Leadership Thinking For The Future

There are some critical understandings about our work in futures and foresight and a few myths to dispel.

  1. Futures not future – there are many futures so keep an open mind in order to remain agile.
  2. Anticipation not Prediction – anticipation explores the opportunities before us. Prediction is based on extrapolating from the past. Both are important but don’t confuse them.
  3. Foresight not forecasting – Foresight looks to the future. Forecasting looks to past data. The future has no data.
  4. Past, present and future are interwoven – our past histories, our whakapapa, our experiences are carried with us today and into the future. Consider the Māori whakataukī: Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua. I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on the past. 
  5. The future is created through our actions today. Our assumptions and worldviews influence our images of the future and therefore our actions.
  6. Deeply human. The power of collaborating and connecting with others lies at the heart of our humanity. Our leadership is more powerful when diverse peoples work together, listen deeply and collaborate.
  7. From what next to what if? The questions we ask set our pathway of discovery. They enable us to be creative and explore novel possibilities. 
  8. Strategic thinking before strategic planning. Exploring beyond your own industries and filter bubbles impacts on your future. Staying within your industry or comfort zone leads to default thinking and planning.
  9. Futures thinking is a collaborative endeavour.

The deepest change is when you understand your personal role in futuring and use this to challenge your own mindset. Like any muscle, the futures ‘muscle’ needs to be exercised regularly for best results. Our work will help you understand the importance of noticing signals, connecting these, relating these to your context and taking action. Research on the use of foresight and futures thinking shows compelling benefits for organisations and individuals – that’s an up-coming article!

What a futurist does

Futurists help you broaden your perspectives beyond a narrow view of the future – a critical capability in increasingly uncertain times.  We help you to think about alternative images of the future and use these to transform what you think and what you do.

We consciously practise scanning for signals of change in the world to connect dots and sensemake. These signals are examples of the future that already exist in the present. They encourage you to pause, think and consider new possibilities.

We help you uncover emerging issues, trends, and drivers of change, especially those that are challenging to consider. Together we consider possible impacts using a range of futures tools and processes to help you and your organisation to create images that transform beyond the expected.

Futurists come in many shapes and sizes. Some have specialist areas. Some are quantitative in approach, others qualitative. Some are trained in futures and foresight deeply and others not so much. Generally someone who only talks about trends is not a futurist. AI is not a replacement for a futurist. AI uses information from the past and limits our thinking to knowledge of today. 

Our approach

This depends on what services are needed. A typical approach in consulting might be:

  1. Frame – explore your needs, context, time horizon, domain map. Identify the key issue/ question.
  2. Scan – consider the current state as the springboard. Scan widely and make connections.
  3. Anticipate – explore alternatives, make connections, create and ideate.
  4. Envision – create images for the future, considering preferred futures. 
  5. Activate – Bring the narratives to reality. Back cast and develop systems to move to action.

“Futures fluency is a game changer.”