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Curiosity, plans and challenges

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2019

Sandra Geitz  shares her thoughts on “curiosity” in this blog post for our Emerging Fellows program. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.


This post was prompted by several recent experiences, travels in Kuala Lumpur and two foresight articles: Kate Delaney shared Ellen Golman’s paper on professional development of strategic thinking and Maree Conway highlighted an HBR blog on continuous learning and curiosity.

Firstly, Malaysia, which I found both welcoming and somewhat unsettling…

As a seasoned traveller, I had few expectations. Yes, I was prepared for the effort to immerse and orientate myself in a new place. I had waved my fellow adventurer goodbye in Bangkok, so I was on my own here. Eventually, very hot and very sweaty, I found the hotel that I booked online, beyond a vast shopping mall and over a freeway overpass…quite inconvenient. And, a little annoyed that wifi was not, in fact, included… though soon rectified with a local SIM as I headed out to explore typical landmarks: Petronas Towers, shopping malls one after another, mosques, gardens, and the stunning Museum of Islamic Art. Travelling, I relish chance local interactions and sampling street food to get a sense of a place. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my fellow diners, their curiosity in my solo travels and my appreciation of Malay chilli.

However, by day three, my enthusiasm was flagging. My hotel felt quite stark and grey, whilst several of the guests made feel a little unsettled… how should I respond to questions from groups of Arab men? What was appropriate here? I noticed that I was in the minority; I did not feel at ease to relax poolside, in spite of the tropical heat. Apparently, it was Saudi wedding season. I was enthralled to spot several brides in full niqab accompanied by causally attired husbands and their many shopping bags. I struggled to master directions in Kuala Lumpur, as this city was not designed for pedestrians. Although it was Visit Malaysia Year, there was much construction surrounding the streets of railway stations, scarce signage, and streets seemed to wrap around the buildings like spaghetti. Frustrated, I succumbed to hiring a rental car, itself a challenge. Eventually, I sought assistance from my hotel concierge, even navigating local internet sites was beyond my capacity at this time… I seemed trapped within the unfamiliar and my fears.

Midday next day, I had my own transport and GPS. My mood immediately brightened as I set off around and beyond Kuala Lumpur, braving the spirited Malay driving style. My courage and curiosity had returned. I could appreciate our similarities, food and social media obsessions and selfie-culture. Just as I uncovered interesting pockets of the KL, it was time to leave for Melaka and Singapore.

What had just happened here? Overwhelmed and tired, I was unable to tap a natural curiosity and creative thinking. Whereas, when relaxed, I could again deeply notice, appreciate and learn. Familiar experience?

So, how does such an experience relate to foresight and strategy?

Ellen Goldman (2007) researched how senior executives developed their ability to think strategically. It was defined as conceptual, systematic, opportunistic and time-directional thinking “to discover novel, imaginative strategies which can rewrite the rules of the competitive game; and to envision potential futures significantly different from the present.” As Voros (2003) described, foresight can be thought of as the inputs to strategy development and strategic planning.

From extensive interviews of strategy experts, or peer-selected executives, Goldman found that strategic thinking developed by one of three pathways or patterns of practice over extended time-frames:

Practice 1: Natural Curiosity

Developing an ability to see alternative perspectives and novelty by experiential exploration and dialogue.

Practice 2: Planning Logic

Building strategic capacity with data, experience and dialogue: envisioning future states, developing strategies to move from the current to future, and implementing plans with all stakeholders.

Practice 3: Increasing Challenge

Developing strategic thinking by gradually experiencing more challenges and increasing complexity over time. Data, experience, and dialogue with stakeholders reinforce this capacity building.

Goldman’s work, my experiences in Kuala Lumpur, and the HPR learning blog led me to reflect on the similarities to Foresight: namely systems thinking, critical thinking and creative thinking. Systems thinking seems aligned to logical plans. Natural curiosity and creative thinking are related. Critical thinking develops as one becomes exposed to greater challenges, increasing complexity, stakeholders and politics.

Could I integrate the experiential pathways into a foresight developmental diagram?

