The world is changing at an incredible pace. Not in terms of human needs and emotions - which transcend every trend wave - but in terms of the speed of change of ‘new’ things, be they ideas, or technology, or just ‘stuff’ in demand. Whether they are truly ‘new’ is arguable given the amount of re-working of classic concepts, but the increasing speed of change as a principle is undeniable.
So what is the consequence of change at this speed? Well certainly choice and a more categorised lifestyle according to personal specifications (how many types of cappuccino/sofa/phone is it now possible to order) but also anxiety, exhaustion from trying to filter so many new things, and ultimately less control, less certainty, and less security. As a result, Speakers Corner is seeing an increasing demand for futurist speakers who can quell some of this uncertainty and provide the necessary guidance as to when the next trend wave will soon hit, what it is likely to encompass, and how to be more ‘innovative’. They are not talking futurists of the alien/space age kind (although who knows where astrophysics will lead) but futurists who look 3 or 5 years ahead, sometimes 10, and only very occasionally as far as 20 to 30 years – such is the rate of movement. The ‘future’ is more immediate than it ever was and the only constant is cumulative change. The futurist speakers who work in association with Speakers Corner are more focused on reality and build narratives with their head looking out over the tree-tops but their feet firmly placed on the ground.
Speakers Corner works as a business like any other where they have to juggle the balls of adapting to unforeseen changes that occur as well as preparing in advance for upcoming trend waves. Consequently they have been working with futurist speakers such as Hamish McRae, Richard Watson, Kjell Nordstrom, Patrick Dixon and James Bellini for many years in order to build relationships and develop in-depth knowledge as to what these speakers can offer. Ian Pearson is due to speak in association with Speakers Corner this month in Paris and other futurists will be appearing at a Showcase extravaganza in November to explore the future of the events industry.
They are seeing a greater demand for more innovative speakers as the economy moves to a more creative right-brain and cost-cutting system where innovation is being opened up and outsourced more often. The so-called “institutional blindness” is being eroded as more businesses are recognising the benefits of sharing information. Clients seem to be increasingly aware that if they want to simply update their products they can do so internally. However, in order to keep up with innovative demands they need a more revolutionary approach which requires new external influences to encourage employees and managers alike to start thinking differently.
Organisations such as BT and IBM have come to rely on the expertise of futurists. The MoD and CIA also work with scenario planners – whose approach is in a similar vein. Speakers Corner acknowledge that only 2 years ago businesses used to develop something new, research it, perfect it, and then launch it. However in 2010 companies put a product out there and see what the reaction is, effectively working alongside the audience in the editing process. It is a very different way of working and one that embraces immediate and interactive innovation.
Speakers Corner are also seeing a greater demand for speakers from a different disciplinary field in order to help companies look at a problem from an entirely new angle – for example IT companies bringing in architect speakers to assist with their ‘IT architecture’ and business workers bringing in philosophers for brainstorming sessions. This inter-disciplinary approach acknowledges that change is accelerated when innovation and ideas are shared, benefitting all disciplines to think differently – just as economists now have to do, rather than simply relying on previous forecasting models.
As such Speakers Corner is committed to this approach, not only with the speakers they provide but also within their own company. Their aim is to find the right fit, whatever the dreams and requirements, and ultimately keep clients not just up-to-date, but sailing ahead of the trends.