“A robust forecast is a collective endeavor; it’s very much a product of collective intelligence.”
– Marina Gorbis
There is no doubt, Futures thinking can help on many levels with immense outputs:
- A tech company anticipating the consequences of more consumers using its new products
- A city government incorporating climate change and social impact in its development
- A university planning its curriculum to prepare students with work skills that will be needed for jobs of the future
- A food manufacturer basing new meals on new trends in diet and food technology
- A VC investing in companies aligned with a positive impact vision
- An entrepreneur willing to have an impact and change the world
- A CEO trying to survive shifts and disruptions in a competitive market
- An artist or science-fiction writer willing to inspire and convey hope
- A scientist figuring out how to prevent the next deadly pandemic
- An activist or an NGO acting for a better quality of life or preserved planet
- Individuals and families looking for the best place to live in
Mainly, with Futures thinking skills, you can help anyone think more creatively, strategically and imaginatively, and prepare, innovate or make a difference.
However there is one thing I would like to add, like my first little stone to the immense Futures Thinking edifice. Thinking about a Future can actually be a family therapy!
My father and I had these intense family dinner debates about politics and economics since I was a child. I remember having suggested to create a party of philosophers, for politicians to act with long-term wisdom. My father laughed at me: politicians need actual action-based skills to govern, they think about their next election, they want actions that can be completed within the time frame of their mandate. Plus philosophers are too much in their ivory towers, meaning by which he meant think too abstractly, instead of being on the field living the real life of real people. Ecology parties were emerging in Germany or France, but they seemed apolitical, as a new dimension to politics. By then (end of the 1990’s) politics were mostly bilateral, being social-oriented or being business-oriented. A lot has happened since then and many political figures are now sensible to social impact, climate change, sustainability. There has been more awareness around the risks for future generations and the importance to protect our children.
On a more individual level, my father and I are closer in views today – well, I think, perhaps Christmas Eve will tell us otherwise. On the one end, after a productive life within a powerplant company, working on selling IT services, he has retired and has become a sort of philosopher and poet, reading a lot about the future of our society and trying to transcript his perception into poetry. On my end, after idealistic views as a philosophy and sociology student, I’ve turned to business and moved to Silicon Valley to help tech companies make money and investors make even more money. I feel that now coming back to long-term vision and ethics as I am launching my Futurist activity, we are finally meeting over the big questions. Some days he’s optimistic and some days he’s disoriented. I hope to bring a certain serenity that a Futures Thinking methodology can bring. But I am mostly happy that we overcome our disagreement and are able to talk about what we now both feel is important.
I like to think that our initial intellectual differences and our common questioning about tomorrow is an illustration of more common intergenerational conflict and solutioning. I hear his complaints and hopes based on facts, experience, and extensive readings, and I moderate with structure, framework, methodology.
We come from different backgrounds, we are at different milestones of our lives, but we seem to have a common goal. A hopeful future.