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2018 and all that……..

December 20, 2018


“The seeds of the future,” they say, “lie in the present.” So for our final blog of 2018, we thought we would look at SAMI’s present – at the changes we have seen in 2018, and where we think they may take us into the future.

The global situation has grown, if possible, even more uncertain than when we started the year. Old certainties are coming up against new politics; disruptive new technologies are vying for their place alongside established ones; and splits once papered over seem to be widening by the day. Our role as futurists and strategists demands that under such circumstances, we step up and play our part, both in thinking and in action.

We started the year buoyed up by independent research which quantified the value of “future preparedness”. In a robust 7-year longitudinal study, René Rohrbeck showed that the right Strategic Foresight practices boost profitability by 33% and market capitalization growth by 200%. Whilst the news that some 60% of UK companies have done no preparedness for the UK’s departure from the EU at the end of March 2019 seems bad news, the fact that 40% have is perhaps an indication, using Prof Rohrbeck’s figures, of where one should look for the successes of the future.

It is, incidentally, not too late to get our advice. We have been working with thinktanks and industry, as well as at conferences at the EU, the Institute for Risk Management, and the Chartered Quality Institute with our “Britain in 2030: four post-Brexit scenarios” project, as we play our part in ensuring that organisations and companies think hard and effectively about this key concern in Britain’s future.

SAMI is at the forefront of thinking about strategy and the future, reflected in numerous publications this year: Emeritus Fellow Gill Ringland and Associate Patricia Lustig’s book. Megatrends and How to Survive Them : preparing for 2032, was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. SAMI associate Professor Paul Moxey’s book “Certificate in Corporate Governance” has just been published by the ICSA. Former SAMI Fellow Peter McKiernan’s latest book “Scenario Thinking”is available to download free for a limited time. We had articles in on the new UK Corporate Governance Code in Transparency Times; Dr Wendy Schultz and Jonathan Blanchard Smith both presented papers at the EU’s Future-Oriented Technology Analysis (FTA) conference on June 4th and 5th, published as part of the Proceedings, and Ringland, Lustig and Blanchard Smith will shortly be publishing based on Gill Ringland’s paper on “The near future to 2030 and its potential impact on the role and impact of International Institutions on Economic Policy” at the XV International Colloquium of the World Academy of Arts & Sciences in Brussels. Nicola Stacey of the Health & Safety Executive presented a paper on the work they and SAMI did for EU-OSHA at the Safety of Industrial Automated Systems conference in Nancy. The paper is available in the volume of Proceedings.

And there were awards! SAMI won Best Enterprise Training Consultancy in SME News’ 2018 Greater London Enterprise Awards. Patricia Lustig was has just won an award from the Association of Professional Futurists for 2018 Most Significant Futures Work for works that advance the methodology and practice of foresight and future studies with “Strategic Foresight: learning from the Future”, Triarchy Press , 2017. And at the Chartered Insurance Institute President’s Dinner, SAMI’s work on “Building Resilient Households” was singled out for a special mention in the “Building Public Trust” award category.

We published our blogs throughout the year, ranging from series on megatrends and the future of Africa, to Brexit and the effects of AI on the legal profession.

And, of course, we launched our training portfolio – a range of courses designed to help businesses understand the future, and develop their governance, to prepare them for whatever lies ahead.

So that’s been us. We thank all our clients with whom we have had the pleasure of working throughout the year – whilst we have helped them understand their future(s), they have also brought new ideas, new concerns, and sometimes taken us in ways which we could not have imagined. It has, without exception, been a pleasure.

So if that’s the present, what does the future bring? Our new website will be launched early in the new year. We shall be working with European institutions and with European clients as well as those in the UK, as we help them make – as our tagline says – “robust decisions in uncertain times”. We will be helping companies deal not only with Brexit as an event, but with the risks and opportunities that flow from it. We do not make forecasts – we look hard at the world and its possibilities to think about alternative future worlds for our clients – and whilst some of them are challenging, in all of them there are opportunities. As ever, get in touch if you’d like to know more. We wish you all a happy, relaxing and refreshing holiday season. You may well need it.

Written by Jonathan Blanchard Smith, SAMI Fellow and Director

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

SAMI Consulting was founded in 1989 by Shell and St Andrews University. They have undertaken scenario planning projects for a wide range of UK and international organisations. Their core skill is providing the link between futures research and strategy.

If you enjoyed this blog from SAMI Consulting, the home of scenario planning, please sign up for our monthly newsletter at and/or browse our website at

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