There’s a common misconception that planning for the future is like saving for a rainy day. It’s a wise thing to do, but ultimately, it’s a present sacrifice in service of future well-being.
This is a narrow understanding of planning. Planning for the future doesn’t have to detract or subtract anything from your present conditions. Quite the opposite, in fact. For businesses, futurism can unlock a profound transformation in thinking – what world-renowned futurist speaker Nikolas Badminton calls the shift from a “what is to what if” organizational mindset.
And this paradigmatic reinvention doesn’t just pay dividends in the future. It has concrete benefits right here in the present. In this article, let’s explore futurism, how it differs from everyday strategy, and how it impacts your current and subsequent prospects.
An Introduction To Futurism And Futurists
Futurism (sometimes used interchangeably with “futures thinking” or “strategic foresight”) is the practice of imagining changes, trends, opportunities and risks down the pike. Not four months down the line, not a year or two – but 20, 50, 100 years in the future.
As for a futurist, this is someone who specializes in bringing futures thinking to organizations. For a working definition, let’s defer again to the expert. According to eminent futurist Nikolas Badminton, the role of a futurist is threefold: “signal scanning,” “trend identification,” and “scenario building.” Put (very) simply, a futurist scans data for impending or distant signs of change; they use these signs to determine the likely directions of trend momentums; and then they work with organizations to build scenarios for possible futures.
Futures Thinking Versus Short-Term Strategy
Short-term strategy is inherently reactive. It responds to current threats and opportunities the way an animal might: with on-the-fly decisions, gut instinct and in the absence of foresight or consequence. To be fair, an organization needs these capabilities. It needs to respond to its environment in real time.
But short-term strategy without futures thinking is like shooting in the dark. Futurism doesn’t replace short-term strategy – it augments it.
How Futurism Impacts Today
As mentioned, futures thinking prepares an organization for the innumerable eventualities it can face so that, when the time comes for those on-the-fly decisions, it can react accordingly.
It also allows an organization to be ahead of trends that might disrupt or otherwise endanger it. By imagining possible futures, an organization is better positioned to develop industry-shaking innovations in the present.
So they don’t have to be the ones reacting; they can be the ones forcing others to react.
Finally, considering the future of work, technology, environmental concerns, privacy, business ethics, etc., has positive knock-on effects on a company culture. It necessarily builds an open-minded, agile environment. And, often, these environments snag the top talent.
Can Imagining The Future Help Businesses In The Present?
To answer the (admittedly leading) question posed in this article’s title: absolutely.
As demonstrated above, imagining the future allows a business to a) prepare for emerging setbacks and opportunities, b) hone a competitive edge by staying one step ahead in its industry, and c) nurture an open-minded work environment conducive to talent acquisition.
Businesses interested in harnessing the power of futurism should contact a futurist keynote speaker or consultant. From there, you can start the process of imagining, creating and even controlling the future.
If you are interested in even more business-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.