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Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn't, and What's Next Hardcover – October 9, 2012
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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
More About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
On the second part - "what doesn't" [change], there is next to nothing in the book aside from what can be inferred from the shallow Four Forces coverage.
On the last part - "what's next", the author really only provides a plethora of facilitation tools. No trend analysis or extrapolation itself is done, nor are methodologies described for the same. The contents skims over a set of facilitation and workshopping techniques; some more interesting than others, but nothing revolutionary new there.
Many of the examples used, such as General Mill's Idea Greenhouse which is many a page, are in fact stock standard practises at enterprises today - not even "best practises" but something less than that. How the Idea Greenhouse came to be might make a superficially interesting story, but it provides little value to the book as a whole - especially when the end product falls way short of what the best companies do today. The science on "left brain-right brain" is also lacking and outdated; both quite surprising shortcomings given the book is still relatively recent.
If you know nothing of the basic underlying macro-trends and have little to no innovation facilitation experience, it's a worthy read. For anyone wanting a more in-depth coverage - or even answering the subtitle's promise itself - I would recommend to stay away from this one.
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
Sommers starts by asking two questions of clients:
Who are you?
Where are you going?
Define yourself, then decide where you want to be in the future. Simple, foundational research. From there, Sommers shows how consulting futurists help clients understand forces that will shape the client's future.
Examples are provided for consulting with small and large businesses, and Sommers leads the reader through the process of learning to understand change, then deciding how the client can creatively use that knowledge to prepare for, and deal with the future. This is a book that will be useful to business people who are not really familiar (or comfortable) with the concepts of foresight and futures studies, yet will be interesting to anyone interested in thinking about the future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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... Read morePublished on March 24, 2013 by Stephen Thompson
This is a book useful for everyone working with analyzing and planning strategies for the future of corporations and organizations.Published on January 13, 2013 by Christer Berg
Cecily Sommers is the next Einstein. Her Four Forces of Change guide our thinking on how to create, leverage and manifest what's next. Read morePublished on November 4, 2012 by annempryor