The world’s foremost futurist Stan Davis (Lessons from the future: 2001) argues succinctly that the pace of change has accelerated way beyond the comfort zone of most people. According to Davis the rules that guided decisions in the past, are no longer reliable and the elements of change that are driving these momentous shifts, are based on the fundamental dimensions of the universe itself: Time, space and mass. Connectivity is putting everyone and everything on-line in one way or another and has led to the death of distance, a shrinking of space. Intangible value of all kinds like service and information, is growing explosively, reducing the importance of tangible mass. Connectivity, Speed and Intangibles – the derivatives of time, space and mass – are blurring the rules and redefining our businesses and our lives. What we see is a melt-down of all traditional boundaries. Since the economy and business are part of the universe, time, space and mass are the fundamental dimensions of them as well. Until recently, this notion was too abstract to be very useful. Now we are realising the extraordinary power this insight has to the business world. Almost instantaneous communication and computation are shrinking time and focusing us on speed.
These are some of the underlying principles on which Our Strategic Forum is based. It is designed to bridge the gap between the distant past, daily events and the long-term future. It is based on the principle of information arbitrage across industry boundaries – breaking the “silo” paradigm. It assists subscribers to develop a larger world view and challenges prevailing paradigms, mindsets and “industry recipes”. It sets out to develop industry foresight and to leverage the strategic quotient of the leadership team, whilst contributing to a learning culture in the organisation. The Strategic Forum is not simply an assembly where strategic conversations take place. By attaching it to a Web-site – putting it on-line, making it interactive, allowing it to learn – we’re attempting to practise what we teach – instantaneously and without regard to time or distance sharing details of just about everything we do in a holistic empowering process.
We track all the hard data available to us in the building-, construction-, and property-industry system. We analyse the data, convert it to information (data with context), then to knowledge (information with meaning) and finally to wisdom (knowledge with insight). We develop a deep understanding of the connections and interconnections within a boundaryless system and extrapolate the knowledge to provide us with some view of the unfolding future. We report this on our website in the form of Monthly, Quarterly, Annual Reports and Scenario models.
However, this is only part of the picture. We share the passion of Management Guru Peter Drucker (1909-2005) “. . . to look at the future that is already present, at the trends that are going to shape society that are already evident in the bud.”
Our Strategic Forum is based on this principle. We believe that the recognition of early signs of change begin with anecdote and is only sometime thereafter confirmed by hard data. These anecdotes are visible in the daily conversations (reports in the newspapers) where various stakeholders articulate their views of the current reality, the future, their plans, visions and strategic intents. By monitoring these conversations, reported as daily events, and interpreting them in a scenario context, the emergence of underlying themes or patterns of change can be identified. These are the lessons from the future that provide the early signs of change, long before they are confirmed in the data. Scenario learning is an on-going process – not an individual event. As stated by Charles M. Perrotet (Learning from the future: 2000) “. . . if you use scenarios, you will never read the newspaper the same way again.”