Futures Folks

Futures Folks

People who think about futures for a living are an almost indefinable group of people. They come from all walks of life, with unique experiences and a curious mindset, and are open to difference and the new.

I fell into foresight in 1999 - that's how it felt - when I was asked to integrate it into my then university's strategy development process. Before that I was on the ladder for a top-level (whatever that is) job as a university manager. But finding foresight changed my life. I left the sector in 2007 to work on foresight and futures full-time - and what a journey that has been.

The favourite part of that journey has been the people I have met. Starting with my boss, Stephen Murby, who gave me free rein to set up a foresight framework in a hostile environment at Swinburne University (scary), Richard Slaughter who came to Swinburne to teach futures, followed closely by Joe Voros, Peter Hayward and Marcus Barber. These people shaped my understanding of foresight and I couldn't have been luckier to learn from them all.

Joe was my PhD supervisor and knew when to poke me and when to support me - getting that PhD passed without amendment was due partly to his sharing of random thoughts and ideas during our meetings. Peter is like a long lost friend when I see him (hope he feels the same way!) and Marcus, who I worked with at Swinburne and then on projects here and there, continues to provoke my thinking today. In my foresight course at Swinburne, I met Sohail Inayatullah and then Ivana Milojević, two wonderful people who continue to make me think and think again. In fact, I made so many friends and contacts during that course there are too many to mention.

And there are others of course. The folks in the Association of Professional Futurists are an amazing, generous group, and the people I worked with to reset the Association in the early 2000s were equally influential for me. Through this group, and later, the World Federation of Futures Studies, I have met more and more people - Cindy Frewen and Ruben Nelson to name just a couple. I stay connected and meet more and more people on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Each of us comes to futures work from our own pasts and we bring our own thinking and orientations to what we do. That is what makes futures such a fascinating field to work in, even though the wide range of people, thinking and approaches is sometimes considered to be too diverse for the field to ever find its boundaries. I think that's a good thing though - the more ideas, the more new thinking emerges, the more futures emerge.

But I'm an introvert, and I'm not good at staying in touch with people regularly. So I'm writing this post to tell these people just how much they have contributed to my development as a foresight practitioner. Thank you.

And to anyone who is just finding futures, send me an email if you'd like to have a quick chat to ask your questions - I'm sure you have some! Or head to the Getting Started section here of Foresight in the Present to find my ideas about entering the field.