It was but a natural evolution of my recent obsession with a global viewpoint on the changes taking place in the world today, specifically focusing on corporate innovation, that I found this conference "Accelerating Change 2005" to be held next weekend at Stanford University. In addition to the two day program on Saturday and Sunday (17th and 18th Sept 2005) I have signed up for a workshop on foresight consulting. Reading through the background of the conference led me to John Smart‘s website Acceleration Watch.
Browsing through the website led me to this piece, entitled, "Who is a futurist?". I was drawn to this description,
Definition 3, Professional futurist, describes yet another level of difficulty in futures thinking. It outlines essential qualities for "professional" consideration of the future, whether
you are being paid to write a fictional movie treatment or to help a Fortune 500 client consider a business opportunity. It also describes the activities of some of the more successful self-declared futurists
and the curricular aims of several futures studies educational institutions.
Do you systematically consider possible future scenarios, monitor environmental trends and changes, and attempt to chart a course
that best achieves your objectives? Have you done this for a client
or your company at any point in your career? If so, you are a professional
That was interesting, since much of what I’m doing for my current clients is exactly this, I’ve just been calling it "strategies for growth" or been referred to as "our consultant on business intelligence", but to find that the work I’ve been doing being described as professional futurist is certainly impressive 🙂 Even more interesting was this bit,
The best futurists strive to be transdisciplinary systems theorists. It helps to be open to learning the unique dynamics of all physical
systems around us, not just to visualize within the domain we find most comfortable. Seeking multidisciplinarity is a never ending, lifelong process of balanced inquiry, and a very rewarding journey.
After a lifelong struggle between diverse interests colliding with formal education systems, where I studied Pure Science for the O Levels, yet managed to add Creative Writing and Ceramics in the american school system, with a degree in engineering – industrial and production, itself an amalgam of mechanical and management – followed by classical Bauhaus inspired product design, an MBA in strategy and personal reading interests that span philosophy (from Rand to Swami Vivekananda), science fiction and geopolitics, it’s interesting to note that perhaps there may be a viable future for one such as I. [puns intended] I remember as a child wanting to grow up and be a…[in no particular chronological order] teacher, astronaut, pilot, environmental engineer, geologist, archaeologist, historian [sadly not psycho historian :)], physicist, designer and "troubleshooter."
What’s interesting to note, as I navel gaze, is that the process of "growing up to become something" is often liminal, more so for those of us who did not have a "passion" or talent to follow one singular vision from early childhood. We evolve into our professions and our careers, which on retrospect, make some kind of logical sense, but in actual fact were accidents of time and space. There is the logical next step for this thought but it is not yet at the articulation stage.