The Praxis of FutureThinking — The Wrap (2.1) The Week That Was Jan. 7th 2022
Edition #1 Volume 2 January 7,2022
Lead Editor: Rob Tyrie Co-Editors: Sean Moffitt, Paula Papel, Lindsay Fraser
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” — John “True Grit” Wayne
Future Thinking, FutureThinking, Futures, Futurism, Futures Studies, Futureproofing, Futurology. Or is it “reading the tea leaves”?
Predicting and contemplating the future is part of making sense of the world.
It seems appropriate to cross from the end of the year into the beginning of the next year and turn all our lenses forward. A new year is always an interesting touchstone between what was and what will be. Looking to the future is part of being human and vital to our interconnected communications.
Given that your brain, with all the senses and organs, is a kind of prediction machine, it’s not surprising that thinking about the future is something that happens for people every day. It allows individuals, communities, cities and civilizations to operate. Predicting the future is valuable. Imagine if you knew the next mineral needed for sustainable energy or when the Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup. In the first case you would be rich, and in the second case, fairly surprised.
“Once you have glimpsed the world as it might be, as it ought to be, as it’s going to be (however that vision appears to you), it is impossible to live anymore compliant and complacent in the world as it is…”
— Victoria Safford, “The Small Work in the Great Work [ Anthology: The Impossible Will Take a Little While: Perseverance & Hope in Troubled Times ]
As we have covered in the past, this idea is important and it is evolving. Many analysts are creating predictions and describing the future. They are creating structures, substructures, taxonomies, nomenclatures, and classification approaches.
This edition of the wrap is not about the “WHAT” of Futures, it is about the “HOW”. It really is the “HOWs”, as in the plural, because there is no standard way or one big crystal ball to execute Future Thinking or Futurism. The Guild convened a group of 8 panelists together this past week to take a look at the “HOWs” of evaluating, scripting and acting on possible futures.
We also have to think about how we navigate those futures. We think there are different parts of this futures “mince pie”. Oftentimes, when we say “oh, you’re a futurist or you’re a forecaster or you’re a trend navigator or you are a strategic foresight analyst”, we paint over some of the distinctions between things.
I am a sense maker, not a futurist. So, I am firmly in the now, my work tends to happen to make sense of where people are as a foundation for the future and so it’s more relevant. What their time horizon is for them. But I work with them in the immediate. — Joan Ball
Futurists can be like “foresighters” that think on a long, large, broad, scale— Trendspotters seem to be like sprinters, to use a track and field metaphor, the other classes of analysts all seem to be specialized and in their own silo’s. They are really good at shot put or really good at sprinting, or really good at long-distance running or the javelin.
We suggest that a better approach is to treat these specialties as a collection of tools use skillfully to create more complete descriptions of the future. What we’re building here is some kind of “decathletes of the future”. People that are really good at the different disciplines of what, we’re calling futures thinking.
In the Club House Session, we covered a new kind of model of interacting energies that are interdependent and can be used as processes too. We called them “The Six Horsemen of the Future-lypse”.
We think there are six parts of understanding in the future. And how do we navigate there?
- One is anticipating the future and how do we get ready for it? How do we prepare for it?
- Two is exploring the future. How to unlock windows and doors differently? Futures, How do we, how do we actually?
- Three is consideration. How do we consider the future? How do we contemplate it differently? Different scenarios different possibilities that may exist out there and how do we rank them and prefer them and suggest the likelihood of those happening?
- Four, quantification. How do we quantify the future? This idea brings out a lot of ideas. How does one quantify the future, measure it and count the ways it may be important to us. We actually don’t think we can quantify the future. We would say that forecasting, as a science, is the principle of quantifying the future.
“Writing speculative fiction shares some similiarities with writing historical fiction. In the case of historical fiction, you need to check your facts and intricate your story within a series of historical connections. The reality of what truly happened sets constraints to your storyline. Similarly as you write historical fiction, you can write future fiction. You cannot just unleash your creativity as in fantasy or science-fiction. You need to respect some logical rules. In the case of future fiction, weak signals, signals of change or signals of the future are symmetrical to history facts in historical fiction. They will guide your writing as to what is possible, what is plausible, what is likely to happen.
