I've been thinking...

I found myself thinking that we should call any foresight process a conversation about futures - a sort of meta-term to support all the other terms we currently use.

I've been thinking...
Photo by Lanju Fotografie / Unsplash

My last post was about whether foresight is a thing and whether we needed a pre-step to our applied foresight processes that allowed us to identify our assumptions about futures. In the process of the 'sorting out my brain' that I mentioned in that post, I found myself thinking about what we call those applied processes.

I have been writing about conversations about futures since I wrote my PhD but in a different more complex way. I realised recently that I had lost my focus on assumptions because I was soooooo fixated on the word 'conversations'. Last week as I was editing a part of my book, I had one of those aha moments, where your brain starts to connect the dots.

I have been trying to make the search for our assumptions about futures part of specific types of conversations. But assumptions need to be surfaced in broader conversations about futures to have any real impact, including the pre-step I wrote about in my previous post.

That led me to think that maybe the confusion about terminology in the futures field. Think about the number of definitions there are for foresight - but I'm not going there at the moment. I was thinking a bit broader - perhaps this confusion can be reduced a little by calling our applied processes conversations about futures? A sort of meta-term to capture all the adjectives for those processes that now abound. This would resolve my issue with an adjective being placed before foresight to describe processes that I highlighted in the last post. Or maybe applied foresight conversations about strategic futures, technology futures or university futures for example.

Yes, I'm being a bit precious here. Our field is so big and dispersed now that any suggestion of such a unifying phrase will likely be rejected because other terms are too familiar now, confusing as they are. I don't see the point, or 'conversations about futures' is a bit too simple to describe what we do, or it's impractical. It might be all those things in reality, and that's okay, but I do wonder what would we lose and what might we gain if this change became real?

Finally, I have to admit that I wrote in my PhD thesis that:

Indeed, preferences for different terminology to define what it is futurists and practitioners do and how they do it may be usefully considered to be a fundamental characteristic of the field – particularly since language use is usually culturally, temporally and context determined, especially in government or corporate sectors, where ‘seriousness’ is mandatory.

I think I'm changing my mind. See and feel what your brain thinks and let me know - all comments are welcome.