A South African in London with an eye on the future
Dr Graeme Codrington is an expert on the new world of work and multigenerational workplaces. With three bestselling books published by Penguin, five degrees in five different faculties from five different universities including a doctorate in Business Administration, and work experience ranging from articles at KPMG to IT entrepreneur and professional musician to professional speaker, Graeme brings a unique view to his role as consultant and trends analyst for some of the world's largest companies. He can be contacted at , and his website is http://www.tomorrowtoday.biz.
I have delayed writing this post out of respect for the dead, although the thought first came to me in the very week after Haiti suffered their horrific earthquake. A few weeks on, the scale of the tragedy is now clear, and the difficult task is to rebuild this broken country - a task that could take a generation, as the Haitian president claimed. He's probably right.
I have been living and working in the UK for nearly two years now, and there’s something that really irritates me. I notice it in the media, in TV reports and in everyday conversations. It’s people referring to “Africa” as if it was a single country. Over and over, I hear people talking about something that has happened in an African country, and simply referring to it as “Africa”. This would never happen with other regions in the world.
For the past few months I’ve been trying to explain why looking at the past is so important for understanding the future. Here is a practical example of why this is so important, and how practical the outcomes can be if you do it properly.
The first few entries of this blog have focused on trying to understand the future by tracking the trends that are shaping the world around us. This is something I do everyday – watching the world, and looking for the defining moments and shaping stories. One such story from the world of British politics, military and the media caught my eye this week.
As I elaborated on in my last post, individuals with a good grasp of the world and a strong sense of adventure might be able to predict some major world trends; however, if we want to predict the future effectively, we need to steer clear of attempting specific predictions.
If we were to transport ourselves back a century to 1909, would we have been able to predict what would happen over the next century? Highly unlikely! Yet, someone with a good grasp of the world and a strong sense of adventure might have predicted some of the trends.
In a turbulent world, it is more necessary than ever to have some means of anticipating what the future will be. Anticipating – and responding to – future customer demand, industry competition, legislative constraints, resource availability, labour supply, and all manner of other changes, is an absolutely critical task for every organisation everywhere.
Every other year, Australia and England play a cricket test match series against each other known as the Ashes, competing for the smallest – but arguably most revered - trophy in international sport. This series gets top billing on sports shows, and is hyped beyond belief. And, on Sunday, 23 August, it ended for 2009.
“I’m an alien. I’m a legal alien. I’m an Englishman in New York”. The lyrics of Sting’s popular rendition fill my thoughts as I contemplate the similarities and differences between my life and the song. In my case I am not in New York nor am I am Englishman either. But I am effectively an alien living in another world: I’m a South African in London.