3 Benefits of Futures Thinking
Designing Creatively Through Futures Thinking
April 3, 2018, Willow Pryor
The complexities of today call for a different way of thinking. To quote Einstein, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” This is why the futures thinking (also known as foresight) toolkit and mindset is of such value today: they create a platform for greater collaboration, curiosity and co-creation to enable new, innovative solutions and better ways of doing things.
Further to that, a recent report, published by Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences and Deloitte, showed that future-prepared firms outperformed average firms by a notable 33 percent higher profitability. Not only that, future-prepared firms outperformed average firms by an extraordinary 200% higher growth. Clearly there is a business case for corporate foresight.
So beyond the bottom line, let’s delve a bit deeper to see how futures thinking can benefit your organisation by fostering a stronger culture, greater creativity and more impactful design thinking.
3 Benefits of Futures Thinking
When you involve diverse levels of your organisation in conversations about the future you support the creation of a culture of engagement and participation.
Millennials don’t have quite the same patience for top down hierarchical structures as do those that have gone before. If you are going to attract the top talent then you need to consider what kind of employee experience you are offering.
Do you have an engaging and inclusive culture that encourages input AND then gives due consideration to this input? Or, does it just get shelved? When you actively involve team members in the foresight process you can engender a sense of agency and meaning which is so important, especially when ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast."
The foresight tool of horizon scanning, a process of exploring the implications of emerging trends and issues, is but one example of foresight leading to greater creativity.
It involves asking who wins, who loses and whose voice is not present. It invites you to consider a diversity of perspectives and experiences.
Foresight is about opening your mind in new and novel ways, helping you to make connections that weren’t available before. We are not limited to right and wrong or stand alone answers here, thus enabling breakthrough creative ideas and thoughts.
Supporting Better Design
I invite you to think of foresight as a powerful and effective precursor to design thinking.
Foresight supports designing for tomorrow not today. Designing with the future and emerging issues and challenges in mind can lead to revolutionary products/service offerings today- if you dare! With the rate of change we are collectively experiencing, if you design for today, you run the risk of the products/service outputs being obsolete before they hit the shelf.
These are just a few of the areas within an organisation that can benefit as a result of considering a longer term perspective. So start the conversation in your organisation today but don’t forget to include a diversity of perspectives. Remember there are no wrong answers and take the time at the beginning of a project to look beyond what is happening today.
Willow Pryor, MSF (strategic foresight), is a professional futurist with a focus on consulting, facilitation of futures thinking workshops, speaking and teaching strategic foresight to enable the creation of alternative futures. Willow has worked with a range of public, private and for purpose organisations. She believes to create more equitable and sustainable futures our leaders, young and old, need to think like futurists. To get in contact with Willow email her on: firstname.lastname@example.org