What Is An Applied Futurist? We’re Still Learning

What Is An Applied Futurist? We’re Still Learning

This business continues to evolve, and with it my understanding of the value that we add to our clients. Where in the past we have talked about ‘consulting’ I now realise that very generic term encapsulated three different elements of a service that align much better to our promise to help organisations to ‘see, share and respond to’ a vision of the future.


The first element is Foresight. Clients want us to tell them what the future looks like for their organisation, industry or segment. We do this in a couple of ways, facilitating programmes like Scenario Planning or running our own Intersections methodology on the clients behalf.

Those that don’t want to (or can’t) pay for our time can now download the Intersections system that will guide them through their own exercise. This has been refined to be as easy to follow as possible and deliver results relatively quickly.


I’ve always been slightly nervous about making communications an explicit part of the Book of the Future proposition. Though I’m a technologist at heart, I spent a long time in marketing. Some people still think of me as a marketer. This is not a marketing business.

But there is inherent in the work of a futurist a need to craft narratives that compel people to take action. That catalyse change. The skills of communication are clearly required by our clients and so they are a defined part of this service. They find their outlet in strategy documents, and marketing campaigns, or in me sitting in front of a camera or microphone or standing on a stage.

Again we recognise that not everyone will pay for time: they may want to self-serve. So we have created the Arcs system to guide people through the process of creating a narrative about future change and how it will impact their organisation.


The third part of what was our consulting proposition addresses the inevitable follow-up question that comes when you tell someone about the future. It doesn’t matter if that future is bright or dark, they want to know: “What do we do about it?”

The first step in answering this question is to make the organisation fit for change. Few are. So over the course of a few projects we created our Stratification framework, designed to help us analyse and then transform companies to make them agile. The aim is to help them respond faster, not just to the current set of challenges but to future challenges as well.

To allow others to access the Stratification template we have again packaged it in a downloadable form, with a guide and templates that managers can follow for their own organisations.

Once an organisation is capable of accepting changes, we can look at ways to tackle incoming challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. With our research base, enormous contact network and sister organisation, Bootstrappers, we are equipped to deliver very rapid, very practical responses to change drivers.

These are unlikely to be my final thoughts on what we do. But I hope they make the proposition that little bit clearer.

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