Institute for Digital Business

Now, New and Next

Von Marco Mariano, April 26, 2023

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The second session of the EMBA in Digital Leadership at the HWZ in March 2023 was shaped by questions about the future, the future of the technologies, and how we can screen the future, even though it is unpredictable and constantly changing. However, we can make educated guesses and predictions about what might happen based on current trends, experiences, and available data.

What is exactly Foresight?

Foresight is a term that refers to a range of strategies, techniques, and competencies that assist organizations in examining, visualizing, and molding the future. Its goal is to ensure that a company or initiative is prepared for any potential future developments by comprehending the main influences that drive change and the consequences of such changes.

To be able to do that, we played the 2050 scenarios from Arup, who developed and tried to provide answers in a report exploring four plausible future scenarios based on the intersection between the health of our planet and social conditions. The result is four divergent futures with a range from the collapse of our society and natural systems (Extinction Express, Humans Inc.) to the two living in sustainable harmony (Greentocracy, Post Anthropocene).



We started to play with our imagination how the world might look like in 2050, taking in consideration the social, political, economic, and technological factors. We have discovered that looking at the future is not easy, as we are not used to think like that. The improbable becomes a reality, and the impossible becomes our new reality. As the future is not set in stone, and unexpected events can always occur, it’s important to remain adaptable and flexible in our thinking and actions. The best example is happening today: We could not even imagine in a time which is not even so far away a small virus comes to knock at the door to lock it or a single (in)significant but at the same time powerful person can decide from his own to invade a country, regardless of the reasons. This is our new normal today.

What made start interesting imagination and discussions in the group was the share of the own view to each other. Our future can become a weird place or a paradise in a snapshot also depending on the attitude and the experience of a person as everybody see the world in different ways. And even thought that method has grouped the class in four different Arup sections, there were significant differences even in each group.

So, knowing what is now, the main questions are what is new and what can come as next. We can help our clients and organizations make a good decision, helping them see the future writing a new story about tomorrow. Create the capacity, what they should think about, for what they should do next to predict how the new normal will look like.

Another practice to have a point of view on the future, to challenge our current assumptions and help us to make smarter decisions today, is the Futures Cone. It starts from now, and it ends up with different projections of the future:

  • Projected futures are business as usual, and what will happen if nothing changes.
  • Probable futures may take account of current trends that we know now and are still likely to happen.
  • Preferable futures are those one we want to happen
  • Plausible futures are less probable but may still happen based on what we currently know.
  • Possible futures are not currently seen as probable or plausible, but a significant change in circumstances could still result in them happening.
  • Preposterous futures are improbable. Implausible and currently impossible so may easily be dismissed, but even these can be useful in provoking truly different thinking in planning sessions.


There are many ways to visualize the future or the future of the technologies, at this stage the most important is to understand why predicting it matters. Here my take aways:

  1. Understanding the range of possible futures and anticipating potential disruptions help enterprises and decision-makers prepare for a variety of possible challenges and opportunities
  2. Identifying key drivers of change and emerging opportunities help focus the attention on the most important issues and prepare for them
  3. Testing assumptions help avoid being blindsided by unexpected events or trends.
  4. Building and Enhancing resilience help organizations and communities better adapt to change and avoid being caught off.

We look forward to the next session with Chris Luebkeman and Johannes Heck when we are going to have a deep dive into the different methods.


Dieser Fachbeitrag wurde für das Executive MBA – Digital Leadership HWZ verfasst und wurde redaktionell aufgearbeitet.

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