Newsletter 2014

Newsletter - Foresight and Strategy 2014

Past copies of Foresight and Strategy (formerly eSAMI) our monthly e-newsletter, are available.

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December 2014

Seasonal Greetings to all our readers

We have initiated our year of 25th anniversary events with a series of short webinars – these are on our web site, And watch for our weekly blogs with the theme of futures predictions since 1989 and what has happened since – these are

SAMI is placing two horizon scanning contracts on behalf of the Department for Transport. These are on ‘Noise abatement or mitigation technologies for aviation’ and ‘Novel materials, such as self-healing materials, for road surfaces’. Details of these can be found here for aviation and here for roads. If you want further information please or

On other topics, new transport scenarios for China, India, Latin America highlight the role of cities in combating climate change. Amongst the many issues considered at the Lima COP20 conference was that of the role of cities in combatting climate change. A new global standard for measuring greenhouse gas emissions (GPC) was launched, enabling cities to establish credible emissions accounting and reporting practices. This will help cities set and measure progress against mitigation goals.

According to a report by the International Transport Forum, big cities in China, India and Latin America with over 500 000 inhabitants will more than double their share of world passenger transport emissions from 9% in 2010 to 20% by 2050 if current urban transport policies remain unchanged. They propose sustained pro-public transport policies that lead to very different mobility futures:

  • In India and Latin America promoting bus usage and two-wheelers
  • In China restricting car ownership and limiting new roads.

The ITF’s Urban Transport Model can then predict the reductions in CO2 emissions.

The European Environment Agency also demonstrated. the vulnerability of the continent’s transport systems to the effects of climate change.

And the Financial Times on 9th December had a full page article on six solutions to a global water shortage – the resource shortfall long thought to be least tractable. These are making water from air, waterless fracking and toilets and (almost) washing machines, smart irrigation and shipping water.



November 2014

SAMI is 25 on 30th November 2014 – St Andrews Day.

Since we were launched as St Andrews Management Institute at the University of St Andrews in 1989, the world has come a long way.

In 1989, personal computers were just starting to appear on the desks of decision makers. They were largely used for word processing and the production of spreadsheets. Public access to the internet, mobile technology, and social media were all in the future. Indeed even 10 years ago, social media were largely unknown. It would be easy to overlook the challenges that this has posed for organisations, and it is important to recognise the real advances that have been made. One area that has not yet lived up to the hopes that were already visible in 1989, based on the success of DNA profiling, is the promise of personalised medicine, based on genomics.

In the wider world, the Berlin Wall was coming down, the Cold War seemed to be coming to an end, and some commentators were even positing “the end of history”. Tiananmen Square in 1989 did in fact mark the beginning of visible changes in China, and in 2001, Jim O’Neill coined the term BRIC[1]. We have had two major “busts” in the west since 1989 – in 200 – fuelled by the dot com revolution, hyped too early; and the financial services collapse in 2008 fuelled by unsustainable mortgages. Peak oil was forecast to be in 2006, and the former USSR was the major producer: the development of new sources of oil in North America has changed the balance of global power since 2006.

We too have come a long way. We are now virtual, and owned by the staff. We recently won our largest contract ever, and have a strong and diverse set of Fellows, Principals and Associates. We have completed over 250 projects in 25 countries.

Our 20th celebration was marked by an event at The Royal Society and a publication about our history, which can be found on our web site here.

For our 25th we have decided that a virtual year-long celebration, combining Ted type talks, blogs, twitter and LinkedIn, a virtual garden party and a final celebration in December 2015, is more fitting to the times.

So please join us on 1st December 2014. The schedule is:

  • 10 am Jim Ormond of Article 13 on Thoughts on 2025 from GenY
  • 12 noon Dr Chris Yapp, SAMI Associate on how 2040 might be different
  • 2 pm Gill Ringland of SAMI Consulting on getting better at forecasting
  • 4 pm. Huw Williams, of SAMI Consulting talks about Infographics
  • 6 pm Wendy Schultz of SAMI Consulting talks about narrative and images
  • 8 pm James Blackmore-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Northampton University talks about Scenarios in Marketing.

