Five things you need to know about the future

A quick read on why foresight matters.

Five things you need to know about the future

I wrote this article about 10 years ago as a contribution to someone else’s blog and it summarises some key points about why foresight matters in the present.

1. It’s coming, so get ready
Some form of future is inevitable but it will never exist in a tangible sense today. Because the future is also open in terms of possibilities, we need to ensure that our thinking is equally open to being responsive to changes that are here, emerging or yet to surface. The future requires us to continually seek the new and novel in the present.

2. It’s uncertain, so get used to it
Uncertainty and complexity characterise our futures - or at least the context we find ourselves in today, from which our futures will emerge. There is little point trying to reduce complexity or to seek certainty about our futures, rather we need to immerse ourselves in it to find what we were missing.

3. It’s unpredictable, so stop trying
This one is simple. You can’t predict the future except by luck. The word infers certainty, a claim that an assured future is assured - and that’s not a good mindset if we are to better understand our present. Personally, I think we should not use this word when we are thinking about and using foresight.

4. It’s about continuous change, so open your minds to the new and novel
Social change will ensure that any future will not be the same as today - the present shapes the futures but it won’t be identical. Engaging with futures effectively rests on our ability to reframe the present - to open our minds to complexity and the new and novel that can be found there.

5. It will be shaped by our decisions today, so make your decisions wise
Wise decisions take into account the long-term and respect that every decision made today influences a future in some way. We are responsible for future generations and the world they will inherit from us.

Our futures will emerge from our thinking and our actions today - whether we think and act consciously or unconsciously. Our futures will not need what we have today though, and our task is to find out what our futures need from us.

Here's another post from Marina Gorbis from the Institute for the Future which is similar: Five Principles for Thinking Like a Futurist. It's all about opening your minds to possible futures, rather than relying on our assumptions about futures to always to right.