Image courtesy of Lightning Motorcycles
[We have an open position on our team. I have written this blog post for potential candidates who would like some of the inside scoop about what we do.]
Our team at Autodesk is called Strategic Foresight. We help identify and articulate long-term forces of change and their implications shaping the future for Autodesk and our customers. As Strategic Foresight, we do not attempt to offer definitive answers about what the future will hold. No one can do that. Instead, we recognize that the future is only partially visible in the present and cannot be fully known in advance (predicted).*
"The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans."
—Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
With this in mind, our team helps reveal insights across the entire company by working with Autodesk leaders to shape a preferable future (out of the many possible futures) that delivers value for our customers and our business. We explore a broad range of areas (e.g., society, technology, economy, environment, politics) with a long-term focal length (~10 years). The 10-year period is necessary because some technologies (like generative design used by companies such as Lightning Motorcycles as an example) have a long development runway before they are commercially available. The time to start thinking about potential new technologies is when they seem impossible or impractical.
Level of technology adoption based on its maturity
Since Autodesk has to be prepared to provide the right kinds of solutions for our customers by leveraging opportunities that the future will bring while mitigating potential risks to designing and making, our main activities are thought leadership, foresight, and storytelling.
Thought Leadership - We bring in outside thought leaders to augment our own thoughts when developing points of view on emerging technologies or topics where positions have not yet been established. We do this by developing a network of visiting fellows, key members of the Autodesk community, and outside influencers. We drive advocacy and influence by bringing together this network and co-creating points of view.
Foresight - We look systematically at the future and facilitate active discussions to help Autodesk determine possible and preferable future directions. We identify and analyze weak signals and forces of change to surface future opportunities and threats and to inform assumptions behind company and industry strategy.
"Doing foresight alone will not produce a strategy or plan. The task of developing strategies and plans is enhanced and supported, but not replaced, by the process of considering multiple alternative futures and their implications. Strategic foresight instead aims to pose key questions that might have gone unasked in developing a strategy, and to reveal and challenge potentially fatal assumptions and expectations built into current policies and plans."
— Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development*
Storytelling - We provide expertise to help Autodesk's leaders engage our customers in dialog that explains our vision of helping everyone image, design, and make a better world. We build a set of methods that help apply storytelling expertise systematically and help Autodesk build storytelling muscle on a common methodology and vocabulary.
So if this is something that sounds interesting to you, check out:
Hiring is alive in the lab.