Saturday, June 1, 2013

Methods for Futuring: Part 1 Learning from The Great Explorers

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We are all time travels on a journey into the future. However, we are not accompanied by a tourist guide, or an all-seeing oracle that can direct us in our venture into the future, instead we are explores venturing out into an unknown landscape. In some of the futuristic landscapes, some see towers that scrape the heavens with technologies that boarder on the realm of the impossible, while others foresee ecological catastrophes, coming ice ages, or a collision with an celestial object.  Although futuring might involve projecting the future of humanity, and which way our humanities future a whole might hold; Futuring can also have a personal benefit to our careers and to our private lives. For instance, when to change careers, the decision move to a new neighborhood before prices rise or drop, or creating a desired outcome for our families. In many ways we are similar to the original explores that traveled to new lands.  In part one of this four part series we will hope to understand, how we relate to the original explores. Part 2, the swiftness of technological change and exponential growthand the laws that drive it. Part 3, the six super trends that are shaping the future,understanding change, systems, chance, and chaos, which leads us to the opening of Part 4 with methods to futurology.
The Explorers
Reflecting back on the accounts of the great expeditions throughout history. We start to notice that these great explores were very conscientious about packing for their journeys. Because their success depending on having the correct equipment, supplies, and the proper crew with the correct training and skill set, which leads us to the first lesson of the great explorers Prepare for what you will face in the future. The lack of preparation welcomes catastrophe, which might seem obvious, yet many people today do not see the point in thinking about the future, and regard it as a ‘we will worry about it when we get there’ mentality. Any of the great explores would consider us reckless fools, and that any number of problems are silently waiting to strike.
The second lesson is derived from the first Anticipate future needs. By taking the time to identity the likely future they were to encounter, they had a statistical model to work with to understand what they would need to bring on their journey. However, they also knew that any failed anticipation of the future could lead to death or being stranded on an uncharted territory. Thus, they tried to envision alternative futures before leaving port to better understand the needs of the journey. “Today, as explores of the future, we also need to anticipate what we may face so that we can be ready for it.”
But how could we possibly predict our future needs when we are venturing out into the unknown? The region of the “unknown” was not absolutely unknown:  By using information about surrounding regions, vague rumors and reports, educated guesses, and speculation about the geographic of the landscape. They could compile maps that might be relevant, however crude it might be.
Which leads us into our third lesson: Use poor information when necessary. Naturally, we want to use the best information available, but when it comes to decision we must not allow are selves to disregard information, because it may not be adequately detailed or may contain errors. Our great explorers sailed around the world using maps that were partially complete or containing inaccurate data.
“Many people today think that we know nothing about the future. That are 99.999+ + percent right in the literal sense, but quite wrong in the practical sense: Almost everything we don’t know about the future has little practical important to use whereas the little that we can know is extremely important, because it can help us make better decisions. Our business with the future is to improve it, not to predict it – at least not infallibly” We cannot be perfectionist when it comes to the future, we should be willing to use faulty data when necessary. Because when we’re lost in the fog of the future, any map could be a godsend.
By using imperfect data is allow us to act on futures before they become realties and much more difficult to shift and manipulate than when they were in their fluid futuristic form.
Leaving us with our fourth lesson from the great explores: Expect the unexpected. Many people assume that an unexpected event is bad thing, however, it could possibly lead to a great opportunity. But we still want to be able to deal with it in an effective manner. For instance, many young people prepare for careers, but not for career disaster or an unusual opportunity outside their expected career path.
The fifth and lesson of the great explorers is: Thing long term as well as short term. Columbus spent years traveling from city to city trying to get his expedition across the Atlantic funded. Facing one rejection after another before Queen Isabella finally provided the funds to make his dream of an expedition across the Atlantic a reality.  Foresight empowers us for future achievement, and foresight that expends well into the future can be especially empowering. By giving us the vision necessary to work towards a goal for years at a time before we see that goal actually manifesting itself into reality. “Almost anything can be done in twenty years” – Earl C. Joseph
The sixth lesson of the great explorers: Dream productively. Thinking in the long term is much more easier if you have a dream to sustain you; in fact, it might be impossible to slog throughout the years without any fruit for your labor. The great explorers were doers and a not idle daydreamer, what mattered most to them was the accomplishment of their vision, and fantasizing was a means to an end. By exploring future possibilities in their imaginations they were able to dream their ships across the oceans and around the world. With the creation of future possibilities they could anticipate their future needs realistically and prepare reasonably for what lay ahead. By fantasizing about future events, they could explore alternative goals and strategies.
The seventh and final lesson of the great explorers: Learn from your predecessors. By learning from pervious explorers they current day explorers were able to better gear their expeditions by learning for the successes, errors, and failures of past expeditions. Because, it would be possible for us to succeed if we had to make every mistake for ourselves, instead of building on last successes and failures of our predecessors.
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The seven lessons of the great explorers:
·             Prepare for what you will face in the future.
·             Anticipate future needs.
·             Use poor information when necessary.
·             Expect the unexpected.
·             Think long term as well as short term.
·             Dream productively.
·             Learn from your predecessor
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Please note: All content from Part 1, 3, and 4 was summarized from the book Futuring:The Exploration of the future by Edward Cornish