A few years ago now, I gave an interview to people who were developing career resources for people who wanted to be foresighters. I found a copy of my email the other day and thought it would be useful to reproduce on my blog, so here it is (with some editing to keep it current).
What kind of person does it take to succeed in running your own consulting company?
Someone who has a clearly defined vision and purpose for running the business in the first place - without that, you wander all over the place in terms of work, taking what comes.
I think predictions can be of value when they use a short term timeframe - such as elections which this article uses as example. And the concept of Transfer Learning is a good one because it reminds us to move beyond our ingrained, habitutated thinking modes and seek information and data in new places. The aim is to expand our understanding of the issue rather than closing down out thinking to what we know already. Looking for both confirming and disconfirming evidence is how we strengthen our thinking about the future, whether that is by trying to predict the future (not recommended) or anticipating the future by learning to think in multiples and possibilities.
If you are reading this post then I hope you are reading because you realise that this sort of approach to problem solving and to preparing for the future is both ineffective and waste of energy and resources. Doing strategy has taken over how we think about the future, keeping that thinking trapped in today. This I call conventional strategic planning.
We need to have this conversation because we need clarity around the work of professional futurists, what we do and how we do it. We need to accept that prediction for long term purposes is passe, unhelpful and a waste of time. We need to work together to create a foundation that welcome all thinkers, that seeks to integrate methods and approaches to provide a more inclusive toolbox to choose from ...
The most important characteristic of professional futurists is that they have an open, curious mind and seek to integrate not reject different ways of thinking about the future. Challenging deeply held and unquestioned assumptions and ideologies is part of the field if you seek to integrate rather than dismiss - and that includes our own.