Hazards and Monsters, Tools and Talismans

Hazards and Monsters, Tools and Talismans

⚜️ From the Book

When exploring an unfamiliar terrain, the traveler must be aware of various challenges. On maps from ancient days, these challenges were indicated by the presence either of hazards, in the form of cliffs, dangerous mountains or chasms, or they were illustrated by the warning of the presence of monsters. “Here be dragons” wasn’t an indication of a real fire-breathing monster, but it was a warning of extreme peril.

For our purposes, traveling into the unknown land of the future, we should also look out for monsters and hazards. Let us be clear that these are not just analogies or metaphors but by casting them in these roles, we can anticipate them and we will be prepared to meet our challenges and not withdraw in fear.

Our hazards are real. Inventions and innovations in one industry have ripple effects in others. While we often applaud the new and novel, if the innovation is significant enough, it can cause a major disruption to its own or a related industry. Innovation is not a monster – we shouldn’t fear it just because it has the potential to make the work of thousands of people redundant. Innovation is just like a raging river – we need to work out how to harness its power without being swept away and drowned by it.

The monsters are a little more difficult to navigate, and please do not think that just because we have labeled them so, that they should be demonised. Many a mythical monster turns out to be misunderstood.

The monsters are the attitudes, approaches, mindsets and values that people have that impede progress. The nostalgia for a fictitious past where everything was perfect prevents many people from embracing the benefits opening up today. These monsters are born out of fear, inflexibility and an inability to process the rapid changes towards the future.

Monsters, where possible, should be tamed. If they are too wild, then they should be circumnavigated. On rare, and sad occasions, it may be necessary to stand up to a monster and fight it, but invest your energy wisely in trying to avoid those confrontations.

How we prepare for this journey, is to gather the right tools and talismans. The tools are easy – they are the data and intelligence, the academic models, the business models, the strategic foresight methods used to gather information and prepare scenarios for the future.
The talismans are different. These are not arbitrary good luck charms and neither are they meant to indicate chance or coincidence. Talismans are symbols, but in this case, they represent the internal attitudes and values required to be bold and audacious enough to believe that we can face the future with courage, and attempt to influence it. The talismans are your mindset, your values, your beliefs.

Pack your carpetbag full of these and you are ready for the journey.


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Futures Alchemist book Charlotte Kemp