Future-proofing and future visioning consultancy

Here’s a bit of news. I’m setting up a UK and European office for Futures House, which is an Australian consultancy specialising in scenario planning. We’re still in the planning stage, but we’re aiming to launch in London in September. Key services will include scenario planning consultancy (running large turnkey projects, but also contributing process and people to much smaller in-house projects), research and report writing looking at the future of specific industries and professions and finally workshops aimed at facilitating client consensus on likely futures and the strategic implications thereof.

Our initial focus will be on just three industries, but we’ll consider anything interesting with an appropriate budget.

Andrew Crosthwaite, formerly Head of planning at Euro RSCG, has already signed up to work alongside me and I’m talking to an ex-McKinsey partner, an ex-government strategist and someone that used to work for KPMG. German, French and Italian partners are in the wings, although our initial focus will be the UK.

In terms of my other work there’s no significant change. The only thing that I am thinking of doing is moving my quarterly What’s Next report from every 3 months to every six months and to and reinstate the annual hard copy publication. The main reason for doing this would be time, but quality has become an issue too. I don’t know whether it’s just a temporary blip, but recently I’ve found it more difficult to source high quality content to comment upon.

This could be linked to current economic conditions (few new ideas or long-term thinking due to a focus on immediate survival) or it could be that long copy analysis is in decline due to shifts in how media is created and consumed.

The World in 2045 (you talking to me?)

So what will the world’s main language be in 2045? Most people would say it would still be English, although some argue that the use of English as a global language is peaking. Other contenders would probably include Mandarin with Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil remember!) and Hindi in the top 5 rankings.

Why is this important? Because language shapes ideas and institutions and a world where Mandarin Chinese is the major language would probably be somewhat different to one where it’s English.

The World in 2045 (just follow the money)






Just putting this up for Bron (the first guest post!?!). BTW, one thing that was mentioned that I forgot about was a possible return to a gold standard.

Tried to leave this comment to your post, the world in 2045, but it didn’t like all the links, thinking it was spam:

Reference “global corporations not paying a fair level of tax” I think you need something on governments pushing for the elimination of cash so that all transactions become visible and thus taxable, also fits in with authoritanism shift. With budgets under pressure, easier to Government to argue it is needed to make sure people “pay their fair share”. Maybe get rid of complex tax law (more white collar jobs gone) and move to a low flat tax on every electronic cash flow.

Also consider virtual currencies used within virtual worlds & online games as well as facebook. Mobile payments as well. Some links on the move to cashless society:

Mint chip challenge (Royal Canadian Mint behind this)




Consider also the potential for a resulting backlash against invasion of privacy this entails, driving use of systems like Bitcoin or a push for competing currencies

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2012/05/31/the-case-for-monetary-freedom/ This may be driven by a 1970s style high (but tolerable) inflation as the only politically acceptable solution to the excess of debt that has been accumulated, resulting in people questioning their “faith” in the ability of fiat currencies to hold their value (see here for a good case for inflation).

Alternatively, a few disruptions to existing payments systems (eg credit card or ATM systems not working) or interruptions in the internet may drive a renewed appreciation of physical cash.
Bron Suchecki

The World in 2045 (rounded up to 2050)

Some more random headlines and scribbles taken during the recent discussion about the world in 2045. Please note that these are discussion points not predictions!

Emergence of new middles class and subsequent consolidation
Issue of income inequality
Demographic shifts (primarily ageing but also impact of more women in workforce)
Costs association with ageing – who pays?
Loss of cultural identity due to globalisation (or the opposite?)
Population growth
Greater access of information (by individuals globally)
Impact of social media on political process/debate
Return of ethics
New Prudery
Decline of trust
Shifts in resource availability/prices
Game changers around energy/fuel?
Will carbon capture work?
Geoengineering – solution or a daydream?
Toleration of violence versus avoidance of violence/war
Globalisation/deglobalisation dynamic
Emergence of multiple identities
Identity and belief – shifts?
Heading towards a Middle Ages construct?
Where does value base come from?
How do you define national interest?
Which of the issues are broadly cyclical?
Understanding of climate change will improve – better forecasting
Physical geography of the world is changing (due to climate change)
Big data

To be continued…

(Image not from workshop, but added because it does provide the general context of population size and GDP. And yes, I too wonder where Latin America and Africa are on this map!).

