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What exactly does a futurist do? Simple.
We see the future and guide you to it.
It is a relatively new field of expertise whose singular goal is to allow you—whether you are a Mom and Pop shop or a Fortune 100 company—to prosper and thrive today, tomorrow, in 10 years, in fifty years. How do we do it? Despite the almost unbearable urge of many to sneak in a snicker or the tiniest eye roll at the mere mention of the word “Futurist” (go ahead, get it over with), our work does not involve a crystal ball, a divining rod or even a trusty magic owl. What it does involve is a lot of old-fashioned research along with just the right mix of analytic and innovative thinking.
This, then, is where the magic does come in, and each Futurist has her unique bag of tricks. Mine includes the Four Forces of Change, the Permanent Present, the Zone of Discovery and the Five Percent Rule. I examine the concepts in depth in my book Think Like a Futurist (Jossey-Bass, 2012) whose goal is to teach you how to understand change, cultivate the skill of creative thinking, and then apply those skills to long-term strategic planning.
Here is a quick look at my work as a Futurist, which has resulted in innovative, successful strategy for such companies as Target, Best Buy, General Mills, Kraft, Motorola, Nestle Purina, and Yahoo: First, I use a model I have developed that I call the Four Forces of Change—Demographics, Technology, Resources and Governance--as a predictive tool to see what the future you want to succeed in will look like when you get there. Then, I use the latest in brain science research to show how we are neurologically wired to stay stuck in the Permanent Present, a bit of evolutionary development that brings short-term comfort but kills creative--and hence long-term--thinking. The art of getting unstuck comes in the Zone of Discovery, where we approach the fundamental questions of strategy—Who Are You? and Where Are You Going?—through a set of activities I custom-design to manipulate you into a left-right-left brain pattern of thinking. And finally, the Five Percent Rule is a simple, systematic approach to incorporating long-term thinking into your work life without sacrificing its short-term demands.
I invite you to explore my website, read my blog, or contact me to learn how you make success happen—now and years from now--when you Think Like a Futurist.
A global trends analyst, Cecily Sommers speaks, writes, and consults on emerging trends, markets, and technologies shaping our future. She is the author of Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn't, and What's Next and the founder of The Push Institute, a non-profit think tank that tracks significant global trends and their implications for business, government, and non-profit sectors over the next 5-10-25-50 years.
An unorthodox background in medicine and dance, combined with her experience in brand strategy and product development brings unique vision and creativity into her work as a Strategic Foresight and Innovation Consultant for Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller private businesses and not-for profits. Clients including Accenture, American Express, Best Buy, General Mills, Health Partners, Kraft Foods, Nestle Purina, Target, Wrigley, Yahoo! are among those who turn to Cecily for her global trend analysis, strategic planning, and innovation projects that are built for the fast pace of business today.
Cecily is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists and a frequent contributor to Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and other media outlets. She was named by the Business Journal as one of twenty‐five "Women to Watch," and selected as one of Fast Company's "Fast 50 Reader Favorites." Cecily lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.