ProFutures Blog

The APF Profutures blog features posts by the Emerging Fellows and other APF futurists. We will be sharing intriguing futures ideas and information about professional futurists and the practice of strategic foresight.

You can more about the Emerging Fellowship program and the inaugural class on the Emerging Fellows page. Please direct your questions to Terry Collins

Your comments are welcome, so long as they are courteous, brief, and on topic. 
<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 22 Sep 2014 3:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by: Alireza Hejazi, APF Emerging Fellow

    With so many free online courses that teach different kinds of studies and skills, including future-oriented topics, marketing a foresight course can be a big challenge for futurist instructors. Today MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have changed learning paradigms. As observed earlier by Barber et al. (2013, p. 52) three- or four-year, full-time degree courses are no longer standard. MOOCs provider Coursera, skill-educator General Assembly and others that develop people and provide cutting-edge  education, are stepping up to compete with various specific functions of a traditional university (p. 6). Fortunately, the competition is not so stormy in the foresight education market, but convincing people to attend a foresight course is still a challenging job. This blog post suggests five tips to empower your foresight course marketing strategy.

    1. Make it desirable

                Many people love to know about the future, but they don’t know what they need to learn. Even if they don’t attend a foresight course, they can remember the past, see the present, and predict the future immaturely. They normally fear disasters, but they cannot fully describe how future opportunities and crises unfold. They usually wonder by informing of alternative futures, but they cannot imagine differences easily. They admire their past successes, but they don’t know how to achieve their future goals. In fact, they want to do something about their future, but they don’t know how to create desired changes. As a futurist instructor, all you need to do is highlight the learners’ needs. Many teachers like to talk about their teaching experience to encourage an applicant to become a student. Today, this cannot work in new emerging education markets. You have no chance to compete with new opportunities of self-learning. Instead, a futurist teacher should listen to the learner when he or she is talking about his or her real learning needs. Then the foresight course can be tailored according to those needs.

    2. Make it practical

    People love to learn something that could change their future for good and better. They seek real value in a course, and if they find it, they will pay for it willingly. However, a futurist instructor should avoid claiming to deliver everything in a single course. More importantly, a foresight course should provide suggestions that could be matched with the learner’s relevant sector (STEEPV). Foresight is the knowledge of action. If the students just find theoretical discussions in a foresight course that can be also found in futures books and articles, they will surely doubt about the practical aspect of the course. If they claim their paid tuition, the instructor should not be surprised very much; because they have found an empty box. Yes, content is the king, but more importantly practicing is the queen. Many students can buy foresight books and e-books or download futures articles and read them by themselves. It is the art of a well-educated futurist instructor who can turn that content into real value by showing the students how they put their lessons into practice and experience doing foresight projects little by little.

    3. Make it unique

                Now that you are reading this post, there are many formal and informal foresight courses that are taught at academic and business levels around the world. They embrace a range of degree-based to certificate courses being run in face to face style at universities and colleges or by online methods and different kinds of LMSs (Learning Management Systems). An overview of these courses shows that they are normally shaped around core teaching ideas such as thinking in systems, scanning and monitoring, strategic planning, scenario building and other foresight methods. In my view, up to 80% of topics and contents covered in these courses are the same or so similar, but there might be 20% of difference in assigned tasks and activities. A successful marketing strategy should address this question: What is in this foresight course that differentiates it from similar courses? In other words: What is the competitive benefit of this course for the attendants? That uniqueness of a foresight course could reflect in its content, affordability, method of delivery, assigned tasks and activities and other factors, but in my view it is the practical value of a course that makes it different. If the graduates find themselves at a higher professional or practical standing point after graduation, they can be hopeful and happy that their paid money, time and energy are not spent in vain. Their real gains make your course unique.

    4. Make it self-expressive

                A well-known Persian proverb says: “Good flowers smell by themselves, not by the flower girl’s praise.” If the course is outlined skillfully it can talk by itself to the audience. Futurists usually need to describe futuristic terms and concepts for their audience, because they are generally less known to people. If that description is going to be extended to the content and syllabus of the course, it shows that the course information is not self-expressive. Catalogues and brochures that are published and distributed in paper or online formats should be designed in a manner so everything could be understood easily by potential applicants. Usually, these items should appear on a simple course brochure: a brief description, learning objectives, outline, gains, value, badges and recognitions, requirements, and registration process. If you are running your course in a country that is hit by austerity measures, you can negotiate the tuition with applicants to make it as affordable as possible. If the applicant asks more about the content and things that he or she will learn from your course, you should review the first five mentioned items on your course brochure to make it more self-expressive. Getting testimonials from past learners and reflecting them through different channels is also a suggestion that you might like to think about.

    5. Make it purposeful

                Out of thousands of e-mails or newsletters you may send to the receivers you have on your mailing list or calling to your past, current, and perhaps future clients, or advertising conventionally in different media; you may only receive a few applications from individuals who might be seriously interested in attending your foresight course. If you are going to execute a serious and profitmaking marketing plan, you have to change these conventional methods for better strategies. An effective way in absorbing more students is to negotiate with persons who are in charge of education in companies and organizations. These are persons whose endorsement of your course makes a huge difference. If you convince them that your foresight course will improve the way in which company members do their tasks, that person’s personal support will make groups of students for you, even periodically. You can use your connections to get potential customers’ attention and sell them an educational service that will improve their current and future activities. CEOs (Chief Education Officers) are the best persons you can talk to in many organizations. They can be your good friends and trusted business partners.