It’s as if you had a cop on your shoulder reminding you about the basics of futures thinking— is my story credible or not? And as you consider these realistic limits, you can’t just unleash in any creative direction. You have to think of what would be the chain of consequences that can lead from current events to a specific future scenario. You need to express a clear vision that makes sense in harmony with physical rules and with plausible development from the present to such futures.” — Sylvia Gallusser
These are complicated questions. This is not like Physics or writing COBOL code. Still, it is important to consider the questions. What precision and accuracy is required that we quantify the future? How do we act on the future? How do we put this intelligence into action and how do we share the future? We think this is something that doesn’t get a lot of coverage in well-known publications and media.
How do we influence the minds and, and some of the actions of our stakeholders?
Here are the 6 Pillars of a Future Thinking Framework. Let’s call them the six horses of the future-lypse:
Anticipation (The blue horse)— the steps we take and tools we use to predict future events, scenarios, conditions or events. One example of a tool and practice is the study of history to understand how historical change occurs and possibly use that to project onto forecasts.
Exploration (the green horse)— the map to cover the breadth and depth of possible futures. How to figuratively walk the streets of San Jose in 2066?
Consideration (the black horse)— a future, and what other things must be looked at that are changes, impacts, and/or risks. The distribution of a future must also be considered. As was predicted the Internet-Connected PC would impact the world but not everyone has access to that technology, which splits history.
Action/Reaction (the red horse)— As things become known, such as the shape of the coast near Mumbai, and what do we actually do about it? In some cases as in novel events, we expect humans won’t really be acting but it is important to understand their possible reactions.
Quantification (the magenta horse)— how to measure those impacts, those actions or reactions in terms that are useful and that humans understand. The terms to describe them are as important as the actions and reactions.
Sharing (the grey horse)— once you have the message, the media, tools, steps, filters and megaphones needed to get the idea of the new future into the minds of the people who need it and can accept it.
“We need to kind of have a suit jacket on our foresight work and it can’t be too playful, not yet not in our current environment. I think that’s a really interesting cautionary tale for practitioners, right? What clothes do we wear? What clothes do we wear for our futures to which audience? That’s a good metaphor I think.” Heather Galbraith
The panel communicated a varied set of tools that are useful in any futurist toolkit or Future Thinking structures. Saws, adzes, chisels and hammers for FutureThinking et al.
- Read widely inside and outside your field of expertise.
- Travel. Remember, Gibson told us that the future is unevenly distributed.
- Write Fiction. Fantastical or new ideas with realistic constraints, more like sidecasting, than forecasting or backcasting.
- Use Business Model Canvases but infuse them with lots of imagination.
- Create Causal Diagrams that are more dynamic and show inflows and outflows along with interdependencies. These have an interesting feature in that they can be used as the basis for simulation.
- Starting from the person, consider all 5 senses when thinking about a future.
- Scan Information from many sources, including Open Source Intelligence and Signals Intelligence (SigInt).
- Learn a new language. Computer coding and Math are languages so too. Esperanto, Toki Poni are synthetic languages that will help people think differently. (Tolkien was a master of creating new fanciful languages).
- Math — learn other distributions than linear. Fibonacci, Poison, Exponential, Fractal, Random are all useful tools.
- Plan different video games from different perspectives eg. locales, languages, avatars.
- Think Again — like a scientist. On new evidence, or emergent events, rethink your predictions.
I think I’m obligated at some point to mention reading is a thing. I think one of the things you need to do is is read widely, and not be too immersed your own specialty. One of the things I am looking for is themes or patterns that pop up, the ones coming from completely different directions.
