Readers of a certain age, may remember BT’s Beattie, a stereotypical jewish mother figure played by that wonderful actress Maureen Lipman, who used to advertise Britain’s biggest phone company in the 80s and 90s. One phrase that she was particularly famous for was when confronted by her grandson’s success in sociology she exclaimed “”an ology! He gets an ology and he says he’s failed. You get an ology, you’re a scientist!”
I was reminded of this at a recent British Swiss Chamber ofCommerce lunch where the speaker, Dr Patrick Dixon of Global Change, was described as a futurologist. That’s the job for me. I’m not a natural scientist so if ever I was to gain an ology, futurology would be the one I want.
You might think that futurology is a somewhat suspect science, and if it was all that much, then its practitioners would be rich beyond their wildest dreams as they cleaned up on lotteries and betting coups.However the use of information to understand how the future might shape itself is common practise and essential for any organisation that wants to grow and develop.
Patrick himself uses a strapline of “take hold of your future”. He was particularly convincing on the need for individuals and businesses to embrace green technology. Indeed natural developments in mainstream technology are already contributing to more sustainable world.
As I have mentioned before, whether you believe in the science of climate change or not, the business case for adopting green policies is still very strong. Patrick’s persuasive arguments and case studies only reinforced this view.
Actually I spend a lot of time predicting the future for clients. It goes by various names such as budgeting, forecasting and business planning, but ultimately it is financial crystal ball gazing of sorts.
Like any good futurologist, I look at past behaviour and future trends. I take into account external political, economic, social and technological influences. I consider internal factors such as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. I then construct financial models which hopefully provide a route map to the financial future that my clients want.
Accountants are often accused of being backward looking. Good finance directors need to be able to break this habit and apply their financial skills to paint a picture of the future. Ok it may not be quite what I envisaged but all in all I think I too can now proudly claim to have an ology….