Well, what a year! In our December review last year we said “2018 feels as if it has been so exceptional” – but it was nothing like as exceptional as 2019! The biggest election victory since the 1980’s. Take your seats for 2020!
From Theresa May’s Brexit deal being voted down again, past a missed March deadline, on to a leadership election, via deliberately losing the Government’s majority by sacking many MPs, another missed deadline, to the bizarre sight of the Opposition voting to keep the Government in power by refusing to vote for an election under the Fixed Term Parliament Act. And “finally” to the General Election, though as we pointed out in blogs in February and October there’s nothing “final” about the Brexit deal.
We had elections for the European Parliament – including the strange position of British MEPs standing on a platform of not being there. Generally we noted that turnout was at historic highs, Nationalist and populist parties did less well than expected, though traditional parties are in trouble and the ends of the spectrum are confused.
Elsewhere in the world, it has been the year of demonstrations. Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia, Catalonia, gilets jaunes, Indonesia, Haiti. Is there a common theme? A trend or just a series of random events? And Extinction Rebellion everywhere. We’ll return to this in 2020.
Which brings us to the climate emergency/crisis, becoming more front and centre of debate. A change of language from simple friendly climate change. A Swedish schoolgirl dominating the news bulletins, telling off her elders at the UN. A genuine shift in attitudes, but as yet little or no action, and now a worrying acceptance that we are unlikely to keep the rise in global temperature below 2°C .
And SAMI’s year? We’ve continued to work closely with the European Commission. For EU-OSHA, the European health and safety agency, we completed our work on the impact of developments in ICT on the workplace by running scenario workshops in Ljubljana, Oslo and Bucharest. Then, as foresight moved more centre stage in the EC’s planning, we supported the Research and Innovation Directorate in developing a scenario approach to building R&I relationships with different regions of the world.
SAMI continued running a project on Building Resilient Households with an emphasis on income shocks and how families can prepare for them. This led to SAMI Fellows Richard Walsh and Alan Woods supporting The Financial Capability Resilience Task Force as it launched its latest report in the House of Lords.
Richard also led work on the digitalisation of medical records (Electronic Health Records – EHR) for the Chartered Insurance Institute. This reached a key milestone in July with the publication of the report “Shaping the Future of Medical Records and Protection Insurance”. This was very well-received. Munich Re highlighted the “insightful recommendations” and saw an opportunity to unlock market changing innovation.
We were proud to be awarded a place on Government Office for Science Futures Framework contract, with very high scores, particularly for “Skills and expertise in Futures and other technical areas”. This positions us to take advantage of an increased interest in Foresight in Government circles.
We continued to provide training in Horizon Scanning, Scenarios and other foresight techniques, both as a 2-day public course and various in-house bespoke sessions.
Patricia Lustig (SAMI Associate) and Gill Ringland’s (SAMI Emeritus Fellow) new book, Megatrends and How to Survive Them : preparing for 2032 , published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in November last year, continues to sell well. The focus in the book was on global megatrends that would play out during the time span of an organisation’s planning.
SAMI Fellows and Principals continued to travel widely giving a variety of foresight talks.
David Lye sat on a “Question Time”-style panel discussion at the European Commission Research and Innovation Day in Brussels on 24 September, alongside members of Europe’s “Great and Good”. The discussion ranged across the uses of foresight in business and industry, synergies between national government and EU foresight, and lessons from the Global R&I scenarios project, which SAMI is currently leading.
Fellow Jonathan Blanchard Smith chaired the Natural Resources Forum breakfast seminar on “Preparing the UK for the New Energy Future”. He also presented post-Brexit scenarios to Chartered Quality Institute branches in London and Thames Valley.
Professor Paul Moxey gave talks on delivering training on strategy, risk management and corporate governance for corporate secretaries, and on “Recent corporate governance scandals: what can we learn from the collapses of Carillion, Patisserie Valerie and Interserve?”
And SAMI Principal Olfa Meliani, writing under her pen name OM Faure, launched her action-packed and thought-provoking futurist fiction trilogy, The Beautiful Ones – available from Amazon.
We also, after some travails, re-launched our website in a more visual and mobile-friendly style and continued publishing weekly blogposts, including series on Megatrends, Africa and the Climate Crisis.
We’re looking forward to an even busier 2020 – get in touch if you need some help developing “robust decisions in uncertain times”.
Written by Huw Williams, SAMI Principal
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.
SAMI Consulting was founded in 1989 by Shell and St Andrews University. They have undertaken scenario planning projects for a wide range of UK and international organisations. Their core skill is providing the link between futures research and strategy.
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