In April of 2022, we shared the first issue of Futures of Work during our aptly named release event: April Day!
We thought we might give you an idea of what the document is all about. We’d also like to give you some inspiration on how to use it in your work context.
So, what’s a Horizon Scanning Document?
It is one of the absolute cornerstones in a Futures Thinking process. Such a document contains signals, anomalies, trends, and reflections related to a specific domain.
It could be the Future of Food, the Future of Play, the Future of Urban Living … or (as for this document) the Futures of Work.
This kind of document is curated by experts in the field, which in this case is us. We constantly scan the media, publications, academia, and the frontrunners in the domain to look for concrete examples of signals that might lead to trends.
We then evaluate the signals regarding the frequency of appearance, perceived strength and inertia, polarities for impact, and time-to-impact.
By Tore Nielsen
16th of September 2022
What’s in our Horizon Scanning Document?
Our Horizon Scanning Document focuses on the Futures of Work, with three major sections:
- Signals and trends regarding work, leadership, organizations, and employees
- Scenario descriptions of possible and preferable futures, as a consequence of the signals and polarities
- An overview of mechanisms in the organization that might change in the future
We chose to include 9 signals:
Model: Futures of Work signals overview, April 2022
So, how can you use the signals in your work?
The contents of the document help you to have a more concrete and inspired conversation, and enables you to rethink some of your internal mechanisms and activities.
We’d like to share some examples of the kind of conversations that signals like these can spark when you apply them to your work context.
On April Day we invited three guests with different perspectives on the future of work to have a chat about the signals and foresight in general. We asked them to choose two of the signals they either found most interesting, likely, preferable or all three.
Susanne Palsten Buchardt
Susanne Palsten Buchardt is Vice President at Novozymes in the Agriculture & Industrial Biosolution unit. With a keen interest in both people and technology, her progressive approach to New Ways of Working is an inspiration to many, both employees and peer leaders at work.
She gave the corporate perspective on the signals and on how they may affect leaders and leadership styles.
The signals she found most interesting were: “The employee takes control of hybrid work” and “Extreme localization of cultures in organizations”
In combination, these signals present a difficult challenge for leaders.
“ What is our role as leaders if we are not to define when and how work takes place? We are here to create a sense of belonging, so when you shop around anytime, any place, you choose to work for me or for the mission we are on.”
Hear more of Susannes’ perspectives on how the signals will require a change in the mindset of leaders in large corporations, and watch the full interview with Susanne.
Jasmina Pless is Head of Entrepreneurship at the Danish Chamber of Commerce, in Danish called “Dansk Erhverv”. She focuses on the Danish startup scene, on the life of entrepreneurs, and on the political landscape that is part of shaping the ecosystem for entrepreneurship.
From her unique perspective, she connected the signals to opportunities within the world of startups.
She choose to discuss “Cobots and augmented collaboration” and “Corporate activism from the top”, and could see the potential for some interesting future collaborations between startups and big corporations:
“The startups drive the futures by creating and getting the ideas for the new products and technologies, but the big corporations have a big impact as well because they are the ones who need to have an open mind to take in these new technologies.”
Learn more about how entrepreneurs and established corporations can be affected by the signals, and watch the full interview with Jasmina.
Carsten Beck is Director of research at Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, or CIFS for short. Carsten has been a futurist for the past 30 years and is a good friend of the house. In his role he delivers keynotes and presentations for a wide variety of sectors and audiences, both for global organizations and in small workshops.
In this conversation, Carsten gave us some interesting perspectives on how to use foresight in general.
We discussed the value of looking for signals, how you can use them to shape your current strategies, and the typical challenges organizations have in doing it.
“It’s about a mental capacity in organizations, it’s about realizing that we need to look for signals. Sometimes when you look into the internal workings of organizations, everyone is so busy, that you forget about looking for signals that are right here right now but you also forget about the future. To be able to discuss a multitude of scenarios and narratives is a very good idea.”
Listen to more of Carstens views on the importance of foresight in a faster-changing world and watch the full interview with Carsten.
Many possible futures
In the document, you will also find descriptions of possible scenarios based on combining polarities of the signals, called signal crosses.
- Will cobots take the form of standalone solutions or cross-platform interfaces, and will the adaption be widespread or slow?
- What kind of scenarios can we imagine when we try out different combinations of these extremes?
- And which ones would we personally prefer to happen?
We can imagine multiple scenarios and therefore many different futures.
Maybe you’ll be inspired by our signal crosses and try making your own, based on different signals and polarties.
Click the download below and start imagining your possible futures right now!
Model: Scenario overview, article: ‘Cobots, Cobots Everywhere!’
from our Horizon Scanning Document, April 2022
The Horizon Scanning Document on the Futures of Work
The Horizon Scanning Document is used both as inspiration for your work, and as a concrete tool for Signal Sorting during the Futures Thinking process.
The document does not list the current trends but focuses on the signals that might lead to the next trends.