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I wanted to share two recent great examples of embracing the future. When I read about these two examples, the thought coming into my head was – “some organisations talked about innovation, while others just do it”. Sure, these are still very early days for both these examples but the organisations working with these technologies are going to learn a lot and will shape the way forward. 

Example # 1. Trialling the use of Pepper, the robot as an “intern” in Townsville Hospital by Queensland Health, Australia 

This initiative will investigate the utility of this technology in a ward healthcare setting. The trial is for 5 weeks. This Australian trial now joins several other trials in Belgian and Canadian hospitals on how this technology can be part of the healthcare delivery system.

This trial is an opportunity for Queensland Health and especially Townsville Hospital decision makers through collective learning work on the broader implications for Queensland communities. Dialogue and sharing with Belgian and Canadian colleagues would add to the learning and insights. 

Example#2. Teaching school children in New Zealand school about new renewable energy. 

This is a great initiative to demonstrate how a digital avatar interacts with school children about a range of topic on renewable energy (solar and wind power). Watch the interaction between the school children with Will the avatar and watch what happens when the real Will appears in the classroom. The company behind this amazing technology, Soul Machines have numerous avatars for different industries including healthcare. 

In 2038 – twentyyear time 

Looking out to 2038 (20year time), such technologies will likely be the norm. No one can stop the future and those who can imagine and embrace the future, gets to shape it. Those that don’t, well the future will still arrive, and they will still be part of that future, but their experience and journey will be more difficult. 

There are many questions that need answers and such trials will provide answers to some of them. The challenge is for politicians, policy makers, funders, professionals, providers, unions, employers, academics and civil society to keep an open mind and engage constructively. The reality will be that not all questions can be answered, and some will need to be uncovered as these technologies are deployed. The above two examples and other technologies that could have even greater implications like CRISPR/Cas9, the gene-editing technology poses many ethical, moral, security, economic and social questions. In the end, many of these can only be answered through deliberate and careful actions. 

How ready is your organisation for the future? 

How ready are you and your organisation to make that transition? Have a look at the items on the agenda of your board or executive meeting? Is there any space that looks to creating the future (building bigger facilities is not it!) If all your organisation’s energy and focus is on solving today’s urgent burning issues, you need to create some deliberate space to discover and imagine what the future could look like. If your immediate reaction to this question is – I do not have time OR I need more resources to able to do the “future thing” your mind-set is already at the wrong starting point. 

There are plenty of resources out there on the web on this future focus agenda. 

Here are a few references organisation that have a lot of useful materials that might help (but in the end you must want to do this with an open mind): 

  1. Singularity 
  2. Futurism 
  3. Forbes 
  4. Wired 
  5. McKinsey, PwC. EY, Deloittes 
  6. HBR and Economist 

Final words

There has, is and always will be tension when the future pushes hard against today. Both the incumbent and the innovators have a mutual responsibility not to unnecessarily frustrate progress or recklessly and deliberately put citizens in harm’s way. For today’s decision makers that are looking up, around and out, and see the future coming at a furious and exponential rate, do not let history record that you were merely observers. 

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