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Future in Focus: Richard Ramsey, Walt Disney International

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Today, foresight is the secret weapon of success.
Without foresight, we can't prepare for
what the future has in store for us. This concept has always been important,
but now more than ever, it is more difficult to come by because everything in
our world is constantly changing. Our technologies, jobs, institutions, even
some of our treasured values and ways of thinking are shifting radically,
making it very difficult to prepare for future challenges and
opportunities. 
I was lucky enough to catch up with Richard Ramsey, Vice
President of Human Resources, Walt Disney International, to discuss
this rapidly growing importance of using foresight and trends in business. Ramsey
will be speaking at the upcoming Foresight
& Trends 2014 conference 
in Los Angeles next week.  
This year, Foresight & Trends unites the most forward
thinking, creative and innovative people from across the globe to discuss macro
trends disrupting how business gets done. This unique event synthesizes trend
insights, consumer insights, foresight, brand strategy, design thinking, human
science and innovation into a clear vision for capturing future opportunities
with a unique blended learning curriculum. It unleashes valuable knowledge,
contextualizes the knowledge into relevant examples for you to apply back to
your business, and then empowers you to connect with the future in hands on
translation sessions and immersion techniques centered on core themes.
Here's what Ramsey
had to say:

IIR: How do you
challenge the status quo? 
Ramsey: There are
many ways to approach this.  I will mention two.  First, I try to
connect with and hire people who think differently, are curious, and are always
looking for a better way to do something.  Second, I try to constantly
change my world.  By that, I mean me and the environment that I directly
control.  I push myself to constantly learn, unlearn, and re learn. 
And, I try to improve and update my immediate environment continuously.
IIR: How does
understanding and implementing foresight and trends ensure commercial success
in business?
Ramsey: Give an
example of how you have done this.  While foresight does not allow you to predict
the future, it does allow you to determine if your strategies will survive in
different worlds.  We have used scenarios to test our strategies within
specific focal areas and are in the process of building foresight into our
strategic planning process around the world.
IIR: How do you
get your organization to align with your vision of taking action on foresight?
Ramsey: We have
systematically built engagement through our senior leadership team and within
our general employee population through Futures Teams established in our major
markets and regions around the world.  
IIR: Why are
trends so important in order to make strategic choices for your business? 
Ramsey: We can
begin to act today in a way that prepares us for the future.
IIR: What do you think
will be the biggest trend affecting the future of business? 
Ramsey: We began
our work in Strategic Foresight when trying to anticipate what the landscape
for talent will look like in 2030.  Since we have a large part of our
business that is directly interacting with our consumers, and we are managing
businesses in 43 countries, this will continue to be a significant driver for
us in the future.
IIR: What would
the world be like without foresight and innovation?
Ramsey: Like
going to Las Vegas. 
IIR: Have you
ever been wrong about a foresight or future trend?
Ramsey: We are
early in our work with foresight but I would anticipate that I will be
answering this question in the future with a 'yes.'  But hopefully, there
will be a lot more 'nos.'
Want to hear more
from Richard? Hear from him during his session, 'Our Future World Tour:
Creating a Global Foresight Practice in Walt Disney International' at
Foresight
& Trends 2014
November 11-13
in Los Angeles, CA. For more information about the event or to register, click
here: 
http://bit.ly/1y3qVKy

About the Author:
Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the 
Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print
journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and
technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR's blogs
including 
Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld
and World Congress for Business Analysts
, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,.
She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where
she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She
can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.   

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