One of the ideas that resonates with me is this notion of trying to avoid being surprised. Say something big happens. It’d be nice if you’re not completely shocked, that such a thing was possible. And one of the ways to avoid that is to read, widely, you know, fiction imagines, things that don’t happen yet.
Writers and their readers can explore the implications and complications that come from something that we can’t actually do yet. Nonfiction tells you what people actually are doing that you didn’t know about yet. Put it all together and all of us can think of more of a more things than one of us can. Reading is a sourceto tap into insight.
Creative people who’ve thought of things you haven’t thought of before while working in a group, can read more than anyone person can read. So you’ve got all of these inputs. That collectively we have encountered all of, which gives us more more freedom of movement to know what is and know what has been imagined and therefore what, what is imaginable.
So when we’re thinking about what could be, we’ve can create a much bigger foundation, all of which makes us less likely to be surprised “ Nathan Gilliatt
And the last word:
“No one gets to predict the future except for Dionne Warwick and her psychic hotline shows” — Sean Moffitt
Well.. maybe Nostradamus and Baba Vanga also have some sway, depending on varying interpretations of future events predicted to have happened or soon to be happening. What future signals would they have channelled? In the case of Nostradamus, luckily he and his acolytes wrote them down.
1. Predictions Predictions … my Kingdom for some predictions. It is counterintuitive that it is can be hardest to predict things in the next 12 months … but it is. Human nature makes most people overestimate what may happen in the near term. There is a trick. For something important to happen this year, it has already happened. So we dialled back the lens and extreme thinking and extrapolated sidecast-style. This is more of an identification of trends that are important enough to consider for your annual planning. These are likely trends because they started in 2020 and ‘21 and have been successful. Oh. Since we are making predictions the Green Bay Packers will win the 2022 Superbowl, and the Democrats in the US will lose the House. These are from the research partners at Rob Tyrie’s company Ironstone Advisory and his mom.
These twelve (12) should be predicting the obvious… small changes are already set up by the waves of 2021.
- All things e-commerce will stay winning as people come back to work. Amazon… improves and grows. E-commerce is big. Shopify remains Canada's most valuable company. Square will be Blocked and Cubed. #ecommerce.
- Sports. Will stay big, adding eSports and special events into its repertoire. The more we are restricted, the more we want to watch and be fans. So ESPN , EPl, Olympics , FIFA…and all gaming will grow, real, fantasy and gaming on platforms and internet. This will gain even more traction as gambling levels keeps normalizing. Watch Bets.com et al. Vegas will be a barometer as will sporting events in New York. Disney will be neutral. Disney really needs to split its reporting to separate physical from virtual rates of return.
- Cruise lines are still in the dog house. Nearing distressed status. Watch for a BlackRock or Blackstone to buy assets at the bottom here.
- Big M&A, Asset Management and investment banking plus whatever SPACs are will continue to expand this year. This will continue to the next presidential election in the US
- BTC, ETH and cryptocoins. Both will continue in both growth and volatility. BTC should go to 80k peaks this year. Things will continue to formalize and be safer to work with this stuff. NFTs will be a canary and bell-weather in this marketplace. Remember, NFTs are now the easiest “thing “ to buy and sell if you have a pile of coins in your wallet for whatever reason.
- Netflix, Disney and Prime… are a monopoly. They will be fine and move to increase profits in 2022. Netflix and Disney have already raised or announced increasing offerings and subscription fees.
- Big movies (and e*games) will keep stable and growing because of the replacement of live entertainment. Movies especially franchise canons will remain multi-year assets.
- Ecostuff, Clean, Green and Sustainable. Renewable energies and batteries will continue to rise in deployment and profits ad the switch over continues with lots of inertial to change given newer climate change policies and the shift in investments by oil companies. Shell and Armco are bellwethers here. Tesla is a megaphone.
- Weak education institutions will crumble. Colleges and universities that were not able to shift to online and hybrid training and teaching will fail. Useful Assets will be acquired by online schools like Khan Academy, Coursera and EdX.
