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2024 Theme: Shaping the Future

Published on 07 February 2024

2024 Theme: Shaping the Future

Shape the Future: Part 1, Image

Words, picture, emotions; what does a theme mean to you?

Each year The Forum uses a theme alongside it’s Best Practice Programme to:

  • Reframe and provide a new perspective.
  • Inspire and drive change and improvement.
  • Distinguish new opportunities.

Like all of our themes, these evolve over time, especially the previous year capturing the trends, the feelings and attitudes of our members, the community of best practice and wider industry. We’ve been using the expression “Shape the future” for a few years now in the context of providing best practice insight, moving from hindsight to foresight, moving beyond what happened and root cause, to what-if and if-then forecasting and insight.

Building on the previous years theme of “Strength in numbers” we believe Shape the Future is the natural next step. Taking the confidence we have established to shape the best next action and the future.

For the image I was keen to take inspiration from retrofuturism which shows the influence of depictions of the future in an earlier era. Our intention is to evolve the imagery and supporting soundtrack over the year to represent how different past eras have pictured the future; this is a great excuse to use a variety of great images (and music). We want to inspire you to think today about what the future will look like. 

Where we have started is a 1980’s, video game inspired imagery along with synth-wave inspired music. Image-wise the background makes me think of the classic Atari game Tempest or Jaguar game Cybermorph, whilst the rising sun (or moon) and star light sky wouldn’t look out of place in  Sega’s Outrun. Musically, I wanted to accompany the image with a synthwave electric instrumental track influenced by the keyboard sounds of the early 1980’s (Fairlight CMI digital synthesiser sound like Harold Faltermeyer/Jan Hamer/Nick Rhodes/John Carpenter) or for those needing a more up to date influence Stranger Things theme. {(For those intrigued to hear the full instrumental track, search for Droid Bishop and “days of the running man”, very talented musician.)

Fortunately, our design team (Leanne McNamee) has been able to re-imagine my ideas to create a striking picture with superb soundtrack. This is the first time she has created the theme image along with finding a suitable soundtrack and learn how to create an ident. Great work, I’m looking forward to seeing how you evolve the retrofuturism concept over the year.  

Shape the Future: Part 2, Shaping
“The purpose of a forecast isn’t to predict the future, it is to prepare for the future”


We may not know what is going to happen, but we can prepare ourselves to be ready for anything. When I think of the word shape, I think about an outline of someone of something, a shape that can adapt, flex and respond to changes. Holding its position and standing firm when required and always on the front foot ready to move.

When I think about with the word shaping, I think of the sportsperson taking their stance in readiness to perform. The tennis player ready to serve or the ballet dancer taking first position.
Being ready for anything means we are open to learning, learning from set-backs and learning how to do something different next time. Learning how to position ourselves into the right situations can help us to influence what happens next.

Future
Thinking of the future can be often make us both excited and scared. The opportunity to achieve versus the uncertainty and worry of not knowing what could happen and not being in control. When we think about the theme of Shaping the future, we mean any time that is still to come from the next move to any later time.

To make a decision or not, is a decision. The intent to do anything, or nothing is a plan. Therefore, we must be mindful of the decisions and actions we take. We must take responsibility for how we respond to situations. How do we know we have made the “best next decision”?

Most importantly, we must leave our minds open to learn not just from what happens next, but what didn’t happen next, what else could have happened, could we have done something different?

Considering different scenarios, of what will and won’t, along with what could happen helps us to improve our awareness of likely and unlikely outcomes. This can help you to create your own playbook of action, so you can proactively shape what happens along with the readiness to adapt and respond to changes.

Action
Shaping the future is about us being prepared for the whatever happens next and being ready for anything. This important mindset helps us to be open to keep learning and keep improving, adapting, making adjustments and not suffer from set-backs.

Shape the Future: Part 3, Emotions
Following our live Best Practice Programme launch webinar, I caught up with some of our members to ask them what they thought about the theme and the year ahead.

“The world of resource planning has never been as relevant as it is today, especially with the opportunity of holistic demand planning, emerging channels and customer behaviour unpinned by evolving technology. As a new member of The Forum, the 2024 theme “Shaping the future” is extremely welcoming and relevant, supporting our future way of thinking. We’re looking forward to immersing our colleagues in the learning, networking, conferences and peer assessment created and made possible by The Forum.” Ty Malpass, Barclays

“It reminded me of all the retro (and in my opinion; superior) arcade games, and their take on a futuristic outlook. Its funny how we are always looking to predict the future, not only in work (forecasting) but in movies, TV shows & games, anticipating what it might be like! But its evident that we are clearly interested in the future for one reason or another!”

“There is no doubt that I have many unknowns still, I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone and inserting myself into any conversations & meetings where possible, even if I think they’re not entirely applicable to me, in the interest of clearing up these unknowns! Having the knowledge of what’s next, what’s the aim and what’s the expected outcome makes this a lot easier to keep control and influence any decisions along the way.” 

“I felt like I was watching it through a new set of eyes, where some advice and catchphrases remain the same, I feel I have a completely different view of what this means to me now as a manager. It really hit differently, I feel inspired to make a difference, embrace the changes, and grow my team’s knowledge and passion for resource planning. Not only that, it’s amazing to know that I have so many options for support, advice, and guidance to help me through all of this, be it internally, with you lovely bunch at The Forum, or from other members of The Forum’s community.” Tabby Cantrell, agiito

“Shaping the future for me is an apt theme. It is something as planners we try to do each year but more so on a narrow viewpoint i.e. the next business planning cycle 12 months or so. However, the way it has been described pushes the thought process out and is described as if going back years - what did we think the future within planning look like compared to the actual reality and are we close or have we missed it by an inch, or a mile?” 

“The landscape within planning is always changing. I describe it as continuously evolving and expanding and never standing still - and we have been used to that. As planners it doesn’t matter if it is a strategic or tactical change as we adjust, and flex where needed, and we innovate to support the new view. However, if we think about the last few years, there has been a real shake up to where the future may take us – and there is a lot more to it now than just adjusting.”

“As planning teams our influence is more than just Real Time, Scheduling and Forecasting. Our skillset and curiosity allows us to expand our support not just to operations but across the wider business, bringing different and valuable viewpoints with our experience. We bring insight to new ways of working i.e. Office, Hybrid or Home. We hold key data insight into hours of operation with demand, flexibility for agents, MI from across the business and turn this into tangible understanding of impacts and scenarios for strategic decisions to be made. But more so, we have the capability to support on the ideas of what the next few years may look like, the areas of opportunity, the development of people and services. We have a voice and a seat at the table of how to support culture of change. This brings a whole new level of excitement as to how planning teams can become the hub and heartbeat of operations and can really help shape the future across organisations.”  Mark Henderson, NHS Business Services Authority

We look forward to you joining us on your journey, as you help us to continue raising standards and shaping the future. 

Take responsibility for your personal and professional life and how you approach each day. Collaborate with others to help shape their thinking, and for you to use them to shape and refine your plans. The future is yours to shape.

If you missed, or would like to watch the Theme and Best Practice launch again please visit: 2024-best-practice-programme 

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Author: Leanne McNamee

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