What are your thoughts and experiences?


Goldman E 2007, Strategic Thinking At the Top, MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer 2007, viewed 22Sep 2014,

Taylor B 2014, The Best Leaders are Insatiable Learners, HBR blog, viewed 22Sep 2014,

Voros J 2003, A generic foresight process framework, foresight, Vol. 5, Iss. 3, pp.10-21.

Tags:  curiosity  foresight  Malaysia 

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How to Market Your Foresight Course

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 22, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2019

Alireza Hejazi shares his thoughts on “marketing foresight courses” in this blog post for our Emerging Fellows program. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.

With so many free online courses that teach different kinds of studies and skills, including future-oriented topics, marketing a foresight course can be a big challenge for futurist instructors. Today MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have changed learning paradigms. As observed earlier by Barber et al. (2013, p. 52) three- or four-year, full-time degree courses are no longer standard. MOOCs provider Coursera, skill-educator General Assembly and others that develop people and provide cutting–edge education, are stepping up to compete with various specific functions of a traditional university (p. 6). Fortunately, the competition is not so stormy in the foresight education market, but convincing people to attend a foresight course is still a challenging job. This blog post suggests five tips to empower your foresight course marketing strategy.

1. Make it desirable
Many people love to know about the future, but they don’t know what they need to learn. Even if they don’t attend a foresight course, they can remember the past, see the present, and predict the future immaturely. They normally fear disasters, but they cannot fully describe how future opportunities and crises unfold. They usually wonder by informing of alternative futures, but they cannot imagine differences easily. They admire their past successes, but they don’t know how to achieve their future goals. In fact, they want to do something about their future, but they don’t know how to create desired changes. As a futurist instructor, all you need to do is highlight the learners’ needs. Many teachers like to talk about their teaching experience to encourage an applicant to become a student. Today, this cannot work in new emerging education markets. You have no chance to compete with new opportunities of self-learning. Instead, a futurist teacher should listen to the learner when he or she is talking about his or her real learning needs. Then the foresight course can be tailored according to those needs.

2. Make it practical
People love to learn something that could change their future for good and better. They seek real value in a course, and if they find it, they will pay for it willingly. However, a futurist instructor should avoid claiming to deliver everything in a single course. More importantly, a foresight course should provide suggestions that could be matched with the learner’s relevant sector (STEEPV). Foresight is the knowledge of action. If the students just find theoretical discussions in a foresight course that can be also found in futures books and articles, they will surely doubt about the practical aspect of the course. If they claim their paid tuition, the instructor should not be surprised very much; because they have found an empty box. Yes, content is the king, but more importantly practicing is the queen. Many students can buy foresight books and e-books or download futures articles and read them by themselves. It is the art of a well-educated futurist instructor who can turn that content into real value by showing the students how they put their lessons into practice and experience doing foresight projects little by little.

3. Make it unique
Now that you are reading this post, there are many formal and informal foresight courses that are taught at academic and business levels around the world. They embrace a range of degree-based to certificate courses being run in face to face style at universities and colleges or by online methods and different kinds of LMSs (Learning Management Systems). An overview of these courses shows that they are normally shaped around core teaching ideas such as thinking in systems, scanning and monitoring, strategic planning, scenario building and other foresight methods. In my view, up to 80% of topics and contents covered in these courses are the same or so similar, but there might be 20% of difference in assigned tasks and activities. A successful marketing strategy should address this question: What is in this foresight course that differentiates it from similar courses? In other words: What is the competitive benefit of this course for the attendants? That uniqueness of a foresight course could reflect in its content, affordability, method of delivery, assigned tasks and activities and other factors, but in my view it is the practical value of a course that makes it different. If the graduates find themselves at a higher professional or practical standing point after graduation, they can be hopeful and happy that their paid money, time and energy are not spent in vain. Their real gains make your course unique.

