Learn more from your future than you do from your past

Verne Wheelwright is a pioneer in using foresight for personal development. The same methods that corporations and governments have used for the past decade are just as relevant for personal use as they are for shaping macro futures.

Many self help authors want readers to connect to their future selves, but none of them offer any practical tools for doing so. Such authors look too narrowly at the future to guide readers into visualizing multiple, plausible futures, and readers often give up or lose faith when their actual future turns out differently than they expected.

Wheelwright takes a different, less mystical approach with his award winning self-help book, It’s Your Future…Make it a Good One. He also offers some free downloads on his website which I strongly recommend, but the book provides readers with the perspective necessary to understand what these free resources are all about.

Most people view the future as either a hazy, cryptic event or a technological utopia. Neither of these views are true much less practical. The future is unpredictable, especially at a personal level. But the future can be forecasted into multiple scenarios to help organizations and (now thanks to Wheelwright) individuals steer their personal lives in a direction to achieve their goals no matter how the future plays out.

If you run your own business, no mater what size, this is the most important book you could read for your business success. As a business owner, your personal life is the rudder that steers your business, and to achieve success you need to align your personal future with the future of your company. Wheelwright even has a book coming out soon about applying these techniques to small and medium sized businesses.

Methods for learning about the future have been in use by businesses for decades, but the process was simply too complex for most individuals. The Personal Futures Network introduces some new, easily understood approaches that will help you to think and plan like a futurist. You will be able learn about and plan for your personal futures.

Think like a futurist? What does that really mean, think like a futurist? Well, each futurist may have some different thoughts, but generally futurists think about longer term futures, usually 10 or more years ahead. Futurists believe that the future is not predetermined, but that several futures are possible. If several futures are possible, then one of those futures may be better than the others, or a “preferred” future. Very important; futurists believe that individuals or groups can take actions in the present that will help determine the future.

That brief paragraph helps explain why most futurists don’t make predictions about the future, but rather suggest multiple possible futures, often in the form of “scenarios” or stories about the future.

The above quote was taken from Wheelwright’s homepage. The whole website is dedicated to helping readers understand how to look at the future in an effective and practical way. Read the book and begin learning more from your future than from you do from your past.


Future Savvy by Adam Gordon

When I first ran across the book information online, I did not recognize the author’s name. The book’s tag line, “Identifying trends to make better decisions, manage uncertainty, and profit from change,” confused me. Does Gordon have a plural view of the future and therefore discuss multiple scenario forecasts, or was he referring primarily to baseline trend extrapolation so common with many business books? Either way, the book sounded interesting as it attempts to separate the wheat from the chaff to discern the usable aspects of the shock and awe implied by most forecasts.

On further research, I found out that Gordon worked with Coates & Jarrett, a preeminent US futurist consultancy.  He is also a graduate of the University of Houston Clear Lake MS program in Futures Studies.  Therefore, the book is from a scenario planning futurist perspective while remaining objective enough to criticize himself, his colleagues, and other forecasters.

He covers ways to recognize forecast intentions, the quality of the data on which forecasts are founded, the spin placed on forecasts interpretations, our own individual assumptions about the future, how consumers drive and block change, other drivers and blockers, the limits of quantitative forecasting, a systems perspective, alternative futures forecasts, applying forecast filters, and more than 40 questions to use in evaluating any forecast.

“The expectations and desires or fears that a forecast sets in motion influence the actual future that emerges.”

“A flexible and hedged view of the future that is ‘somewhat correct’ is obviously more useful to people than a wrong prediction however singularly asserted.” So, “while we cannot completely rely on foresight studies,” or the advice of trained futurist professionals, “to ignore them is fatal.”

I would continue with the quotes, but I am afraid of quoting at least 50% of the book and violating the copyright. As a student of futures studies myself, I must confess that the book challenged my own assumptions of the future and of forecasts. The systems application to futures alone is worth the price of the book.