These will all be stored on the SAMI web site after the event . Our weekly blogs will start on 3rd December, and are on our blog.



October 2014

SAMI will be 25 on 30th November – St Andrews’ Day – 2014!

We will be celebrating with a year long series of events and think pieces – more on this next month.

In the meantime, we have always been a fan of Philip Tetlock, the Berkeley Professor who studied the accuracy of forecasts and in 2005 published his book “Expert Political Judgement”. He found that experts were terrible forecasters. And that the most famous experts were worse than those outside the media spotlight. He has now set up a project called the Good Judgement Project which is providing useful insights into improving forecasting. Some of the results will be no surprise – that a diverse team will produce better forecasts than a singleton. And that a 20 minute training course on how to correct for well-known biases provides lasting improvements to performance. An article by Tim Harford in a recent issue of FT Weekend discusses this.

There is a useful list of common cognitive biases on the io9 website. They are:

  • Confirmation bias
  • In-group bias
  • Gambler’s fallacy (eg after 10 heads, it is more likely the next coin toss is tails)
  • Post-purchase rationalisation
  • Neglecting probability
  • Observational selection bias (eg once we’ve bought a car, we see many more of the same kind)
  • Status quo bias – “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”
  • Negativity bias: bad news wins;
  • Band wagon effect – group think
  • Current moment bias; fruit tomorrow but chocolate today
  • Anchoring effect: choosing within a range rather than extremes

A very common type of bias is technology hype. An example of this sort of cognitive bias could be the famous forecasts by Nicholas Negroponte, that (in Being Digital (1995) “Early in the next millennium ——— Schools will change to become more like museums and playgrounds for children to assemble ideas and socialize with children from all over the world. “ While this is technically feasible now, we all know that many if not most teachers struggle to understand how this could come about and what to do next – Negroponte’s cognitive bias, common to many technology enthusiasts, is in not relating to those less enthusiastic, and in not understanding how comfortable the past can seem.

As part of our support for the Strategic Planning Society, we are running a joint SPS/BAM (British Academy of Management) event on 6th November on 6th November, to develop ideas on how to integrate futures thinking better into strategy. For more information, contact us at

And look out for SAMI on twitter SAMI4sight



September 2014

It seems to be the season for anniversaries – SAMI will be 25 at the end of the year and McKinsey Quarterly is celebrating its 50th year.

McKinsey is starting a series of think pieces including one on looking at Management intuition for the next 50 years, which stresses “Emerging on the winning side in this increasingly volatile world will depend on how fully leaders recognize the magnitude—and the permanence—of the coming changes and how quickly they alter long-established intuitions”.

We have also seen a new book from Mathew Burrows, The Future Declassified. In it, he says “This book expands the global trends reports I was responsible for writing at the US National Intelligence Council. When I joined the US intelligence community more than 25 years ago, the world seemed frozen. But after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the Soviet Union, unpredictability reigned and foresight became critical. Many of the megatrends will be familiar. However, I concluded the book with four provocative fictional paths to 2030.”

Meanwhile eminent economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz warned of the lack of a robust economy in his lecture at the Oxford Martin School in May,”Are North Atlantic economies heading for a ‘lost quarter century’?

And, finally, we are holding a workshop with the Strategic Planning Society’s Future and Strategy SIG on 11th November, on “The Future of Information”. If you would like an invitation, please email to

     Future Issues Roundup

The Chartered Management Institute has published a report on 21st century leadership.

A Centre for Cities study “Unequal Opportunity” shows that the hollowing out of the middle range of jobs is being seen in our cities.

Jane Falkingham, director, Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton argues in the Guardian that the government is still failing its ageing population because of failures in population forecasting. With numbers of people aged 75 and over expected to double by 2040, society needs to adapt quickly.