                These five simple tips are just a number of many points that you would likely consider in making an effective marketing plan for your foresight course. If you need additional information and guidelines to shape a cutting-edge marketing strategy and advance your educational foresight campaign in more innovative ways, I will be glad to share more professional secrets with you.  



    Barber, M., Donnelly, K., & Rizvi, S. (2013). An avalanche is coming: higher education and the revolution ahead. London: IPPR.


    About the author

    Alireza Hejazi is a PhD candidate in Organizational Leadership at Regent University and a member of APF Emerging Fellows. His works are available at:


  • 15 Sep 2014 12:42 PM | Daniel Bonin (Administrator)

    As Jason pointed out in his latest blog posts (e.g. An Archetype for Future(s) Clients?), a great deal might be learned of how clients perceive Future Studies and the Futurist Profession. Analysing the differences in understanding of laypeople and futurists might be helpful as well. Differences between laypeople and expert opinions and perceptions regarding complex domains like climate change, the labor market, growth, and redistribution policies and risk are well documented (see e.g. Bostrom et al., 1994; Enste, Haferkamp and Fetchenhauer, 2009; Slovic, 1987). Interdisciplinary research tries to explain these differences by how expert and laypeople form their own theories.

    Lay Theories and Experts

    Laypeople are willing to make judgments about causation concepts they do not understand, even though they admitted to lack the necessary knowledge (Leiser and Aroch, 2009). They develop simplified lay theories of the world that serve as an orientation for their actions and allow them to understand everyday live and complex interrelationships. Research indicates that laypeople form their understandings based on everyday experience, media coverage, and social interaction and that they judge by fairness, ideas of value or morality. Their causation is often limited in such a way that they cluster variables into groups, within which increases in “ingroup” variables go hand in hand with increases in other “ingroup” variables and decreases in “outgroup” variables – the good-begets-good heuristic (Leiser and Aroch, 2009). Generally speaking, laypeople are rather occupied with answers to the questions of why something is happening to them and/or their social group and why now (Popay, n.d.). Experts, on the other hand, have access to specialist knowledge, can spend more time in their field and tend to be less prone to cognitive biases (or prone to different ones) and judge based on efficiency goals and scientific models. Experts are concerned with the question of causality and explanations for phenomena and problems.

    However, both groups develop so called mental models – simplified representations of their understanding of how the world, or certain aspects thereof, function (See Norman (1983) for a comprehensive definition). Or as Norman (1983: p 7) puts it “Mental models are naturally evolving models. That is, through interaction with a target system, people formulate mental models of that system. These models need not be technically accurate (and usually are not), but they must be functional.” Research already tries to elicit expert’s and laypeople’s mental models to improve policy making, team work and product design as well as communication, especially in the domain of risks. Furthermore mental models are part of Causal Layered Analysis and System Dynamics.

    What Do Lay Theories and Mental Models Got to Do with Future Studies?

    Treating the futurist as an expert and his client or the public as the layperson, there might be implications for Future Studies. Before I conclude with implications, I would like to point out a procedure proposed by a paper of the OECD (2004; based on the work of Bostrom et al. (1992)) revealing differences in mental models between two groups that I slightly adapted to fit to a Future Studies context.

    Implications for Future Studies

    Firstly, elicitation of mental models could help to better understand clients and improve communication.

    • Identifiying gaps and similarities in the mental models of the futurist in charge and his client can ensure clearer communication and also increase efficiency of the futurist’s work. 

    • As stated in the beginning, laypeople tend to ask “why me” and “why now” questions, while experts are concerned with causation and explanations. So involving laypeople and incorporating and understanding laypeople’s perceptions can enrich future work to another level.

    Secondly, research insights into mental models and lay theories might serve as a selling point for Future Studies.

    • “Future-History-Gap”: A paper of Sevón (1984) finds that subject’s (Caution: Only 3 subjects: banker, manager and politician) mental models of factors such as future unemployment or inflation are less sophisticated and consist of less impact and effect chains than mental models of historic unemployment or inflation.
    Cognitive map of explanation of rates of unemployment in 1965-77Cognitive map of explanation of the future rates of unemployment (Click to enlarge: "Mental Map: Historic Unemployment vs. Future Unemployment"
    • On a side note, Sevón also finds that the participant’s overall understanding of future inflation is represented mostly by elements that lower future inflation; thus, lower future inflation is subliminally anticipated – think about self-fulfilling prophecies.
    • Another selling point might be derived from work of Chermack (2003) and Glick et al. (2012). They argue that scenario planning can be used as a tool to improve and reconcile mental models.

    Thirdly, take forward the discussion within the futurist community about a common ground regarding definitions in the field of Future Studies and the professionalization of Future Studies.

    Fourthly,identify a possible gap between the perception of the futurist profession in the public/ media and the self-perception of futurists. As in risk communication, differences in understanding of laypeople and futurists might be used to clarify the profession of futurists.

    The important point to recognize is that, regardless of whether or not something can be proven scientifically - “If a person believes that the lines in his palm foretell his future, this belief must be taken account in explaining certain of his expectations and actions” (Heider, 1958: 5). And challenging and refuting mental models can be a difficult task. There are theories like the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance which assumes that people have an urge to create a consistency with their beliefs when their preferred self-picture and/or the picture of the world is challenged (Festinger, 1962). This is achieved by altering beliefs or pursing actions in favor of their preferred (inadequate or incorrect) beliefs. Thus, especially for controversial topics like health care policies, questions of ethics or climate change, people might be not willing to accept scientifically validated knowledge (there are cases of benzene workers stating that the chemicals they are working with are not hazardous; as cited in Akerlof and Dickens, 1982).


