 to all our friends and readers.
Michael Owen, SAMI Chairman, was recently interviewed as part of the BBC Radio 4 programme, 'In Business', dealing with pharmaceutical innovation. The BBC had read his earlier Chatham House briefing paper on Shifting Patterns in the Pharmaceutical Industry. See at www.chathamhouse.org . A new version of the paper is being included in a Chatham House report being published in the next couple of months, looking at a number of sectors which have undergone significant industrial transformation.
Patricia Lustig and Lynda McGill of SAMI have had an article published in the Soapbox section of e-Organisations and People, Vol 19(4), Winter 2012 . Entitled “Why are there still dinosaurs in the business world?” , it suggests that Dinosaur Organisations are doomed to extinction, and that Self-Renewing Organisations are an evolutionary solution to ensure survival. A pdf of the article is available at here. The full publication is available via www.amed.org.uk/.
We have started an innovative project, funded by the Technology Strategy Board, on “bite sized business content delivered to phones, tablets and PCs”. The aim is to expedite the global access to content from UK publishers and authors. If any of our readers would like to work with us on this, for instance by supplying content, please let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org
Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind – we are hosting an event with Laurie Young at The Royal Society later this month, for more than 70 senior people who want to explore how business models are changing and how organisations can anticipate and benefit from the changes. If you would like to see the output from this event, or be advised of future events, please contact us on email@example.com.
SAMI Fellow Gill Ringland is a Member of European Forum on Forward Looking Activities, EFFLA, one of 15 appointed Members from across Europe. The forum is a response to the changing model for creation of policy, particularly a systemic and horizontal approach to this issue. In particular this concerns the growing role of innovation and innovation policy. The forum brings together leading experts in research and innovation, representatives of international and European organisations and scientific centres, together with decision-makers interested in the initiation and promotion of a debate on forward looking policies, both at European level and within member states. Since the start up in September 2011, EFFLA has produced a number of policy briefs for DG Research & Innovation, recommending the ways in which the DG for Research & Innovation could achieve its objectives. These policy briefs can be found on the EC web site by entering “EFFLA Policy briefs” in the search engine on the web site www.ec.europa.eu/research.
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