WHY THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE?
The future is fundamentally uncertain, yet there are discernable directions,
even if signs point to conflicting and multiple outcomes. For some, uncertainty
justifies not thinking about the future, while for others the uncertainty
is a source of opportunity. Without a concerted effort to be future-focused,
organizations run grave risks of diminished importance or even oblivion
in the fluctuating world of the early 21st century. Thinking about the
future increases the likelihood of success in the long run.
All of our experience is with the past, but all of our decisions are about
the future. Many people have assumed that their past experience is a fairly
reliable guide to the future—the future will simply be a bigger and better
version of the world with which they are familiar. However, the pace of
change now makes it clear to thoughtful people that continuity can no
longer be taken for granted. In area after area today, we are confronted
by true uncertainty: we really do not know what will happen, but
we know it is going to happen more quickly.
The future cannot be predicted. The word “futures” in futures studies
is plural because there is no one preordained future that is fated to
occur. Rather, there are many different possible alternative futures.
Instead of predicting what the future will be, futurists use a wide range
of methodologies to engage in structured and thoughtful speculation about
future possibilities. This helps people prepare for whatever future comes,
and positions them to be more able to create the future they prefer. Some
of the methods futurists use to help organizations think about the future