4. Make it self-expressive
A well-known Persian proverb says: “Good flowers smell by themselves, not by the flower girl’s praise.” If the course is outlined skillfully it can talk by itself to the audience. Futurists usually need to describe futuristic terms and concepts for their audience, because they are generally less known to people. If that description is going to be extended to the content and syllabus of the course, it shows that the course information is not self-expressive. Catalogues and brochures that are published and distributed in paper or online formats should be designed in a manner so everything could be understood easily by potential applicants. Usually, these items should appear on a simple course brochure: a brief description, learning objectives, outline, gains, value, badges and recognitions, requirements, and registration process. If you are running your course in a country that is hit by austerity measures, you can negotiate the tuition with applicants to make it as affordable as possible. If the applicant asks more about the content and things that he or she will learn from your course, you should review the first five mentioned items on your course brochure to make it more self-expressive. Getting testimonials from past learners and reflecting them through different channels is also a suggestion that you might like to think about.

5. Make it purposeful
Out of thousands of e-mails or newsletters you may send to the receivers you have on your mailing list or calling to your past, current, and perhaps future clients, or advertising conventionally in different media; you may only receive a few applications from individuals who might be seriously interested in attending your foresight course. If you are going to execute a serious and profitmaking marketing plan, you have to change these conventional methods for better strategies. An effective way in absorbing more students is to negotiate with persons who are in charge of education in companies and organizations. These are persons whose endorsement of your course makes a huge difference. If you convince them that your foresight course will improve the way in which company members do their tasks, that person’s personal support will make groups of students for you, even periodically. You can use your connections to get potential customers’ attention and sell them an educational service that will improve their current and future activities. CEOs (Chief Education Officers) are the best persons you can talk to in many organizations. They can be your good friends and trusted business partners.

These five simple tips are just a number of many points that you would likely consider in making an effective marketing plan for your foresight course. If you need additional information and guidelines to shape a cutting–edge marketing strategy and advance your educational foresight campaign in more innovative ways, I will be glad to share more professional secrets with you.


Barber, M., Donnelly, K., & Rizvi, S. (2013). An avalanche is coming: higher education and the revolution ahead. London: IPPR.

Tags:  foresight  futurist  marketing 

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Lay Theories, Mental Models and Futurists

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 15, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Daniel Bonin shares his thoughts on “Lay Theories” in this blog post for our Emerging Fellows program. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.

As Jason pointed out in his latest blog posts (e.g. An Archetype for Future(s) Clients?), a great deal might be learned of how clients perceive Future Studies and the Futurist Profession. Analysing the differences in understanding of laypeople and futurists might be helpful as well. Differences between laypeople and expert opinions and perceptions regarding complex domains like climate change, the labor market, growth, and redistribution policies and risk are well documented (see e.g. Bostrom et al., 1994; Enste, Haferkamp and Fetchenhauer, 2009; Slovic, 1987). Interdisciplinary research tries to explain these differences by how expert and laypeople form their own theories.

Lay Theories and Experts

Laypeople are willing to make judgments about causation concepts they do not understand, even though they admitted to lack the necessary knowledge (Leiser and Aroch, 2009). They develop simplified lay theories of the world that serve as an orientation for their actions and allow them to understand everyday live and complex interrelationships. Research indicates that laypeople form their understandings based on everyday experience, media coverage, and social interaction and that they judge by fairness, ideas of value or morality. Their causation is often limited in such a way that they cluster variables into groups, within which increases in “ingroup” variables go hand in hand with increases in other “ingroup” variables and decreases in “outgroup” variables – the good-begets-good heuristic (Leiser and Aroch, 2009). Generally speaking, laypeople are rather occupied with answers to the questions of why something is happening to them and/or their social group and why now (Popay, n.d.). Experts, on the other hand, have access to specialist knowledge, can spend more time in their field and tend to be less prone to cognitive biases (or prone to different ones) and judge based on efficiency goals and scientific models. Experts are concerned with the question of causality and explanations for phenomena and problems.

However, both groups develop so called mental models – simplified representations of their understanding of how the world, or certain aspects thereof, function (See Norman (1983) for a comprehensive definition). Or as Norman (1983: p 7) puts it “Mental models are naturally evolving models. That is, through interaction with a target system, people formulate mental models of that system. These models need not be technically accurate (and usually are not), but they must be functional.” Research already tries to elicit expert’s and laypeople’s mental models to improve policy making, team work and product design as well as communication, especially in the domain of risks. Furthermore mental models are part of Causal Layered Analysis and System Dynamics.

