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Futurology: Futurologist

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Futurists is a term used to describe management science consultants who advise private and public orgainizations on diverse global trends, risk management and emerging market opportunities. Some countries call these interdisciplinary practitioners Futurologists.

A key element of all management is being able to anticipate what competitors, employees and customers are likely to do next, in the context of a rapidly changing wider world. Thus it is true that to some extent all effective leaders are futurists.

The futurists are also a group of artists.

Future thinking

A key part of futuring is managing uncertainty and risk. Some trends are relatively clear - for example the fall of telecom costs towards zero or the aging demographics of many countries in Western Europe. The issue is often more about timing than the nature of the events themselves.

Others are very hard to predict, including significant numbers of so-called Wild Cards, or low probability, but high impact events. [1]

See Futures Studies

Practitioners

Several authors have become recognized as futurists. They research trends (particularly in technology) and write accounts of their observations, conclusions, and predictions.

In earlier eras, many of the futurists were attached to academic institutions. For example John McHale the futurist who wrote the book The Future of the Future, and published a Futures Directory, directed his own Centre For Integrative Studies which was a Think Tank within the university setting. Other early era futurists followed a cycle of publishing their conclusions and then beginning research on the next book. More recently they have started consulting groups or earn money as speakers. Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt and Patrick Dixon exemplify this class.

Many business gurus present themselves as pragmatic futurists rather than as theoretical futurists. One prominent international "business futurist", Frank Feather, coined the phrase "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally" in 1979. He has written books such as G-Forces: The 35 Global Forces Restructuring Our Future,[2] Future Consumer.com,[3] Future Living,[4] and Biznets: The Webopoly Future of Business.[5] The last three examine the strategic impact of the Internet revolution (what he calls the "Webolution") on business, economics, and society.

Some futurists share features in common with the writers of science fiction, and indeed some science-fiction writers, such as Arthur C. Clarke, have acquired a certain reputation as futurists. Some writers, though, show less interest in technological or social developments and use the future only as a backdrop to their stories. For example, in the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote of prediction as the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurists, not of writers: "a novelist's business is lying".

Future thought leaders

  
  • David Absalam
  • Charles Babbage
  • Anti-Cybercrime champions
  • Earl Bakken
  • Bakken Museum
  • Joel A. Barker
  • Gaston Berger
  • Clem Bezold
  • Stewart Brand
  • James Burke
  • Harlan Cleveland
  • Edward Cornish
  • Jeff Cornish
  • Hugo de Garis
  • James Dator
  • Bertrand deJouvenel
  • Patrick Dixon
  • Scott W. Erickson
  • Lynn Elen Burton
  • Wendell Bell
  
  • Mahdi ElMandjra
  • Frank Feather
  • Willis Harman
  • Arthur Harkins
  • Robert A. Heinlein
  • Hazel Henderson
  • RADM Grace Hopper
  • Sohail Inayatullah
  • Erich Jantsch
  • Earl C. Joseph, Sr.
  • Bill Joy
  • Robert Jungk
  • Ted Kaczynski
  • Mária Törőcsik
  • Herman Kahn
  • Eamonn Kelly
  • George Kubik
  • Ray Kurzweil
  • Jaron Lanier
  • Oliver Markley
  
  • Homer A. McCrerey
  • John McHale
  • John Naisbitt
  • David Passig
  • Aurelio Peccei
  • Fred Polak
  • Robert Prechter
  • Paul Raskin
  • Jeremy Rifkin
  • Paul Saffo
  • Wendy Schultz
  • Richard A. Slaughter
  • John Smart
  • Strauss and Howe
  • Alvin Toffler
  • John Tomsyck
  • Joseph Voros
  • Derek Woodgate
  • Irma Wyman
  • John Zerzan

References

  1. The Future: An Owner's Manual
  2. Feather, Frank (1989). G-Forces: The 35 Global Forces Restructuring Our Future. 
  3. Feather, Frank (2000). Future Consumer.com. 
  4. Feather, Frank (2003). Future Living. 
  5. Feather, Frank (2006). Biznets: The Webopoly Future of Business. 

To meet the challenges of the future, we need to find out about what we can plausibly expect in the years ahead so we can understand what our options are. We can then set reasonable goals and develop effective strategies for achieving them.

Futurists have refined multiple useful techniques to help us think ahead.
USA • 1-800-989-8274 or 1-301-656-8274 • e-Mail

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