Industry Insights | 2 min read

Transformation: How best to prepare for the uncertain future

20 June 2022

Addressing delegates at a recent webinar hosted by Glacier by Sanlam, Futures Strategist John Sanei stressed how important purpose is, even going so far as to say purpose needs to be developed as a skill. There are many different futures ahead of us and we have a choice as to how we develop the future we’re moving into.

“We’re facing the biggest transformation anyone’s ever experienced and it’s happening right now,” he said.  “Transformation always starts off with sadness since you’re leaving familiarity and your comfort zones.”  The second step, according to John, is “Strange” – and an example of this can be seen in people paying the same price for homes in the Metaverse as they do in the real world. The third step is “Adventure”, and for this we need to be adaptable.

Imagination poverty

According to John, we’ve created a society that’s addicted to certainty.  This means we focus on outcomes and follow a linear process – study, get a job, get married and start a family.  The problem is we think marriage or working for an organisation is forever, and we think a degree is the gateway to automatic success.  The brain likes predictable things – this megatrend is known as Poverty of Imagination.  “We need to embrace the change and manage our behaviour accordingly,” he said.

Paradigm shifts

John outlined two paradigm shifts to take note of.

Paradigm shift #1 – A crisis situation

In their book The Fourth Turning, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe wrote about the approximately 80-year cycles, known as saeculums, that humans have been going through.  The four turnings of the saeculum comprise history’s seasonal turnings – High, Awakening, Unravelling and Crisis – each with their own characteristics. If we follow the same 80-year cycle as previously, this places us squarely in the fourth turning, or Crisis, which commenced in 2008 and is predicted to continue to 2028. 

What we have right now is a crisis of meaning.  Everything we trusted implicitly before, we no longer do – from the news to the dollar, the value of the cost of higher education, marriage for life, and religion, - in fact, the fastest growing religion worldwide is ‘no religion’.  “If you are taking strain or are rudderless, you are not alone,” said John. 

Paradigm shift #2 – The quantum era

This is a much larger shift and will affect us over the next 10 to 20 years.  We’ve moved through the agricultural era and industrial revolution, and we now find ourselves hurtling towards the quantum era.

The skills of yesterday – physical and mental - will no longer be relevant.  What’s needed is for humans to follow their uniqueness as intuition, creativity and fascination will be the new desired qualities. 

Strategic shifts

We’re moving from a complicated to a complex world.  The complicated world has patterns that repeat themselves. Problems can be solved using mathematics, excel spreadsheets and accounting.  However, everything inside a complicated world is eventually automated because economies of scale and efficiency are key.

In a complex world there are some patterns, but they don’t repeat.  Therefore, problems can’t be solved using the same linear processes that were used before. We need complex technology to automate these processes and this has not yet been developed. The AI (artificial intelligence) we’re working with is still general, so humans remain the superstars.  It’s our intuition that makes us complex.

A growth mindset for future success

John ended his talk by sharing more of the characteristics and mindsets needed to be future fit.  The mature mindset sees opportunities not problems – and there are always opportunities in chaos.  A person with a mature mindset shows empathy and plays the role of a coach.  They also challenge themselves and those around them to aspire to greatness. “Seek discomfort”, were his closing words.

Glacier Financial Solutions (Pty) Ltd is a licensed financial services provider.
Sanlam Life is a Licensed Life Insurer, Financial Services and Registered Credit Provider (NCRCP43).

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