    Akerlof, G. A., & Dickens, W. T. (1982). The economic consequences of cognitive dissonance. The American Economic Review, 307-319.

    Bostrom, A., Morgan, M. G., Fischhoff, B., & Read, D. (1994). What do people know about global climate change? 1. Mental models. Risk Analysis, 14(6), 959-970.

    Bostrom, A., Fischhoff, B., & Morgan, M. G. (1992). Characterizing mental models of hazardous processes: A methodology and an application to radon. Journal of Social Issues, 48(4), 85-100.

    Chermack, Thomas J. (2003). The role of scenarios in altering mental models and building organizational knowledge. Futures Research Quarterly, Spring, 25-41.

    Enste, D. H., Haferkamp, A., & Fetchenhauer, D. (2009). Unterschiede im Denken zwischen Ökonomen und Laien–Erklärungsansätze zur Verbesserung der wirtschaftspolitischen Beratung. Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, 10(1), 60-78.

    Festinger, L. (1962). A theory of cognitive dissonance (Vol. 2). Stanford university press.

    Glick, M. B., Chermack, T. J., Luckel, H., & Gauck, B. Q. (2012). Effects of scenario planning on participant mental models. European Journal of Training and Development, 36(5), 488-507.

    Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations.

    Leiser, D., & Aroch, R. (2009). Lay Understanding of Macroeconomic Causation: The Good Begets Good Heuristic. Applied Psychology, 58(3), 370-384.

    Norman, D. A. (1983). Some observations on mental models. Mental models, 1.

    Popay, J. (n.d.). The contribution of lay knowledge to reducing health inequalities. Retrieved from:

    OECD (2004). The Mental Models Approach to Risk Research – an RWM Perspective. Secretariat Paper.

    Sevón, G. (1984). Cognitive maps of past and future economic events. Acta Psychologica, 56(1), 71-79.

    Slovic, P. (1987). Perception of risk. Science, 236(4799), 280-285.

  • 08 Sep 2014 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Jason Swanson, APF Emerging Fellow.

    Photo by opendemocracy CC by 2.0

    Photo by openDemocracy CC by 2.0

    In my last post (found here) I touched on the idea of a market research report that would look at the Futures field. The idea would be to use quantitative research to get an idea of sentiment and knowledge base from the client perspective.  The survey could potentially look at such things as how do clients and potential clients define Futurists? What skills are they seeking? What qualifications are they looking for?

    As we begin the process of framing out what such a survey might look like, there has been some great dialogue around what some of goals of this undertaking might be, beyond simply measuring sentiment and knowledge base. One of the questions that has been raised is if the survey were to run, given the correct questions and sample, from the data gathered would it be possible to see if there were any common traits that would make a person or a company more or less likely to hire futurists?

    While the idea of seeing a pattern or correlation in the survey data as to who might be likely to hire Futurist is certainly a possibility, the question gave me pause for reflection.  I began to wonder what else might be out there that might reveal some of those traits? One tool might be Philip Zimbardo’s work on the psychology of time.

     In Zimbardo’s work on the psychology of time he identified 5 time perspectives, or attitudes towards time. Those 5 time perspectives are:

    1. The ‘past-negative’ type. Someone who focuses on negative personal experiences that still have the power to upset them. This can lead to feelings of bitterness and regret. People with this time perspective are focused on a difficult past.
    2. The ‘past-positive’ type. A person who takes a nostalgic view of the past. This person usually takes a cautious, “better safe than sorry” approach, and yearns for the “good old days”.
    3. The ‘present-hedonistic’ type. These people are dominated by pleasure-seeking impulses, and are reluctant to postpone feeling good for the sake of greater gain later.  People with this time perspective want to live in the moment
    4. The ‘present-fatalistic’ type. Those with this time perspective aren’t enjoying the present but feel trapped in it, unable to change the inevitability of the future.
    5. The ‘future-focused’ type.  Are highly ambitious, focused on goals, and big on making ‘to do’ lists.


    Futurist Todd Gentzel gave a brilliant presentation in 2013 at the University of Houston Futures Gathering around the very topic of Zimbardo’s work. Gentzel’s presentation, “Psychology and the Field of the Future” highlighted how Gentzel uses Zimbardo’s time perspectives as a framework, with an added sixth perspective: Future Transcendental – those that look beyond this life.

    Photo by Strep72 CC by 2.0

    In the case of Gentzel’s presentation, he used this framework to look at the future of cities, highlighting particular time perspectives that each city might fit into, and how each time perspective correlated with that city’s methods (or lack thereof) for planning for the future.

    Back to the original question; what other tools might there be to help determine what traits a person or company might have to make them more likely to hire Futurists? Or perhaps a better way to frame the question might be; is there an archetype in terms of a person or company that hires Futurists?

    Zimbardo’s time perspectives might hold an answer. If Zimbardo’s work shows the time perspective for the individual, and Gentzel has used his framework for mapping time perspectives to cities in relation to how they approach the future, then it stands to reason that time perspectives could be assigned to companies; the trick being to understand which time perspective correlates to the companies most willing to hire. Just because a company falls under the “Future Focused” perspective doesn't mean they will want, or need, the services a futurist can provide. If nothing else, time perspectives may offer a tool to frame the conversations we might have with our stakeholders.


    Zimbardo, Philip and John Boyd, The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time that Will Change your Life (New York: Free Press, 2008).