What Do Lay Theories and Mental Models Got to Do with Future Studies?

Treating the futurist as an expert and his client or the public as the layperson, there might be implications for Future Studies. Before I conclude with implications, I would like to point out a procedure proposed by a paper of the OECD (2004; based on the work of Bostrom et al. (1992)) revealing differences in mental models between two groups that I slightly adapted to fit to a Future Studies context.

Implications for Future Studies

Firstly, elicitation of mental models could help to better understand clients and improve communication.

Identifying gaps and similarities in the mental models of the futurist in charge and his client can ensure clearer communication and also increase efficiency of the futurist’s work.
As stated in the beginning, laypeople tend to ask “why me” and “why now” questions, while experts are concerned with causation and explanations. So involving laypeople and incorporating and understanding laypeople’s perceptions can enrich future work to another level.
Secondly, research insights into mental models and lay theories might serve as a selling point for Future Studies.

“Future-History-Gap”: A paper of Sevón (1984) finds that subject’s (Caution: Only 3 subjects: banker, manager and politician) mental models of factors such as future unemployment or inflation are less sophisticated and consist of less impact and effect chains than mental models of historic unemployment or inflation.
On a side note, Sevón also finds that the participant’s overall understanding of future inflation is represented mostly by elements that lower future inflation; thus, lower future inflation is subliminally anticipated – think about self-fulfilling prophecies.
Another selling point might be derived from work of Chermack (2003) and Glick et al. (2012). They argue that scenario planning can be used as a tool to improve and reconcile mental models.

Thirdly, take forward the discussion within the futurist community about a common ground regarding definitions in the field of Future Studies and the professionalization of Future Studies.

Fourthly,identify a possible gap between the perception of the futurist profession in the public/ media and the self-perception of futurists. As in risk communication, differences in understanding of laypeople and futurists might be used to clarify the profession of futurists.

The important point to recognize is that, regardless of whether or not something can be proven scientifically – “If a person believes that the lines in his palm foretell his future, this belief must be taken account in explaining certain of his expectations and actions” (Heider, 1958: 5). And challenging and refuting mental models can be a difficult task. There are theories like the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance which assumes that people have an urge to create a consistency with their beliefs when their preferred self-picture and/or the picture of the world is challenged (Festinger, 1962). This is achieved by altering beliefs or pursing actions in favor of their preferred (inadequate or incorrect) beliefs. Thus, especially for controversial topics like health care policies, questions of ethics or climate change, people might be not willing to accept scientifically validated knowledge (there are cases of benzene workers stating that the chemicals they are working with are not hazardous; as cited in Akerlof and Dickens, 1982).


Akerlof, G. A., & Dickens, W. T. (1982). The economic consequences of cognitive dissonance. The American Economic Review, 307-319.

Bostrom, A., Morgan, M. G., Fischhoff, B., & Read, D. (1994). What do people know about global climate change? 1. Mental models. Risk Analysis, 14(6), 959-970.

Bostrom, A., Fischhoff, B., & Morgan, M. G. (1992). Characterizing mental models of hazardous processes: A methodology and an application to radon. Journal of Social Issues, 48(4), 85-100.

Chermack, Thomas J. (2003). The role of scenarios in altering mental models and building organizational knowledge. Futures Research Quarterly, Spring, 25-41.

Enste, D. H., Haferkamp, A., & Fetchenhauer, D. (2009). Unterschiede im Denken zwischen Ökonomen und Laien–Erklärungsansätze zur Verbesserung der wirtschaftspolitischen Beratung. Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, 10(1), 60-78.

Festinger, L. (1962). A theory of cognitive dissonance (Vol. 2). Stanford university press.

Glick, M. B., Chermack, T. J., Luckel, H., & Gauck, B. Q. (2012). Effects of scenario planning on participant mental models. European Journal of Training and Development, 36(5), 488-507.

Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations.

Leiser, D., & Aroch, R. (2009). Lay Understanding of Macroeconomic Causation: The Good Begets Good Heuristic. Applied Psychology, 58(3), 370-384.

Norman, D. A. (1983). Some observations on mental models. Mental models, 1.

Popay, J. (n.d.). The contribution of lay knowledge to reducing health inequalities. Retrieved from:

OECD (2004). The Mental Models Approach to Risk Research – an RWM Perspective. Secretariat Paper.

Sevón, G. (1984). Cognitive maps of past and future economic events. Acta Psychologica, 56(1), 71-79.

Slovic, P. (1987). Perception of risk. Science, 236(4799), 280-285.

Tags:  futurist  mental model  theory 

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An Archetype for Future(s) Clients?

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 8, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Jason Swanson shares his thoughts on “Archetype for Futures Clients” in this blog post for our Emerging Fellows program. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.

In my last post, I touched on the idea of a market research report that would look at the Futures field. The idea would be to use quantitative research to get an idea of sentiment and knowledge base from the client perspective. The survey could potentially look at such things as how do clients and potential clients define Futurists? What skills are they seeking? What qualifications are they looking for?

As we begin the process of framing out what such a survey might look like, there has been some great dialogue around what some of goals of this undertaking might be, beyond simply measuring sentiment and knowledge base. One of the questions that has been raised is if the survey were to run, given the correct questions and sample, from the data gathered would it be possible to see if there were any common traits that would make a person or a company more or less likely to hire futurists?

While the idea of seeing a pattern or correlation in the survey data as to who might be likely to hire Futurist is certainly a possibility, the question gave me pause for reflection. I began to wonder what else might be out there that might reveal some of those traits? One tool might be Philip Zimbardo’s work on the psychology of time.

In Zimbardo’s work on the psychology of time he identified 5 time perspectives, or attitudes towards time. Those 5 time perspectives are:

The ‘past-negative’ type. Someone who focuses on negative personal experiences that still have the power to upset them. This can lead to feelings of bitterness and regret. People with this time perspective are focused on a difficult past.

The ‘past-positive’ type. A person who takes a nostalgic view of the past. This person usually takes a cautious, “better safe than sorry” approach, and yearns for the “good old days”.

  1. The ‘present-hedonistic’ type. These people are dominated by pleasure-seeking impulses, and are reluctant to postpone feeling good for the sake of greater gain later. People with this time perspective want to live in the moment
  2. The ‘present-fatalistic’ type. Those with this time perspective aren’t enjoying the present but feel trapped in it, unable to change the inevitability of the future.
  3. The ‘future-focused’ type. Are highly ambitious, focused on goals, and big on making ‘to do’ lists.

Futurist Todd Gentzel gave a brilliant presentation in 2013 at the University of Houston Futures Gathering around the very topic of Zimbardo’s work. Gentzel’s presentation, “Psychology and the Field of the Future” highlighted how Gentzel uses Zimbardo’s time perspectives as a framework, with an added sixth perspective: Future Transcendental– those that look beyond this life.

In the case of Gentzel’s presentation, he used this framework to look at the future of cities, highlighting particular time perspectives that each city might fit into, and how each time perspective correlated with that city’s methods (or lack thereof) for planning for the future.

Back to the original question; what other tools might there be to help determine what traits a person or company might have to make them more likely to hire Futurists? Or perhaps a better way to frame the question might be; is there an archetype in terms of a person or company that hires Futurists?

Zimbardo’s time perspectives might hold an answer. If Zimbardo’s work shows the time perspective for the individual, and Gentzel has used his framework for mapping time perspectives to cities in relation to how they approach the future, then it stands to reason that time perspectives could be assigned to companies; the trick being to understand which time perspective correlates to the companies most willing to hire. Just because a company falls under the “Future Focused” perspective doesn’t mean they will want, or need, the services a futurist can provide. If nothing else, time perspectives may offer a tool to frame the conversations we might have with our stakeholders.


Zimbardo, Philip and John Boyd, The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time that Will Change your Life (New York: Free Press, 2008).

