Futures Thinking – @cascio Writes Three Short Articles on How to Think Futures

November 30, 2009

in Scenarios & Futures, Strategic Foresight

Jamais Cascio (@cascio)a dedicated futurist has written three short articles on Futures Thinking that have appeared in Fast Company. He writes “It’s quite an enjoyable job, as it allows me to indulge my easily-distracted curiosity about the world. If you have read any of my previous posts on scenarios you will see we come from the same basic school of thinking. In Article One he talks about the “wind-tunnel” and asking the question (focal issue), the time frame 10 years (Yes enough for stretch). In Article Two he explores getting to the right question in more detail and the importance of coming to understand dilemmas. And in Article Three (portion clipped below he sums up with scanning upstream.

Futures Thinking: Scanning the World | Open The Future | Fast Company

In Futures Thinking: The Basics, I offered up an overview of how to engage in a foresight exercise. In Futures Thinking: Asking the Question, I explored in more detail the process of setting up a futures exercise, and how to figure out what you’re trying to figure out. In this entry in the occasional series, we’ll take a look at gathering useful data.

Like the first step, Asking the Question, Scanning the World seems like it would be easier than it really is. In my opinion, it may actually be the hardest step of all, because you have to navigate two seemingly contradictory demands:

* You need to expand the horizons of your exploration, because the factors shaping how the future of the dilemma in question will manifest go far beyond the narrow confines of that issue.
* You need to focus your attention on the elements critical to the dilemma, and not get lost in the overwhelming amount of information out there.

These are critical points for any exercise not only a futures exercise. Every company should look up and forward and then with more awareness try and apply some of those lessons on a daily basis. A good futures program should help that.

Jamais remains totally dedicated to thinking about the future and I admire that. Our “roots” in futures both trace back to days with GBN. It’s hard to stay always in the future, no one person can ever adequately know or be sage enough to predict it. Jamais’s writings today are a great reminder of the depth and body of knowledge and tools that has accumulated to keep futures programs and projects grounded and effective. His deep passion for the work comes though. It reinforces for me why I don’t let “scenarios”, better questions and scanning upstream go. Too bad that too few organizations really invest in people with a “futures” mindset. They would be a lot better off.

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