The air-con-to-politics effect

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aircon to politics effect strategic foresight
In layman’s terms, strategic foresight allows us to play with potential futures to either take advantage of opportunities or to avoid disasters.

So let me tell you a story I just heard as a gorgeous introduction of how we could use this for ourselves.

This story came from the wonderfully entertaining 99% Invisible podcast - a show about design, hosted by a man with a beautiful name and voice - Roman Mars. The producer of this particular episode, Emmet FitzGerald, tells this story, radically summarised here:

In 1902 a printing company in New York had a problem with humidity in the air affecting their printing process. They hire a young engineer, Willis Carrier, to solve the problem. Willis invents a machine to cool the air to remove the moisture satisfying the immediate problem for the printing company.

Turns out the staff like to hang out in the room with the machine, because it was a cooler room than anywhere else in the office or outside - this being New York in summer. Willis had solved one problem and accidentally, a bigger one at the same time - he had invented the air-conditioner.

With some business insight and good, persistent marketing, air-conditioners were eventually installed in many businesses, offices, movie houses and eventually in homes.
The story explores a little more about these installations affected the industries they were used in:

Previously, movie houses were unbearable in summer months. Now they were more desirable than the outside conditions. Ticket sales went up in summer months and the American movie summer blockbuster was eventually born.

Because homes could now be air-conditioned, parts of America that were previously inhospitable to people, became prime real estate. As an example, Florida received a huge influx of people, mostly retiring conservatives - changing the real estate world, impacting the resources in the area and apparently creating a conservative political bloc that influenced the election of US President Ronald Reagan.

Home design had always had to take local weather conditions into account and in warmer regions that meant allowing for air flow, materials that absorbed heat outside the house and smaller windows to avoid overheating the home. Air-conditioning meant that architects no longer had to worry about a practical problem that became the domain of the engineer, and the architects could now explore different designs in new locations. Office building design changed too, becoming denser and more compact.

In summary, an accidental design was soon adapted for best use to satisfy a serious need many people had. The impact of that personal comfort requirement was felt on entertainment, real estate, retirement planning, architectural design, the building industry, resource allocation, and politics!

Air-conditioning affected politics!

The Futures Alchemist can help

If you want to find the air-conditioner-to-politics effect in your field, then please contact me today.
In our futures mastermind sessions, when we discuss concepts around a particular industry, the idea is not to just look at what is happening in your industry, but to see what developments, restrictions, problems, inventions in other areas, may have an impact on yours.

- Is there an invention that will make your product or service null and void?

- Is there a problem in another field that a development in yours, will fulfil?

How can you position yourself to take advantage of opportunities in another part of the world or landscape, and conversely, how do you position yourself so that you don’t become irrelevant?
 

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