  • 26 Aug 2014 9:39 AM | Sandra Geitz (Administrator)


    Our web of ten desires that drive us, Hugh Mackay (2010)

    Scanning recent headlines reveals deepening global conflicts: What China wants?, Lessons of Ferguson, Ukraine's rebel war, Israel loses support pummelling Gaza, as well as locally in Australia: Catholic Church failed to act: Royal Commission, Treasurer claims poor people drive less, and Tax rise threats from stalled Budget.

    What is happening? What do such stories reveal to us socially? 

    What are future implications?

    These shifting debates recalled the extensive Australian social research of Hugh Mackay (2010), published as ”What makes us tick:? The ten desires that drive us”. He studies our social drives and depicts ten desires as an intertwined web which shapes our identity, beyond basic survival needs of food, water and shelter. Each of them overlap the others in competition to drive us socially, rather than purely rationally, as often we are unaware of them. The balance shifts over time and from experiences and interactions with others. Mackay explained each desire as neither inherently good nor bad. Unrestrained or excessive in particular desire(s) can lead to issues. More critically, he observed that unfulfilled or repressed desires may drive deep emotional frustrations in either individuals, groups or nations. This shadow of unfilled desire in ourselves can lead us to want desires to be frustrated in others as well. It explains Mackay’s research that a desire to be taken seriously has greatest impact.

    The desire to be taken seriously is the desire to be acknowledged as unique individuals, beyond a categories. It is the desire to be heard, understood and remembered. When it is frustrated, it leads to disappointment or anger. And, it can be seen as the ultimate insult to be ignored or dismissed, leading to feelings of rage, hurt or anger, from those experiencing racism, tribalism or sexism, for example. Who is silenced? How may surpressed feelings emerge or erupt in the future? Alternate responses to not being taken seriously is over-compensation with vanity, arrogance, hubris or narcissism. How may our futures be influenced taking others seriously? Deep listening can engage others, in order that they engage and accept us in turn. Listening as a critical choice...

    The desire for “my place” can be where one lives, feels at home, one’s history or smaller, temporary spaces or routines. Threats and other fears can lead to territorialism or becoming obsessed with security. How can comfort and security of place influence future choice? Noticing or attending to place, can open and enable options.

    The desire for something to believe in encompasses religions, atheism, tribalism, even awareness movements. Beliefs need reinforcement to endure. Fundamentalism arises and is strengthened if our beliefs are under attack, How may futures be driven by beliefs? Through listening and engaging, or deeply held debating or attacking?

    The desire to connect can be to know thyself. Or about connecting with each other, connecting online, or connecting with nature, meditation or mindfulness. Connections promote freedom and expression. And, if the desire to connect is repressed, our desires for control or to be taken seriously may expand to fill the void... How does being connected or being isolated affect our future potentials?

    The desire to be useful can be altruistic, making contributions towards a better world, being helpful, contributing, doing meaningful work. Taken to its extreme, being useful can be perceived as knowing better than others themselves. How may our futures be realised, if we know what is best for you?

    The desire to belong identifies us with our herd of 7-8 close friends. Or to larger, noisier, more public tribes linked by sport, religion, language, consumption. Our desire to belong may drive mindless compliance and conformity. Which herd or tribe drives our future choices?

    The desire for more is often the shadow of other blocked desires. More leads us to seek stimulations, comforts, distractions, addictions, eating/ drinking, hunger for money, more spending and indulgence. How may futures of less be realised, when they emotionally, rather than rationally, driven?

    The desire for control is the desire most likely to frustrate and disappoint with the illusion of control. We can become anxious lacking control, over-controlling others, excessive in survelliance or abusing our power. Or we may narrow our control, over-controlling ourselves in perfectionism. What if we see further Future Shock?

    The desire for something to happen is our need for excitement, action, realising dreams, challenges or change. We are what we do! Is online activity sufficient? We both are pulled towards and push away from change in life. How do encourage or thwart future actions?

    The desire for love involves many kinds of love: romantic, erotic, divine, companionship, unconditional love, faith, acceptance, and intimacy. And in frustration, lacking love we feel cold, empty,angry or even introspective. How does love influence options for our future? Building trust, being consistent, supportive opens potential.

    So readily it explains events and behaviours with the benefit of hindsight, our complex web drives and surprises… can we notice and listen?

    Rebalanced desires from those unfulfilled?


    Mackay H. 2010, What makes us tick? The ten desires that drive us, Hachete Australia, Sydney.

  • 18 Aug 2014 9:19 AM | Bridgette Engeler Newbury (Administrator)

    I am about to travel overseas again. What that has to do with strategic foresight is a whole other topic for another time. I am not going to be away from Australia for long but I will be hearing, seeing and listening to views from around the world, noticing differing perspectives.

    I am now reflecting on circumstances around the world and how much damage people, technology and individual (as well as shared) desire can cause. I’m thinking about power, including the power of natural forces – water, weather, land, disease – and wondering which of these kinds of events, caused by human or natural behaviour or our (ab)use of it, will increase over time. No matter which, I expect the economic, geopolitical and human effects will be huge. I am also hearing angst, anger, unrest, dissatisfaction, disappointment, dissent and unease around me. Yes, there’s other stuff in there as well, more positive and hopeful.  Dissent reminds me that there is stuff to explore, share and shape. But the question being asked about the more dystopian topics isn't ‘What can we do about it?’, rather, it’s mostly ‘How did this happen?’. The question isn't being asked of anyone in particular, perhaps least of all the self, the individual wanting to know how ‘this’ happened.

