Why young people find the future so fascinating

Education should reflect the reason young people are invested in the future.

Quite a few schools are now involved in our Growing Foxes programme. One line of comment made by several teachers is how enthusiastic young people are when debating the future; how good they are at identifying the flags to watch; how vivid they are at painting different scenarios; and how brilliant they can be at assessing the probabilities of various outcomes. In other words, the adults are blown away. Reportedly, the conversation sometimes gets so intense that the teacher plays the role of a facilitator in the background as opposed to a conductor in the foreground. This

Storytelling has taken a nasty turn

Storytelling on social media has taken a nasty turn.

It’s tempting to believe that social media reflects public sentiment. If there’s something Mark Zuckerberg’s recent appearance before US Congress has exposed, it’s that social media can in fact steer public sentiment. And that’s scary. The Facebook CEO was forced to testify before a House committee after a series of major scandals hit the social network. These included the spread of Russian propaganda on its platform, and the hoovering of up to 87 million users' data by data-analysis firm Cambridge Analytica. All this points to attempts - probably successful - to influence the outcome of the 2016

The long game of politics

Politics is a long game, and Trump just came up short.

Ask any career politician and they’ll agree: politics is a long game, it’s strategic, and it’s perfect for the feint-hearted. Surely we mean ‘faint-hearted’? No, someone who is faint of heart is hesitant or nervous. A ‘feint’ is a tactic cut from the cloth of sword-fighting. It is a deceptive manoeuvre that suggests an attack which then demands the opponent commit to a defensive counter-manoeuvre, thereby exposing them to another line of attack. In rugby, a side-step is a feint manoeuvre. If ‘strategy’ is direction and ‘tactics’ are how you’re going to get there, in politics,

Hailing Dots

Intelligence dots can be found in the most unlikely of sources.

Foxes make sense of the future by connecting dots - essentially diverse clusters of information or data - to develop scenarios (possible futures) that will give them a competitive advantage. The outcome is strategic intelligence. Leading scenario strategists Chantell Ilbury and Clem Sunter connect dots by speaking with thousands of people at business events around the world, and guiding the strategic conversations of hundreds of executive teams across dozens of different sectors. And they ask questions. Lots of questions. That makes sense - foxes are inquisitive. But where can young foxes find such information?

Another wake-up call: The myth that humans can mass-colonise another planet

It's the ultimate existential scenario: thinking the future beyond Earth.

Having considered the precarious state of our planet’s environment in my previous article, what are humanity’s options if we wreck the Earth and find ourselves racing against the clock to save our civilisation from extinction? Some options might include: 1. Retreat underground into a network of self-sufficient bunkers; 2. Migrate into huge isolation domes spread around the Earth’s surface; 3. Colonise a fleet of space stations orbiting the Earth; 4. Colonise the Moon; 5. Colonise Mars; or 6. Colonise an exoplanet (a planet outside our solar system).  

Options 1 and 2: Bunkers and domes

These two options are without doubt the simplest in terms of our

Clem Sunter interview: The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield

On 19th March 2018, Clem released his latest scenarios, flags and probabilities for South Africa. In brief, he said South Africa is yet again at a crossroads, and the path it takes will have serious consequences. On 22nd March Bruce Whitfield, host of The Money Show on Cape Talk and Talk Radio 702, invited Clem to explain them further. Clem also offered insight on the country's current leadership, and, importantly, what young leaders currently on the Growing Foxes course thought about the scenarios and South Africa's future. Click on the ‘play’ button below to listen to the interview. [If offered, select the ‘Listen in browser’ option. Wait a few seconds

Wake-up call: Environmental decline will be followed by human decline

All the environmental signs are pointing to an imminent human catastrophe.

Although environmental conquest has long been the hallmark of human expansion, it is only in the last 50 years that the rate of environmental decline has gone exponential. Traditionally a consequence of human activity alone, this decline is now being amplified by climate change and warming oceans. If left unchecked, the compound effect of these threats will push our planet's ecological equilibrium over a tipping point and devastate our civilisation in the process. This article looks at six key environmental indicators that put the current rate of environmental decline in perspective. They include: protected areas, coral reefs, forests, polar regions, insects, and biodiversity. Protected

The latest South African scenarios, flags and probabilities

South Africa is yet again at a crossroads; the path it takes will have serious consequences.

For ten years I have been doing 'state of the nation' breakfast presentations with Justice Malala in Johannesburg and Cape Town. We do them twice a year in each city. I would like to put my latest observations on South Africa’s future, which I shared with audiences last week, in the context of the "High Road/Low Road" chart shown above. It was produced by the Anglo American scenario team in 1986. In retrospect, South Africa managed to take the High Road of negotiation in 1990 with the release of Nelson Mandela, and with the subsequent adoption of a

Oh dear, Afrin

What is Afrin, and why do you need to know about it?

If you’ve never heard of Afrin, don’t be surprised. Few outside of those who live in this forlorn stretch of northern Syria have. But at least you’ll be one of the first to see its possible role as an opening act in a larger theatre of war. You’ve been hearing a lot about Syria, that’s because it’s what’s known as a ‘proxy war’. Since 1945 there have been very few official declarations of war between sovereign states. Instead there has been a raft of prolonged military actions that have drawn in multiple countries. These

The shifting world of work #2

For many young people, the world of work means doing what’s right.

(This article is the second of a series on the shifting world of work). The traditional route to social-conscience for a business-leader was via a foundation, unusually, and not unassumingly, in their own name. Wealth, garnered over decades of business wrangling, was parked in the foundation to be dribbled away to the needy, over time, ensuring the commensurate tax benefits. That’s changed. And you have the T-shirt and sneaker tech entrepreneurs to thank for that. They are the new breed of altruists, and they have shifted the world of work. For them, in the era