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How to Future

Leading and Sense-making in an Age of Hyperchange

By Scott Smith with Madeline Ashby
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How to Future by Scott Smith with Madeline Ashby

How to Future (2020) arms you with a structured approach to prepare for multiple futures, as a business and an individual. In a fast-moving world where so much seems unpredictable, we can orient ourselves toward plausible future scenarios by recognizing changing trends in information – and using these observations to inform strategic decisions. In a business setting, effective futuring can mean the difference between relevance and obsolescence. 

Key idea 1 of 9

Futuring offers a structured way to plan for multiple future scenarios.

In today’s world, different versions of the future are influenced by events, activists, leaders, and innovators. Indeed, we hire, elect, and promote people to plan what will happen in the future for us.

By doing so, we’re choosing people to engage in futuring, the practice of researching and constructing plausible futures. Futuring is vital for human advancement; in the bigger scheme of things, it can help us mitigate the possible repercussions of climate change. And on a smaller scale, it can also allow corporations to future-proof themselves against different possible market turns.

But the practice of futuring isn’t restricted to big names in business, politics, and science. All of us should be futuring regularly. Whether it’s regarding your personal future or that of your business, futuring is guaranteed to help you get a better idea of where you might end up in the next five, ten, or even 20 years.

The key message here is: Futuring offers a structured way to plan for multiple future scenarios.

When you future, you try to broaden your understanding of what’s happening in the world, an industry, or some other specific area. For instance, imagine you’re trying to plan a weekend excursion to the seaside. You can’t be certain that your trip will fall on a sunny day. But you can use weather apps and your knowledge of the region during this time of year to make a pretty accurate forecast.

Now, using futuring in preparation for a trip to the beach is simple enough. But how do you future for more complex questions, like how to address challenges that don’t even exist yet? For that, you need a structured approach that can be repeated and refined over time.

But there’s one big problem: nothing is certain. You can’t be sure what’s going to happen, so why even try to predict it? At the end of the day, uncertainty is here to stay. But by gauging which scenarios are more plausible than others, you can whittle down the infinite number of possible futures to a smaller list more relevant to your current project, problem, or situation.

The following blinks explain the method to the madness that’s futuring. The end goal is to equip you with the tools to outline multiple plausible futures. This, in turn, will guide your strategic decisions, whether you’re developing an AI product, leading a country, or just deciding what to do with the next ten years of your life.

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