    I am assuming that we can create our futures based on the choices we make in the present. So something about taking responsibility for our actions, choices and consequences as individuals, as well as part of a collective, seems to be missing. Not everyone spends time – or lays claim to the time – examining our assumptions, identifying patterns, analysing deeper dynamics in ourselves, and acknowledging our role in the present as much as our participation in different futures.

    I am not suggesting it’s a required behaviour of everyone or a marketable activity for professional futurists, just a worthwhile thing to do from time to time. I am also not suggesting that dystopian images of the future are all we've got. They’re not. But ridiculous ideas and images of the future and planetary emergencies remind me that action is still necessary and possible at the individual level in order to influence the collective. And so in there too is hope. 

  • 11 Aug 2014 6:26 AM | Julian Valkieser (Administrator)

    In the following article I would like to connect to the ProFutures Blogpost "Emerging futures practice" by Sandra Geitz, Nov. 2013. In this article Sandra describes three essential roles of Futurists: Translator, Transformer and Transitioner. I want to pick up and modify primarily one of these roles in a comment. For me, the Intrapreneur, acting on behalf of Sandra as a form of Translator, occupies an important future role for the futurist’s business. 

    Bet on your own statement

    Of course, I'm a young fellow. I've been in this business without any reputation yet. And this is exactly what I can exploit. I have nothing to lose, so I can make a bet on my reputation without much fear of loss in the future. In other words I will invest in myself like an entrepreneurial action. Therefore, the following comment: 

    Companies from the mechanical engineering industry are afraid of automation. Google is afraid of social impacts. Facebook is afraid of the younger generation. However, these companies have something in common: The entrepreneurial spirit. They invest in the future with a certain risk. 

    You can see this in contrast to the service industry. These businesses have theoretically no business risk. They do not have millions for research. No major construction projects or machinery. They have know-how and methods. They respond rather to the environment than to a drive forward. And that's also why it takes little entrepreneurial risk. This is what I see in comments: “On Twitter every second someone calls himself a Futurist.” I don’t want to unmask the author of this sentence. So I proceed to my own ones:

    It won’t take a long time to scan the environment of third parties if you don’t do this on your own. Every futurist may be using a bunch of methods, of course professional ones. They invest their reputation in some cases. But they do not bet or make a higher business risk to the foresight by a method, so this is just as credible as the prediction of a charlatan – verbalized pointedly. In order not to lose its credibility to the huge mass of self-proclaimed futurists the foresight industry must dare a next step, become an entrepreneur.


    Why do I go out on a limb? Results from foresight projects have to bring benefit. And here it could fail at the weakest link: the transfer to the operating business. Even though this often represents only a part of the target, for example that the results often should mainly serve as an awareness of stakeholders around an issue. Specific actionable projects should be a weighty objective of corporate foresight teams as well, making the direct benefit of the department or the project not called into question. A German researcher, Kathrin Koepernik, 2009, presents the following Insights: 

    "Results are often not translated into action; several interviewee referred this lack of acceptance as the ‘not-invented-here’ phenomenon. [...] If possible, the ‘affected’ should be involved in the research process as early as possible, so research results could be acknowledged as their own ideas. [...] Finally, corporate foresight should form a ‘frontier’ and adopt a process-supporting function on the way to new products or business models." (Koepernik, 2009)

    To keep up with the ‘not-invented-here’-phenomenon Daniel Bonin already indicated the term of ‘Availability Heuristic’ by Kahneman and Tversky in his ProFutures Blogpost “What Does Behavioural Economics Got to Do with Future Studies?”. Kahneman et al. go beyond the Availability Heuristic, “According to this heuristic, people put more weight on information that is easier recalled”, and names another cognitive bias: the loss aversion or the ‘Endowment Effect’ (Kahneman et al., 1991). Regarding to this effect people are more willing to maintain the status quo, as something new to receive, even though the alternative may have a higher value. 


    So it is easy for corporate foresight projects to dump insights over the fence and let the neighbors do the next steps, but this is not sufficient. To solidify this thesis, in my next Blogpost I will refer to the results of Zhu et al., 2014., presented at The XXV ISPIM Conference. They looked for characters of stakeholders in a business idea competition and could make statements to four different stakeholders: Follower, Creative Innovator, Proactive Promoter and Intrapreneur.


    Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J. L., Thaler, R. H. (1991): Experimental Test of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem. In: Journal of Political Economy. Bd. 98, Nr. 6, P. 1325–1348

    Koepernik, K. (2009): Corporate Foresight als Erfolgsfaktor für marktorientierte Unternehmen

    Zhu et al. (2014): Innovative behavior types and their influence on individual crowdsourcing performances

    About the author:

    Julian Valkieser finalized his study with the thesis on "evaluation criteria for innovation projects in the early stages". Parallel to this, his last engagement was in the Corporate Foresight Department of Evonik Industries AG.

  • 04 Aug 2014 3:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by: Alireza Hejazi, APF Emerging Fellow

    Talking to a futurist friend about the challenges and developments made in foresight in recent years--as far as they are possibly related to the impacts of social networks, we could narrow down our discussion to four specific questions: “What opportunities can social networks create for foresight? What new approaches do these media provide for engaging professionals in creating and exploring alternative images of the future? How do social network-based groups challenge traditional approaches of futuring? And how can they boost social engagement in the futures discourse?” This post is a revised report of that friendly chat that communicates some probable images of coming futures.

