How To Use a Futurist | Leading Thought (Liz Alexander)

How To Use a Futurist, promotional literature; Leading Thought; undated
25 ways futurists help organizations of all sizes and types discover, influence and experience preferred futures
Leading Thought is a training boutique.

tl;dr → demand generation for futurist work product. & interventions.  While anyone can do it, and it requires no real training, there is no actual barrier to entry in “the field”; yet there are branded methods. schemas and a lexicon to follow in the production of conforming output.


Liz Alexander, Ph.D., Consulting Futurist & Co-founder, Leading Thought.
Leading Thought is a training boutique.

Table of Contents

  1. INTRODUCTION: Why Hire a Futurist?
  3. What can a futurist do for you?
    Nine futurists representing Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Pakistan, U.K. and the United States outline how they help their clients achieve impact.
  5. How do futurists arrive at alternatives?
    “Big Time,” Implications Wheel®, and Three Horizons are just a few of the many tools and methodologies that futurists use.
  7. What else do we bring to the table?
    In many respects futurists are like gardeners. We cultivate insights and ideas by drawing on a broad range of expertise, skills and talents. But we begin by cultivating ourselves!
  8. Resources and Extras
  9. How other futurists are making an impact.
  10. Are You Ready to Claim YOUR Future?

Craig Badings, Liz Alexander; # THOUGHT LEADERSHIP tweet Book01: 140 Prompts for Designing and Executing an Effective Thought Leadership Campaign (yes, that’s really the title, you can do that when you self-publish); THINKaha; 2012-10-06; 161 pages; ISBN:1616990929; Amazon:B009VJOZLQ: Kindle: $10, paper: $5+SHT.


  • Causal Layered Analysis (CLA)
    claim: links metaphor to strategy
  • Metafuture, a consultancy, training services.
  • Volatile, Uncertain, Complex Ambiguous (VUCA)
  • Scenarios, a.k.a. “alternative futures”
    definition: set of fictional narratives reflecting plausible future worlds
  • Kerr Smith, a design shop.
  • Generic Alternative Futures
    of the Manoa School.
  • Industry 4.0
  • Millennials
  • Generation Z.
  • Udacity
  • Knowledge Works
  • YouTube
  • Visioning
  • Roadmapping
    something about Systems Thinking
  • Future of Cities
  • Thought Leaders
  • Arup Foresight
  • Preferred Futures
  • Big History Project
    • Big Time
    • Big Space
  • Implications Wheel®
  • Futures Wheel
  • Futures Triangle
  • The Six Pillars Method
  • Futures
    • Negative Futures
    • Positive Futures
  • <aphorism>futurists are like gardeners</aphorism>
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy
    • a pedagogical theory
    • Benjamin Bloom
    • 1956
  • Anticipatory Action Learning (AAL)
  • Multiple Selves Theory
    perhaps David Lester
  • Visioning
  • Backcasting (contra Forecasting)
  • Delphi Method
  • Anthropology
    • “tribes” of consumer classes
    • user research, consumer research
    • The Focus Group
    • e.g. self-employed, sole proprietors, journeymen, tradesmen.
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Triple Bottom Line (3BL)
    • Concept
      • Social
      • Environmental (also, ecological)
      • Financial
    • Jimi Wales’ Wiki
    • Contra
      • Double Bottom Line
        (Regular) Bottom Line.
  • Weak Signals
  • Megatrends
    • Social, Demographic, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political (STEEP)
    • Probably other acronyms as well
  • burgeoning fields


Anticipatory Action Learning (AAL)

  • Sketch of the Concept: none
    Seems to be a group process facilitation method with guard precepts around “the triggers.”  Something about how AAL is better; gives more confidence in treated subjects and … the salubrious result obtains.
  • Definition
    • <quote>unique style of questioning the future</quote>
  • Non-Concepts
    • <quote>while critical, it does not accede to any particular tradition of
      critical theory (Continental or Indic, for example) but rather draws from the actors’ ownepistemological categories.</quote>
  • Steps: unknown
  • Goals
    • better alternative futures, better scenarios; less boosterism, gee whiz!
    • <quote cite=ref section=4>A crucial factor is seeing futures not only as forecasting but as creating confidence individuals’ and systems’ abilities to creatively adapt to new challenges. The anticipatory action learning dimension is decisive. <snip/> Organizational, social, environmental, cultural and spiritual innovation is one of the most important potential contributions of Futures Studies.</quote>
  • Separation of Concerns
    1. Sensitivity to the social norms
    2. Discomfort with the material (“the struggle”)
    3. Will can be “appropriatable by power” by “official futures” [is that good or bad?]
    4. Notional “resistance” is to be respected; negotiated with, not removed.
    5. The Other.
  • References

