Chapter 3. Career Options - Great Ways to Be a Foresight Leader

1. Consultant

Marina Gorbis, Institute for the Future

Marina Gorbis,
Institute for the Future

[Examples: Scott Aughenbaugh (CSIS), Ulrik Blinkenberg (CIFS), Ian Bremmer (EG), Josh Calder (FA), Gerald Celente (TRI), Clay Christensen (Innosight), Christian Crews (AndSpace), Cornelia Daheim (ZPunkt), Hugues De Juevenel (Futuribles), Kaat Exterbille (SF&C), Banning Garrett (AC), Rob Gear (PA Consulting), Marina Gorbis (IFTF), Jennifer Jarratt (LF), Parag Khanna (NAF), Amory Lovins (RMI), John Mahaffie (LF), Pero Micic (FMG), Ted Modis (GD), Ruben Nelson (FC), Rafael Popper (FD), Tom Rath (Gallup), Gill Ringland (SAMI), Lee Shupp (TFC), Peter Singer (NAF), Dave Snowden (CE), Rohit Talwar (FF), Jaana Tapanainen (Zpunkt), Hardin Tibbs (SSC), Natasha Todorovic (NVC), John Vanston (TF), Heiko von der Gracht (ICE), John Watts (Noetic), Edie Wiener (WEB), Derek Woodgate (TFL), John Zogby (ZI)]

The consultant is the most widely recognized role of the futurist, at least in organizational environments. Most of the folks in organizations like the Association of Professional Futurists are consultants, as we would describe them. Consultants see themselves primarily as foresight service providers. They serve one or more clients, typically in a non-employee relationship, formally or informally. This semi-independence from their clients allows them a level of impartiality that, like creatives, can make them particularly effective at changing minds and actions, if they choose to be a force for change.

Consultants like to work as external or independent trainers, analysts, and advisors, either solo or in groups, consulting organizations or individuals. The largest number of these individuals have very simple consulting arrangements with the clients they serve. Any speaker who sees themselves as serving a client with their services is a consultant. The foresight consulting services they provide to organizations might be as simple as a talk, a workshop, a course, or as complex as change management, competitive intelligence, facilitating, forecasting, horizon scanning, idea generation, market research, planning, research, risk management, scenario development, strategy, training, trend analysis, visioning, or advising. Foresight consulting for individuals can also be quite broad and might include financial planning, wealth management, goal setting, life coaching, leadership development, or therapy.

While some futurists don’t recognize this point, the consulting role is typically primarily developmental (probable) foresight, and only secondarily evolutionary (creative, experimental) by its very nature, which is why we color it blue rather than green. Whether consultants are helping their clients to better manage uncertainty, projecting alternative futures (scenarios), think more creatively, or uncover probable futures, and whether they use qualitative or quantitative techniques, they seek to find and use reliably, objectively better foresight methods than their competition. In their role as social foresight experts they implicitly warrant and predict that their clients will better manage the future by using their services. This is a promise that creatives, when they offer it, would view as secondary to their creative work. Entrepreneurs may provide such a promise as well, but that promise is also secondary to their efforts to grow their business, whereas consultants and academics are ostensibly working, via their roles, primarily to advance the client’s interests or to advance objectively better social knowledge, respectively.

Consulting is the most visible job destination for professional futurists, with options ranging from top management consulting groups, which often don’t view themselves as doing foresight work, to boutique groups focused on specific industries and foresight methods, a number of which explicitly use foresight terms and a few of which actively intern and hire graduates of foresight education and certificate programs. See Appendix 2 for some starter lists of primary foresight consulting firms.

If you do foresight work as an independent consultant, you will face a particularly difficult set of challenges. How do you build trust with new clients, establish your value, and measure your ROI with our often abstract foresight work? How do you best sell into an often reluctant business market, and find your best clients? What is the right mix of free and paid products and services, for you? What price and fee structure, such as value-based pricing, will best grow your business? Fortunately, the consultancies listed in Appendix 2 have all developed their own answers to these and many other business questions. Many will share tips and give advice if you ask for it, and we include a little of that advice in Appendix 1.

There are also helpful organizations that will help you with these questions. The Institute of Management Consultants is one of the better-known professional organizations in this space. They offer three levels of certification for independent consultants, a great online training and support network, and a variety of in-person events and conferences, such as Grow! For consultants that develop their own software, TBK Consult offers a great biannual conference, and there are many other specialty communities for consultants. If you see yourself in this role, seek them out! If you hire others as your consulting work grows, you’ll may soon view yourself through a different foresight social role, the Entrepreneur, which we will consider shortly.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 2. Personal Foresight – Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 2: Personal Foresight

Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 4: Models

Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 7. Acceleration – Guiding Our Extraordinary Future

Chapter 7: Acceleration

Guiding Our Extraordinary Future (In Process)

II. Global Progress: 5 Goals, 10 Values, Many Trends

Innovation: Our Abundant Future
Intelligence: Our Augmented Future
Interdependence: Our Civil Future
Immunity: Our Protected Future
Sustainability: Our Rebalanced Future

III. Universal Accelerating Change

Great Race to Inner Space: Our Surprising Future
Entropy&Information: We’re Running Down & Up
The Puzzle of Meaning: We Have No Einstein Yet
Trees, Funnels & Landscapes: Intro to Evo Devo
Big Picture Change: Five Scales of Accelerating ED
Transcension Hypothesis: Where Acceleratn Ends?
IDABDAK: Social Response to Accel & Developmnt
We’re On a Runaway Train: Being Accelaware