    1. What opportunities can social networks create for foresight?

    First of all, we need to remember that the evolution of Information Technology (IT) and social networks are so speedy that Nancy Murphy wisely asks: “Facebook and LinkedIn are networks of your past. Twitter is in your present. What are the trust networks of your future?” The emergence of professional groups, especially futurist ones as are found these days in LinkedIn, Yahoo and Google has changed the nature of knowledge and information sharing. Similarly, the future of foresight is and will be affected positively by social networks.

    Social networks not only create interpersonal and intergroup connections and exchanges, but also shape what I call “social collective knowledge,” a supplement to what we would likely find in conventional books and e-books or at universities and colleges. Our dear colleague Maree Conway recently published a series of posts in 6 parts in LinkedIn titled “Doing Environmental Scanning” worthy of full study. Her well-researched posts accompanied by insightful comments by some futurist friends created a perfect example of social collective knowledge on foresight, specifically environmental scanning. If she wanted to publish those posts through a conventional peer reviewed process, she would have had to wait at least 6 months to finish the job, but thanks to LinkedIn and her hard work this became possible within a few weeks.

    Social media provide monitoring tools and measures which enable us to have a better view of our behavior and accomplishments in future-oriented social networks by tracking our activities. Additionally, online tools like Social Impact Tracker Online help demonstrate our social value. It is a secure, web-based database application that allows us to capture and report our outputs, outcomes and our social impact.

    2. What new approaches do these media provide for engaging professionals in creating and exploring alternative images of the future?

    This question was raised when my friend asked me why I had redirected my website URL to my page at I replied to him by asking this question: “Why should I waste my money for renting some space to host my files and sacrifice my valuable time to tasks like website design and development, while Academia provides all of them free of charge for me?” I added: “Academia connects me to a wide range of professionals who love the same topics of foresight and futures that I do. They follow my works and I follow theirs. I have the same experience but much bigger at LinkedIn.” He said: “Well, I think you’re right.” Could you really think of such a new approach of sharing research just 10 years ago?

    In addition to reducing website maintenance costs and saving time and energy, social networks like Academia or LinkedIn offer opportunities you can rarely find in an individual website. They connect you to more than thousands of experts who update you with the latest news and information about their research activities, say in our foresight field. While you have to wait 1 or 2 months to receive an issue of a future-oriented publication (even as a PDF file) or a week to find your e-newsletter in your e-mail box (as an HTML page), social networks keep you up to date 24/7.

    Official websites and blogs might be good for companies who would like to update their clients with the latest organizational developments or announce job openings, but they are not so fit for our quick changing time. Even the nature of updating is changed. Today many companies find their Facebook or Twitter pages more useful than their official websites. In fact, official websites are losing their past efficiency and companies are looking for newer social networks before moving their websites and blogs to digital museums. I’m afraid that you may read my posts in APF’s social network instead of its official website next year!

    3. How do social network-based groups challenge traditional approaches of futuring?

    You are reading this post while I’m in a many-thousand-kilometer distance from where you’re sitting. Today, foresight is done differently from what perceived many years ago, because technology allows foresight practitioners to work from any part in the world without being physically present in an office. Employees have learned to work well together without much, if any, face-to-face interaction. That virtual cooperation will shape the future of futuring in broader ways. New shapes of teleworking will make futuring easier than ever. Online gadgets will hunt weak signals and valuable futurist content and will make an editor’s e-newsletter within seconds while he is sleeping. In the morning, he has just to opt in or out his likes and dislikes before sending his e-newsletter to multi thousands of subscribers. Weekly e-newsletters will give their place to daily ones. 

    In the coming future, a number of foresight projects will be likely distributed among professional network-based groups normally found in LinkedIn and similar networks. Many experts will join them to play a part in advancing global future-oriented initiatives. However, making the best use of that capacity requires developing innovative ideas, well-developed strategies and precise control to yield desired outcomes.

    When foresight practitioners find a possibility for professional development by doing assigned tasks in socially developed foresight projects, they will join them voluntary without any expectation for getting paid. They do this because they see a chance of personal growth in doing such activities. This may sound more sensible for young futurists or those who love to do what they love. Of course, much work is needed to develop sufficient trust to permit greater collaboration of volunteers in global foresight projects.

    Conventional approaches of futuring like visioning, scenario planning or Delphi will also require improvement or at least some tweaks on the other hand. They will need to coordinate with the advancement of IT and the evolution of social networks, just like what happened about Delphi method evolving it to in Real-time Delphi (RTD) a few years ago.

    4. How can social networks boost engagement in the futures discourse?

    Down the road, all these developments will boost social engagement in the futures discourse. Many will get to know more about foresight and futures by joining online professional groups. They will find more valuable information about how to use foresight in their work and study. When they find significant merits in applying foresight in their lives, they will not remain as fans of foresight, but will become self-motivated messengers of futurist values and this may improve the lives of many others, too. What matters most today isn’t what we can say about foresight–it’s what other people will say about it.

    Social networks can influence that conversation, but they can’t control it. As futurists, our actions today will shape a new normal in foresight discourse. To succeed in developing the new normal, futurists must use social and digital platforms to transform their foresight businesses. Their most important challenge is to create new interactive foresight experiences that could connect all players with what they produce and what they want to share online.

    Doing this we need futurists who know IT and its applications very well. The focus of any new initiate will be making programs work better in the future, especially in terms of professional development. Meanwhile, we need a review with our past efforts to see what didn’t work, and what lessons can be applied to better future efforts. All these require much work rather than words.

