How (and why) to be an applied futurist

How (and why) to be an applied futurist

How (and why) to be an applied futurist

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.)

The Mission

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?

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This article is by Tom Cheesewright. This post forms part of the Futurism series. For more posts on this subject, visit the Futurism page.

Tom Cheesewright

Futurist speaker Tom Cheesewright is one of the UK's leading commentators on technology and tomorrow. Tom has worked with a huge range of organisations across a variety of markets, to help them to see a clear vision of tomorrow, share that vision and respond with agility. Tom draws on his experience to create original, compelling talks that are keyed to the experience of the audience but which surprise and shock with unexpected facts and examples.

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