Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking as well as presenting to a variety of community, interest and professional groups about workforce and career development issues. The research I'm doing in this sphere is both interesting and potentially important, not the least of which because we are in a recessionary context, but also because the workplace of future decades (2010+) is likely to have different characteristics than the ones I became so familiar with over the last 20-30 years. Think about it for a second: the workers already are and will continue to be different as the next (Net) Gen'ers move through in several waves, structures are already different (bye bye silos and tall organizational charts), work processes are evolving (thanks mainly to ICT), and everything has a new and exciting (for some, at least) global character.
One of the questions that sits in the back of my mind is whether CI, strategy consultancy, and business planning will change much. I published papers at the start of the 90s and new millennium that argued big changes to business were afoot. Some of these proved to be at least partly correct, while others I and most other prognosticators just flat out missed in fully envisioning their development. I'm never real surprised about economic downturns, increasing competition, evolutionary or even revolutionary changes in technology, sociopolitical unrest, demographic change, etc... these are all relatively easy to factor into our analyses and thinking.
Folks in CI have long been advocates for considering different scenarios in their insight development processes. We are more likely than most people in our organizations to consider change, dynamism, ambiguity, uncertainty and risk of various sorts. Yet, I look at how the field has shifted in response to challenges and opportunities over the last couple of decades and am unconvinced that CI has come anywhere close to delivering on the promise that many of us have pinned to it in the past. It makes me wonder if the promise of easily-recognized "positive difference making" for our organizations we hoped for was unrealistic in the first place, or if the performance by those of us in the field just never matched the potential? I suspect the best answer to this question has elements of both.
Do we still have promise of professionalizing CI? If so, has it changed from the promise we observed twenty years ago? Will CI careers be desirable ones to practitioners (or students) in the future?Can this field and its practitioners someday in the future be viewed as essential to their employing organizations as the financial experts, accountants, operations specialists, and marketers are today? If it is possible, what do we need to be doing in the present to raise this possibility?
I'm still working on developing alternatives, ideas, and constructive actions. I know a lot of very bright and industrious people are doing likewise. The 600+ (and rising) global members of this Ning community just may be the catalyst in making it happen. I hope some of us succeed in this task.