World in 2045








Here are some random notes that I made in the 2045 workshop last week. I should explain that these are general ideas, issues and drivers of change that could in theory create the world in 2045. How they might combine, which is strongest and which is weakest has not been resolved. You’ll note that many of these are somewhat pessimistic. This could be a simple case of extrapolating current conditions (in the US/US/Europe especially) or it could be what happens when rapidly rising population meets finite natural resources. Buckle up folks; it could be a bumpy ride…

Most powerful state in the EU in 2045 is the Vatican
Issue of global corporations not paying a fair level of tax
Decreasing efficacy of antibiotics (antibiotic resistance)
Concentrations of power becoming more monopolistic /oligopolistic (is that a word?)
Reliance of technology as a weakness
3 billion potentially unemployed in 2045 due to technology
Impacts of transhumanism
Disenfranchised middle class (in the BRICs or somewhere else?)
States become much poorer (see corporations not paying taxes + unemployment)
Networks and data strengthen authoritarian states
State just another provider
New actors and disruptors (idea of preventative power)
Disorder a temporary state (at last, something optimistic!)
Words owned by corporations (a reference to Olympic sponsors I’d argue)
Collapse of universal moral norms and values
A G-Zero (as opposed to G7 or G2)
Weakness of global governance/institutions
The end of leadership
Unmet expectations
Loss of control
Regression to authoritarian rule
Politics & finance globally connected (how’s this fit with corps not paying taxes?)
People that believe anything
Global elite not loyal to nations (off-shore aristocracy)
Emergence of a new moral framework (potentially very good news indeed)
Better understandings of cause and effect
Where does power reside in 2045?

BTW, the reason this is being posted is to encourage comment, so comment away…

Facebook, banking, cars, customers and geopolitics









OK, still up to my eyes. Writing something today on the customer in 25-years time for a short film. I’m going to post some of my notes on geo-politics in 2045 tomorrow (if I can remember), but a few things caught my eye today.

First is the news that Facebook is testing online banking, which would seem quite logical to me and a potential game-changer for the retail banking industry.  Second is something from Volkswagen about driving in 2028.


This is a classic. A while ago I wrote about a robot called EATR – an autonomous robot that wanders around the battlefield looking for bio-mass (i.e. vegetation) to turn into fuel, which in turn charges its batteries and those batteries belonging to human soldiers in the nearby area. Here’s how the company behind the machine describes it:

“An autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling, which would otherwise preclude the ability of the robot to perform such missions. The system obtains its energy by foraging – engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable. For example, about 150 lbs of vegetation could provide sufficient energy for 100 miles of driving, depending on circumstances.”

The only issue is, would dead bodies (or someone in a very heavy sleep) count as bio-mass? Also, check out the chainsaw in the illustration. Be afraid, be very afraid….

Illustration above from geekologie.com. Image to left from i09.

More at i09 Robot Zombies..



World in 2045

Just back from two days thinking about the world in 2045 with the Ministry of Defence. Some really bright people and some really good thinking, although there was more than enough to keep me wide awake for the next few nights.

I’ll dribble in some highlights and sound-bites over the next few days (unclassified), but one thing that sticks in my mind is the comment from Phillip Blond , a director at the think tank Respublica who was talking about the impacts of automation.

“What happened to the working class during the 1970s and 1980s (in the UK) is going to happen to the middle class next (between now and 2045).” If it’s not obvious what this comment means, it’s about whole industries and regions and mass unemployment.