Managing the Future: The Way Ahead
What you need to know today to lead the charge into
tomorrow, with boldness and vision.
This executive dossier includes the following articles:
The Big Picture
Done, Adrian A.
How much time do you dedicate to thinking about the big issues that are likely to affect your personal and professional life in the next 20 years? If you’re like many busy executives, not much. Yet with a global outlook arguably bleaker today than during the lowest point of the credit crunch, burying your head in the sand is no answer. Surely, it is better to face up to the big global trends looming on the horizon and figure out the best courses of action to take, based on sound evaluation of the underlying facts and in-depth consideration of possible outcomes. In this article, the author identifies 12 global trends that he feels will present considerable hurdles in the coming years. Then, he presents practical tools for plotting the major threats and maximizing the significant opportunities that are likely to have a direct bearing on your – and your company’s – future wellbeing and prosperity.
Global Systemic Risks
Recent decades of globalization have created a more interconnected, interdependent and complex world than ever witnessed before. While policy makers have focused on facilitating integration, the implications of growing interdependence have been largely ignored. Global integration has brought many benefits, but it has also created fragility by producing new kinds of systemic risks. This article provides an understanding of these new 21st century systemic risks and the challenges they pose. The 2008-09 financial crisis is used to illustrate the failure of even sophisticated global institutions to manage the underlying forces of systemic risk, which has been amplified by our growing interdependence. At the same time, technological change has greatly increased the power of individuals to destabilize powerful systems. Urgent reform of global governance structures and institutions is essential to improve the mitigation and management of such global risks. Likewise, significant changes in risk management and risk culture are required to ensure businesses are better prepared. This article suggests the first steps to take.
Are You Fit for the Future?
Fidler, Devin; Gorbis, Marina
The current changes affecting society demand that workers acquire new skills to navigate the emerging environment. In this article, researchers from the Institute for the Future share the findings of a recent study carried out in collaboration with entrepreneurs, academics and business leaders, in which they explore the implications of these changes on the nature of work and careers. They list 10 specific new skills that can help workers achieve success in the next decade. This holds important implications for individuals and businesses alike regarding future organizational forms and lifelong learning.
Imagining the Great Unknowns
While business planners often resort to forecasting to estimate outcomes at some future point in time, the author believes forecasting has serious limitations and is not a reliable guide for the long-term future. Instead, he recommends scenario planning as a superior way of envisaging the future, in order to help managers see the business environment more clearly and make better strategic choices. Using the considerable experience of Shell in this area, he sets out a simple seven-step scenario planning process, which managers can use in one day or two half-day workshops. Doing this will bring organizational learning, challenge executive assumptions, broaden management perspectives and help everyone to see the business environment in which they operate as a complex, nonlinear system. This article includes an interview with Angela Wilkinson, who spent a decade as a leading member of Shell’s global scenario team. She shares from her own personal experience of using scenario planning, suggesting who and how many should be on the team, and how often scenarios should be revisited. “In today’s world of uncertainty, it’s not enough just to analyze situations,” she says, hinting at a new approach she calls “collaborative futures.”