Future-proofing is an increasingly popular term. It's provoking the same marketing buzz as creativity and innovation. Sounds great, looks good but what does it mean? Is it possible to future-proof anything?
The Collins English Dictionary says to future-proof something is to, "design or change it so that it will continue to be useful or successful in the future if the situation changes". With the rate of accelerating change is this plausible?
The rate of change is surpassing all predictions. Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, in a publication written in 1965, predicted that processor speeds, or the overall processing power of computers, would double every two years. Computing, and its speed, has made much of the modern world possible. Moore's Law, as the prediction has come to be known, has lasted more than 50 years.
The smart phone appeared in 1995. Twelve years ago the iPhone popularisedthe concept. When it first came out, how many people would truly have believed a phone would have the capacity it has now? That we could conduct most business transactions from a phone? That we could plan and book our next family holiday from it? That we could interact socially from our phones, internationally, for hours at negligible costs?
The only thing we can predict with any accuracy about the future, is that we will continue to evolve. We used to say that the only constants in life were death and taxes. Now it's death, taxes and change.
Can we truly future-proof an industry? Can we future-proof a country? Will robots take over the world? Will we self-destruct? Will we live on the moon? Or Mars? Will we return to simpler times? Who really knows?
As a species we have survived change for centuries. In retrospect, we can say we have thrived. Thriving is not the result of fear. It's the result of being agile and flexible, adaptable and courageous.
My SingularityU colleague, Dr Vivienne Ming, believes the only thing we need to do to future-proof ourselves is to ensure we are "Creative, adaptive, problem explorers".
I would add the need to have a Crazy Ideas Department in every organisation. Here you would spend 10 per cent of your time Moonshotting and imagining the future. Then you would set out to create it. We call this a #futurebydesign.