We are doing online sustainability training at the moment. As part of this, my staff asked me to give a lecture on vision and backcasting.
I think the most obvious example of backcasting is when President John F. Kennedy said in 1962 that he would send a man to the moon and bring him safely back to earth by the end of the 1960s. At the time, the United States could not build rockets that sending a man to the moon and back within eight years -- seemed like an absurd idea. But in 1969, the United States succeeded in sending a man to the moon. This attitude of working hard to achieve what you want, not whether you can or can't, is clear backcasting.
However, one of the participants was a junior high school student and asked me if I could give her another example, as the story of 60 years ago was too old.
So here's Alan Kay's story about the Dynabook enzyme and Toshiba. Alan Kay is considered the father of the personal computer, and in an interview with him, he said that when he asked him to predict the future, he was ridiculed and told to "do your best to accomplish it yourself". I'll try to do it myself.
Dynabook was conceived in 1968 and published in 1973 as a paper entitled 'A Personal Computer for Children of All Ages'.
The tablet PC-like device that appears in the Dynabook concept is, for all intents and purposes, an iPad (^^;). However, this is not officially acknowledged by Apple, so it is not certain how it is.
On the other hand, there is a story that is officially acknowledged. Toshiba introduced the world's first laptop in 1985, and in 1989, Toshiba introduced a new laptop that was significantly lighter and less expensive. The name of that laptop is the Dynabook!
As the company admits on its public website, it was Alan Kay's vision that led to the creation of a laptop called the Dynabook. Based on Alan Kay's vision for the Dynabook, Toshiba engineers saw the laptop as an intellectual tool for learning, not just a machine for computing, it says.
One important point to note is that Alan Kay created a great vision, but he didn't actually create this portable PC. It was the engineers at Toshiba, his followers, who completed the Dynabook. This example shows that having a vision is important, but having a follower who has the technology and strong communication skills to make it happen is equally or more important than having a visionary.