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The future: New perspectives, new perceptions, new horizons, new vision

Dr. Ian Lin

Ph (02) 9418 2400, Fax (02) 94182287, E-mail:

“ Wisdom is combining hindsight, with insight, to gain foresight.
We must learn from the past and understand the present, in order to create the future”

1. New age in human history

The whole world is undergoing an economic and social metamorphosis, and concepts unknown to us only a few years ago are now becoming part of our everyday lives:

  • Network Society — instant global multimedia communications
  • Information Economy — access to unlimited amounts of information
  • Cyber Metropolis — new dimension that is timeless and locationless
  • Borderless World — physical borders much less relevant
  • Global Village — cultures are intermingling
  • Cyburbia — our address in cyberspace

It is obvious that the future will not be an extension of the past, and that we are not going through another traditional economic cycle. Under these circumstances … “it is not likely that we can use yesterday’s strategies, to solve today’s problems, and expect to be in business tomorrow.”

2. Cyber age

We are going through a period of rapid and radical change and transformation. We need to be aware of what is happening, and to understand where we are.

  • Knowledge of the past (hindsight), the present (insight), the future (foresight)
  • Globalisation, privatization, deregulation
  • From Industrial Age to Information Age
  • From physical space to cyberspace
  • From products and processes to information and networks
  • From paper and postage to e-commerce and the Internet
  • From mass production to mass customization

In this new environment … “the world is now the marketplace and source of supply for all goods and services, for all enterprises, regardless of size or geographical location.”

3. Transforming environment

Radical change is occurring not only in business but also in every facet of our lives. We now live and work within many rapidly transforming environments, and the rate of change is accelerating.

  • Economic — mega-mergers, globalisation, dot-coms, mobility of capital
  • Social — work, careers, drugs, suicide
  • Political — Timor, Zimbabwe, China, European Union
  • Technological — infotech, biotech, nanotech
  • Educational — distance learning, virtual universities
  • Cultural — generational, organizational
  • Physical — ecology, pollution, sustainability

Continuous accelerating change and transformation is now the norm … “Our ability to also change and transform will determine our future success.”

4. Two choices

When confronted with such radical and rapid change we have two choices:

  • Defensively react to circumstances and try to maintain the status quo because we do not understand the opportunities of the future – we can be followers of change.
  • Proactively learn about the future, identify new opportunities, create our own future, and shape our own destiny – we can be leaders of change.

We must realize that … “the future is not an extension of the past and what was impossible yesterday, is possible today, and will be reality tomorrow.”

5. New dimension of skills

Just as in the Industrial Age we needed the physical skills to produce material things, so in the Cyber Age we need the mental skills to produce ideas. To do this we need to develop a whole new dimension of mental skills and attributes.

  • Corporate agility, flexibility, quick response, customer focus, alliances, superior service, supply chain relationships, information networks, global awareness, core competence and confidence.
  • Personal enterprise, imagination, innovation, creativity, insight, foresight, wisdom, vision, networks, cross-cultural communications and individual relationships.

These attributes are needed throughout the entire commercial pipeline… design, marketing, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, logistics, financing, administration, management, organizational structure, and education.

In additional to productive effectiveness and efficiency, competitive advantage must come from continuous innovation. To develop this advantage … “all members of an organization must now develop the new skills of Mind Sight and Cyber Intelligence – the Xtra-dimension of … thinking in the future, with imagination, about possibilities.”

6. New strategies

Gaining access to the right information, establishing a diverse network of contacts, overcoming information overload, and remaining updated and aware of the future — its threats and its opportunities — cannot be left to chance. A new set of strategies must be developed that will allow you to adopt new perspectives and gain new perceptions, that lead to continuous innovation and ideas.

These are:

  • Futures Strategy – how are you going to develop foresight?
  • Organizational Strategy – what structure and resources do you need?
  • Information Strategy – what information is relevant?
  • Network Strategy – how do you remain aware of the future?
  • Technology Strategy – what technologies should you adopt?
  • Communications Strategy – how will you communicate?
  • Innovation Strategy – how will you come up with new ideas?
  • Strategies Strategy – how will you know when to change direction?
  • Learning Strategy – how do you remain updated

Coordinated development of these strategies will only be effective if pulled together by a strong strategic vision… “Without a strong strategic vision, you don’t know where we are going. If you don’t know where you’re going, you have no direction, and with no direction, you are lost before you start.”

7. Creating a strategic future

Rather than leaving your future to chance in a time of rapid, radical, complex and chaotic change, you can effectively create your own future, and shape your own destiny by using the following multi-step step process.

• Strategic scenarios

Select some time in the future — 5–10 years — and create stories that allow you to simulate the future and mentally practice its possibilities without risk or cost. Learn about the future, assess possible, plausible, and probable alternative scenarios, and select a preferred scenario that best fits in with the context of our existence. This process greatly increases your foresight and allows you to more effectively meet new challenges and recognize new opportunities. Without thinking about possibilities, you will not notice opportunities.

• Strategic vision

Define your values, vision and aspirations for the future on which you will base your decisions about the future. This vision will give you direction and allow you to focus on relevant information — thus overcoming information overload. These first two steps greatly increase your foresight, awareness, and wisdom; and by anticipating events earlier, you will much more effectively meet new challenges and recognize new opportunities. Without thinking about future possibilities, you will not recognize future opportunities.

• Strategic intelligence

In an environment of information overload, strategic vision allows you to determine what information is relevant, and using this, you create an information intelligence network that will keep you updated and aware of the future.

• Strategic future history

Mentally placing yourself in the future and looking back, you anticipate history and create scenarios of how you got to where you are, from where you were. Again you create a matrix of possibilities and select a preferred future history. This processed allows you to evaluate alternative strategies for your future, select the one that best suits your present situation, and alerts you to possible alternatives and realignments that will become necessary in the future.

• Strategic action

Your preferred future history becomes the basis on which to develop dynamic resources, networks, and operational business plans, and the strategic action that needs to be adopted.

• Strategic re-evaluation

In an environment of rapid change, the knowledge and assumptions on which you have based your strategies and plans will constantly change. The creating the future process is therefore not a one-off process but a continuously updated corporate mental navigation system that keeps you headed in the right direction

• Strategic serendipity

Having previously thought about possibilities, you will notice opportunities that would previously have passed you by and will provide information for constant re-alignment of the direction that you are taking to reach your destination. At times it may even mean changing course to another destination as you recognize the emergence of a new preferred future.

This 7-step process will allow you to develop the hindsight, insight, foresight, intuition and wisdom to face the future with optimism and confidence, and forms the foundation for controlling your own destiny and creating the future that you want… “the future will be full of entirely new challenges, and entirely new opportunities.”

8. Quo Vadis — where are you going?

  • If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?
  • If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to know what you need to know?
  • If you don’t know where you are going, and don’t know what you need to know, how are you going to learn what you need to learn?
  • If you don’t know where you are going, what you need to know, and what you need to learn, where will you be in the future?

“Where are you going, what do you need to learn, where will you be in the future?”

9. Your future! You choose!

  • A strong vision for the future, embracing new technology, developing a globalised outlook, competing on innovation, facing the future with confidence.
  • Resisting change, maintaining the status quo, reacting to competition, putting out fires, waiting for the next catastrophe.

It’s your future, your choice, you choose! All that is required is a change in mindset, and a change in mindset is free of charge!

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