Why should you consider engaging a Futurist?
You've probably heard of the term "Futurist" before.
You might have even seen one in action on stage or in a video.
But do you know what it is that a Futurist does? Or how they do it? Or who they do it for? Or what they could do for you specifically?
In recent years, marketing and media hype has focussed on "celebrity futurists" which has somewhat sullied the profession - and yes, it is a genuine profession and a well regarded academic discipline. I myself hold a qualification in Strategic Foresight from the University of Houston - who have the longest running futures program in the world. But holding a qualification is not nearly as important as having the right mindset!
Well, contrary to popular myth, a qualified Futurist does not "predict the future" - we leave that up to fortune tellers, crystal-ball-gazers and the kind of people you will find at a funfair or carnival ........... For one, any Futurist worth their weight will tell you
"there is no such thing as the future"
No, that's not a typo or a dire prediction - the focus is on the word "the".
You see - "the future" implies that there is only ONE singular possible way forward - which is just insane as the future has not yet been written!
A Futurist will tell you that there are an infinite number of possible futures from this point forward and our job is to help our clients explore as many of these as is feasible in order to figure out which of the more plausible ones is most preferred - which in turn informs their future strategy as they build towards their desired future that they wish to see come about.
So how can a Futurist help you?
Keeping you and your teams updated on current trends and future opportunities
This is literally our "day job". In order to do what we do, we spend a large amount of our time scanning the horizon for signals and trends by:-
- interviewing and interacting with industry thought leaders
- scanning social media sources, news feeds and industry articles
- reading analyst and academic reports
- participating in special interest groups and discussions
- meeting with academics and students
- working with innovative companies and startups
- attending and speaking at conferences, events and exhibitions across multiple industries
You may already have a marketing or strategy department that is charged with doing this, often under the guise of competitor analysis. But all too often they end up searching in an "echo chamber" of their own making with a narrow focus within your specific industry. Their natural bias will often result in them unknowingly filtering out things they consider to be peripheral to your core business. They will also often focus ONLY on your core business and will not take a broad view across the entire organisation - probably due to the way they are incentivised through their objectives.
We can broaden your horizons and open people's eyes to the things they don't know they don't know about.
Connecting the dots
Futurists think differently.
We see things in one company or industry and immediately start thinking about the impact and implications it will have on the world around us and specifically, our clients. Trained futurists apply Systems Thinking, Causal Loop analysis and a whole host of other tools to identify patterns, opportunities and threats beyond a linear projection of the current state.
Call it an occupational hazard ....... but what this means for you is that we have a knack for expanding new product or service propositions beyond their original boundaries by introducing concepts that your team might not yet be aware of or didn't think were applicable. This is the genesis of "adjacent innovation" and is a powerful source of inspiration.
I've regularly run ideation and strategy workshops that have resulted in entirely new product lines and services that have rapidly accelerated growth and revenue for both startups and well established global corporations alike.
A catalyst for innovation & transformation
Innovation is a business critical skill.
Innovation and transformation are collaborative activities that should not be confined to single departments with a sign on the door - the most successful companies are those where all the employees are involved in and embrace innovation and transformation in some way.
But how do you get your employees to be more innovative?
How do you overcome their resistance to change and transformation?
How can you conquer their fear of the unknown?
How can your organisation overcome their fear of failure and how can you inspire your employees and unlock their creativity and ideas to fuel your business for the future?
A Futurist can ignite their imaginations and inspire them into action - and if you need help with the practical aspects of the process of innovation, we can provide that too.
Having led and participated in innovation initiatives for over 30 years, I have a wealth of experience to share in this respect, starting with my own unique metaphor that brings innovation to life in a colourful and extremely engaging way, inspiring employees across the entire organisation to get involved and ultimately be more innovative in everything they do.
Unbiased opinion and sounding board
One of the great things about Futurists is that we don't have a hidden agenda to push. We are not trying to sell you hardware, software or the latest gadgets and we are most certainly NOT trying to upsell you on never-ending consulting projects. We are not trying to ride the latest wave because it's cool and we think we can make money out of you. Most of us want to teach you and your teams the tools of our trade so that you can continuously explore the future yourself and adapt to the changes in the world around you.
If you want to know how Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain or Augmented Reality or the Internet of Things or the latest Consumer Trends or anything else on the horizon might impact your organisation or industry, we can help you explore the options and offer valuable insights and opinion based on what we see and do every day of our lives.
We apply the practise of Systems Thinking to everything we encounter, constantly contemplating the impacts and implications these might have on your team, your organisation, your supply chain, your industry, your customers & society in general. This makes us ideal candidates to sit on your advisory boards or in a Non-Executive Director role where we can provide input and insight into:-
- sharing knowledge of current and future trends
- questioning assumptions and biases
- ensuring alignment across the business
- holding responsible parties accountable to outcomes
- advising on cultural change and transformation
- mentoring and skills transfer
- ensuring visibility of leadership
- assistance with establishing appropriate governance
- assurance of decision making process to support strategy
- advise on resource allocation
- ensure appropriate levels of resources and investment
- oversight of systems and processes
- compliance with good financial practice in the face of ongoing change
We are a pragmatic bunch who are not easily blinded by hype and we call BS when we see it!
Hire a Fractional Futurist
Having a full time Futurist on your staff would be ideal for most organisations but you may still be struggling to cost justify the headcount in spite of all I've outlined above.
So why don't you consider hiring one on a "Fractional" basis for a couple of days a month to ie:- a "fraction of" full time employment - to compliment your current team?
As a highly collaborative person without a corporate political agenda, I do not "compete" with your staff in any way and am not perceived as a threat to their position. I'm here to help, support, provide guidance and have many years of experience mentoring and advising people across all levels of the organisation.
I offer a range of services on a monthly retainer basis with a minimum commitment of just a single day per month (although 2 or more days per month comes at a 20% discount on my standard day rate ........ #justsaying).
The biggest advantage to you is that once you are a client of mine, you are always on my mind. This means that whatever I see or do, I'm specifically considering the impacts, implications and opportunities that it might have for you and your organisation - and I'll share those with you as soon as they come up in an "I saw this and thought of you" kind of way or via a bespoke monthly newsletter if you prefer less clutter in your inbox.
My base offering is fully remote by phone / skype / video call / email / Slack whatever works best for you:-
- add me as an NED or boardroom advisor
- give me a call to unpack the buzzwords thrown around in your latest meeting
- ping me an email for more info about a particular topic
- ask my opinion about your concepts
- invite me to add insights in your next strategy session
- let me mentor your team and help them to become more innovative
- have me sit on an advisory board to help with guidance and governance
- and a whole lot more ........
Clients on retainer can use their days any way they see fit, which translates into a substantial discount off my standard rate for workshops and sessions with your team - contact me via the "hello" link at the bottom of any page to discuss your needs for a bespoke package.
What are you waiting for?
Let's start to build the future together, before you read about it as history made by someone else.