    About the author

    Alireza Hejazi is a PhD candidate in Organizational Leadership at Regent University and a member of APF Emerging Fellows. His works are available at:

  • 28 Jul 2014 7:10 AM | Daniel Bonin (Administrator)

    This is the first post in a series called “What Does Behavioral Economics Got to Do with Future Studies“, which will offer an overview on the lessons to be learned from behavioral economics. Today’s blog post intends to set the scene and outline the topics of my forthcoming blog posts.

    Behavioral Economics

    Behavioral economics can be described as a discipline that draws upon psychological, sociological, cultural and, now increasingly, neuroscientific research to explain actual human behavior. Standard economic theory, in contrast, assumes rationality of agents, an assumption that was already challenged in the 1950s by Herbert Simon’s theory of bounded rationality (Simon 1955). The concept of bounded rationality states that decision making is not entirely rational due to cognitive limitations.  In the subsequent years, economists, psychologists, sociologists and also statisticians – such as Tversky, Kahneman, Loewenstein, Camerer and Thaler – carried out research to understand the irrational side of judgment and decision making. There has been a great deal of research on what is called cognitive biases. While these blog posts will heavily draw upon research on cognitive biases, other subfields of behavioral economics will also be related to future studies.

    Cognitive Biases

    Cognitive biases can be briefly described as systematic deviations from what is assumed to be rational behavior. The root cause of such biases can be due to (a) flawed information processing (often referred to as heuristics), (b) emotional states and (c) social or environmental factors (Ramachandran, 2012). Research has identified an extensive catalogue of cognitive biases; the most famous among them, such as the availability heuristic, go back to the joint research of Kahneman and Tversky (e.g. Tversky and Kahneman, 1974). If you have ever wondered why you underestimate the contribution of your team members, remind yourself of the availability heuristic. According to this heuristic, people put more weight on information that is easier recalled – and your own contribution is most certainly more readily accessible to your brain.

    So, What Does Behavioral Economics Got to Do with Future Studies?

    Turning to this question, it can be said that both disciplines have one thing in common – they identify influencing factors to make predictions about possible future states.

    Potential Topics

    Behavioral economic insights not only provide interesting food for thought, but can also inform future studies and a futurist’s toolkit. This section presents some of the topics that will be covered in the upcoming blog posts. The questions raised in these blog posts might sound familiar to any futurist – what if?

    Presentation of Results

    • What if information processing models can inform the way content should be presented? Can futurists use certain techniques, font types or colors, to promote understanding and recall power? How to use anchors, framing and emotions to align the credibility of scenarios, stories, reports and the like to reflect, e.g., the intended mood or level of probability within a scenario?

    Big Data, Crowdsourcing and Open Innovation

    • What if bandwagon effects or self-selection effects matter? Would this call for a new concept such as the wisdom of the confident (De Polavieja and Madirolas, 2014)?

    Environmental Scanning, Trend Analysis, Technology Assessment, Scenario Planning and Expert Interviews

    • What if even experts are systematically prone to cognitive biases? Are there ways to avoid issues such as overconfidence, flawed probability-calculation, overestimation of technological progress or selective information-processing in favor of one’s own prejudiced view?

    Workshops and Creativity Techniques

    • What if factors like group thinking, social norms or striving for consistency between beliefs and actions suppress creativity and innovative solutions?

    Client-Futurist Relationship

    • What if experts and laypeople form their understanding of complex contexts differently and judge things based on different criteria?
    • What if sales psychology can be used in negotiations to sell a larger range of services to clients?

    Behavioral Economics as a Tool to Forecast Behavior, Attitudes, Emotions and Opinions

    • What if influencing factors such as biases, emotions, culture or social norms can be used to make predictions about human behavior ? Can forecasting tools based on behavioral economic-insights be developed? – e.g. risk perception of emerging technology and the desire for regulation (Slovic, Fischhoff and Lichtenstein, 1985; Slovic, 1987)


    De Polavieja, G., & Madirolas, G. (2014). Wisdom of the Confident: Using Social Interactions to Eliminate the Bias in Wisdom of the Crowds. arXiv preprint arXiv:1406.7578.

    Ramachandran, V. S. (2012). Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 1). Academic Press.

    Simon, H. A. (1955). A behavioral model of rational choice. The quarterly journal of economics, 99-118.

    Slovic, P. (1987). Perception of risk. Science, 236(4799), 280-285.

    Slovic, P., Fischhoff, B., & Lichtenstein, S. (1985). Characterizing perceived risk. Perilous progress: Managing the hazards of technology, 91-125.

    Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 185(4157), 1124-1131.

  • 23 Jul 2014 6:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Photo by unknown, The Tichnor Brothers Collection, CC By 4.0

    The Association of Professional Futurists held their annual Professional Development Seminar this past Friday, July 11th at Purple, Rock, Scissors in Orlando,Florida, and what a great seminar it was! A huge thank you goes out to the Pro Dev team - Jennifer Jarratt, Joe Tankersley, and Emily Empel, as well as a special mention to our “chief herder” Jim Breaux for putting together a truly amazing event.

    The theme for this year’s Pro Dev was “Engagement”, and our three speakers really did a wonderful job giving us a wide set of tools that we could use to better engage our clients.

    Mike Courtney working with some participants. Image courtesy of Josh Lindenger.

