5 years’ time: where will we be?

Skate to where the puck will be

“She’ll be alright”. “Manyana, manyana”. We may not wear this attitude on our sleeves but we English are notorious short-term thinkers.  Not for us, saving for a rainy day or a stitch in time.

Is it healthy though, to plan ahead? Isn’t planning ahead exactly the opposite of what is recommended by positive psychologists: be mindful and attentive to what is going on around us?

The difficulty with living in the present seems to me that we can be living in the past. Just as the ice hockey player skates to where the puck will be, we have to interpret the present in terms of the energy and dynamism that it represents. One of the beautiful phrases asked by positive organizational scholars emerging in the business schools in the US is: what is trying to emerge here?

What will the UK look like in 5 years’ time?

In some respects, I am sure the UK will not have changed muchin 5 years’ time. An endearing quality of the UK is that it piles layer over layer. A scratch below the surface is always interesting.

Demographic change

There will also be some trends that will stretch out linearly. For the most part, those people who already here will still be here. 5 year olds will be 10. 40 year olds will be 45. 75 year olds will be 80. Some people will be off exploring the world, but we will mostly be here. Even in Zimbabwe, most people are still there!

Structural changes

But some things will change qualitatively, fundamentally, or definitively.

I have just read a prediction that IN FIVE YEARS, Africa will overtake China as the supplier of low cost labor.

On line virtual laboratory

Being linked to universities, another prediction that caught my eye is that new ideas will no longer come out of US business schools. Nor will they come out of Chinese or Indian business schools. They will come out of ‘on line virtual laboratories’. There are obvious implications for universities who carry on treating the value chain as the long 7 year process of thinking up ideas, testing them, and publishing them.

Journalism collapsing

Similar changes are being predicted in journalism. Jeff Jarvis predicts changes even deeper than those predicted for academia. Editors will no longer drive news policy. They will encourage the creation of better news.

So what is my time line?

From time-to-time, I play with Curriculum Illusione in which you input what you think will happen between now and the year you die (chosen by yourself). It is interesting how hard it is, particularly when you have to back up your ideas with photos.

So where are we exactly?

Or maybe, the question for today is what do we need to know?

Is it sufficient to get up and go to work and just hope for the best?

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What is your Vision of the Future?

Street fortune teller consults with client in Taichung, Taiwan

Image via Wikipedia

What do you expect from a futurologist?

I was disappointed by the Microsoft Visions of the Future event in London, though to be honest, we left before it was finished. We had heard, or partially heard three long rambling speeches. The visuals were on domestic-sized screens that only a handful of people could see, and the audience had started talking amongst themselves.

What I heard wasn’t very new either. I have been treated to at talk by a futurologist elsewhere and I was stunned then that there was little, if anything, new in the speech. Puzzled by this happening again, I shot off a question on LinkedIn: what do you expect from a talk by a futurologist?

The first few replies thought I meant “fortune teller” and some others thought “a waste of my time”. James Stuart replied more seriously. He suggested two features:

a) pointing to inter-relationships between events that aren’t immediately obvious

and

b) helping the audience understand that the future is made through their choices.

What do psychologists and futurologists have in common?

I thought that what James suggested resonated with a brilliant description of the practice of psychology that I found years ago. I am sorry I don’t have the reference still. If you recognize it, please do let me know.

All psychologists, whether we are clinical, educational or work/occupational, do three things:

a) We have models and ideas that we can put at our clients’ disposal.

b) We have experience of other people solving similar problems.

c) We stick with our client while they think through their predicament and experiment with a solution.

First, on the basis of published ideas, we know what questions to ask. Then we have some idea, from observing other people, what it is like to be faced with the dilemma facing our client. And importantly, we are loyal to our client while they are struggling with a problem that is intimidating.

  • It is important that we can observe patterns that are not obvious to other people.
  • And we understand the object of the exercise is action.

When I listen to a futurologist, I want to hear them point to interactions between emerging events that require data and models far deeper than I have available from public media.  And the information must help me see what action I must take. I must experience an “aha!’ and intense relief that I now know what to do. I still have to do it, but I need some clarity about what I want to do next.

Of course futurologists are probably talking about the macro-environment: politics, economics, social change and technological change.  Models of psychology are usually about ways individuals make sense of the world: hope, intimacy, vocation, & schooling.

My understanding of the future

In psychology, I find the 21st century so exciting that I find it hard to think ahead.

As a vision of the future, it is worth flicking through Jane McGonigle’s presentation at SXSW 2008.  Jane believes that eventually we will all be in the business of happiness.  And she can outline the psychological principles to engineer happiness.

Curriculum Illusione is a Dutch site that gives you an interactive time line to map the future, and, how you intend to interact with it.  It is quite challenging.
I would be interested in your opinion of both.

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Curriculumillusione

I’ve just found Curriculumillusione, a Dutch interface (pick the English top right).

Pick a user name, set your date of birth and the year you wish to die.  The programme prompts you to consider the most important thing you want to accomplish in life and corollary events.

And it won’t let you stay too long!  It sends you packing after a while and tells you to come back in 24 hours!

I look forward to your comments when you’ve had a chance to use it.

Hat tip to Everything 2.0.

 

UPDATE:  I’ve gone back a few times to CI.  It is tremendously difficult to do.  Few of us have really thought through the way the world is going and our place in it.

I think it is worth checking in once a quarter and asking ourselves ~ what do we need to know to fast forward the world.  And then doing some research.