Looking back at looking forwards

Fiona Lickorish

Speaker Day 1: Future paths/drawing from other sectors

The Institute interviews Fiona Lickorish, formerly Head of the Cranfield Institute for Resilient Futures at Cranfield University, as she prepares to address the Institute’s forthcoming National Conference: Innovation for Change.

What piece of advice would you give yourself if you could turn the clock back 20+ years?

Embrace and plan for change – it will happen anyway and often, it’ll be out of your control.

Sticking your head in the sand and hoping that you can avoid change because you’ve ‘always done it this way’ won’t be enough to get you through difficult or turbulent times. Take the time to look up from your desk and take notice of what’s happening to the world around you; in your own field, but not just there. Get out of your comfort zone and explore what’s changing outside of your own knowledge base. Look for those things which are being developed elsewhere or for another sector, but could also impact on the way you work. Go with your instincts and be confident in your ability to spot new and emerging trends. When you know your stuff – and you do – you usually know what will affect your business too. These might be hazards to avoid, manage or mitigate, but also opportunities to exploit and, remember, if you fail to grasp an opportunity, but your competitor does, this might become a risk for you.

Do your homework on emerging technologies and new ways of working. If you don’t know enough about an emerging trend, then don’t be afraid get advice by hunting down those who do and who can enlighten you. Accept and use criticism from the nay-sayers, and use their scepticism to make your work better. They’re probably as frightened of change as you are, if not more so.

Be daring; take risks, but make sure those risks are calculated. Yeah, sometimes you’ll get it wrong, so be prepared to fail, but when you do, learn from it. Finally, when you’re proved right, be gracious – no one ever won any friends with ‘I told you so’.

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