Conversations with scenario thinker and networker extraordinaire Napier Collyns

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Napier Collyns has long been an eminence grise of the world of foresight, not publicly visible but immensely influential in his ideas and connections, especially through his role as co-founder of Global Business Network and his seminal work as part of the original team at Shell in the 1970s that created modern scenario planning. In my book Living Networks I used him as my case study of the most extraordinary networker I know. He is the closest to a mentor that I have had in my long career as futurist and even before. A memoir of his life is currently being prepared by International Futures Forum.

In 2008 I recorded a video of a conversation with Napier on a diverse array of topics. Below is the video together with a full transcript. It provides deep insights into scenario thinking and how the history of scenario planning has shaped its role in business today, perspectives on the evolution of human networks and networking and assistance in the “gentle art of re-perceiving”.

Conversation: Napier Collyns and Ross Dawson from Ross Dawson on Vimeo.

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How will a pedestrian’s death shape the future of autonomous cars?

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Yesterday morning I was interviewed on the Today show on the implications of an Uber driverless car killing a pedestrian in Phoenix, Arizona. The segment is below.

The big picture

It is truly tragic that 1.3 million people are killed every year by automobile accidents (heavily weighted to developing countries, putting into context the already devastating death toll of for example 30,000 in the USA and 1,200 in Australia). By one analysis 94% of these deaths are caused by human error.
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Sydney – Explore the future of sex: the evolving intersection of technology and human sexuality

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My company Advanced Human Technologies launched the web publication FutureofSex.net in 2011, seeing it develop into one of the most prominent publications globally in the space today.

At the time I wrote about the reasons for launching the publication, including simply that it is a very important topic for us all to explore, given the technologies we develop are shaping who we are in a multitude of fundamental ways.

As the publication has progressed I have realized even more how critical this issue is. We published a summary Future of Sex Report to distill the key ideas and their implications.
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Cyborg rights: law and society must allow us to modify ourselves

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Yesterday I was interviewed live on the ABC National News on the case of Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, who had just been convicted for paying for his bus ride using an implanted chip instead of a standard bus card.

Below is the segment, running through the court case and conviction, followed by a 4 minute interview with me on the implications.

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Periodic Table of Disruptive Technologies and Innovation

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My colleague and friend Richard Watson and I have created a number of visual frameworks together over the years, including the Trend Blend series , the original Extinction Timeline and What will appear and disappear.

Richard has continued to create wonderful frameworks, with his latest a Periodic Table of Disruptive Technologies and Innovation (full size 9MB)


Click on the image for full size version (9MB)
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The only thing you can change about your life… is your future

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While recently re-reading some of my personal journals from my late teens and early twenties, I found a list of thoughts distilled from my writings over several years, categorized into the primary themes I was thinking about, such as ‘Experiencing’, ‘Independence’ and ‘Creation’.

One of these phrases was ‘The only thing you can change… is the future’.

It struck me as immensely apt to my work today, so I put it in a shareable image, shown below.
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In the age of AI, relationship scope will drive value in professional services

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I recently spoke to a group of senior partners responsible for a major law firm’s relationships with its top 50 clients.

The session was primarily framed around helping the partners understand the degree and nature of the shifts impacting their major clients in industries such as financial services, mining, construction, and infrastructure.

However I also delved into the impact of new technologies including AI on the delivery of high-end professional services, a topic I have been doing substantial work on recently with several clients.

The impact of AI on professional services

There are many specific issues stemming from the rise of AI and automation in professional services delivery, including the modularization of what have often been aggregated services, increased choice on service providers, changes in pricing models, and shifts in the relative roles of junior and senior professionals.
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The four wonders of how a journal can help you real-ize your dreams

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I have kept a journal in various guises since I was 16. Over the last few months, as I have transitioned into a substantially different phase of my life and work, I have been re-reading parts of my journals, particularly from my very early 20s when I was working out what I wanted to do with my life, to help make sense of where I am and where I’m going.
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The Future of Associations: vision, capabilities and leadership for a changing world

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Last month I gave the keynote at the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Annual Board of Directors Strategic Retreat held in Panama City, Panama, on The Future of Associations.

IEEE is an august institution with over 400,000 members and an enormous impact on the technology industry globally, publishing over 170 top-rated journals, running 1800 conferences a year, and managing over 1000 standards, including WiFi.

All associations globally have been impacted by technological, social and structural shifts. IEEE’s board is on the front foot in understanding and addressing these issues, inviting me to speak on these changes and the emerging opportunities to help frame the discussions over their two-day strategic retreat.

A video of the full keynote has kindly been provided by IEEE.tv here.

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Exploring the future of homes: they will be our butlers and help us live longer

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A recent article The revolution that will change how Australians live within 30 years dug into the future of homes, based on interviews with some of “Australia’s top futurists” including myself.

Here are some of the quotes they took from me:
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