- Food. Delivery of all sorts of options will expand delivery and multimode restos that use this method to connect with customers. Ghost kitchens, and food prep companies like Fresh that ship good tasty health food, keep expanding. Watch Amazon and Walmart as a bellwether here.
- Leisure Travel and vacations. All countries that have tourism as 15 or more percent of their economies will have the lowest changes in GDP in 2021 unless they can shift to reusing that asset to depend on locals and tourists that can get there by car or train without crossing international borders.
- Robot tech and AI… Toys for kids under 15 will get smarter and funner and cooler than they ever were.
2.If there are quotes, there will be futures. Here are six (6). They are suitable for your next forecast presentation or your IdeaCity Session in the Summer, or our Sunday Wrap Clubhouse
- “People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. Time, in other words, he said, is an illusion. Many physicists since have shared this view, that true reality is timeless” — Albert Einstein
- “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” -Yogi Berra
- “If you don’t think about the future, you cannot have one.” — John Galsworthy
- “It was never easy to look into the future, but it is possible and we should not miss our chance.” — Andrei Linde
- “The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.” — Nikola Tesla
- “Keep on the lookout for novel ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you’re working on.” — Thomas Edison
3. Get Ready for the singularity. Ray Kurzweil. the famous Googler is good at making predictions. He does not always get it right but he has a good hit rate. Most famously, he knew Moores Law would keep going. Ray gets exponential math. And, if his nutrition supplements and age-hacking techniques work, there will be more predictions to come for at least 50 more years. “At the SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas, Kurzweil made yet another prediction: the technological singularity will happen sometime in the next 30 years.”
4. Oscar, the Golden Statue- Predictions make award ceremonies fun. They enhance the connection and dopaminergic payoff. Contenders for the accolades and the follow-on revenue are listed. Pssst. The Academy tries to set cinema taste in a flurry of bow ties, tuxedoes, cleavage and sequins, that's not always to everyone's tastes, morals and sensibilities, it is still however the standard. Our 2022’s nominees below (Oscar voting ends on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, Academy Awards nominations take place on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, and the ceremony taking place on Sunday, Mar. 27, 2022).
- No Time To Die
- West Side Story
- Spiderman (No Way Home)
- Power of the Dog
- Licorice Pizza
5. Lexicon — It is rare that a conversation with futurists does not include discussions around sensemaking. Well, sometimes it is more than just polite conversations. By this definition, sensemakers can seek to give meaning to futurism and future thinking.
- the action or process of making sense of or giving meaning to something, especially new developments and experiences.
- “the relationship between identity and sense-making may be more complex”
6. Meme of the Week. This one is for Marty McFly fans everywhere. It is always fun to go back in history and think how easy it was to be right about the future. McFyism? Jetsonists? Futurama-lama-ding-dong?
Grey Swan Guild —Connecting the Dots
Whether it’s the past, present or future, hopefully some of you will think about joining our collective that tries to make sense of the world and connect the dots between all of its disparate and connected parts.
We are a post-modern version of the Guild — this is some of the things we like fusing together:
- Learn: https://www.greyswanguild.org/
- Read: https://greyswanguild.medium.com/
- Attend: https://www.greyswanguild.org/calendar
- Become a Member: https://bit.ly/gsgsmemberform
- Go Deeper: https://bit.ly/lofsenseform
- Provide a Habit of a Future Thinker: https://bit.ly/gsgfuturehabit
- Provide a Habit of a Sensemaker/Critical Thinker: https://bit.ly/thinkinghabits
- Join a Venture: https://bit.ly/gsgventures
Atelier #10 — Fahrenheit 4.51° — Thursday, January 13th, 9am ET
Join us for the implications and solutions around Climate Change, with a slightly altered and decimal-ed version of Ray Bradbury’s popular dystopic book.
Feature Guild City of the Month — Montreal
Join us for Montreal Month — January 2022’s Featured Guild City and come to its town hall January 26th: https://bit.ly/gsgMontreal