Leading from the Future Back in Linz

June 7, 2018 at Linz, Austria (invitation only)

How do you see your future?

We live in an incredible time.  More change in the next 10 years than in the last 250 years. New technologies transforming the ways in which we live and work. Digital platforms and blockchains, AI and robotics, 3D printing and nanotech .

These are just some of the fantastic new capabilities that enable us to innovate beyond what we can even imagine today. The future isn’t like the future used to be. We cannot just evolve or extrapolate the past. Today’s future is discontinuous, disruptive, different.

It is imagination that will move us forwards … unlocking the technological possibilities, applying them to real problems and opportunities, to drive innovation and growth in every industry, in every part of our lives.

Imagine a world where you press “print” to get the dress of your dreams, the food of your fantasies, or the spare parts for your car. Instantly, personalised and on demand. Think then what does that mean if we don’t need the huge scale of manufacturing plants, warehousing and transportation. Maybe we will even subscribe to the IP catalogues of brands, in the ways we currently subscribe to Netflix.

Innovation starts from the “future back”

The best place to start is the future. The best entrepreneurs think “future back” rather than just trying to move forwards with the limitations and distractions of today. Elon Musk grabs headlines with his bold “Humans on Mars by 2025” vision, but then that makes everything else more purposeful, and more possible. Tesla to Hyperloop to SpaceX, all seem more possible, and even stepping stones to a greater destination.

“Future back” thinking also means you are not limited by your own capabilities. Richard Branson had a fantastic vision for a better airline, a consumer bank, a space travel business. But no idea how to make them happen. But then he found partners who could help make them happen. Partners with the expertise on tap, to connect with his ideas, and together innovate further and faster.

Partnerships are key to the future, connecting ideas and capabilities, risks and rewards, to achieve more together.

What might your world look like in 2025?

By jumping to the future, and then working backwards, you develop a bolder, braver ambition. Shaping the future on your terms, exploring the new possibilities for innovation and growth, unlimited by the priorities and prejudices of today. New technologies will be key, but they are more the enablers than answers. How will they make life better? How will they make your business better?

Inspired by the Adidas Speedfactory, what does the future of your manufacturing look like? If Amazon’s Alexa can manage your home, then what could the future workplace look like? What would happen if phones were free like Jio Phone has just disruptively done in India? How could you apply big data like 23&Me in healthcare to predict what people want? Or the new business models like Airbnb and Nespresso to redefine markets? Beyond the hype of Bitcoin, how could blockchain redefine how you engage customers? And what actually will people want most in the future?

Futurists look for emerging patterns – signals of future possibilities, already out there. Emergent behaviours, adaptive usage, new aspirations. You just need to find these signals, and apply them. Maybe on the fringes of your market, or by transferring ideas from other sectors, or other geograhies, or others aspects of life.

Leonardo da Vinci definined innovation as making unusual connections. So how could you connect the most relevant and disruptive ideas together in new ways?

Are you ready to create your better future?

It’s time to jump to the future. And then look back. Then you will see today differently.

Too many of us get locked in to a mindset of today – of incremental, extrapolating, and perfecting the old world. Working backwards from 2025 you will define different milestones, different priorities to be achieved within 3 years, and even next year.

Innovation demands a future mindset, that will deliver bigger ideas to drive innovation and growth, and new perspectives on what matters most today.

Are you ready?