The art of “Back Casting” needs care

Backcasting is a planning method that starts with defining a desirable future and then works backwards to identify policies and programs that will connect that specified “future to the present”. The fundamentals of the method were outlined by John. B. Robinson from the University of Waterloo in 1990. The fundamental question of backcasting asks: “if we want to attain a certain goal, what actions must be taken to get there?”

While forecasting involves predicting the future based on current trend analysis, backcasting approaches the challenge of discussing the future from the opposite direction; it is “a method in which the future desired conditions are envisioned, and steps are then defined to attain those conditions, rather than taking steps that are merely a continuation of present methods extrapolated into the future”

I have collected different views on “Backcasting”.

Those are from assorted references like Wikipedia, from past work on water and energy systems, from Natural Step, from Innosight, discussed and promoted in Mark Johnson’s book “Lead for the Future” and a really recent one from Roxi Nicolussi and her Backcasting; Creating a Strategic Roadmap for the Future” or finally here, this one “All Roads Lead From The Future Back — A Vision and Spoke Model” by Aidan McCullen. I am looking to further explore the applications applied in water, energy and climate work.

So exploring backcasting as a method

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No thinking time left- help

Today most executives seem to be time-starved. They are constantly reacting to daily events, to fix upon the focusing and fixing of short-term performance. This applies to the top executive down to the most junior. The sheer difficulty of having most, if not all of your colleagues working remotely is making it so much harder. Keeping the business simply going is hard, demanding work. What time is there left to think beyond the present?

How can you keep the engagement, how can you find an environment that is creative, stimulating and allows for innovation? Juggling so many crisis events in different ways is exhausting.

Who is encouraging your pause button to go on as we lose more of those relaxing moments to top up our stimulations, as we all continue to isolate, with our lack of socializing, travelling, being in each others company continues to leaves us so devoid of real human interactions, apart from countless Zoom, Skype, or Team meetings? We need to replace this “void” with better thinking time to re-stimulate our curiosity and logic senses.

It just seems to me they simply don’t have this luxury to think.

Technology is rapidly taking over this thinking role, we increasingly rely on searches to at least begin our thinking. Humans are becoming the 2nd class citizen for thinking. Continue reading

Building our understanding of the factory of the future

Siemens Digital Enterprise SPS Dialog Results

Last week, Siemens had a really valuable virtual event called their “Digital Enterprise SPS Dialog. Those that missed it you can watch previous sessions on-demand at any time via “Recordings”. They provided an outstanding virtual showroom packed full of innovations, product presentations and use cases are exhibited in an exciting real 3D environment. The platform and all on-demand assets will be available until January 29th 2021.

The “Digital Enterprise SPS Dialoghad 56 3d-exhibits in 12 topic areas, more than 130 product presentations, 3 real factory showcases with 21 stage presentations involving over 38 speakers. By registering you can view “on-demand” selectively or watch the whole event, explore the showrooms and simply learn, evaluate and assess what these concepts would mean for you in your own Industry 4.0 journey, to a more highly automated and connected environment.

I said it at the time, and I repeat it: “The event was, for me, the best virtual event of this very strange and weird year we have all been caught up in“. For Siemens, they also commented this was quite a milestone to be achieved in the field of virtual events. It delivered a lot. My initial post “Siemens SPS Dialog.” might be worth also picking up upon.

By being virtual, the insights provided has advanced my understanding of what is being offered in Siemens Digital solutions significantly and would give any clients a terrific understanding of Siemens combined physical and digital offerings.

An event showcasing critical aspects of the factory of the future Continue reading

Setting the right innovation challenge

Atos is a global leader in digital transformation. Atos employees 110,000 across 73 countries with annual revenue of Euro 12 billion.

Atos holds the number one position in European advisory companies in Cloud, Cybersecurity and high-performance computing that provides end-to-end solutions to Orchestrate a wide array of Digital Solutions.

Why do I single out Atos for a post? There are several good reasons:

Firstly, I like its stated purpose “to help design the future of the information space” and Atos looks to contribute to the development of scientific and technological excellence. Continue reading

Adjusting to a changing world

 Reflecting on a rapidly changing business world.

The issue we must tackle today, is how we go about adapting to the changing world? One that will be able to take all the advantages of the changes all businesses are undergoing, how societies will be adjusting and responding. We are facing a time of unprecedented economic and social crisis but this is a time equally for seizing and sizing different opportunities.

We clearly need to find ways to navigate ourselves back into some (new) order; to stabilize the chaos we are in. What we first need to do is make sense of what is going on around us, we need to determine what actions to take and the level of action, resource and support each part needs. We are in a period of (great) change. How are we thinking about how to adjust, not just to the immediate challenges but the greater ones that are certainly heading our way.

Within business, the present crisis is offering a chance to make significant changes to how we operate in the future. I am not sure many of you feel the same, it seems disruption is in everything, in what we need to undertake, in what is coming towards us in change. We are challenged but we have ample signals to amplify and explore. 

Disruption actually has a common purpose, often far less sinister than promoted or we suspect, it requires us to re-equip and open up, as we learn to deal in this changing world where connections can emerge from anywhere at any time, offering a new ‘line of sight’ onto an existing problem to begin to break down the barriers and find new fresh ways forward. Continue reading

The Connected Art of Selling Outcome-Based Solutions

Outcomes ROI neededThe typical linear and often siloed mindset that we have for much of our innovation thinking within our business organizations, has to rapidly fall away. We are in the ‘cusp’ of a fundamental change that technology, platforms and connected ecosystems will bring into the mix for connecting and collaborating in dramatically different ways than the past.

One of the implications will be our need in measuring and the metrics within companies. The measurement of inputs, throughout and outputs need to become far more focused on delivering speed and scale potential as the critical points. We are far more needing to focus on the outcomes as our primary point of measurement.

This is a further post on discussing outcomes as the focal point of our innovation measurements, following my recent one of “Shifting to Ultimate Outcomes”

Recognizing the emergence of the outcome economy

The outcome economy which is emerging has many implications within it and how we measure and value these will become increasingly important. Companies will need better data to calculate costs, evaluate its potential value and will be modelling far more the risks and tracking the factors required to deliver within any outcome-based value promised.

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Shifting to Ultimate Outcomes

OutcomesMany organizations are struggling with their metrics and ways to measure the progress and success of their business. From this writer’s point of view their innovation activity gets caught up in plenty of unintended consequences, to put it mildly, in wasted debate, discussion & bad decisions through wrong measurement criteria.

Firstly, we are still locked in the old paradigm of thinking this is an industrial economy where we set about measuring inputs to innovation (R&D expenditure, capital investment) and then focused on the intermediate step of throughput and then outputs (publications, production units, patent filing, end products).

We also perceive innovation far too much still as an activity within just one company – viewed as linear, with considerations for services more of an after thought (like ‘bolt-ons’). Production systems still remain far too often the driving force of performance judgement.

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