Causal Layered Analysis (CLA)

  • Sketch of the Concept, among the link chiclets of Tricia Lustig, at pearltrees.
  • Steps
    Recite & elaborate

    1. Litany, of operating assumptions
    2. Systems and Institutions
    3. Worldviews, the values and tacit knowledge of Systems and Institutions
    4. Myths & Metaphors, narratives, framing, language usage, etc. c.f. Lakoff; e.g. “war against” { drugs, cancer, poverty, terrorism, Christmas }.
  • References

Delphi Method

  • Sketch of the Concept: none
  • Steps
    • Interview many.
    • Blend
    • Synthesize a “consensus opinion.”
    • Report out.
  • References

Futures Wheel

  • Sketch of the Concept, among the link chiclets of Tricia Lustig, at pearltrees.
  • Steps
    • Pretend the change has already happened.
    • Elaborate.
    • Focus on unintended consequences.
  • References
    • Obvious

Generic Alternative Futures (GAF), of the Manoa School

  • Sketch of the Method
    • alternative futures, a.k.a. “scenarios”
    • futures visioning process (five futures)
    • generic alternative futures (four)
      1. continuation
      2. collapse
      3. discipline
      4. transformation
    • preferred alternative future (plus one)
      1. preferred
  • References

Mulitple Selves Theory

  • Concept
    just what it says
  • Genre
    • personality development
    • child development
    • etc.
  • References
    • David Lester; A Multiple Self Theory of Personality; Nova Science Publishers, 1st edition; 2010-03-30; 186 pages; ASIN:1608767833 kindle: no, paper: $70+SHT.


Three Horizons

  • Sketch of the Method, among the link chiclets of Tricia Lustig, at pearltrees
  • Concepts (the plurals):
    • Horizons named as Horizon #0, Horizon #1, Horizon #2, Horizon #3.
    • Tomorrows named as “tomorrow++”, “tomorrow+”
  • Steps
    1. Identify Horizon #0 Recent enough past for context
    2. Identify Horizon #1, the present
    3. Imagine “tomorrow++”
      This is Horizon #3, the possible future of “30-years hence”
    4. Imagine “tomorrow +” as a blend between Horizon #1 & Horizon #3.
      This is Horizon #2, as the reasoned path-based narration from Horizon #1 & Horizon #3.
  • Reference

Six Pillars Method

  • Sketch of the Method
  • Concepts
  • Steps
    1. Mapping the Present and the Future
      Apply: futures triangle, futures landscape.
    2. Anticipating the Future
      Apply:  emerging issues analysis, futures wheel.
    3. Timing the Future
      Apply: macrohistory, macrofutures.
    4. Deepening the Future
      Apply: causal layered analysis, multiple selves theory.
    5. Creating Alternatives to the Present
      Apply: scenarios, nuts and bolts[?]
    6. Transforming the Present and Creating the Future
      Apply: visioning, backcasting, anticipatory action learning, the transcend conflict resolution method.
  • References


