Futurists' futures

A while ago I reported on a session at the World Future Society conference which asked the audience for ideas about how they saw the future of the profession. In turn this would help the fledgling Association of Professional Futurists think about how they could best serve the profession. Andy Hines has collated the comments from the session and kindly allowed me to publish them here.

  1. If I could answer any question for you regarding the future of futures/futurists, what would it be?
    • America's role in the world
    • Will women and minorities have an equal voice
    • Market saturation with consumer products
    • Is futures a viable career option
    • Will we be more humane
    • Will we recover our ethics
    • Whether understanding the future has really contributed to advancement
    • Will the financial markets see double-digit gains in the next few years
    • Will systems thinking become the norm in problem-solving
    • Will future studies serve all species
    • Will futures studies be relevant (things may change too fast to get a useful bead on anything)
    • When I state my professional designation will most people know what it means
    • Will we make a difference - does it really matter
    • How to get decision-makers to act on future insights
    • What was the single most important breakthrough decision that was made
    • Will there be a terrible blunder from the field
    • Was I in the forefront of creating a new profession
    • Developed a new way to openly consider, appreciate and incorporate diverse view points
    • A majority of companies and government organizations will actually have a futurist position along the lines of Chief Financial Officer or accountant or business planner
    • Corporations were looking more to intangibles because they were uncertain; futurists could combine tangibles such as data with more people-oriented stuff
    • That people in general have a sense of the range inherent in the future and our potential to steer within that context
    • Futures studies is now a part of the basic curriculum just as math and reading are from grade school on up
    • How we contributed to improving the future
    • Can we increase attention given to the future
  2. If you looked back from 20 years hence, and told the triumph of futures/futurists, what would it be?
    • A field which was a positive change agent for society
    • Integrating different fields of knowledge
    • Awareness of potential for change
    • Raise general awareness of change
    • Futures studies becomes a cornerstone of mainstream education
    • The science of future studies merged with creativity studies and the tools/techniques were separate/distinct
    • Enthusiasm for the profession
    • Certification of futurists to build trust
    • Importance of understanding the value of future planning to society and corporations
    • Futurists helped prevent wars
    • Every big US/Europe organization has futurists on staff
    • No longer have to explain to anyone what a futurist is
    • There were no surprises
    • A widespread shared idea that "it doesn't have to be that way" among many professions
    • Integration with all fields having a major focus on the future
    • Helped people realize the total impact of their decisions
  3. If you looked back from 10 years hence, and told the failure futures/futurists, what would it be?
    • Cancelled out by emotional politics
    • The future already surrounds us
    • Lose out to charlatans polluting the field
    • Charlatanism: work based on blind faith, rather than any kind of method
    • Lack of clear understanding of what futurists do
    • Lack of widespread acceptance of futures work
    • Are sold out to those seeking exclusively selfish ends
    • Made projections that led to real-life tragedy
    • Failed to be useful
    • Irrelevant due to our inability to take a stand about the future
    • We're not understood by those in our companies
    • Not good education in future methodology
    • Turf battles and in-fighting among competing organizations
    • Over-estimate the understanding of future issues
    • Irrelevant as the invented future leaps ahead of the studied future
    • Become self-absorbed in definitions and fail to just do good works
    • By not innovating
    • By being the same profession it's been for the last 20 years
    • By not concentrating on "soul" issues
    • Over-compensating for our obscurity by becoming too populist and not asking the tough questions
    • Became too concerned about image/recognition at the expense of making a positive difference
    • We were not pragmatic
    • We can fail if the analysis of the past is not used to drive the future and we are irrelevant
    • To not become and remain relevant
    • Our work is seen as "impossible" (to know the future)
    • We sold out to those seeking selfish ends
  4. What do futures/futurist need to forget?
    • Is the client paying for it
    • Arbitrary rules and regulations
    • The fear of being bold and outrageous
    • Forget today and ignore other disciplines and become engrossed in being futurists only
    • Lose self-consciousness
    • Fear of being called futurists
    • The fear of being incorrect
    • Bias
    • Need for accountability
    • Getting rid of the freaks
    • Standardizing the process and ruining the creativity
    • That futures studies emerged from war and military planning
    • Airbrushed pictures of flying cars as the icon of future studies
    • The WFS
    • Our heritage of timidity in proclaiming that we are futurists
    • Not being able to explain what a futurist does
    • The debates of what to call the field - futurists, futurologist, whatever
