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The Future Belongs to Those Who…
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by Institute for Alternative Futures 26 Futurist Tools


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 follow.

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