Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I want to blog a bit about Transmillennial 2008, but until then I want to share something I’ve been working on concerning the skills that those engaged in Strategic Foresight should tend and cultivate.
A Futurist needs a broad-base of interests, including science & technology, history, anthropology, art & literature, pop culture, faith & religion, sociology, ecology, and more…the sky’s the limit! Without the seedbed of breadth, many things will pass us by in our data-collection phase.
Though much of Futurist work is, indeed, quantitative research, creativity must be exercised in interpreting the results and indeed in what to even include in our environmental scanning. An eye for the odd and intuition can pay significant dividends.
Futurists in forecasting need to be flexible, in order to try out many scenarios and be willing to admit to mistakes in methodology. We’re all wrong, and the sooner we can bend to this, the sooner we can spring back again.
The ability to consider the Whole when examining any facet is crucial for Futures work. Non-linear, integral thinking is key. One of the chief insights that Futurists can practice in everything from scanning to forecasting to personal life is that reality is rarely simple cause-and-effect; we each contain systems, are systems, and are parts of systems—or, to put it another way, everything is comprised of holons. Making connections beyond the obvious is crucial for holistic scenarios development; we must transcend personal and/or external blame-games.
A Love for People
Futures work is not done in isolation. Working with teams, conducting original research, and relaying findings and suggestions to clients and/or the public is necessary for successful Futures work. While some of each of these processes are carried out alone (and indeed, not all forms or genres of Foresight work involves human beings), the human component is a lynchpin.
Strong Work Ethic
Futures work is interdisciplinary work, and at the heart of this is discipline. Because we’re always on the Bleeding Edge of the Possible (sorry to capitalize like a German, it just seemed Important), a strong work ethic is needed to help hold everything together. Practically speaking, this involves having good time management and research skills, as well as proficiency with various software programs. These fluencies provide the ‘invisible architecture’ of our work as Futurists.
Working with the dazzling and terrifying possibilities of the future is nerve-wracking work; a spiritual center is crucial. It is important to balance hindsight and foresight with the insights that we “are hidden with Christ in God” (Paul), “the Center does not move” (Buddha), and “take no heed for tomorrow” (Jesus). These are paradoxical realities for future-oriented professionals, but I believe they are needed for our balance and sanity. Of course, potential ontological realities need to be grounded, experienced and enjoyed in consistent spiritual practice or they are of little practical benefit.