    Mike Courtney of Aperio Insights started the day with a great presentation on the subject of research engagement. Mike spoke on the use of quantitative research methods to better engage our clients. Mike walked the group through the do’s and don’ts of survey design, and how we can use these tools to really begin to understand what our clients may want from us, as well as being a great tool to add to our futures tool kits.

    Michael Parler of Purple, Rock, Scissors was up next. Michael presented to the group on the topic of digital engagement, and covered various digital marketing strategies that he and his firm use to engage clients. Michael took the group through strategies such as website layout and construction, social media use, and much more. It was enlightening for me to see which areas I was strong in, and which areas may need some work.

    Our hosts, Purple, Rock, Scissors. Image courtesy of Josh Lindenger.

    Our last speaker for the day was Trevor Haldenby from The Mission Business. Trevor spoke to the group about the idea of immersive engagement, and it was truly mind bending. Trevor and The Mission Business use what he described as a “transmedia” approach to creating worlds and simulations of the future that their clients experience.

    Trevor highlighted for us some of The Mission Business’s past projects, such as ByoLogyc and Shadowfall, both of which were massive, immersive simulations of the future.

    Trevor Haldenby presenting to the Pro Dev group. Image courtesy of Josh Lindenger.

    As I reflect on the day and everything that I learned, there were two subjects that came up during the course of Pro Dev that I intend to explore more as part of my tenure here as an Emerging Fellow. The first was the need for research, specifically market research into the foresight field. Part of Mike Courtney’s session involved breaking out in groups to create survey questions around whatever issue your group happened to choose. When each group shared their questions and the issue they were trying to research, a good number of participants designed questions around issues such as a client’s sentiment towards hiring futurists. It is a really interesting topic to explore more in-depth. We have a lot of great internal dialogue about professionalizing the field, but how is the field viewed from the client side? How do they define us? What skills are they looking for?

    The other subject was immersive engagement. What are we doing as a field to truly engage our clients? In what ways might we be immersing them now? In what ways will we immersive clients in the future?

    I hope you will join me in the coming months as I look deeper into these subjects!

  • 14 Jul 2014 8:52 AM | Sandra Geitz (Administrator)

    Causal layered analysis of three 2025 foresight client/customer clusters

    There has been considerable discussion on professionalism and the field foresight recently within the APF, and various approaches have been proposed to analyse and recommend proposals for action. For this blog post, I am seeding an initial view from Outside-the-field, as some have suggested, to describe potential future client or customer clusters in 2025. This is done to generate ideas and potential added futures competencies relevant to any shifting demographics, business and global trends in a ten year horizon. Many other APF members have contributed extensively to the topic of professionalisation, since founding and recently as part of the Professionalisation Task-force.

    CLA, or the causal layered analysis futures method, was chosen to look at three potential 2025 foresight client or customer clusters: the first cluster is Baby Boomers, now aged from 50 to 68 years, and in 2025 who will be 61 to 79 years old. Next is the Generation-X potential clients, who will be 44 to 60 years of age in 2025, and who are likely to have increasing influence on future global and business decisions. Finally, Millennials emerge as potential foresight clients towards 2025, as they will be 22 to 43 years of age. 

    Generational clusters were chosen due to available research into social, technological, economic, environmental and political (STEEP) factors, and also the ready availability of value systems research. From this CLA, future client scenarios and foresight responses may be assisted. This initial analysis tables only the broad view of external systems and value continuities facing the field.

    Headlines, in the first row, are widely discussed topics in daily news and social media of each cluster. Next, STEEP systemic data, that contributes to the headlines, is compared by each cluster. Then research into each cluster’s dominant values are tabled; these influence each of corresponding system views. The final row, summarises each clusters general story or beliefs.

    Data sources for a 2025 systems view, included the US-based Technology expert, Joichi Ito3  in a TED conference talk, and respected think-tanks for society, technology and the environment such as the Brookings Institute2,5 and Pew Research1

    Global perspectives of potential external trends impacting outside the US are shown in colour, e.g. data sourced from The Lowy Institute4,6, an Australian think-tank, intersects economics, geo-politics and society. The Brookings Institute article, Still ours to Lead, outlines the tension between America and other emerging powers in both competition and collaboration sot US political leadership is critical. Another, Does inequality make a country insecure? suggests that inequality impacts stability if combined with either flexible political institutions, or external shocks from resource prices, or global wealth mobility impacts. 

    The table illustrated is one seed, or thought-starter...

    What futures competencies in 2025 would be valued by Baby Boomer clients, potentially retiring?

    What foresight capabilities may Generation X leaders want most in 2025?

    Which foresight competencies may be relevant to Millennials emerging in 2025?

    Reference Notes

    1. Anderson J and Rainie L, 2014, Predicting the future on the Web’s 25th anniversary, Pew Research Internet Project, Pew Research Center, viewed 11July 2014,

    2. Winograd M and Hais M, 2014, How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America, The Brookings Institution, Paper, viewed 11July 2014,

    3. Ito, J 2014, Instead of futurists, let’s be now-ists: Joi Ito at TED2014, TED, TED blog, viewed 11July 2014,

    4. Hill M, 2014, Does inequality make a country less secure?,The Lowy Institute, viewed 11July 2014,

    5. Jones B, 2014, Still Ours to Lead: America, Rising Powers, and the Tension between Rivalry and Restraint, The Brookings Institution, Book, viewed 11July 2014,

    6. Thirwell M, 2009, The Spectre of Malthus: Lessons from the 2007-08 Food Crisis, The Lowy Institute, The International Economy blog, viewed 11July 2014,

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 

Copyright 2014 Association of Professional Futurists

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software