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3 minute read

How Far Into the Future Can You See?

Dr. Thomas Vande Zande
3 minute read

Traditional futurists think very far into the distant future to visualize the effects of changes and trends. Usually, this period is farther than 30 years from the present day. However, consulting futurists such as Flagship Futures Group (FFG) generally help their clients focus on the near- (within ten years) and far-term (between 10 to 20 years).

You may ask, as futurists why would we limit the term in which we are thinking?

Limited-Period Thinking

Clients tend to relate their thinking to a period that makes the most sense to them. Many times this thinking is limited by the time frame they can connect to their tenure at an organization. For most, this is substantially less than 30 years.

For executives, that time frame could even be dramatically less, more like 5-10  years before they consider a change of position, role, or job, or retirement.

So how can we expect them to think or consider change and consequences of change on their current organization that is farther than their contemplated remaining years of service? We don't. However, for leadership teams a strategic horizon of greater than five years, usually at least ten years, makes sense.

The Role of Consulting Futurists

This is why consulting futurists focus their clients and teams on slightly shorter periods than traditional futurists.

For most cases, 10 to 20 years is far enough to gain actionable insights backed by high-quality foresight tools, frameworks, and processes. However, it is essential to have a diverse (all organizational roles included) team exploring possible futures when conducting research or foresight sessions and engagements.

By having a diverse group of people on the team to work on possible futures, consulting futurists can help the clients connect the dots between today and the most plausible futures in the next 10 or soyears. This team can then identify what changes are developing today that will likely drive the organization's reality toward a specific future state rather than all of the other possibilities.

Identification like this is generally challenging to do without an internal foresight or futures group actively watching for early changes to emerge and recommending course correcting for preferred future navigation.

If you find your interest piqued by what traditional futurists come up with in movies like Blade Runner and The Matrix, consider having a conversation with us at Flagship Futures Group (FFG). It would be a pleasure for us to work with you with regards to changes or trends driving today’s reality toward one of many possible  futures, and to assess what could be done to navigate it to your preferred future instead.

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