You may imagine futurists to be like fortune-tellers, being able to foresee future scenarios accurately and predict every step and every action coming their way, like those portrayed in movies and TV shows. However, futures thinking is not 100% about predictions, it is not about foreseeing every outcome and getting them right. Instead, futures thinking is about presenting plausible alternatives in a way that helps people take actions now.
So what are the 3 steps to become a futurist leader?
- Focus on plausible scenarios
We can divide the future into 4 categories: Probable, Plausible, Preferable and Possible. The probable future has already been taken care of by traditional business plans, which take into account projections made based on past data. The possible future is simply too wide, with scenarios that may be too simple or too far out of the imaginations of people in your organization. The preferable future is where the outcomes are preferred, where your organization is hoping and ready to accept. The plausible future, however, is where you can add the most value. This zone is where the scenarios are much more conceivable but have not been given too much attention to.
- Be transparent
You need to be transparent and paint a realistic picture about what is going to happen. Let them know what responses are required when any challenges unfold. Present the steps that you yourself will do and what can they expect to do in the future. However, it has to be done in a non-alarming way. Be transparent yet optimistic. When people know you are being transparent, they are reassured that there are measures considered to support them if anything happens.
- Be empathetic
You want to build a future that connects with people. If you truly understand peoples’ hopes, aspirations, and fears, it allows you to build scenarios that tap into those emotions. That way, people will feel more connected and more motivated to contribute towards achieving whatever goal you’ve set based on their emotions. If you build scenarios that are scary for people, they will do anything to avoid achieving that goal. So for you to “build those futures“ effectively, you need to be able to understand what these people are feeling and create scenarios that engage with people emotionally.
This short article was written based on “How To Think Like A Futurist: 3 Ways to Prepare for the New Normal”, a seminar delivered by Rahul Daswani in the Center for Asia Leadership’s The Future of Leadership Live Online Seminar series. Please visit our official YouTube channel for the full seminar.
By Jacquelyn Ting