    • Forget ourselves and remember our customers
    • That they were ever considered hokey or fringe
    • Not being able to explain what a futurist does
  5. What are one or two critical strategic decisions futures/futurists on the horizon?
    • whether to be part of or apart from other forms of organizational planning and policy planning
    • integrate into formal education
    • ethics paramount
    • how to develop replicable, useful tools or methodologies
    • selling the profession to major institutions, e.g., education, business, etc
    • need to validate forecasts with facts
    • substantial theories
    • whether or not to become more organized and mainstreamed to become more accepted
    • professional code of ethics
    • governing body
    • clear professional code of ethics
    • scope of the profession
    • system to evaluate futures work
    • learn how to market ourselves
    • try to get futuring more integrated into school curriculum
    • to teach futures by practicing it and by integrating the philosophy in all our work
    • dealing with the gap between expectations and performance
    • merging competing organizations and/or designations
    • lack of a sense of humor
    • lack of any hipness - too much dull, old-fashionedness
    • philosophy or profession?
    • Do we distance ourselves from the casual, armchair futurist
    • Should we be political
    • Will we become tools of corporate america or independent thinkers?
    • To be more narrow or multidisciplinary
    • How to involve more non-western thought and participation in the field
    • Bring our mainstream techniques into society - part of everyday decision making
    • Will our field still be considered viable or will it be discarded in the name of corporate efficiency
    • Must come up with at least semi-formal methods for futures analysis
    • Certification and quality control (or not)
    • Metrics
    • Techniques for visioning the future
    • Need by folks for sensible futures focus
    • Need for trustworthy techniques for explaining the future
    • Hyperbole
    • Claims cannot be supported
    • Global vs. parochial orientations
    • How to be recognized by business
    • To hold the key skills for new business development
    • Marketing the profession
    • Integrate with other parts of the organization; collaboration
    • Define what the good or service is and then determine what certification is needed to ensure the recipient is getting what they pay for
    • Look at the american dietetic association definition and protection of the term dietician vs. use of the term nutritionist re: certification
    • Should we have credentialing
    • Whether to try to retain a separate identity as a field
    • Decide to be a bearer of bad (or good) news
  6. What are the top 2 or 3 trends driving the future of futures/futurists?
    • Dominance of proprietary FS research
    • Rapid economic change
    • Information age
    • People's insecurities
    • Unsustainable statements
    • Accelerating rate of change
    • Switch to more long-term view
    • More formally trained futurists
    • Rising desire of educators to incorporate future studies
    • More futurists consulting to business
    • Widening gap between normative futures and futurists who practice as professionals
    • Charlatans being driven by profit
    • Lack of research and critical thought
    • Dubious intent and actions
    • Increasing uncertainty
    • Transparent corporate behavior
    • Entertainment/media/hollywood emphasize the future
    • Specialization in many professions
    • Data mining and automated analysis and forecasting
    • Corporate timeframes
    • Application of complexity theory
    • The field is aging
    • The future is close than people think
    • Accelerated speed of change
    • Changing categories
    • Aging of the world's population
    • Need to simplify
    • Aging futurists
    • Rapid rate of change
    • Certification
    • Collaborative work
    • Increasing need for future studies
    • Pace of organizational change
    • Competitive stake for corporations
    • Globalization
    • The rapid pace of change
    • The enormous amount of information being generated
    • Global competitiveness
    • The european thrust to foresight
    • Growing uncertainty
    • Realization that change is constant and growing
  7. What are the obstacles here?
  8. How would you like futures/futurists to be remembered?
    • Someone who could navigate self and others through pragmatic opportunities
    • Described as people who care about all people
    • Paradigm busters
    • Cool
    • They balance work and play
    • To be instrumental in solving the world's major problems - the mega-issues like sustainability
    • The people who saved our butts (2)
    • Servants to creativity and sustainability
    • Accurate in insight
    • Visionary
    • Respected
    • Essential partners
    • As creative, unique, and indispensable
    • Trusted advisor
    • Become the go-to profession for senior leaders in all sectors as they make significant decisions and as a result organizations are working with longer-range visions
    • The field (discipline) is key to organizations being adaptive and sustainable
    • The profession established a formal area of study and professional certification
    • Facilitators for a better world
    • As professionals
    • As openers of eyes
    • Contributed to benefit of humankind in a broad sense
    • The field should be recognized as critical to make decisions
    • Visionary realists
    • Seen as essential
    • Made a difference - caused ________ to change
  9. How do you define a successful outcome for this workshop?

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