Tags:  archetype  futurist  psychology 

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Future webs of choice

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sandra Geitz shares her thoughts on “future webs of choice” in this blog post for our Emerging Fellows program. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.

Scanning recent headlines reveals deepening global conflicts: What China wants?,Lessons of Ferguson, Ukraine’s rebel war,Israel loses support pummelling Gaza, as well as locally in Australia: Catholic Church failed to act: Royal Commission, Treasurer claims poor people drive less, and Tax rise threats from stalled Budget.

What is happening? What do such stories reveal to us socially?

What are future implications?

These shifting debates recalled the extensive Australian social research of Hugh Mackay (2010), published as ”What makes us tick:? The ten desires that drive us”. He studies our social drives and depicts ten desires as an intertwined web which shapes our identity, beyond basic survival needs of food, water and shelter. Each of them overlap the others in competition to drive us socially, rather than purely rationally, as often we are unaware of them. The balance shifts over time and from experiences and interactions with others. Mackay explained each desire as neither inherently good nor bad. Unrestrained or excessive in particular desire(s) can lead to issues. More critically, he observed thatunfulfilled or represseddesires may drive deep emotional frustrations in either individuals, groups or nations. This shadow of unfilled desire in ourselves can lead us to want desires to be frustrated in others as well. It explains Mackay’s research that a desire to be taken seriously has greatest impact.

The desire to be taken seriouslyis the desire to be acknowledged as unique individuals, beyond a categories. It is the desire to be heard, understood and remembered. When it is frustrated, it leads to disappointment or anger. And, it can be seen as the ultimate insult to be ignored or dismissed, leading to feelings of rage, hurt or anger, from those experiencing racism, tribalism or sexism, for example.Who is silenced? How may surpressed feelings emerge or erupt in the future?Alternate responses to not being taken seriously is over-compensation with vanity, arrogance, hubris or narcissism.How may our futures be influenced taking others seriously?Deep listening can engage others, in order that they engage and accept us in turn. Listening as a critical choice…

The desire for “my place”can be where one lives, feels at home, one’s history or smaller, temporary spaces or routines. Threats and other fears can lead to territorialism or becoming obsessed with security.How can comfort and security of place influence future choice?Noticing or attending to place, can open and enable options.

The desire for something to believe inencompasses religions, atheism, tribalism, even awareness movements. Beliefs need reinforcement to endure. Fundamentalism arises and is strengthened if our beliefs are under attack,How may futures be driven by beliefs?Through listening and engaging, or deeply held debating or attacking?

The desire to connectcan be to know thyself. Or about connecting with each other, connecting online, or connecting with nature, meditation or mindfulness. Connections promote freedom and expression. And, if the desire to connect is repressed, our desires for control or to be taken seriously may expand to fill the void…How does being connected or being isolated affect our future potentials?

The desire to be usefulcan be altruistic, making contributions towards a better world, being helpful, contributing, doing meaningful work. Taken to its extreme, being useful can be perceived as knowing better than others themselves.How may our futures be realised, if we know what is best for you?

The desire to belongidentifies us with our herd of 7-8 close friends. Or to larger, noisier, more public tribes linked by sport, religion, language, consumption. Our desire to belong may drive mindless compliance and conformity.Which herd or tribe drives our future choices?

The desire for moreis often the shadow of other blocked desires. More leads us to seek stimulations, comforts, distractions, addictions, eating/ drinking, hunger for money, more spending and indulgence.How may futures of less be realised, when they emotionally, rather than rationally, driven?

The desire for controlis the desire most likely to frustrate and disappoint with theillusionof control. We can become anxious lacking control, over-controlling others, excessive in survelliance or abusing our power. Or we may narrow our control, over-controlling ourselves in perfectionism.What if we see further Future Shock?

The desire for something to happenis our need for excitement, action, realising dreams, challenges or change. We are what we do! Is online activity sufficient? We both are pulled towards and push away from change in life.How do encourage or thwart future actions?