Meanwhile greenhouse gas levels are rising at the fastest rate since 1984 and commentators highlight the impacts on national finances caused by disruptions from extreme weather events.

And there are concerns that the Ebola outbreak will undermine the African economy.

But not to worry, Apple have launched the iPhone 6, with NFC and Apple Pay wallet system, and soon the Apple Watch complete with health apps.



August 2014

A short eSAMI this month, but we did want to advise you of some events in the autumn:

SAMI is running a workshop on behalf of Knowledge Insights on the Future of Membership Associations. This is on the afternoon of 16th September in central London – for more details and an invitation, please contact

SAMI is running a project for the Construction Industry Training Board, looking at scenarios for the need for skills and training out to 2030. We have a workshop, also on the 16th September, looking at the scenarios. If you are interested in participating please further details.

We are also running a workshop with Article 13 on scenarios for the future of information, as part of our Gen Y Panel series. If you are Gen Y or would like an invitation as an expert, please get in touch with

Future Issues Roundup

In recent blog posts we talked about Pensions and the New Social Care Regime and the NHS Innovation Bill – so what else is going on in healthcare?

Wired reported on big data and patient monitoring. Huge anonymised datasets are being developed for areas such as pharmaceutical research, with the aim of vastly improving the efficacy of drugs, and could to go much further in unleashing the real power of big data – the potential to personalise healthcare for every NHS patient.

The Guardian too talks about digital healthcare as transformative, while the WellcomeTrust puts its faith in genomics as the genetic building blocks of the future.

Clearly these trends open up new opportunities for health care companies and their digital suppliers. But what will these developments mean in other related industries – food, housing, care homes? In fact are there any industries exempt from the implications of such major developments?



July 2014

We have summer! And we have been busy on a number of fronts ——

We held an event on the Future of Membership Associations – hosted by z/yen (thank you!) and with participants from a wide range of membership associations – the report can be found here and the next event will be held on 16th September 2014. Please email if you would like an invitation.

After your summer vacation, refresh your thinking as well at “Using Three Horizons to Blow Cobwebs Away – a two-day interactive foresight training” offered by Wendy Schultz, SAMI Consulting and Infinite Futures, at Wolfson College, Oxford from 12.30 3 September to 4.30 4 September 2014. Don’t miss this opportunity for hands-on learning of key futures tools in a lovely and convivial setting. Cost £475.00 + VAT per person 
Early bird rate: book before 15 August 2014 for a £50 discount. Details here.

Gill gave a talk at Manchester Business School’s Masterclass on Foresight on “Scenarios, so what now?” (14 Mb ppt) talking about the communication of scenarios, using them for strategy and stakeholder engagement.

here. This will build on the fascinating workshop we held with Article 13 and the Gen Y Panel last month.

Funding available for project on “Next Generation Fuels” for transport:

SAMI is going to be issuing a contract for horizon scanning on next generation fuels. This work is for the Department of Transport (DfT). If you are interested in bidding for this project click here for the tender specification. This project is open to public and private sector bidders. It is being ‘ring fenced’ to protect commercial confidentiality, so any enquiries should be sent to This is an important opportunity to contribute to DfT’s thinking on the next generation of transport fuels to 2030 and beyond.

     Future Issues Roundup

In a recent blog post, we have looked at the Future of Food from a Generation Y perspective. Other food-related items recently include:

  • Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty on the extent and causes of hunger in Britain shows that only 2% of surplus food fit for consumption is currently redistributed, so there is a big opportunity for food banks to re-allocate this surplus to needy people.
  • Increasingly, meat consumption is becoming to be seen as unsustainable
  • On the other hand there is also a startling rise in obesity: up 28% in adults and 47% in children. More than half of the world’s 671 million obese individuals live in just ten countries—the USA, China and India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany , Pakistan, and Indonesia,

    Such radical changes in a basic human activity must have consequences in almost every industry: energy, communications, transport to name just a few. What are the scenarios for your business?


