“We try to peer over the horizon so we can
make better decisions today. We analyze
trends, anticipate significant changes and
help people create preferable futures.”
There are many great futurists in history, such
as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke,
Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Buckminster Fuller,
Gordon Moore, Ray Kurzweil and Steve Jobs.
This is not a complete list but they are a few of
my personal favorites.
Before companies and governments hired futurists,
one of the only ways to make a living as a
futurist was to become a science fiction writer.
• The Father of Science Fiction.
• Verne wrote about space, air and underwater travel long before they were
• He is the third most translated author of all time.
• Many films have been based on his books.
• He trained as a lawyer, like his father.
• In 1848, he began writing plays.
• Verne was introduced to Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (aka Felix Nadar) the first
person to take aerial photography using a hot air balloon in 1858. Nader was
probably the inspiration for Verne’s first book Five Weeks in a Balloon.
Verne’s NOTABLE WORKS
Paris in the 21st Century
• Written in 1863, first published in 1996 in English.
• Discovered by Verne’s Great Grandson in a hidden
safe in 1989.
• In this book Verne predicted: gasoline-powered automobiles, high-speed trains,
calculators, the Internet (a worldwide “telegraphic” network).
• Verne also predicted a geometric, modern centerpiece built for
the Louvre in Paris, defacing the classic architecture.
“Anything one man can
imagine, other men can
recedes; the law of
necessity ever forces it
• Herbert George Wells was a prolific writer of both fiction and
non-fiction. He produced works in many genres, including
contemporary novels, history and social commentary.
• Only his early science fiction novels are widely read today.
• In 1913, he wrote Little Wars the first miniaturized recreational war game.
Being a pacifist he wanted to provide an alternative activity to real war as well as
entertainment. Today he is known as “The Father of Miniature War Gaming”.
• In 1932, on a BBC Radio broadcast, Wells called for the establishment of
“Departments and Professors of Foresight”.
Futurists look forward 10, 20,
50 or even 100 years. Most
business people focus on the
next quarter or annual result.
What’s Average Time
Most People Dedicate
to Longterm Planning?
Futurists draw connections and plot
trend lines from a large cross-section
of news sources. Traditional thinkers
get their news from a few familiar
sources and do not often see
connections or trends.
Curated Your Media
Consumption - Use
Flipboard to Find & Filter
vs. Industry Specific
Futurists ‘cross-pollinate’ ideas from
multiple industries, while traditional
business people tend to focus their
attention in their industry only.
Curate Connections in
Find Solutions From
Outside Your Industry
Futurists are connected to global
networks of thinkers and experts.
Many CEOs say they feel they are
very isolated and find it hard to
discuss issues with other people.
See Search Terms Trends
Futurists look to the
possibility of multiple
outcomes or futures,
while most people
concentrate on one goal
or one possible future.
Rapid Feedback Loops -
Read the Sprint Book
Futurists use the STEEP model
to look at all areas of change
Environmental, Economic and
Political). Most others only focus
on changes in the economy.
vs. Economic Drivers
Futurists employ vision and help
others develop it. Tactics are short-
term goals based on actions typically
less than one year out.Vision
vs. Micro Detail
Futurists step back to take
in the whole context, while
many people get caught up
in overwhelming details.
A sampling of the
Environmental Scanning is the systematic process
of collecting information to help an organization see
the forces affecting them. Basically the process helps
them open their eyes to new trends, driving forces,
opportunities and threats.
In past decades, futurists would employ teams of mostly undergraduate students
to clip articles from newspapers, trade publications and professional periodicals.
By measuring the number of ‘column inches’ allocated to a given topic one could
see if something was trending up or down in interest and/or importance.
Modern technologies have eliminated the need for a large staff. The following
tools can help you set up your own environmental scanning system.
Environmental ScanningWebsites like these can help you keep up your scanning …
Scenario Planning is probably the second most popular
tool used by futurists. A scenario is not a specific forecast
of the future, but a description of what might possibly
happen. It helps articulate probable future events that
may affect an organization or its operating environment.
Scenarios are stories carefully constructed based on trends and events. Trends are
often plotted on a quadrant and four scenarios are developed from a range of
The term scenario planning was introduced by Herman Kahn in connection with
military and strategic studies done by RAND in the 1950s. Scenario planning was
made popular in the corporate arena by Royal Dutch/Shell in the 1970s.
Recommended reading for
Wired’s Article on Scenarios —
The Future of Ideas
“Futurism is an art of re-perception.
It means recognizing that life will change,
must change and has changed, and it
suggests how and why.
It shows that old perceptions
have lost their validity, while
new ones are possible.”
Bruce Sterling, Sci-Fi Author & Futurist
I hope I’ve helped you
think like a futurist …
“Don’t just let the
future happen to you—
go and create your ideal