IV. Evo Devo and Exponential Foresight

Seeing It All: Accel., Diverg, Adapt, Convrg, Decel.
Natural (I4S) Innovation: The Evolutionary Drive
Natural (I4S) Intelligence: The Human-AI Partnership
Natural (I4S) Morality: Why Empathy and Ethics Rule
Natural (I4S) Security: Strength from Disruption
Natural (I4S) Sustainability: The Developmental Drive
S-Curves: Managing the Four Constituencies
Pain to Gain: Traversing the Three Kuznets Phases
Hype to Reality: Beyond Hype Cycles to Reality Checks
Exponentials Database: Measuring Accelerations
TINA Trends: Societal Evolutionary Development
Managing Change: STEEPCOP Events, Probs, Ideas
A Great Shift: A Survival to a Sentient Economy

V. Evo Devo and Exponential Activism

Building Protopias: Five Goals of Social Progress
Normative Foresight: Ten Values of Society
Top & STEEPCOP Acceleratns: Positive & Negative
Dystopias, Risks, and Failure States
Three Levels of Activism: People, Tech & Universe
A Great Opportunity: Exponential Empowerment


Chapter 8. Your Digital Self – The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

Chapter 8: Your Digital Self

The Human Face of the Coming Singularity (In Process)

I. Your Personal AI (PAI): Your Digital Self

Digital Society: Data, Mediation, and Agents
Personal AIs: Advancing the Five Goals
PAI Innovation: Abundance and Diversity
PAI Intelligence: Bio-Inspired AI
PAI Morality: Selection and Groupnets
PAI Security: Safe Learning Agents
PAI Sustainability: Science and Balance
The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

II. PAI Protopias & Dystopias in 8 Domains

1. Personal Agents: News, Ent., Education
2. Social Agents: Relat. and Social Justice
3. Political Agents :  Activism & Represent.
4. Economic Agents:  Retail, Finance, Entrep
5. Builder Agents :  Work, Innov. & Science
6. Environ. Agents : Pop. and Sustainability
7. Health Agents :  Health, Wellness, Death
8. Security Agents :  Def., Crime, Corrections

III. PAI Activism & Exponential Empowerment

Next Government: PAIs, Groupnets, Democ.
Next Economy: Creat. Destr. & Basic Income
Next Society: PAI Ent., Mortality & Uploading
What Will Your PAI Contribution Be?

Chapter 10. Startup Ideas – Great Product & Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Chapter 10: Startup Ideas

Great Product and Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs (In Process)

I. 4U’s Idea Hub: Building Better Futures

Air Deliveries and Air Taxis: Finally Solving Urban Gridlock
Ballistic Shields and Gun Control: Protecting Us All from Lone Shooters
Bioinspiration Wiki: Biomimetics and Bio-Inspired Design
Brain Preservation Services: Memory and Mortality Redefined
Carcams: Document Thieves, Bad Driving, and Bad Behavior
Competition in Govt Services: Less Corruption, More Innovation
Computer Adaptive Education (CAE): Better Learning and Training
Conversational Deep Learning Devsuites: Millions of AI Coders
Digital Tables: Telepresence, Games, Entertainment & Education
Dynaships: Sustainable Low-Speed Cargo Shipping
Electromagnetic Suspension: Nausea-Free Working & Reading in Cars
Epigenetic Health Tests: Cellular Aging, Bad Diet, Body Abuse Feedback
Fireline Explosives and Ember Drones: Next-Gen Fire Control
Global English: Empowering the Next Generation of Global Youth
Greenbots: Drone Seeders and Robotic Waterers for Mass Regreening
High-Density Housing and Zoning: Making Our Cities Affordable Again
Highway Enclosures and Trail Networks: Green and Quiet Urban Space
Inflatable Packaging: Faster and Greener Shipping and Returns
Internet of Families: Connecting People Over Things
Kidcams: Next-Gen Security for Child Safety and Empowerment
Kidpods: Indoor & Outdoor Parent-Assistive Toyboxes
Microdesalination: Democratizing Sustainable Fresh Water Production
Noise Monitors: Documenting and Reducing Noise Pollution
Oceanside Baths: Sustainable Year Round Beach Enjoyment
Open Blood Scanners: DIY Citizen Health Care Sensor Tech
Open Streaming Radio: User-Centered Audio Creation and Rating
Open Streaming Video: User-Centered Video Creation and Rating
Open Values Filters: Social Rankers, Arg. Mappers, and Consensus Finders
Personal AIs: Your Private Advisor, Activist, and Interface to the World
Pet Empowerment: Next-Gen Rights and Abilities for Our Domestic Animals
Safe Closets: Fire-, Earthquake-, and Intruder-Proof Retreat Spaces
Safe Cars: Reducing Our Insane 1.3M Annual Auto Deaths Today
Safe Motorcycles: Lane Splitting in Gridlock Without Risk of Death
Shared Value Insurance: User-Centered Risk Reduction Services
Sleeperbuses and Microhotels: Demonetized Intercity Travel
Space-Based Solar Power: Stratellite Powering and Weather Management
Stratellites: Next-Gen Urban Broadband, Transparency, and Security
Touch DNA: Next-Gen Home Security and Crime Deterrence
View Towers: Improving Urban Walkability, Inspiration, and Community

Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight – Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Chapter 11: Evo Devo Foresight

Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Appendix 1. Peer Advice – Building a Successful Foresight Practice