Insights June 21st, 2020
OK, the headline ‘Virtual Futurist Keynotes Suck’ is a little bit of truth, a little over-exaggeration, and a challenge to what we have to play with right now – online, virtual conferences and remote keynotes for us who used to speak 50+ times a year.
Read to the end to see what I have learned, and why a virtual keynote could lead you into a deeper understanding of the value that foresight can deliver to your organization.
About 18 months ago I was riding high with travel, keynotes to 2000+ people and the opportunity to meet many incredible thinkers face-to-face, albeit for a short amount of time.
The adrenaline buzz of backstage (I bounce and pace at 5 minutes countdown to hitting the stage). The flow of a well-prepared keynote (I take 100+ hours for each one with continuous researching and challenging my own thinking) and Q&A sessions that would test the mettle of the best and most-considered speakers (climate change really gets people heated, excuse the pun).
In March I returned from a work training trip to Detroit and my last in-person keynote of 2020 in Ottawa, moved into my new place, and then three days later – LOCK DOWN!
In one week all booked gigs moved to 2021. That’s OK. I get it, and I’ve been chatting to those clients ongoing to see if there’s any support I can give them in the meantime.
The end of winter, the lockdown, the constant checking in with family and relentless hand washing was a strange reality, as was seeing many other futurist speakers desperately claw at the new opportunity of online, virtual keynotes.
I stayed away from that.
Focussing on the craft of foresight, and the failed industrial complex
I focused on the craft on foresight and futurism. Consulting with clients that knew this was a time to challenge their own ideas as they saw the promises of the 4th Industrial Revolution crumble around them.
As economic woes and exponential virus spread continued I went deeper into research. I urged clients to not let a COVID-19 knee-jerk reaction determine their strategic direction. I helped them (and myself) feel the pain and visceral challenges in the world. To create deep empathy for the millions sick, and our lost elders.
And, I started working existing client on the real challenges we face as we try and build global influence in a world where humanity has been challenged.
It’s taken a pandemic…
- To see the crash of oil and the effect of legacy transportation solutions and pollution;
- Top see the failure in our food supply systems;
- To see the underfunding of basic medical care;
- To see how little we care about the elders in our communities;
- To see the exposure of vulnerable, underrepresented and marginalized communities;
- To see protected markets and the power of ‘shareholders’;
- To see the extent of surveillance and the infodemic effect;
- To see that globalization doesn’t truly exist;
- And, to see that we had no clue of how to deal with a pandemic event even though there were warnings.
We’ve created a world without equity. A world without resiliency. A world that doesn’t care about humanity.
Where were the sensors, smart cities, big data, and machine learning? Genetic editing? Quantum Computing and Nanotechnologies? Oh, they are here to stay yet pretty useless at the time of COVIS-19 – with maybe the exception of big data and machine learning. But, leadership ignored that opportunity so I guess that’s a missed opportunity – AND A BIG LESSON in what we really need to survive. Data-backed science and a belief in the advice we’re given.
Work during COVID-19
So, I focused on working with clients to change their perspectives. To look towards equitable futures where we:
- Embrace ideas of dystopia when building robust strategic thinking;
- Look to commitments in renewable energy and global super-grids that will pass abundant energy in real-time around the world;
- Appreciate what human connection can give us – creativity and community. All this talk of going 100% remote will backfire just like 100% outsourcing did;
- Create roadmaps for defunding the police and emboldening our communities and mental care workers to help heal trauma – the root cause for the majority of the world’s malaise;
- Building resilient food supply chains;
- And, so much more…
I wrote that ‘Virtual Futurist Keynotes Suck’ not because many peers out there are not making sense or progressing our thinking with their new narratives. I did it because many of these keynotes only highlight 1% of what strategic foresight can deliver to the world right now – awareness and transformation on so many fronts.
Over the past 13 weeks I’ve been interviewed by the media many times, and I’ve also interviewed many incredible thinkers for the EXPONENTIAL MINDS podcast – you can find the conversations on Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud and Anchor.
In the past 3 months I moderated a panel on wellness with a beer company, a cannabis company and a doctor. Seemed like a summation of the strange set of affairs. It was valuable.
I’ve also been working with a start-up trying to transform the cleaning industry and I continue advising a client of mine that is investing a lot of time and effort in bringing foresight into their organizations. It’s awesome!
There’s no irony in the fact that this week I present to a central bank on the future of globalization and the country in which they operate. Their Chief Risk Officer sees it as a catalyst for changing their strategic planning by introducing foresight.
I want to work with you!
I am pretty selective about who I work with right now. If you want to engage me then please reach out. I might even agree to give you a virtual keynote. The only condition in doing so will be that you recognize that this will be the beginning of something much more important for your organization and that this is the first of many conversations we’ll have to help you shift of thinking from ‘what is’ to ‘WHAT iF…’
And, ultimately the appreciation and integration of strategic foresight into how your organization researches and defines its strategy.