June 2014

An interesting month, with a number of thoughtful prompts.

For instance, at a symposium at Warwick Business School on “Scenario developments”, Angela Wilkinson now Strategic Foresight Counsellor at OECD, asked – what are the major developments in scenario practice and theory over the last 20 years? There have been many developments on the strategic intelligence precursor to scenario thinking – for instance  the use of the internet and associated search tools.  Have there been any comparable developments in scenario thinking? I do not see any, to my dismay – but what am I missing? Please let me know your thoughts on

The new Shell scenarios ask – what might lie ahead 50 years from now… or even in 2100? they consider two possible scenarios of the future, taking a number of pressing global trends and issues and using them as “lenses” through which to view the world. The scenarios provide a detailed analysis of current trends and their likely trajectory into the future. They dive into the implications for the pace of global economic development, the types of energy we use to power our lives and the growth in greenhouse gas emissions. The scenarios also highlight areas of public policy likely to have the greatest influence on the development of cleaner fuels, improvements in energy efficiency and on moderating greenhouse gas emissions. For more information see

I have just got back from a fascinating trip to Turkey where a topic for discussion was “will Turkey join the EU?”. The overwhelming feeling was “no, why should we? We have a good future as a MINT country and Europe needs us but does not want us” – I would be interested in any other soundings! Find me at

The Chartered Management Institute launched its report on 21st century leaders at the House of Lords on 9th June – they ask – with thousands of management jobs being created over the next decade, how can business schools be better placed to create business ready graduates and the next generation of entrepreneurs who will fuel economic growth? The report will be available via the CMI web site

And a reminder that the SPS SIG on Futures & Strategy is holding a workshop on the future of food on 29th July – for a place please register via the SAMI website

     Future Issues Roundup

As Cathy Dunn noted in the SAMI Blog, drones (or Unmanned Aerial Systems, or Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicles) are becoming more widespread.  

As they become much cheaper they are being used for a wide range of applications:

What are the potential game-changing applications in your industry?  How will perpetual observation affect you?



May 2014

May is the time when many organisations get their senior management teams together for a view of the way forward. We have been associated with a number of these, and have been delighted to find how much a Three Horizons methodology helped managers “with day jobs” to think about the future. Bill Sharpe has now written up the thinking behind, and uses of, the methodology in Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope by Bill Sharpe and Jennifer Williams (Triarchy Press, 2013).

We are running a workshop on 10th June 2014 on “The Future of Membership Associations”. This will be at Lloyds Register, 71 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 4BS, and the results will be used in work with a number of Membership Associations to inform their future. If you would like a place, and final details, please contact

The Horizon Scanning and Technology Watch project for the Department of Transport is well under way, with three monthly horizon scan bulletins beginning to build into a substantial reference database. A wide range of interesting topics is emerging, from developments in battery technology and induction charging for electric vehicles to autonomous vehicles and a dramatic growth in the use of drones for a plethora of applications. We will shortly be running a workshop with the DfT to explore the key issues requiring more in-depth analysis.

The second of our Gen Y Panel joint events with Article 13 will be held on 26th June 2014 to tackle the future of food. If you would like an invitation please contact us at The follow up joint event with the Strategic Planning Society, will be hosted by Professor Charles Baden-Fuller on at Cass Business School, as an activity of the Special Interest Group of the Strategic Planning Society (SPS) on Strategy & Futures. For more information on that please go to the SPS web site,

     Future Issues Roundup

This month we re-visited our 2008 scenarios for the future of telecoms. Other developments in telecoms include:

  • BT’s venture into football is going well, but the clash of business models between BT’s (content supporting broadband network) and Sky’s (broadband supporting TV package) has yet to play out. And where do Virgin feature?
  • Skype continues to pile the pressure on the telecoms carriers previously most lucrative area – international voice. The mobile operators must fear similar OTT inroads soon.
  • The annual Mobile World Conference in Barcelona again highlighted the trends to “smart”, “connected” and “wearable” applications of all kinds, in your car, city, clothes, utility meter and even your own body
  • And both Google and Facebook explore the use of drones to expand internet access to remote parts of the globe.


