When I tell people that I’m a certified Futurist — I get some confused looks. Even when talking about applying these concepts to my organizational and workplace strategy projects, I often leave people scratching their heads. Today, I thought it might be helpful to talk about what a Futurist is and what we do, along with why I felt it was so important to move my career and business in this direction.
This past year, I completed several training programs toward becoming a Futurist. I loved studying these new ways of thinking with the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, Future i/o from Germany, and MIT. I took intensive courses on Applied Strategic Foresight, Moonshot Thinking, and Leading from an Emerging Future. I also learned to apply these techniques to business and how to help innovative leaders prepare for the future as a futurist. So, what does this all mean?
First, Let’s talk about what a futurist is not.
Futurists are not fortune tellers and we don’t necessarily try to predict the future.
A Futurist is someone who looks at emerging trends in specific areas and then applies critical thinking tools such as Applied Strategic Foresight and scenario planning.
Futuristic thinking expands people’s view of what’s possible in the future. This allows us to develop strategies to reduce risks. It also helps us clarify desired future outcomes and the necessary steps to move in that direction.
Futuristic thinking is less about prediction and more about preparation.
In fact, one of my instructors pointed out that when you try to predict the future, you’re very likely to be wrong. This relieves a lot of pressure.
Although the goal isn’t to accurately predict the future, the process of looking at likely and potential scenarios greatly benefits individuals and organizations. It teaches our brains to think more creatively, consider new ideas and perspectives, and helps prepare us for any challenge that may come our way.
Thinking like a futurist has been shown to increase one’s empathy toward oneself and others and it improves resiliency. This is because the process allows us to imagine life from different perspectives, a skill we may not always practice. It also helps us cope with challenges because we think through different scenarios. This helps us identify things we can control and areas for action, even if the current challenge is different from the one we’ve imagined.
Unfortunately, most people rarely think about the future other than setting a few new year’s resolutions.
Some might say that thinking about the future is daydreaming or a waste of time, especially when there’s so many other things on the to-do list. However, it is exactly this type of thinking that allows us to come up with innovative ideas and solutions that rarely come from rational and deductive thought.
In a Boston Consulting Group poll, 79% of leaders rated innovation as a top priority. However, 94% of executives expressed disappointment with their organization’s innovative performance. Leaders know innovation is important, they just don’t know how to innovate. They need tools to expand their perspectives, see missed opportunities, and imagine a better future state.
As a business strategist, coach, and consultant, I work with organizational leaders. I became a Futurist because I believe that thinking like a futurist is a critical skill for leaders today and will be necessary for us to navigate the world’s increasingly complex challenges.
Organizations rarely have a plan or vision beyond one to three years. However, creating a 10-year vision is what allows for real transformation to take place.
I’m also naturally inclined toward futuristic thinking. My top five strengths (according to the Gallup Strengths Finder) are Futuristic, Strategic, Activator, Maximizer, and Achiever. These strengths help me to coach, advise, and mentor bold leaders who want to create change and transformation within their organizations and industries.
As a leader, do you know how to think like a futurist?
I can help. The world and our workplace demands are rapidly changing. Antiquated leadership practices are no longer enough to move your organization forward. But there is a better way.
I provide leadership coaching, training, and consulting in this area with a specific emphasis on healthcare and the new future of work. Contact me now for a no-cost initial consultation to see how your organization could benefit from these powerful tools.