Futurism is not an innate skill. It is a process that can be taught and learned.
Most futurists, or futurologists, have made this a career out of a fascination with the future. And, because they have the confidence to tell the world that they are taking this, so far, unusual path.
But there’s a problem with this: I think we need many more futurists than we have. Put simply, the world is changing faster now. (You can read a more nuanced version of this argument here).
Three challenges of a faster world
In a faster-changing world, organisations need three things to succeed.
- To see what’s coming, early enough to act
- To respond at speed, translating foresight into action
- To be inherently agile, designed for this rapid response
The people who provide these capabilities to organisations are applied futurists.
Futurism is central to sustainable success
Futurism can no longer be an occasional exercise, dreaming about a distant tomorrow. It has to be a constant and vital part of management and operations for any organisation with an expectation of sustainable success.
For that to become a reality, we need may more people trained in the tools of futurism and equipped to deliver them, either inside their own organisations or for others.
This has become my mission in the last few years: to build an army of applied futurists capable of creating real change.
(Note the addition of the word ‘applied’ to ‘futurist’. There is a technical meaning to this word, but its real importance is that it signifies that this is about making change today, not tomorrow. That it is about reality, not fantasy.)
How do I go about fulfilling this mission? Two ways.
Firstly, I created the Applied Futurist’s Toolkit, a set of answers to the three things organisations need. This is a set of step-by-step instructions on how to see the future, how to share that vision, and how to build an agile organisation.
Secondly, I’ve started teaching these tools, in partnership with the University of Salford.
For anyone who wants to be an applied futurist, whether to aid their own organisation, advance their career, or deliver new services to the clients, there are now clear steps to take.
Will you take them?