This was first published in #TheFutureByDesign. Click here to download the publication with insights from leading marketing, creative and advertising minds.
The question is: how do we use our intelligence to create a better future? As an educator, what I am interested in about the future is that it is fairly unpredictable in most ways.
We are at a time of accelerating change. You only need to look back five years to realise how much has changed in our everyday lives as a result of the technologies that we have. Not just in technology — but also in terms of our environment, in the possibilities around us, in the economy — things appear to be more volatile.
Educators around the world are interested in this question because obviously our system needs to adapt. We need to prepare people for an uncertain future. Increasingly you realise that the skills we are equipped with aren’t as adaptable. You might find that what you were trained in doesn’t exist as a job anymore.
This is not the first time that this has happened throughout history. Very important swathes of economy have been rendered obsolete as a result of new driving forces. So we really have to be the ‘learn by doing generation’, if we are going to keep up with change. We have to learn as we go and to make up the future as we get there.
If we project forward five years, while there is so much that is unpredictable, there are at the same time things that we can predictably do to ensure that we are in good shape when we get there. Those are fundamental practices in our lives, and in our businesses.
My belief is that if we start at a microcosmic level with ourselves and our own habits and practices, and then taking it a step further, ensure that—one project at time—we apply the principles and practices for each project that we get into, that we are going to be future fit.
Let me give you an example. Say I want to make my company more effective at digital marketing. What I have got to work with is a large blobby thing called culture and company processes, and if we change too much too quickly, we could make mistakes that could be devastating to my outcome, as I am trying to prepare myself for this future.
If we break it down and say: “Instead of changing all of my marketing, what if I make the projects that I am working an experiment in being more marketing savvy?” The project is the unit of change in the organisation. Even further down, the unit of change in a project is the people and technologies that they use.
So, if you invest in training your people, or in yourself, and then you apply that new intelligence into the next project that you have, you will generate useful data – what works and what doesn’t work. And if you do that one project at a time what you will find, is that you will be able to be future fit –you will be a much more agile organisation.
I think that this is, fundamentally, what it is all about. I think that we create the future one project at a time, and we are more effective in the project context, to the extent that we invest in people. If you grow your people and you make them more future fit, you will by design be making your company more future fit.