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The Value of Thinking Like a Futurist
Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP --  The Herman Group Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP -- The Herman Group
Austin, TX
Thursday, November 12, 2020


The Herman Trend Alert

November 11, 2020

The Value of Thinking Like a Futurist

As a professional futurist I work with clients to be more profitable by knowing what is coming. My clients use foresight to make better decisions, innovate, and reduce risk. In fact, I wrote an op-ed, as yet unpublished about how using professional futurists could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, if governments had listened. Future-thinking, award-winning authors like Laurie Garrett who wrote the book The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 1994), forecasted this and other pandemics. Called "A Stich in Time," a new study from the RSA, the United Kingdom's Royal Society for Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce, highlights the value of foresight, futures thinking, and innovation in policymaking. This Herman Trend Alert offers selected insights from the 12 core takeaways in this very impressive futures work.

Advice for Organizations

Organizations must consider the long-term impact of their short-term actions; in spite of being fueled by our capitalist economic incentives, this consideration is not common practice in many cultures, industries and sectors. Second, to overcome resistance and add maximum value to the organization, foresight must be integrated into every aspect of the culture. The more that foresight tools and methodologies are incorporated into each point in the strategic lifecycle, the better the policy- and decision-making process. Finally, evaluation of foresight methods is not necessarily an exact science and connecting specific benefits is often difficult---though this fact should not deter executives from viewing foresight as an important supplement to strategic and decision-making processes. Futureproofing can create value in the form of resilience. The organizations that continue to strive to be relevant and supportive of possible futures are more adaptive and resilient.

Guidance for Policymakers

To derive value from futures and foresight approaches, policymakers must navigate a number of paradoxes. These challenges include the short-termism of the political or product life cycles and the potential long-term implications of policy decisions. They must overcome an exclusively short-term mindset and rather consider both near-term and long-term impacts and implications. Embrace futures as a discipline and foresight as a competency to support longer term, holistic, and systemic thinking. Systems thinking is vital to futures thinking---which must be multidisciplinary. Futures thinking is supportive to policymakers, decision-makers, activists, advisors and/or consultants. The crucial questions for policymakers are 'whose future is it?' and 'who has the power to decide about that future?'

Suggestions for Society

We must build in incentives today to enable our descendants to thrive tomorrow. Yet it is impossible to underestimate the impact that incentives have in driving short term thinking. We need to find ways to value the long term. The future is a product of our values and belief systems, so people have different views of the future, including its value. When we think about the future, we often challenge the stories we've been told about ourselves, our society, and our places in the world. There are organizations and people at the leading edge of a growing movement to embed long-term thinking across all aspects of society, drawing upon academia, the arts, business, music, and literature. An imperative opportunity for foresight is to align foresight practice with wider mechanisms of deliberative democracy and engagement.

A Truly Robust Study

This RSA Study is comprehensive, informative, and global. Folks who want to learn more about futures and foresight will enjoy exploring this 42-page deep dive.

To read the entire RSA study, visit here.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP
Title: Certified Speaking Professional and Management Consultant
Group: The Herman Group
Dateline: Austin, TX United States
Direct Phone: 336-210-3548
Main Phone: 800-227-3566
Cell Phone: 336-210-3548
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