Thursday, May 28, 2020

Covid-19 and the Role of a Futurist

Early Futurist
Futurist Frank Diana leads Tata Consultancy Services' Future of Business team.  When people ask his predictions about the future he often responds, “We don’t predict, we identify and consider possible scenarios.”  He is also fond of saying that most predictions made after a crisis are wrong.  It’s not picking one future scenario to place a bet on that is the role of a futurist, rather identifying many possible scenarios and then monitoring and tracking which are becoming more likely or not - given new and continuous inputs.

What then is the role of a futurist during a pandemic like Covid-19?  As a Futurist myself working on Frank’s team I can say we focus on how Covid-19 is altering the trajectory of various trends and acting as an accelerate or inhibitor to change.  The value of course is for leaders to use these insights to best position their businesses to succeed.

Everyone needs a toolbox, and futurists are no different.  The tools of our trade look like the following:

Technology trends
Business trends
Societal trends
Drivers of change
Statistics
Combinatorial data
Trajectories
Scenarios
Impacts
Events
Implications 
Catalysts
Accelerants 
Obstacles
Convergence
Tipping points
Markers
Accelerators
Inhibitors
Enablers
Patterns
Signals
Paradigm altering shifts

To learn more about the meaning of these words watch this recent interview with Frank https://youtu.be/WVmODN1CMNA.

What do we do with these tools?

Recognize the need for new paradigms
Frame and reframe emerging concepts and innovations
Rehearse scenarios
Sense, respond and adapt to new information
Identify transformational requirements
Explore personal, societal and organizational resilience
Recognize threats
Identify opportunities
Imagine possibilities
Connect the dots
Document trends and shifts
Share the insights

The work above leads to additional explorations into:

Frameworks for the future
Emerging ecosystem frameworks and value
New era structures
Systems of engagement
Digital transformation strategies
Next generation productivity
Next generation experimentation
Ecosystem value designs
Platform evolutions
Changing consumer behaviors

The purpose of all this work is to recognize patterns, understand implications, anticipate impacts and then to align and realign to be as successful as possible.  

Many organizations don’t have the resources to sponsor their own Future of Business practice internally, so our team tries to share as much of what we learn as possible on the following blog sites.  Please subscribe to any and all that look useful and relevant:
*Credit Frank Diana and the rest of the Future of Business team for their work developing and evolving the Futurist profession.

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.