  • Concept: envisioning, imagining.
  • References
    • Obvious


In order of appearance in the work product…

Liz Alexander
Ross Dawson
  • Ross Dawson
  • a promoter
  • founder or co-founder of six (6) companies
    • Rh7thm
    • Advanced Human Technologies
  • Basis: Sydney, Australia
Lynn Curry
Proprietor, CurryCorp
CurryCorp offers training services. <quote>optimizes organizational performance</quote>
Sohail Inayatullah
  • UNESCO Chair for Futures Studies at USIM, Malaysia.
  • Professor, Graduate Institute of Futures Studies at
    • Tamkang University
    • Melbourne Business School, the University of Melbourne;
    • University of the Sunshine Coast.
  • Elsewhere attributed as:
    • Professor of Futures Studies, International Management Centres
    • Professorial Research Fellow, Tamkang University, Taiwan
    • Visiting Academic at the Communication Center, Queensland University of Technology.
    • Associate editor of New Renaissance
    • Co-editor of the Journal of Futures Studies.
Robert Burke
  • instructor with Sohail Inayatullah, “Futures Thinking and Strategy Development at Melbourne Business School, the University of Melbourne.
  • offered taught a residential four-day Futures Thinking and Strategy Development Program on a twice-yearly cadence at Melbourne Business School for over 15 years.
  • a director of Futureware Consulting
  • associate of Melbourne Business School, the University of Melbourne.
  • Previously
    • CEO-title roles, various.
Sohail Inayatullah
has many appointments
Ira Wolfe
Ruben Nelson
  • Executive Director of Foresight Canada.
  • Vice Chair, the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science.
  • Honors (from)
    • Queen’s University
    • the Queen’s Calgary Alumni
    • Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science
    • The World Business Academy
    • The Meridian Institute on Leadership, Governance, Change and the Future
Rushdi Abdul Rahim
  • A Senior Vice President at MIGHT
    MIGHT is a policy shop supervised by the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia
  • The Director of myForesight® – the Malaysian Foresight Institute.
Kyle Brown
  • from Toronto, Canada
  • Senior Foresight Strategist, Idea Couture
    Idea Couture is an idea shop
  • ex-staff Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies.
Mark Tuckwood
  • Leading Thought associate
  • founder and principal at Insight Gravity
    Insight Gravity is an idea shop
William Gibson
And which quote do you think they selected?
Victor Vahidi Motti
  • News Editor and Co-Chair of the Youth Council for the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF)
  • Honors
    • WFSF President’s Outstanding Young Futurists Award in 2013
    • is internationally-renowned
Joel Barker
  • a really great guy
  • “first person to popularize” credit for the concept of the “paradigm shift”
Tom Cheesewright
  • English (UK)
  • a corporate trainer
Patricia Lustig
  • Also “Tricia” Lustig; c.f. tricialustig
  • CEO of LASA Insight Ltd.
  • UK-based
  • practitioner in the methods
  • “author” credit, Strategic Foresight: Learning from the Future; Triarchy Press; 2015-07-15; 186 pages; Amazon:190947066X: Kindle: $16, paper: $21+SHT.
Umar Sheraz Sheraz
  • Senior Research Officer, Center for Policy Studies at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Jonathan Peck
  • President, Institute for Alternative Futures (IAF)
  • President, Alternative Futures Associates (AFA), the for-profit subsidiary
  • Credits
    • “leader” credit in “aspirational futures”
      … which <quote>integrates vision into scenario development</quote>
    • the method has been used in billable practice.
Jörn Bühring
  • Dr. Jörn Bühring
  • Research Assistant Professor, School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University of Technology
  • program leader of the [Design] School’s Ignite Innovation Program
  • Has performed billable work for industry
  • He likes design-inspired foresight, vision and fiction.
Anne Boysen
  • Founder of After the Millennials,
    After the Millennials is an idea shop.
  • Associate,Leading Thought
  • A practitioner.
  • A graduate of the Foresight Program of the University of Houston.
Andrew Staines
Lisa Galarneau
  • Dr. Lisa Galarneau
  • An anthropologist
    A socio-cultural anthropologist
  • Graduated 25 years ago.
  • Employment: Amazon
Jacques Barcia
  • Jacques Barcia
  • Brazilian citizenship
  • Trade: reporter.
  • Has won awards
  • is an award-winning
  • “responsible” credit Mind the Future program at Porto Digital
    Porto Digital is an idea shop.
  • Staff, Dream Machine Futures Studio
    Dream Machine Futures Studio is an idea shop
Alice Walker
is quoted
Radha Mistry
  • Radha Mistry
  • Employment
  • Applied Research and Consulting (Division), Steelcase
  • Previous
    • Arup Foresight, London
    • Arup Foresight, San Francisco.
Frank Spencer
Puruesh Chaudhary
  • Founder and President of AGAHI
    AGAHI, Foresight Lab is an idea shop
  • Pakistan.
  • member, the Global Shapers Community, World Economic Forum
Mazlan Othman
  • Dr. Mazlan Othman
  • Credits
    • “first astro-physicist of Malaysia”
Brian David Johnson



  • Burston Marsteller
  • Ford
  • OECD
  • SAP



  • Arizona State University
  • University of Houston
  • University of Hawaii, Manoa



  • Drivers Of Change

Cover: Le Moal Olivier
Interior: everythingpossible



in arbitrary order…

Previously filled.

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