Designing the Future

28Feb15

“The future is not somewhere we go”

“We are shaping the future through our choices and actions. We need a whole-brain approach to the future, not just a linear approach. It’s about balance.”

Seek Risks and Uncover Opportunities. In The Trend Management Toolkit, the term “global macro vs. local micro” is used to separate overarching trends, also called Megatrends, from local variations of the same trend. “Understanding the significance of ArchDaily or the use of LinkedIn as global platforms for architectural discourse could serve as examples of one opportunity,” Brekke says, “while the potential for using tablets for communication in local building projects could be an example of opportunity in a local context. Failing to recognize trends in fields like smart technology, social media, and environmental issues can become a serious issue for a company, not least among architects, consultants, and other players in the building industry.”

Dive into Emotional Forecasting. “Today, it is not enough to identify customer demographics,” Kjaer says. “Companies also have to study the psychographics of attitude, beliefs, mood, values, and situation. This methodology deciphers emerging consumption, social, cultural, and aesthetic markers, translating them into actionable creative concepts in local and global markets. Emotional forecasting is an important means of ensuring that new products, services, and experiences capture the zeitgeist and relevant factors affecting people’s moods and choices.”

When Things Get Complex, Get Creative. “IBM interviewed 1,500 CEOs globally,” Kjaer notes, “and found a general consensus that: 1) Complexity is escalating, 2) enterprises are not equipped to cope with this complexity, and 3) creativity is now the single most important leadership quality.”

It sounds old school, but creativity is often about seeing opportunities where others see limitations.

“Decoded, complexity is a great starting point for creativity, and every company should opt for it,” Brekke says. “A famous book about the great Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was called The White Table, as—in his view—this was the best starting point in any project. The idea is still valid, however—the days of solitary authorship and clarity of the individual mind is over. We simply live in an increasingly more complex world, which we have to address.”

An aid to understanding complexity within any organization begins with understanding the company origins, and telling its story. People want to feel like they’re part of the action, so if possible, include them in your story.

 Dedicate Time for Experimentation. “The typical business approach to trends is, ‘We will deal with it later,’” Kjaer says. Rather than being an active participant and observer, reacting too late to a trend means that what could have been an opportunity now is a threat. “3M’s 15 Percent Time to Think and Innovate is a relevant case study,” she says. “Since 1948, 3M has cultivated an in-house ‘entrepreneurship’ culture, inviting people to be creative.”

3M’s Post-it was created in 15 Percent Time in 1974. Now, companies like Google practice 20 percent time: one day a week when employees work on new ideas and innovation.

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