Since I discovered what foresight was in 1999 and worked in two universities to help use foresight in strategy development, I have helped many organisations in Australia and overseas to build their capacity to be futures ready. I now do this first by providing resources to help you reframe your thinking about futures, ready to expand your thinking to expand and deepen your understanding of the present.
I worked in universities for 28 years and loved it but, in the end, I left because my ‘foresight switch’ had been turned on. I wanted to use foresight in my work and I couldn't do that in universities as they existed then.
Read more about my personal journey in foresight in Chapter 2 of my book Foresight Infused Strategy: A How-To Guide for Using Foresight in Practice.
I launched my University Futures website first in 2006 (now UniFutures on this site) and established Thinking Futures in 2007. ‘Thinking Futures’ is an abbreviation of ‘thinking about possible futures’ which is at the core of what I’ve done since then. Foresight Futures continues to work with people who are open to generating new ways of thinking about futures, and to translate that thinking into more meaningful and useful action today.
Values underpinning my work
- Keeping an open mind - valuing different perspectives, seeking new ideas
- Sharing what I know - making foresight and futures accessible
- Going deep whenever possible - looking for the narratives shaping action
- Maintaining hope - always
Am I a futurist? No ...
When I first started working in the futures field, people would call me a futurist - among other names! But that word never felt as though it applied to me. I first called myself a foresight practitioner, helping people use foresight in practice and now call myself a foresight adviser, helping people find and use their foresight capacities.
This may seem like semantics, but it's an important point. Anyone can call themselves a futurist and many are honestly little more than faux futurists. I don't particularly want to be associated with 'futurists' who make predictions and provide ready made answers. Many of my colleagues use professional futurist and that makes a lot of sense, but for me 'futurist' brings with it connotations of certainty and predictability that are unhelpful if we are to be open to the future. It also brings with it the focus on change and evolution of trends and responsibility to answer the question: what is the future of [enter anything here]? I don’t do that.
I use the same sort of tools and methods my futurist colleagues use. My aim is not to tell you what I think your future will be (I don't predict), but rather to help you think in new ways about futures, to challenge your assumptions about why you accept some futures and not others (which is okay as long as you know why), and to see new actions in the present.
I have always said that my interpretation of your ‘future’ matters less than using your knowledge, experience and intuition to build your capacity to be futures oriented and open to the new and novel in the present.
There's a good article about terminology called Futurist, futurologist, foresight practitioner, visionary, foresighteer: what’s in a name? by Vanessa Cartwright on futurist Ross Dawson's website. It's worth a read if you are interested in why we label ourselves as we do.
I'll post more about more work and publications shortly. Just in case you are interested.