Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


The Outsider's view of the Inside Futures

Thursday 27 August 2015

As a consultant, one of the great puzzles I consistently discover is the mindset many clients hold with regard to their own abilities to conceive of and pursue, their own approach to futures thinking. I know this is not an issues restricted to futurists as where some clients have a 'not invented here' approach to rejecting ideas, many others hold the 'can't invent it here' view of their own capabilities. And that means that

a lot of my time working with clients is invested in showing them how much they do know and that they should have confidence to be able to do much (if not all) of their chosen activities without outside intervention.

In writing for the innovation magazine Fast Thinking a few years ago I took the same approach with the idea of innovation generation and processes - suggesting that in all likelihood, most organisations DO HAVE the skills they need to run their own innovation programs without outside intervention. A fellow writer and innovation consultant took me to task in the subsequent issue saying that wasn't true.

On a strong personal note, I believe in 'skills transfer' - the idea that with a little bit of guidance and an effective model, the client organisation ought to be able to do their own futures work once I have left. I'll always be available should they feel they prefer some outside assistance BUT overwhelmingly my aim is to provide them with a platform that gives them confidence to be able to do a thoroughly good job.

Which brings us to the Insider's Approach to Futures:

a) You do have the skills

b) You may need a process or two to run with

c) An Outsider should be used to help with momentum for a futures project, not to develop ownership of it

d) Appreciate that timing matters - some people will get on board earlier than others and as such, the kinds of conversations that you have with people may seem repetitive to you, but will be likely new to them. So keep having them

I've worked with a lot of different clients - Large Corporate, Large Goverment; small businesses; Not for Profits; international, local; and everything in between. I am yet to experience a 'dumb client'. Quite the contrary - almost every client I've worked with has held high levels of intellectual capacity. The one element missing is a model that helps them expand their Breadth of awareness; the Depth of information and the Distance of the forward view. Once they have that model, the pathways toward their desired futures are many and often clearer than they were.

The Outsider's view of Inside Futures then is that you probably do have the skills you need. A good process will help bring that all together into an effective package

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