At times, the future can be a scary thing to think about. Technology is developing faster than we can blink, and more and more people are starting to become aware of the irreversible effects of global climate change.
And those are only two things on a long list of developing situations that can cause people to worry about the coming years…
But is it all bad? By changing our mindset and the way we respond to this rapidly changing world, can we adapt or even thrive?
Ross has been driving innovations for the better part of 18 years. Since 2017, he has been working on measuring and improving adaptability in businesses all over the world.
Not long ago, I managed to spend some time speaking with Ross about how he prepares businesses to thrive in a world of change.
This blog will reveal some of the key lessons from that fascinating conversation and give you a few valuable tips you can use to thrive in this changing world too.
You can listen to the full conversation by tuning in to episode 6 of my weekly podcast “Interviews With Experts”.
Let’s get started.
Technology serves our purposes
Having read Ross’ book, Moonshot Innovation, a number of times now, I can safely say it’s well worth two or three hours of your time.
One of the big themes in this book is the rapid rate at which technology is growing. I asked Ross how we should start to think about technology in order to see it as an opportunity rather than something overwhelming:
Ross: “The thing to remember about technology is that it’s inert until we give it a purpose. If that purpose is a positive one, then technology begins to be perceived as a positive thing. A great example of this, which I mention a lot in my book, is the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
I see these goals as the to-do list for the whole planet, which presents some massive opportunities for technology to be used in a positive way. The idea here is to take a mix of these big problems and turn them into big opportunities by using some great exponential technologies to solve them!
If we can start to think bigger and be inspired by technology rather than worried about it, we will be more likely to spot the opportunities it sends our way.”
One thing I really admire about Ross is his natural ability to futurecast. This means he can think about how we can solve problems with technologies and solutions that haven’t yet been invented! He is able to take topics that are unthinkable for most of us and make them feel stable and accessible.
I asked Ross how he was able to think like this:
Science fiction to science fact
Ross: “One of the big challenges that affects the way we think about the far future is our information sources.
The media helps (or hinders) our perception through science fiction, by portraying these light and dark views of what’s ahead. It’s either a dystopian or utopian view.
Often, because these visions are portrayed in the visual media of movies or TV, it becomes less real. We see it purely as entertainment with no real relevance to our situations, and therefore tend to become disengaged with the future.
However, what I try to do is shift people from science fiction to science fact. I want to show people that a lot of the things they thought were far beyond them, way into the future, are already here, and they are more accessible than you think.
These things aren’t just in silos and labs but are already being played with by large companies or very wealthy individuals.
And the pace of that availability is going from deceptive to disruptive.
However, whether we are afraid of this pace or excited about it is our own choice. And once you know how to think about these things, it becomes a lot easier to move into that place of excitement.”
Serving the human purpose
Ross talks a lot about these human purposes and the natural human desire to make the world a better place. We all want the world to be better and more sustainable, right?
However, sometimes people can struggle to see how these things apply to them individually. There is this lingering question of “Is it really my responsibility?”
I asked Ross if he had any lessons to share on this idea of individual responsibility towards the greater good:
Assume noble intent
Ross: “I’ve always liked the saying, ‘assume noble intent’. If we start from that point, an individual might have noble intent to affect themselves, their family, their community or the globe, depending on where they are in their journey.
Technology allows us to think about ourselves or the people we love first. Then, through that thinking, we can create something that can suddenly become scalable to other communities too!
The challenge here comes from taking on a challenge that we don’t know how to solve. Humans are far better at the incremental parts of productivity, taking and using data that we collected yesterday to make tomorrow a little better.
However, the reality now is that many of the things that we want to bring forwards have morphed into being the very things that might hold us back from surviving, let alone thriving, tomorrow.
I want to empower everyone to be aware of that. Otherwise, there is a risk of being left behind.”
Our world isn’t linear
Ross: “In a linear world, unexpected consequences can be controlled and mitigated, but, for better or worse, our world isn’t linear.
That is why we need to adopt a more collective way of thinking responsibly and deploy technology with that mindset. That way, we are prepared for change and can keep experimenting when things go right and things go wrong.
Essentially, we need to make sure that we can always fail forward.”
One of the big challenges of having this mindset is always going to come from people’s fear of change and taking risks. I asked Ross if he had any final words on how people can start to see change as an opportunity instead of a fear factor:
Ross: “One of the things that I found to be super effective is this: if the purpose is big enough, and the problem big enough, the opportunity to experiment in a new way to solve it is far more available.
If people’s ‘why’ becomes big enough, it permits us to be more exploratory into new processes.”
So, if you need a new way to think about the future, or you are trying to future-proof your brand or find ways to be more sustainable, I’d highly recommend giving Ross’ book, Moonshot Innovation, a read!
More to come next week!