April 2014

The first of our joint events with the Strategic Planning Society, on the future of energy, was hosted by Professor Charles Baden-Fuller on 1st April at Cass Business School. This was also the first meeting of the Special Interest Group of the Strategic Planning Society (SPS) on Strategy and Futures. For more information on that please go to the SPS web site, We will share the outputs later, but in the meantime, here are the slides used by SAMI Associate Chris Yapp on the world in 2035. There will be a webinar on 16th April based on the event – to sign up, again it’s on the SPS website.

ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) held a conference on “Governance, Risk and Performance” on 28th March, gathering nearly 100 people to discuss a consultation papers on Corporate Governance,detailed consultation on governance and value creation and also papers on corporate reporting and risk management, cultural aspects of corporate behaviour, and confidence accounting. All of these can be provided by Paul Moxey, . The conference combined panel presentations with audience participation through voting, which allowed a somewhat structured set of responses to emerge from the varied and knowledgeable audience.

We are running a workshop on 10th June on “The future of Membership Associations”. This will be in Central London, and the results used in work with a number of Membership Associations to inform their future. If you would like a place, and final details, please

     Future Issues Roundup

Other wild cards and weak signals around the future of energy we saw were:


March 2014

How will the world of work change of the next 20 years? What will be the newly emerging roles that we will need to fill? Rachel Burge of Careerbuilder UK has been giving this some thought, drawing on ideas from futurologists Ian Pearson and Richard Watson. She’s come up with 10 predictions on new jobs of the future, ranging from pre-natal health advisers to 3D printing craftsmen/designers. Read her thoughts on her blog

The first of our joint events with the Strategic Planning Society, on the future of energy, will be held on 1st April at Cass Business School. To sign up, use the form here. We will be using some scenarios developed with Article 13’s GenY Forum, in which Gen Y people work with experts on views of the future. The next Gen Y event, on the future of food, is on June 12th, email us at if you are interested in taking part.

At its meeting in January 2014, the SAMI Board appointed Geoff Llewellyn as a Fellow. Geoff is a specialist in IT, and has experience both in the public and private sectors. Before becoming a management consultant, Geoff held senior positions at the BBC, Royal Mail, Schlumburger Sema and Siemens. More recently he was on the Board of Intellect, the UK IT trade body, and in 2012/13 was Master of the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants. He has published articles both in IT, and on reforming the machinery of Government. Geoff’s knowledge and experience will enhance those of SAMI’s existing team, in particular its cadre of former senior civil servants, David Lye, David Walden and Alan Woods, appointed Fellows in 2012/13 to work with Richard Walsh, focusing on Strategic Futures at the heart of Government.

SAMI people have been in Kenya, Scotland, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the last month: the need for strategic thinking in times of uncertainty has never been more pressing and widely appreciated.

     Future Issues Roundup

We are now working on a new Horizon Scanning project for the Department for Transport. Here are some of the things we came across.

Toyota has announced that it will begin testing its wireless battery-charging system for electric vehicles, one that charges the battery of a plug-in hybrid or a pure-electric car by having the car park on top of it.

new supersonic jet which will have no windows in its passenger cabin is being designed. Instead, the interior walls of the cabin will have display screens linked to external micro-cameras. Passengers will be able to dim the screens or change the display.

A French youth who used an illegal drone to capture aerial footage of the city of Nancy is being charged with “endangering the lives of others”. He strapped a GoPro camera to the drone he bought on the internet to produce a video, which became a big online hit. However, French law prohibits such flights without proper training and air authority permission.

