We are living in a period of dynamic and unprecedented change. Whether it is the rise of geo-political tensions that are currently challenging, in real-time,’ the peace, multilateralism and globalisation movements. Or, the demographic changes of a growing world population, that is ageing, coupled with an increasing middle class, declining living standards in the developed world and significant displacement of peoples through conflict, environmental change, and inequality. Or societal and political shifts like populism, social activism, social media, increasing world connectivity. Or economic forces including but not limited to, localisation vs globalisation, resource security and scarcity (including water), democratisation of capital and of energy, the move to wean ourselves off hydrocarbons and the development of purpose before profit. Then there are the prescient priorities of tackling climate change, pollution of all kinds, the circular and sharing economies. These movements are overlayed with the inexorable march of technology, including the likes of 5G, 3D printing, quantum, robotics AI, biotechnology, and nano to name a few. Such is the speed of technological change that what we see as marvels today, are fast becoming the new normal. From AI, augmented reality, driverless cars to drone swarms, the changes unfolding before us are breath-taking, and the speed of disruption is only accelerating.
All these changes and movements are colliding, intersecting and combining to provide a veritable melting pot of fundamental disruption that will impact the very fabric of society, the future of work, as well as business and political models in any manner of ways.
Organisations will not be able to hide behind the smokescreen and whirlwind of today’s short-term challenges and financial objectives and ignore the impact the future will undoubtedly have. Nor should we think of that future in continuous improvement terms. Not to consider, plan and deliver on a disruptive future, means organisations run a high risk of being disrupted a lot quicker than they ever thought possible. By competitors that they may never had heard of, in sectors they would not expect the challenge to come from and who started out on that disruptive journey, yesterday.
Although ‘hindsight is a wonderful thing’, the future can be seen in the trends and patterns of yesterday and the ‘here and now’. Some are as ‘clear as day’, others more subtle. As a firm we track 40+ disruptive primary forces, daily across 6 broad strategic dimensions, demographics, the environment, technology, social, economic, and political, and we are constantly scanning for emerging drivers through traditional means as well as our own digital intelligence platform, Bloodhound.
These disruptive forces can act independently, compete, converge, and sometimes collide all at different rates, intensities and importance, depending on the contextual complexity and adjacencies in which an organisation operates.
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Furthermore, to think of major disruptive shifts as taking 10, 20 or 30 years cannot and should not be taken for granted. One only needs to look at the pandemic and the unprovoked invasion in Ukraine, both of which have had rapid, significant and fundamental impacts both in the immediate ‘here and now’ and for many years to come.
Organisations, small and large, private, charitable, and public, need to understand the behaviour of these forces, synthesising them into a well-developed judgement on the presented facts and develop a plausible ‘future world’, view. From this futurist platform organisations can prioritise the challenges to overcome, map the enterprise architecture and phase the strategic inputs and build a management framework - starting with the 'here and now', and bridging to the future. All of which is fundamental in ensuring they have the right to compete for a share of this future disrupted opportunity.