The Future Quotient: A New Social Innovation

In early October a new watershed report appeared, co-authored by John Elkington and Charmian Love of Volans and Alastair Morton from JWT. Entitled: The Future Quotient: 50 Stars in Seriously Long-Term Innovation, the report draws attention to the dramatic gap in modern society’s ability to be planning multi-generationally.

The Volans-JWT report accepts that the recent economic crisis was squandered by not being put to use to create positive change at a moment when modern society is heading into a period of dramatic transition. Unfortunately they identify that we are entering an era of creative destruction at a time “when natural resource and environmental security challenges are pressing in.”

They focus on the crisis of leadership:

“It is in the very nature of things that a proportion of leaders will fail, but when the rate of failure increases dramatically, the chances are that system failure is at the heart of the problem. The current generation of leaders have fought their way to the top of the pile in a system whose rules they understood, indeed helped to define and police.

“As a new order begins to emerge, their instincts, reflexes and well-honed solutions increasingly fail to address the increasingly complex challenges. The question is: do our leaders have the skills and ability to adapt to the new order?

“As the financial and ecological systems weaken and stresses build, human nature dictates that we try to do more of what worked in the past. We focus even more on the conventionally defined bottom line. Stuck in a hole, we continue to dig, despite clear signals that radical change is needed. Eventually, natural selection will sort winners from losers, but will the winners be any better at addressing the core elements of the sustainability agenda? Will they be more adept in considering the long-term resilience of their organizations?”

Volans and JWT are making the call to “seize the opportunity to create and shape the new order…Now, more than ever, it is time for businesses and their brands, governments and civil society organizations to test and build their capacity to meet the needs of both present and future generations.”

As they explain:

“The Future Quotient…is our take on the emerging agenda. It is a pitch for the introduction of a new concept—the Future Quotient, or FQ— designed to measure the ability to think and act along intergenerational timescales…

We need a tool—or tools—that can help us measure what we’re calling our Future Quotient. A high Future Quotient can help individuals or groups identify new risks ahead of the pack, and play more effectively into emerging areas of opportunity.

As the Canadians say in ice hockey, it can help players skate to where the puck is going to be—rather than where it is.”

On Wednesday 19 Oct at noon we hosted a webinar with Charmian Love from Volans and Tony Pigott from JWT on their report.
Use this link to watch the webinar.

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Tim Draimin About Tim Draimin

Tim Draimin is the Executive Director of Social Innovation Generation (SiG)

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