Monday 17 June 2024

Futures is more about sparking imagination than being correct

When it comes to thinking about the future, it is far more important to be imaginative than to be right. 

— Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1968

In 2005, as a bright-eyed ad-sales executive at The Times of India, I had the fortunate opportunity to participate in a Scenario Planning workshop about the future of media. Strategy consultants from The Henley Centre introduced us to the concept of preparing for multiple plausible futures. Although it was intended for senior staff, on the last day, there was a presentation of scenarios to the wider team. I remember feeling inspired by the structured approach to imagining the future.

After completing my MBA, I had the privilege of working with incredible futurists at Kantar, where we envisioned the futures of countries, categories, brands, and more.

Foresight allows me to indulge my interests in history, gaming, fiction, and reading, while leveraging my strength in collecting trivia in a way nothing else does. Recently, I felt the urge to rekindle my passion for futures, foresight, and storytelling about what lies ahead. Professor Jane McGonigal's IFTF course on Futures Thinking was a spark of joy that kept me intellectually stimulated and provided a way to channel some 'Urgent Optimism.'

Urgent Optimism is an impressive mission statement that captures the essence of Futures thinking. It brings together two great truths: an urgent bias for action, to start doing something. And a pervasive optimism that things will only get better with effort. Pessimism is nothing but a failure of imagination, after all.

For those interested in becoming a futurist, I encourage you to document your imagination. 

Beyond that here is a mind map of six essential intentions and processes that a futurist mindset entails: 

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