Exploring Our ‘addiction To Prediction’
Today Executive Editor of The Economist Daniel Franklin spoke at our 8th Flamingo Big Ideas Breakfast, alongside our own Group Director of Foresight and Trends, Adam Chmielowski and Director, Josephine Shaw. The title of this breakfast was ‘Addiction to Prediction’.
Daniel opened by focusing on the how and why of prediction and forecasting, bringing his wealth of experience in compiling The Economist’s annual ‘World in…’ journal as well as his more recent book, ‘Megachange: The World In 2050’. He explained not only the various techniques involved in reading the future and the potential pitfalls of prediction but explored some of those pitfalls and difficulties. Referencing ‘Megachange’, he looked at, amongst some other themes, current trends around public health in the US, and the growth of the Chinese economy.
His piece ended with a slightly tongue in cheek list of possible ‘Top 10 companies in 2050’ – look out for ‘Exxon Hydro’ (as the hitherto oil giant moves into renewables), ‘Oxbridge Harvard’ (a blend of three blue chip global education brands) and ‘BollyDis’ (a combination of Disney and Bollywood)!
Flamingo’s Jo and Adam talked about how we “think about thinking about the future”. They laid down the gauntlet to the audience by challenging what they claimed were unhelpful, often embedded, reactive responses to unfolding events – referencing Keith Weed of Unilever’s ambition to “get to the future first” and worrying that many businesses were ill equipped to do so.
Jo and Adam identified the concept of ‘spectatorism’ – the human urge to defer power over the future to external cultural icons (from religious figures, to monarchs, to politicians and others) – a theme which played through into the world of business in questions like ‘What will happen to my brand’.
They emphasized the need to widen our perspectives; to ask the different, bigger questions; to embrace the power of “ambitious optimism” and to identify the Big Cultural Vision adding that brands are the marketer’s primary tool to create the better future.
And this isn’t simply the province of the superstar business figures like Branson, Gates, or Jobs…but a rallying cry for everyone in the room to hear, whatever their market, whatever their role.
Both presentations inspired a wealth of debate amongst our audience, with topics ranging from the future of unconventional energies to the so-called ‘death of marketing’, to the challenges of changing the conservative internal culture of major businesses.
Keep checking our blog to see a recap video of the event and if you’d like to attend our next FBIB please get in touch.