The desire for loveinvolves many kinds of love: romantic, erotic, divine, companionship, unconditional love, faith, acceptance, and intimacy. And in frustration, lacking love we feel cold, empty,angry or even introspective.How does love influence options for our future?Building trust, being consistent, supportive opens potential.

So readily it explains events and behaviours with the benefit of hindsight, our complex web drives and surprises… can we notice and listen?

Mackay H. 2010,What makes us tick? The ten desires that drive us, Hachete Australia, Sydney.

Tags:  choice  future  web 

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2025 from outside looking in...

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 14, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sandra Geitz shares her thoughts on “2025” in this blog post for our Emerging Fellows program. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.

Causal layered analysis of three 2025 foresight client/customer clusters

There has been considerable discussion on professionalism and the field foresight recently within the APF, and various approaches have been proposed to analyse and recommend proposals for action. For this blog post, I am seeding an initial view from Outside-the-field, as some have suggested, to describe potential future client or customer clusters in 2025. This is done to generate ideas and potential added futures competencies relevant to any shifting demographics, business and global trends in a ten year horizon. Many other APF members have contributed extensively to the topic of professionalisation, since founding and recently as part of the Professionalisation Task-force.

CLA, or the causal layered analysis futures method, was chosen to look at three potential 2025 foresight client or customer clusters: the first cluster is Baby Boomers, now aged from 50 to 68 years, and in 2025 who will be 61 to 79 years old. Next is the Generation-X potential clients, who will be 44 to 60 years of age in 2025, and who are likely to have increasing influence on future global and business decisions. Finally, Millennials emerge as potential foresight clients towards 2025, as they will be 22 to 43 years of age.

Generational clusters were chosen due to available research into social, technological, economic, environmental and political (STEEP) factors, and also the ready availability of value systems research. From this CLA, future client scenarios and foresight responses may be assisted. This initial analysis tables only the broad view of external systems and value continuities facing the field.

Headlines, in the first row, are widely discussed topics in daily news and social media of each cluster. Next, STEEP systemic data, that contributes to the headlines, is compared by each cluster. Then research into each cluster’s dominant values are tabled; these influence each of corresponding system views. The final row, summarises each clusters general story or beliefs.

Data sources for a 2025 systems view, included the US-based Technology expert, Joichi Ito3 in a TED conference talk, and respected think-tanks for society, technology and the environment such as the Brookings Institute2,5 and Pew Research1.

Global perspectives of potential external trends impacting outside the US are shown in colour, e.g. data sourced from The Lowy Institute4,6, an Australian think-tank, intersects economics, geo-politics and society. The Brookings Institute article,Still ours to Lead, outlines the tension between America and other emerging powers in both competition and collaboration sot US political leadership is critical. Another,Does inequality make a country insecure?suggests that inequality impacts stabilityif combinedwith either flexible political institutions, or external shocks from resource prices, or global wealth mobility impacts.

The table illustrated is one seed, or thought-starter…

What futures competencies in 2025 would be valued by Baby Boomer clients, potentially retiring?

What foresight capabilities may Generation X leaders want most in 2025?

Which foresight competencies may be relevant to Millennials emerging in 2025?

Reference Notes

1. Anderson J and Rainie L, 2014, Predicting the future on the Web’s 25th anniversary, Pew Research Internet Project, Pew Research Center, viewed 11July 2014,

2. Winograd M and Hais M, 2014,How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America,The Brookings Institution, Paper, viewed 11July 2014,

3. Ito, J 2014,Instead of futurists, let’s be now-ists: Joi Ito at TED2014, TED, TED blog, viewed 11July 2014,

4. Hill M, 2014,Does inequality make a country less secure?,The Lowy Institute, viewed 11July 2014,

5.Jones B, 2014,Still Ours to Lead: America, Rising Powers, and the Tension between Rivalry and Restraint, The Brookings Institution, Book, viewed 11July 2014,

6. Thirwell M, 2009,The Spectre of Malthus: Lessons from the 2007-08 Food Crisis, The Lowy Institute, The International Economy blog, viewed 11July 2014,

Tags:  foresight  futurist  generations 

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