We have also noticed:

The Economic Forum Global Risks report also says that the “risk of fiscal crises” is top of 31 systemic risks identified using a STEEP methodology. Structurally high unemployment/ underemployment (no. 2), severe income disparity (4) and failure of a major financial mechanism/institution(9) are three other economic risks in their top ten.

Bill Gates is more optimistic in his annual letter: “by almost any measure the world is better than it has ever been” and identifies three myths that need to be taken apart:

  • Poor countries are doomed to stay poor
  • Foreign aid is a big waste
  • Saving lives leads to over-population


February 2014

Last month saw the final “Blowing the Cobwebs Off Your Mind” event. The topic was Thought Leadership, based on Laurie Young’s last book, published posthumously. It was an event he would have enjoyed, nearly 100 of us filled the Wellcome Trust Theatre at the Royal Society and worked on the future of Thought Leadership. The slides can be found here, and Laura Mazur wrote up the event – the report is on the SAMI Blog and on Laurie’s memorial website.

Laurie was Chairman of the Strategic Planning Society (SPS): Chris Hafner has stepped into the breach as Chairman, and has agreed to the setting up of a “Futures and Strategy” Special Interest Group inside the SPS. This will hold three meetings per year, plus webcams, and contribute to the SPS magazine “Strategy”. Meetings are open to SPS Members and non-Members: the first two are on 1st April 2014, 13:00 to 17:00 at Cass Business School, and 29th July, 13:00 to 17:00 at Cass. The topic of the first will be Energy, the second, Food.Sign up forms can be found here.

Following on from the Cobwebs events, we are also holding a Foresight “3 Horizons Training” Bootcamp at Wolfson College, Oxford on 3rd and 4th September 2014 This gives an in depth introduction to tools which are proven to help in “Blowing the Cobwebs Off Your Mind” . The flyer for the bootcamp is here

I took part in a Colloquy organised by z/yen on “The Mobility Of The ‘Other’ Financial Service: The Future Of London’s Global Wholesale Insurance Market”: this will lead to a paper later in the year. For more see to join the discussion. We will be contributing to the report through thinking about the relative prospects of the various sectors of non-life insurance, e.g. their vulnerability to better prediction through IT and genetic advances. If you would like to contribute to this please contact

On 22 January 2014, David Lye participated in a Conference organised by Reform on the policy and management problems facing health services. The keynote speaker was Professor Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School. You can read David’s blog on the event, and on what Prof Porter didn’t say on the SAMI blog.

     Future Issues Roundup

After David Lye’s post on Prevention not Cure and our “Cobwebs” event on the future of pharmaceutical companies, we thought we’d look at some other health-related news.

This links with a new concept of social prescribing that takes a wider view of health.

The Personal Genome Project is looking for volunteers to donate their genome and health data to science to help enable advances in understanding human genetics, biology, and health

3D printing moves on to human tissue – eg livers. Or you could print new eye cells.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School may have found a way of stopping ageing. What are the implications for an already crowded world?



January 2014

First – a Happy New Year to all our readers.

Second – 22nd January is a day for remembering and celebrating Laurie Young, who among many other activities, developed the “Blowing the Cobwebs off your Mind” series of events with us. On 22nd January there will be a Memorial Service in the morning – if you plan to attend, please let Nicki Murphy know, In the afternoon we will be at the Royal Society for the last Cobwebs event, remembering him through his work – focusing on his latest book, published posthumously, on Thought Leadership. If you would like to come to this, please contact me at

Third, SAMI Associate Dr Chris Yapp has just completed a major report on Open Innovation for the EC’s DG RTD, and will be happy to supply copies once the EC has accepted it. Please contact him at for more information.

Fourth, just before Christmas we ran the first “Gen Y Panel” event with Article 13. These quarterly events combine Gen Y people with experts in a field to brainstorm scenarios around a topic. The output from this quarter’s event, on energy scenarios, is entitled The Future of Energy in Europe – Understanding the Perspective of Generation Y. If you would like a copy of the document produced please email