“You can analyze the past but you need to design the future. That is the difference between suffering the future and enjoying it.” This quote by Edward de Bono sums up the choices that lie before each individual. The future is coming faster than people can adapt to change (Canton, 2015), which puts individuals in the position to either be enslaved by the pace of change and simply react, or take necessary efforts to be future smart.
Future smart is an evolutionary shift in how people think about the world from being reactive and passive where the future just happens, to being proactive and catalysts of change becoming architects of the future (Canton, 2015). It is the use of strategic foresight that allows individuals to promote useful actions to increase the optimization of capabilities in a high-velocity environment (Sarmpong & O’Regan, 2014). Strategic foresight is tied with abilities such as adaptive learning (Bootz, 2010), trend analysis (Liebl & Schwarz, 2010), innovation (Sarpong and Maclean, 2011), and strategy development (O’Brien and Meadows, 2012), which are all vital for being future smart. Such skills provide the capability to understand and explore the possible scenarios of the future in order to be better prepared today (Canton, 2015). This can equip individuals to not only prepare for the future, but also design and manage it based on goals (Canton, 2015).
Future smart does take a degree of work to identify and understand trends and prepare. Being future smart requires paying attention to emergent signals, early warnings, news, or behaviors that precede and shape trends (Canton, 2015). However, it is not just about knowledge accumulation or trend identification, it is about understanding how to put action in place based on the information (Canton, 2015).
How can individuals be better trained to be future smart?
Bootz, J.-P. (2010). Strategic foresight and organizational learning: A survey and critical analysis. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 77(9), 1588–1594. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2010.06.015
Canton, J. (2015). Future smart: managing the game-changing trends that will transform your world. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.
Liebl, F., & Schwarz, J. O. (2010). Normality of the future: Trend diagnosis for strategic foresight. Futures, 42(4), 313–327. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2009.11.017
O’Brien, F. A., & Meadows, M. (2013). Scenario orientation and use to support strategy development. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80(4), 643–656. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2012.06.006
Sarpong, D., & Maclean, M. (2013). A matter of foresight: How practices enable (or impede) organizational foresightfulness. European Management Journal. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2013.03.004
Sarpong, D., & O’Regan, N. (2014). The Organizing Dimensions of Strategic Foresight in High-Velocity Environments. Strategic Change, 23(3-4), 125–132. http://doi.org/10.1002/jsc.1965