Tom Cheesewright is an Applied Futurist and the author of ‘The Book of the Future.’
His recent keynotes and talks have covered ‘The Future of Money’ (Finextra, London), ‘The Future Office’ (OPI, Amsterdam), ‘The Future of Language’ (ALTO, New York) and ‘How to Apply Futurism’ (Institute for Leadership and Management, London & Manchester).
In the media you can catch him most weeks on BBC TV and radio, across BBC Breakfast, 5live, Radio 4 and other local and national stations. He’s also featured in and worked on shows for Channel 4 (Sunday Brunch, In the Future, Home Hero), Channel 5 (Saturday Show) and Sky News, and been quoted in The Guardian and Entrepreneur Magazine (US).
He spends his time helping people and organisations to answer three questions:
- What does our future hold?
- How do we tell that story?
- And what do we do about it?
He does this through consulting, speaking, writing, and the media, appearing on telly, on the radio, online and in print, explaining technology and tomorrow.
When driving faster, look further ahead
The faster you’re travelling, the further ahead you need to look. When we get behind the wheel of a car, we all do this automatically. But we don’t seem to do it in business.
The reality is that all of us in business are travelling faster now. We may not notice it. The effects are subtle. There are no trees whizzing past the window to give us the impression of speed. But it’s there. Information flows faster. Disruption happens quicker. You can see it in everything from the speed of the delivery to your door, to the turnover on the stock market.
This places an imperative on every business leader to look further ahead. Not necessarily at the far horizon – the rate of disruption is so great that it is further clouding that already-unclear picture. But certainly beyond the next quarter or year.
Expand your field of view
Not only do we have to look further, we have to expand our field of view. To return to the driving analogy, we’re not on a long, straight motorway. We’re crossing a constant stream of intersections. Industries are colliding at an unprecedented rate. The threats to the safety of our journey do not come from our competitors coming up behind us. They come from the unexpected entrant to our lane, veering in from elsewhere.
Few – too few – leaders have gotten to grips with this new reality.
From a vision to a mission
I confess a level of self-interest here. This is what I do. I help businesses to see the future and expand their field of view. It’s called Applied Futurism. I’d like to do it for you. But even more, I’d like you to do it for yourself.
Because this belief in the need to look beyond has gone beyond a business proposition. It has become a mission. I genuinely believe the way that most people do business now is broken.
Firstly, we spend far too much time worrying about our competitors. To return again to my driving analogy, this is like watching your rear view mirror instead of the road ahead. You’re so focused on who might overtake you that you miss the turn that could put you on a much faster route.
Secondly, we spend all our time focused on incremental improvements when there’s an existential threat around the corner. This is like concentrating on your fuel economy when there’s a crash in front of you. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a few more MPG than your peers if you’re all headed for a pile-up.
Be a futurist
I can’t fix every business. But I can share what I’ve learned in the last five years working with organisations around the world to address these problems. That’s why I now license my knowledge to consultants and business leaders, so that they can address these problems in their own businesses and those of their clients. And I teach the tools I I’ve created to professionals on one-day courses at the University of Salford.
Whether you choose to use my tools or not, I’d urge you to do this: next time you get in the driving seat of your business, stop and look up. Look ahead, not one year but two, three, five. Look around. Look to your left and to your right, at your customers, at the businesses you interact with at home and think: what could these people, their processes, their technologies, do to my industry and my business?
Look ahead and then act. Make change. Steer around that potential crash. Be the first to take that new route.
Tom writes about the future at https://bookofthefuture.co.uk. You can find out more about his consulting and speaking at http://tomcheesewright.com. And licence his tools or book a place on his courses at http://futurism-tools.com.