Future planners urged to take long view

Dave Wild
Dave Wild
If you intend to begin future planning soon, you are already too late, futurist Dave Wild says.

``The future can be broken down into three: the future now, which is all around us; the future next, which is what is coming next; and the future beyond, where you need to have a viewpoint about the world you are going to create.''

Mr Wild, a keynote speaker at the recent Association of Local Government Information Management (Algim) conference in Dunedin, said previous generations had taken a 10-year ahead view of when the future was, but the next generation had a different concept of the future.

``That next generation doesn't have expectations like I will have a car or I will use email - which is 40-year-old technology.''

An example of bringing that kind of thinking to local government would be councils changing their approach to the planning process, and issuing no formal plan for people to consider when consulting the community.

``It's a very unnatural way of working, but allows them to understand the problem more deeply and create solutions,'' Mr Wild said.

``If you look at things which require long-term horizons such as infrastructure and roading, you can't be agile.

``A digital start-up can pivot and change the code and launch a new thing tomorrow [but] you can't go `Oh, we built the road in the wrong place' or `It should have been rail' and change it tomorrow.''

That made it even more important that those organisations operated 10 years ahead, he said.

``They can do that by looking and by being more curious than other people.''

New Zealand organisations tended to think five to 10 years out, while their overseas counterparts were planning 20 to 30 years ahead, Mr Wild said.

``If you look at whether things can be fixed in, say, a year, the New Zealand No8 wire psyche is to jump on it and do it - but if we can do it that easily, other people can do it that easily.

 - Mike Houlahan

``That's because they are already working on longer-term thinking.''

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