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Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn't, and What's Next Hardcover


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Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn't, and What's Next + Foresight 20/20 - A Futurist Explores the Trends Transforming Tomorrow + Entering the Shift Age: The End of the Information Age and the New Era of Transformation
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118147820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118147825
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q & A with Cecily Sommers, Author of Think Like a Futurist

Cecily Sommers
Cecily Sommers
What is a futurist?

A futurist studies long-term trends from a global perspective, identifying their implications for business and society. A futurist's work can range from creating industry forecasts and policy agendas to speculating about how our work, education, healthcare, and families are poised to change. Some futurists stop there. Others focus on the application of this knowledge to organizational strategy, as I do, helping companies answer the question, "what do these forecasts mean for us?" By explaining different future scenarios, futurists can help organizations prepare for emerging threats and identify important growth opportunities. We turn real-world research into clear plans for the future.

Why is it difficult for most people to think like a futurist? Where do most of us get stuck?

Our brains naturally project what we currently know into the future, seeking certainty and continuity, and we tend to ignore clues and ideas that don't fit with our experiences. We get stuck in our knowledge to date-a mindset I call the permanent present. To think like a futurist is to think outside of that box and purposely expand our horizons so that we can imagine ideas and events that haven't yet occurred.

In what types of roles is it most important to think like a futurist?

If your role involves setting strategy or fostering innovation, the ability to manage the future is particularly relevant. Additionally, anyone in a leadership role needs to address the future; leaders must have a compelling vision of what lies ahead in order to inspire others to join them in making it happen.

For marketers, my Zone of Discovery methodology makes brand strategy a foundational part of the corporate strategy workflow. The Zone of Discovery poses two central questions: "Who are you?" and "Where are you going?" I show you how to leverage these two questions (and their answers) to limit the ideation and planning phases of your innovation initiatives to only the ideas and potentials that are right for your brand. Really, future-thinking applies in all facets of company operations. Knowing how to think about change leads to smarter decisions.

Review

"Top 25: What corporate America is reading" (800-CEO-read's list of best-selling business books based on purchases by its corporate customers nationwide) - The Tribune-Review

Think Like a Futurist is an insightful and scholarly take on the advancement of business management and why it may be different than anything else before it, much recommended.  - Midwest Book Review

"Think Like a Futurist has some useful ideas about its four forces and helpful techniques you might apply to your organization's strategic planning and innovation efforts.   - The Globe and Mail

Think Like a Futurist is a good read for anyone struggling with how to move their organization forward. Business leaders, product and program managers, service providers will all find the concepts Sommers introduces to be well laid-out with a reasonable amount of supporting content.     - The Livingston Post

Think Like a Futurist is recommended reading for strategists, innovators and leaders across all disciplines. Those in leadership roles will most benefit from Sommers' suggestions, as leaders - more than anyone else - must be able to envisage what lies ahead and encourage others to help make it a reality.   - Management Today

“In Think Like a Futurist... [Cecily Sommers] raises questions and points out realities that anyone fascinated with the future of the global economy should be following.” 
—Adam Belz, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

More About the Author

A global trends analyst, Cecily Sommers speaks, writes, and consults on emerging trends, markets, and technologies shaping our future. She is the author of Think Like a Futurist and the founder of The Push Institute, a non-profit think tank that tracks significant global trends and their implications for business, government, and non-profit sectors over the next 5-10-25-50 years.

Cecily was named one of Fast Company's "Fast 50 Reader's' Favorites," as well as one of the Business Journal's "Twenty‐five Women to Watch." She is a regular contributor to NPR's All Things Considered and other media outlets, and a proud member of the Association of Professional Futurists. Cecily lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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This is essentially reading for anyone grappling with the ever-increasing pace of change.
John P. Larson
Ms. Sommers spends way too much of this book on filler, non-applicable example treatises, and rhetorical stasis which gives no insight for her readers.
Charles Moyer
It is written to provide the reader with both an overall description of the process and examples of how it may be used.
Stephen Thompson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hal Smith on December 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book starts with grand themes but quickly devolves to yet another set of "think outside the box" case studies using the author's methodology. There are good tools and techniques presented and it's useful. It just doesn't live up to the expectations set in the blurb and the first few chapters.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Charles Moyer on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. Sommers spends way too much of this book on filler, non-applicable example treatises, and rhetorical stasis which gives no insight for her readers. Future Thinking is about more than writing futurist next to your name, there is process approaches and practices, it is about understanding the conditions and drivers of change, cycles of adoption, This generalized tride is not worth the time it takes to read it.

Futuring by E. Cornish, Future Think by Weiner and Brown, or best yet; Thinking About the Future by Hines and Bishop are much better, more effective, and helpful in understanding and applying the principles of strategic foresight, futuring, and considering the future for social and business purposes
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Thompson on March 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Think Like a Futurist is a well-connected caravanserai on the roadways through knowledge space. It provides an intersection of strategic thinking and creative problem solving domains. Such intersections are rich sources of new ideas generated from models and patterns of one domain applied in new ways to a different subject area. In order to avoid simple linear extrapolation futurists need to inject new concepts into their process. Think Like A Futurist describes a creative process that will ensure such new ideas.

Cecily Sommers describes a blended process for strategic planning. It is written to provide the reader with both an overall description of the process and examples of how it may be used. The steps are

I. Data gathering of underlying societal forces
II. Determining a Big Question or goal
III. Engaging in discovery for new insights
IV. Distilling critical elements for a plan to achieve the goal.

I read the other reviews and find the negative comments to be unwarranted. Three other books were suggested as better than Sommers' book, so I purchased them to compare for myself. My comments are listed at the end of this review.

Think Like A Futurist starts with a description of four forces that underlie and affect how human society changes over time. Other futurist books show trends - which are just waves at the top of the ocean, so to speak. If you are just a consumer of futurist reports, then trends are fine. However, if you wish to think as one, then you need to understand how those trends develop. Sommers directs the reader to look at the lowest level currents. These are Resources, Technology, Demography, and Governance.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John P. Larson on October 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is essentially reading for anyone grappling with the ever-increasing pace of change. The author clearly explains the Four Forces of Change (Hint: it is more than just "technology") and how to make highly educated informed decisions about the future. Required reading for anyone in business or trying to affect social change.
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