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

3. Creative (Creator-Producer)

[Foresight Leader Examples, listed in alphabetic order by surname: Amara Angelica (KAIN), Felix Bopp (CoA), David Brin (SciFi/NonFic), Sergey Brin (Google X), Tim Brown (IDEO), Jessica Charlesworth, Brenda Cooper, Patrick Dixon, George Dvorsky (io9), Elina Hiltunen, Tom Kelly (IDEO), Ray Kurzweil (KurzTech), Gerd Leonhard, Alex Lightman, Tom and Jeanne Lombardo (CFC), John Naisbitt, Om Malik (GigaOm), Bruce Mau (MassiveChange), Ramez Naam (SciFi/NonFic), Ian Pearson, Faith Popcorn, Douglas Rushkoff, Heather Schlegel, Gray Scott, Jason Silva, Cecily Sommers, Bruce Sterling, Don Tapscott, Astro Teller (Google X), Jack Ulldrich, Natasha Vita-More (H+), Vivek Wadhwa (Sing U), Fareed Zakaria (CNN), Andrew Zolli (PopTech)]

Tom Kelly, IDEO

Tom Kelly, IDEO

The creative is perhaps the second most common organizational conception of the foresight professional, but possibly the most common social conception of the futurist: someone individually driven to imagine, find, describe, design, invent, curate, or produce promising new products, services, events, projects, behaviors, or ideas. Folks who get most of their income from speaking or writing creatively about the future, curating ideas, or designing new things, and who see themselves as creators first and other roles second would self-describe as members of this group.

Some express their creativity as designers of new products, services, events, or projects. Some are curators (creative arrangers) of others insights or primarily creators of their own work. Others act as producers of formal talks, print and other media or events. One rising example of a creative is the new media futurist, someone who uses emerging digital media tools and platforms to design, curate and produce content on the promise and issues of the future, either broadly or around specific issues they care about.

Creatives may or may not lead creative teams or organizations, or do community building. When they do, curation or creation remains the strongest self-identified drive for the individual in this role. When any of their creations or curations become market successes, creatives are also innovators. Many innovators, and most team leaders striving for market success from an innovation will prefer to self describe as Entrepreneurs, the fourth major social foresight role, to be discussed next. Creative team leaders that see their primary responsibility not as creation, but as managing an organization toward a preferred future are often better classed as Organizational Foresighters, also to be discussed shortly.

Examples of curators and creators include many idea generators, public speakers, writers, editors, event producers, artists, experimenters, coders, builders, designers, and inventors. They collect, arrange, and create fascinating and potentially useful new ideas and things, and this creation is usually an even stronger motivator than financial or commercial success.

Innovators are creatives whose products or services have achieved some degree of adoption success, either in an economic market or in a community or institution. Innovators tend to be more commercially or more adoption oriented than other creatives, and many are media producers, software and game developers, engineers, R&D staff, applied scientists, and product and service developers, or policy innovators in government or nonprofit sectors.

Creatives may fly solo, as with many foresight speakers, or be in a staff or consulting rather than management or market-facing roles within an organization. If they do run an enterprise or manage, they see this as secondary to their creative or curation role.

Groups helpful to foresight speakers, who view themselves most commonly as either consultants or creatives (as well as the other three social roles in lesser percentages) include the National Speakers Association (business development) and the Clarity Media Group (presentation training). There are also many groups that support other creatives, depending on your skill and interest (writing, media, design, events, activism, etc.).

Those that value their enterprise or management roles above their creative roles are better classified as entrepreneurs, consultants, or organizational foresight leaders first, and as creatives second. Many independent foresight speakers and authors see themselves as creatives or curators first, and as entrepreneurs or consultants second, especially if they have few to no employees. Many marketing and branding foresight professionals see themselves as creatives first, and as organizational foresight leaders second, even if they work in large organizations. In fast-changing technical fields, product and service R&D leaders may self-identify as creators, innovators, or entrepreneurs first, and as organizational foresighters second. Our social roles are best defined by asking social perception questions of ourselves, our colleagues, clients, and the general public.

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