Q & A with Cecily Sommers, Author of Think Like 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.
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